Universal // 1976 // 1198 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // May 16th, 2011
Fembots, Big Foot, and a robotic Southern California girl to fight them all.
If you're going to buy one season of The Bionic Woman, then all you need to grab is Season Two. It starts off with the Big Foot episodes, continues with the iconic Fembots, and includes the two-part arc that won Lindsay Wagner her Emmy. The first season of the show was abbreviated because it was a midseason replacement, so these twenty-two episodes represent the first full year of the adventures of Jaime Sommers. You get all the glamour, all the action, and all the spunk that made up the best of the iconic '70s series.
When this character debuted on The Six Million Dollar Man, Jaime Sommers was intended to die and never return. Her bionics went haywire, and the OSI could not save her. Yet fan reaction was so strong to Lindsay Wagner that destiny would have to be changed. It surprised Wagner, who had only done the guest spot to fulfill a contract that she wanted out of with the studio, and suddenly they were forced to create a new franchise around her. It made Lindsay an overnight star, and they had to resurrect the bionic woman for her own shows later that year. Unfortunately, as great as that first batch of episodes were, the second season made it clear that the woman-led show would not be bringing the killer ratings of her male counterpart. She finished up just behind The Six Million Dollar Man, and the network claimed she wasn't bringing in the young demographic they wanted. This sophomore year would be the last on ABC, and for the third and final year The Bionic Woman moved to NBC, who had to give her a robotic dog and a new love interest to distance the character from her ties to Steve Austin. Ratings may have been lower in Season Two, but don't think that reflected in the quality of the stories. These episodes remain an entertaining fantasy about how women can be far stronger than any men alive, at least until fembots show up.
The DVD set from Universal includes all twenty-two second season episodes plus the two Six Million Dollar Man crossover programs that created two-part story arcs with Big Foot and the Fembots. Everything you need to catch the narrative is included without you having to buy another show for the other part. Also included is one featurette that explains how there were three Bionic women on the set and how the marketing machine got rolling with the dolls. It's not nearly long enough, but does feature notable members of the cast and crew talking about the show and their experience with it. Lindsay Wagner shows up a couple of times more to do audio commentary on "Road to Nashville" and "Biofeedback," and she seems as nice and warm as you'd imagine. Series creator Kenneth Johnson does his commentaries over the two parts of "Doomsday is Tomorrow." He sounds like he has just downed four large Starbucks, and delivers his information at bionic speed over the episodes. Johnson has a lot of passion for this series, and it shows.
The Bionic Woman series was caught up for a long time with rights struggles here in the United States which is why we are just now seeing the second year released on DVD. Luckily for us here in Region One the wait was worth it with plenty of extras and some very nice transfers. The colors look great, and the images are remarkable for a show from 1976. This set is a fan's dream, and well worth investing in if you have fond memories of pretending to be bionic while playing in your backyard. People who are new to the show are in for a treat, because somehow The Bionic Woman ages just fine thanks to a charming lead and inventive sci-fi story lines. You have to love a show that has robot women duking it out in Las Vegas.
Guilty pleasures don't come much better than this '70s icon.
Review content copyright © 2011 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 1198 Minutes
Release Year: 1976
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries
* Bonus Episodes
* Photo Gallery