2) The Bionic Woman (1976 - 1978). Jamie Sommers (Lindsay Wagner) was already featured in two Six Million Dollar Man two-parters (1975). The first one found her dead at the end but the character was too popular to kill off. So they brought her back the following and then they gave Jamie her own show. On a top twenty list, The Six Million Dollar Man (starring Lee Majors) would surely place. But The Bionic Woman was the far better show because it had storylines and moments that resonated. Majors and his character of Steve Austin could be rigid to the point of stiff whereas Wagner kept Jamie more fluid with reactions similar to what the audience might have. This is most obvious in the Bigfoot crossover storyline between the two shows. And while Steve thought nothing of killing various bad guys, Wagner didn't want that kind of show and insisted on more humor and a lighter touch. Jamie also had a sense of humanity that was missing in The Six Million Dollar Man. Confronted again with Lisa (con-artist and crook who is made to look like Jamie via plastic surgery) in the two-parter Deadly Ringer, Jamie stops Oscar from sending in agents, states "she's a human being" and enters the carriage house to confront (and hopefully reach) Lisa all by herself. This is a thread throughout the series and includes Jamie breaking Max (the bionic dog) out of the lab at the start of season three because he's gong to be put down as well as the entire last episode ("On the Run"). Some of us saw this show when it aired in real time, some of us caught it in syndication and learned of Jamie (and Steve) via the three bionic TV movies. But with season three of The Bionic Woman now on DVD, there's a whole new chance to appreciate the show and the amazingly real character Wagner created. In terms of the historic DC vs. Marvel approach to characters, you could call Jamie Sommers TV's first live action Marvel character.
This week, I gifted everyone that works on Third with The Bionic Woman Season 3 DVD set. Why? I want us to do another article on the show.
We did the above in February and I'm really proud of our whole list. But this week, a nasty piece of work was trashing Lindsay Wagner for having won an Emmy. She deserved an Emmy.
The Bionic Woman was not The Six Million Dollar Man. Lee Majors' show was a nice action-adventure hour. Nothing more, nothing less, just stunts and some middle of the road humor. (That's not meant to insult Lee Majors.) The Bionic Woman was Lindsay's project.
She didn't seek the role originally. The idea of a spin-off was only going to happen on her terms and she didn't want to be Lee Majors in a dress. Jamie Sommers would attempt to harm and distract the bad guys, not kill. This was a huge step away from what was the norm on TV at the time. She also insisted on more humor for the show and for real motivations for the characters (all of them, not just her own). She also insisted that the all male cast of Majors' show was not going to be served up on The Bionic Woman. For example, in three seasons and seven episodes of The Bionic Woman, Jennifer Darling got to do more as Peggy than she ever did on The Six Million Dollar Man.
The show had a soul. This was not kill-kill-kill and Jamie was often taking approaches and encouraging approaches that reflected the peace movement the US had seen in the immediate years before the start of her show (1976).
It's not surprising that a priggish man would trash Wagner this week. What she was going for in that series is all he's for: War, killing, destruction. That priggish thinking was on display in the failed remake which wanted to have all the heart of a video game.
Wagner's acting was perfect the role and she's demonstrated a range in many other films and TV movies. The idea that you're going to trash someone for winning an Emmy and the person is someone who said, "Enough with the violence"? That really shows where your head is.
The Bionic Woman was a great show and I'm hoping we can do a piece on it soon at Third.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):