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Bionic Woman

By Mark Payne and Wikipedia

This series was a spinoff of the ABC series, The Six Million Dollar Man. Jamie Sommers, played by Lindsay Wagner, was an internationally known tennis pro who, one day while parachuting with her then fiancée Steve Austin (the Six Million Dollar Man), was critically injured and rebuilt at Steve's request for a cost of slightly less than Six Million Dollars ( "My parts were smaller"). In exchange for the lifesaving bionic replacement legs, right arm, and ear Jamie agreed to work for the OSI as a special agent. She eventually worked out of her old hometown of Ojai, California under the guise of a school teacher by day, secret agent by night.

This series brought several new additions to the bionic family, including the Fembots and Max, the bionic dog. While similar to the series it was spun from, "The Bionic Woman" had more emotionally driven storylines. Lee Majors guest starred as Steve Austin on several occasions.

The series ran on the American Broadcasting Company from 1976 to 1977 and on NBC from 1977 to 1978.

Plot

Jaime Sommers and Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man, had been engaged prior to his career as an astronaut, but had drifted apart.

Jaime first appeared in a two-part episode of The Six Million Dollar Man in 1975 entitled "The Bionic Woman." In this episode, Austin travels to his old hometown of Ojai, California to visit with his parents and take a vacation from his work. During his visit, he rekindles his old relationship with Jamie Sommers, now one of America's top tennis players. Their relationship progresses rapidly to the point where Austin proposes marriage.

During an outing, Steve and Jamie take part in some skydiving. However, Jamie's parachute malfunctions and she crashes through a tree and hits the ground, hard. Her injuries are extensive and she is not expected to live. Austin makes an emotional plea to his boss, Oscar Goldman, who agrees to assign Dr. Rudy Wells and the bionics team to rebuild her.

Jamie's body is reconstructed with parts similar to Austin's, but smaller. (The actual cost of rebuilding her is not revealed but is said to be less than the $6 million it cost to rebuild Austin.) Jamie is given two bionic legs and her right arm is also replaced. In addition, her right ear is augmented by a bionic device that gives her the ability to hear a whisper a mile away. Jamie recovers well from her operation and even threatens to upstage Steve in some areas. Over Austin's initial objections, Jamie agrees to go on missions for Oscar Goldman. But during one mission, her bionics malfunction and she begins experiencing mental instability and blinding headaches.

Dr. Wells determines that Jamie's body is rejecting her bionic implants. Soon after, she goes berserk and crashes her way out of the hospital, Austin in hot pursuit. He catches up with her and she collapses in his arms. Soon after, Jamie appears to die on the operating table, her body shutting down. The downbeat episode ends with Austin weeping at her memory.

The character was so popular that the next season it was revealed that Jaime hadn't died after all, although Steve Austin was not informed of this fact. He discovers it when he is hospitalized at Dr. Wells' bionic clinic after a mission goes bad and he suffers severe damage; he sees Jamie as he is being rolled into the operating room for repair. Eventually, Jamie is revived from a coma and the rejection issue appears to have been resolved. An unfortunate side-effect, however, was she developed a form of amnesia that caused her to forget her relationship to Austin; any attempts to make her remember her life with Steve causes her headaches and pain. Steve reluctantly let her go on to live her own life, as an agent for the OSI.

Jaime, now retired as a tennis player, took a job as a schoolteacher in Ojai, where she lived in a converted farmhouse rented from Austin's mother and stepfather, who were aware of her and Steve's bionic nature and their double lives as secret agents. In later episodes, Jaime all but adopted Maximillion, a German Shepherd that had been given bionic legs and other augmentations in an experiment to see if trained animals could benefit from bionics. She also worked frequently with Austin on missions and the two reestablished their friendship, although no romance resulted initially. (It is never explained how the issue of Jamie's memory-linked pain was resolved, but it is never referenced again.)

Her most noted enemies were the Fembots, a line of powerful androids that Jaimie fought twice in the series.

Jamie's bionic abilities were depicted as being similar to Austin's. She could run in excess of 60 mph, could bend steel bars with her right arm, and could jump great heights with her new legs. (One episode illustrated limits in her abilities: after jumping out of a particularly tall building to escape from a fembot, Jamie's legs virtually exploded upon impact when her legs' shock absorption function was overwhelmed, although she was soon repaired.) Instead of an artificial eye, one of her ears is an extremely sensitive implant that can detect most sounds regardless of volume or frequency. As it is encased in her body, it is also typically not subject to the negative effects extreme cold has on bionic implants.

In later years, the love between Jaime and Steve rekindled, and this was further explored in three made-for-TV reunion movies in the late 1980s and early 1990s (see the article for The Six Million Dollar Man for more information). In one of these films, a new "Bionic Woman" was introduced (played by then-newcomer Sandra Bullock) a paraplegic whose entire body essentially becomes bionic after receiving an extensive series of next generation bionic implants that did not require the replacement of whole limbs. This bionic woman appeared only once.

In the final reunion film, Bionic Ever After?, Jamie's bionics are corrupted by a computer virus. She undergoes a major upgrade which not only increase the power of her devices, but also gives her bionic vision similar to that of Steve Austin (although there is no evidence to suggest her eyes were actually replaced).

 

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Check out our Bionic Woman forum! Do you have a favorite episode of the show? What do you remember about the series? Do you have any questions about it or its stars? Now you can post comments and questions directly to our TV forums! Click here to see what other Bionic Woman viewers have said or to post your own comments about the show!

Your Memories Shared!

By far, the best episodes of this series were the fembot eps: "Kill Oscar" and "Fembots In Las Vegas". Other great episodes were "Black Magic" with Vincent Price, the Bigfoot cross over shows with Lee Majors, "Sister Jaime". Although I always felt that Lindsay Wagner gave fabulous performances in every episode. She really was perfectly cast as The Bionic Woman.

--Lindafan

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TV TIDBITS

Aired: 1976-1978

Cast: Lindsay Wagner, Richard Anderson

Network: ABC (later NBC)

Genre: Adventure

Theme song

Image courtesy of ABC (later NBC)


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It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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