THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN (1973)
Article 4541 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Richard Irving
Featuring Lee Majors, Barbara Anderson, Martin Balsam
What it is: TV-Pilot (Successful variety)
When a former astronaut is badly injured in an accident, a secret government organization finances an operation to replace his missing parts with bionic, super-powerful replacements. But what will they ask the injured man in return for it?
I was a fan of the TV series for the first couple of seasons, though I stopped watching when I tired of it. I never saw the pilot, though, and it’s always a bit strange to watch a pilot once one is already familiar with the series, as there are usually some significant changes made to the format during the transition. In this case, the biggest difference is the absence of Richard Anderson; in the pilot, the person in the equivalent role is Darren McGavin. Quite frankly, I would have preferred McGavin; one cannot entirely trust his character, and that extra layer would have added more intrigue to the series than was ultimately there. The movie is mostly concerned with the backstory of Steve Austin with a token action setpiece near the end to give an idea of what the series would be like; it’s solid, well-done, and quite entertaining, and it does a good job of demonstrating that the concept would work well as a TV series, which is the ultimate goal of a pilot. My only problem is that it hints at how the TV series itself could have been a lot better.