The Bionic Man Song

 He's my man.
Oh, he's my man.
Yeah, tell everybody about it,
Can't live without him . . .
One of a kind.
And he's my man . . .
Six Million Dollar Man
. . . and he's the man . . .
Six Million Dollar,
Six Million Dollar,
Six Million Dollar Man


Stocky beefcake Lee Majors (real name – wait for it – Harvey Lee Yeary II, ha ha ha)  WAS Steve Austin, a spacecraft test pilot who crashed a plane, losing both legs, an arm, and an eye. He was subsequently rebuilt by one Dr Rudy Wells, using advanced cybernetic parts, for the bargain price of just six million dollars. The Six Million Dollar Man began life as three 1973 TV movies based upon some long-forgotten two dime novel, entitled Cyborg. Though the movies were mercilessly Bond-esque, the ongoing series – which hit screens in 1974 – played down the secret agent and womanising aspects in favour of a more straight action approach and, in later seasons, ridiculous slapstick.

Few can forget the legendary Six Million Dollar Man title sequence, with its dramatic voice-over, and disappointing emphasis on the non-dramatic word ‘better’, all courtesy of Steve’s boss, Oscar. It ran as follows: “Steve Austin. Astronaut. A man barely alive. We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster. Squintier than before. We shall make him a slightly overweight, bronzed Adonis, with a funny, lopsided mouth. A better mouth. Better. Better. Yes, better. BETTER.”

Enlisted by the US Military to be a sort of all-round action man, Austin found himself in scrapes with foreign agents, a robot which chased him down an alleyway, and even an absurd-looking Bigfoot, who looked less like Darwin’s evolutionary missing link, and more like some hideously deformed perversion of nature. Or, more specifically, Dave Lee Travis.

Austin’s bionic parts granted him enhanced speed, strength (in one arm at least, which must have come in handy, right, lads? Eh! Eh? ), and vision. Ironically, the title sequence footage of Austin’s crash was actual real-life footage of a plane crash, in which the actual real-life pilot really did lose an actual real-life eye. Imagine how he felt watching himself burst into flame on screen week after week, and then having to watch some “bionic man” jump around on screen, targeting distant objects with his super-vision, and never once suffering the humiliation of people on the bus looking at his eyepatch, or having his glass eye fall out into a fish tank at a dinner party when he’s trying to impress some chick in a black dress with a cleavage down to HERE, and a split in her thigh up to HERE. 

Perhaps the most absurd aspect of the show was its use of slow-motion. Whenever Steve used his strength or super-speed, or jump over a big fence, or something, the film would inexplicably SLOW DOWN, and be overlaid with a creaking sound suggesting that Steve’s bionics were in an advanced state of rusting. Why they couldn’t have just increased the speed of the film to imply that he was running at speed, is a mystery. However, it was a technique which allowed millions of Bionic fans to successfully emulate their hero, by moving very slowly, and having ridiculous slow-motion fist-fights with friends, while making a noise like this: “Bwaaaaa-aaa-aaan-gggg! Bwaaaaaaa-aaaaa-aaaaannnn-gggg!”

The show’s success inevitably led to a spin-off, The Bionic Woman. Lindsay Wagner played Jaime Sommers, Austin’s girlfriend. Horribly disabled by a skydiving accident (she had her ear ripped off, ferchrissakes! Was her head impaled on a church steeple, or something?!), she too was given bionic implants, and granted her own show. Astonishingly, her performance won her an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series. Generally more rubbish and ridiculous than its male counterpart, The Bionic Woman did at least introduce a Bionic Dog, and pioneered the term “Fembots” – lifted by Austin Powers.

Both shows lasted until 1978 – even surviving controversy when several young fans deliberately tried to blind, or eviscerate themselves in order to be given bionic parts – but ultimately fell victim to falling ratings. A TV movie, The Return Of The Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman, was intended as a 1987 pilot for a new series, but failed to achieve the necessary audience. Two subsequent movies, Bionic Showdown – starring a young and drippy Sandra Bullock – and the inevitable, but appallingly titled, Bionic Ever After (the Bionics get married), were similarly bad enough to prevent ongoing spin-offs.

For many, the fondest memories of the Bionic phenomenon are of the merchandising, specifically the Six Million Dollar Man action figures. Dressed in an authentic red tracksuit, with removable bionic components, a button on the back which allowed Steve to lift the accompanying car engine (as bizarre an action figure accessory as there has ever been), and a funny eye-hole thing on the rear of his head which, when looked through, made everything appear really small (as rubbish and absurd in its own way as the slow-motion superspeed of the TV show). There was also an operating table accessory, which transformed into a rocketship, allowing you to recreate Steve’s near-fatal accident, and subsequent rebuilding. However, the Bigfoot, Oscar Goldman (plus authentically-recreated office!), and Bionic Woman figures failed to make it to shops in any large quantities, despite being tantalisingly promoted on the packaging.

Following Bionic Woman, we’re sure Lindsay Wagner had a long and successful acting career, but right now we’re struggling to name anything else she was in. Lee Majors, however, went on to achieve some amount of acclaim among the mentally subnormal in The Fall Guy, in which he played Colt Seavers, a stuntman, and also sung the soundtrack. Heather Locklear also starred. Wicked.


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The Six Million Dollar Man

1. Lee Majors appeared as himself in which 1980s Christmas movie?

2. Which US government department did Steve Austin work for?

3. Which of these was not the title of a Six Million Dollar Man TV movie?

4. Who sung the Six Million Dollar Man title song, as heard in the second TV movie?

5. Bionic components can be weakened by what?


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