One of the most popular action- adventure series in TV history, The Six Million Dollar Man, is finally available for the first time on DVD in a spectacular collection.
Lee Majors, who grew up in Middlesboro and graduated from Eastern Kentucky University, stars as Col. Steve Austin, a NASA pilot whose body is smashed during a crash of an experimental space plane. The government decides he is the perfect candidate for an experiment in bionic technology.
Scientists give him two new legs, a new right arm and a new left eye, which give Austin super strength, speed and sight. He is a superhero without capes and jump suits. Austin becomes a special agent for the Office of Scientific Information.
Within a year after its premiere in 1973, The Six Million Dollar Man was a top-10 show.
"I think our timing was right," Majors, 71, said during a recent interview. "We brought the good guys back. People were ready for that. And we made sure the bad guys got theirs. I really enjoyed working on the show."
When the series left the air after five seasons, it all but disappeared, unlike most other sci-fi shows that eventually made their way to home video.
It was tied up in legal disputes with the estate of Martin Caidin, whose novel Cyborg inspired the TV series.
"Happily, they got that all worked out," said Richard Anderson, who plays Oscar Goldman, Austin's boss. "I know new generations will discover just how entertaining this show is."
Generations, old and new, will be able to experience the entire series. The 40-disc set includes the 100 digitally preserved one-hour episodes from all five seasons, and the three pilot TV movies and the three sequels that aired after the series ended its run in 1978. There also are 17 hours of bonus features.
The series, which was produced by Universal, is being released through Time Life and can be ordered at 6MDM.com. The price is $239.95. Time Life owns exclusive rights for one year.
"I'm really proud of the show," said Majors, who was born Lee Yeary. "I know a lot of families watched it together. We tried to keep it interesting. After a couple of years, we told them we needed some romance. That's how Jamie Sommers came about."
Sommers, as played by Lindsay Wagner, showed up in a series of her own, The Bionic Woman. Season one of that series ($39.98) is now available on DVD from Universal.
When he started on The Six Million Dollar Man, Majors was a bona fide TV star from his four seasons playing Heath Barkley on The Big Valley in the late 1960s. Incidentally, one of Majors' current projects is a film version of The Big Valley, currently filming, according to the Internet Movie Database. He'll play Tom Barkley, the father of his original character, Heath (this time played by Travis Fimmel). Also in the movie are Jessica Lange as Victoria, Stephen Moyer as Jarrod and Sara Paxton as Audra. Richard Dreyfuss, Aidan Quinn and Bruce Dern also are in the cast.
In recent months, Majors, Anderson and Wagner have met with fans of The Six Million Dollar Man at various conventions.
"Many of them were kids when the show was on ABC," Anderson said. "I remember one fellow all but choked up when he found out the series was going to be on DVD."