Saturday morning SABC television in the 1980s was a magical place for young me, with heroes like Automan and Buck Rogers, which also introduced me to my first crush, Colonel Wilma Deering (Erin Grey). But there was a man… a man who was more than a man… a man with an eyebrow cooler than The Rock’s… a man with a gaze of steel… a man who survived being dubbed into Afrikaans… a man with a flying kick… a man who wore a red tracksuit that made him look like a million bucks but inside, where it really counts, he was six million dollars, man… and this man was known as Die Man van Staal. That’s right, the rumour Kervyn told us about a few months ago is true and as per Deadline they’re rebuilding The Six Million Dollar Man – strong, better, faster than before – and adjusting for inflation to boot.
Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg, fresh off working together on the well-regarded Lone Survivor, are reteaming (along with Dr Evil?) to bring the classic 1970s television series back to life as a feature film tentatively titled The Six Billion Dollar Man for Dimension Films (that’s billion with a “B”). While no writers are as yet confirmed, Berg will direct and Wahlberg will star as former astronaut Steve Austin who, after being severely injured when the experimental plane he is testing crashes, is rebuilt with bionic (cybernetic) parts including both legs, his right arm and left eye in an operation that costs (now) six billion dollars. These implants provide him with above-human speed, strength and senses. He subsequently works as an agent for a secretive government agency known as the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI).
Originally based on the 1972 novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin, the show starring Lee Majors ran for five seasons between 1974 and 1978 reaching 100 episodes and including six television movies; and also led to a spin-off series The Bionic Woman starring Lindsay Wagner that itself ran for three seasons between 1976 and 1978. If the latter sounds more familiar to you that’s because it was the subject of a short-lived reboot in 2007 with Michelle Ryan in the lead. (Random interesting thought – there’s a push for more female-lead action roles and we had two of them, The Bionic Woman and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, both cancelled in the fallout following from the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike.)
The character has remained popular over the years (a recent adaption is a comic book series by Dynamite Comics) and has been spoofed many times, such as Welsh comedian Max Boyce with his skit on Steve Mostyn Evans – The Bionic No.8, and far more recently as the inspiration behind the crazed cyborg Barry on Archer. The original show is one that’s always stuck in my mind, and while I would never watch it again for fear of having those happy memories covered in a thick layer of cheese, I’m very happy to see it live again. How about you?
Last Updated: November 7, 2014