Journey back with me, if you will, to an era when television was our magic portal to the fantastic and the extraordinary. Let us revisit a time when the cool, monotone hum of dial-up was still a distant future echo, and the flickering screen at the heart of our living room was the wellspring of our dreams and imaginings. There, in the warm, mesmerizing glow, we encountered him for the first time - the hero who captured our hearts and minds with his strength, speed, and bionic prowess. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you 'The Six Million Dollar Man'.
This iconic show catapulted us into a world of sci-fi and adventure where human resilience and technology merged to form an awe-inspiring, near-mythical figure. For those who are too young to recall, 'The Six Million Dollar Man' was the story of Colonel Steve Austin, an astronaut critically injured during a flight accident. But instead of tragedy, this mishap birthed an opportunity for a transformation that would redefine what it means to be a hero.
Austin was saved and given a second chance at life through bionic implants that enhanced his strength, speed, and vision far beyond human norms. As the Six Million Dollar Man, he accomplished feats impossible for a regular human and fought the battles that ordinary people couldn't. It was a glimpse into a future filled with wonder and possibility, a tantalizing peek at the human potential amplified through the lens of technology.
As we plunge into the depths of nostalgia, let's rediscover the thrill, the excitement, and the fascination that 'The Six Million Dollar Man' inspired. It was more than just a television show - it was a symbol of our shared dreams of a time when science fiction could become reality, and humanity could overcome its limitations to become something...more. So sit back, relax, and let's dial back the years to revisit the unforgettable saga of 'The Six Million Dollar Man'.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...
Memories Of The Six Million Dollar Man
Remember when we used to watch The Six Million Dollar Man on telly box?
If you were anything like us, you'd race home from school, grab a slice of toast and a glass of orange squash, plonk yourself down in front of the telly, and eagerly await the iconic opening sequence once the adverts for Flash floor cleaner (with that Scottish lady - "och the dirty dog" - remember that?) and Nimble "She flies through the air in the sky-y-y-y-y-y-y" bread had finished.
Ah, the memories of that catchy theme tune and the unforgettable line, "we can rebuild him... we have the technology."
Even to this day, I can't sing the theme to The Six Million Dollar Man without it ending up being the music from Emmerdale Farm... is that only me?
Ahh, the joy of the 1970s... remember back in the day? When television was still in its relative infancy and there were only three channels to choose from. And let's not forget the grainy, flickering images on our chunky, wood-encased television sets. Big clunky knobs to press... no remote controls. Valves to warm up... And if you were watching on a 12 inch black and white portable, you'd most likely have to adjust the coathanger-like aerial to stop the picture looking like Steve Austin was in a permanent snowstorm.
The Six Million Dollar Man was a must-watch for us youngsters back then. It ran from 1973 to 1978 and was based on the novel "Cyborg" by Martin Caidin. The series follows Colonel Steve Austin, a former astronaut, who is rebuilt with superhuman strength, speed, and vision after a devastating accident. The main characters were:
- Colonel Steve Austin (played by Lee Majors): The titular "Six Million Dollar Man", Austin is an astronaut who is severely injured when his spacecraft crashes. He is rebuilt with bionic implants by the OSI (Office of Scientific Intelligence), giving him superhuman abilities.
- Oscar Goldman (played by Richard Anderson): Goldman is the director of the OSI. He often gives Austin his assignments and serves as a mentor and father figure to him.
- Dr. Rudy Wells (played by Martin E. Brooks): Dr. Wells is the scientist who created Austin's bionic limbs and continues to maintain them throughout the series. He is also a close friend of Austin's.
- Jaime Sommers (played by Lindsay Wagner): Sommers was a tennis professional who is involved in a parachuting accident and, like Austin, is given bionic implants by the OSI to save her life. She was initially a recurring character on "The Six Million Dollar Man" and then became the main character in the spin-off "The Bionic Woman". I didn't like that anything like as much... did you?
It was a fab series... thrilling, action-packed, and Steve Austin, played by Lee Majors, was the epitome of cool. And he only added to that when he married Farrah "Charlies Angels" Fawcett (isn't that a "tap" in American parlance? Farrah Tap doesn't sound quite so good... no offence to anyone reading this with the surname "Tap"!)
And who could forget the iconic sound effects as Steve Austin used his bionic strength, speed, and vision? That "ch-ch-ch-ch" noise was as much a part of the show as the man himself. We'd imitate his slow-motion running and pretend we too had bionic powers during playtime at school.
Der der der derrrr der der der der der der der derrrr.
Ooops Emmerdale Farm again...
Oh, and let's not forget the merchandising! From action figures to lunchboxes, we wanted to own it all. My prized possession was a Six Million Dollar Man action figure, complete with a little button on his back that would make his bionic eye light up. I thought it was the coolest thing ever... well apart from the Evel Knievel toy that is...
Here it is... I found this on Ebay today... a boxed toy for a cool £175!
Interesting Six Million Dollar Man Facts For You...
Bionic Sound Effects
The bionic sound effects that were used when Steve Austin was using his superhuman abilities became very iconic. The distinctive bionic sound effects from "The Six Million Dollar Man" were created using an early synthesizer. The exact process isn't widely documented, but the sounds were likely achieved using a combination of techniques common in early electronic music and sound effects production.
Synthesizers allow for the creation of a wide range of sounds by manipulating waveforms and using various filters and effects. The bionic sound is a kind of electronic "whoosh" or "swoosh" sound, which could be created by rapidly modulating a tone or noise source.
In addition, the use of reverberation would have helped to give the sound more depth and make it feel more intense and dramatic, while the use of panning (moving the sound between the left and right speakers) would have helped to give the sense of movement.
The iconic sound effect has often been parodied or referenced in other media, demonstrating its lasting impact and recognition.
Based on a Novel
The series was based on the 1972 novel "Cyborg" by Martin Caidin. The name of the protagonist in the book is also Steve Austin.
In the show, it cost six million dollars to give Steve Austin his bionic abilities. This was a huge amount of money in the 1970s when the show was made. What would it equate to now, allowing for typical inflation? I'm glad you asked!
Inflation varies from year to year and by country. If we consider the U.S. dollar and use the average historical inflation rate of about 3.22% (based on the period from 1913 to 2021), we can make an estimation.
Let's consider the date of the show's initial airing, 1973. Fast forwarding to 2023, that's 50 years later.
Using the formula for calculating future value (FV) based on inflation:
FV = PV * (1 + inflation rate) ^ years
PV = Present Value (the initial amount) = $6 million
Inflation Rate = 3.22% (or 0.0322 when expressed as a decimal)
Years = 50
FV = $6,000,000 * (1 + 0.0322) ^ 50
So, based on these assumptions, the $6 million from 1973 would be worth approximately $32 million in 2023.
Gosh that was a grown-up answer...
What About In Pounds?
The exchange rate between the US dollar and the British pound fluctuated quite a bit during the 1970s due to a variety of economic factors.
However, as a general ballpark, the exchange rate hovered around $2.30 to £1 at the start of the 1970s, but by the end of the decade, the pound had depreciated significantly relative to the dollar, and the exchange rate was closer to $2.00 to £1.
So if the cost of Steve Austin's bionic makeover was six million dollars in the early 1970s, this would have been roughly equivalent to around £2.6 million, depending on the exact exchange rate at the time.
Change of Actor for Dr. Wells:
The character Dr. Rudy Wells was played by three different actors throughout the series: Martin Balsam in the pilot movie, Alan Oppenheimer in seasons one and two, and Martin E. Brooks in the remaining seasons and subsequent movies.
UK Chart Hit
I know what you're thinking... Didn't Lee Majors appear on Top Of The Pops? Didn't he have a top 10 hit in the UK charts? Yes! But not related to the 6 Million Dollar Man. It was the theme from one of his later series "The Fall Guy" (1981–1986). It reached #6 on the UK Singles Chart.
Now THAT is a song I can sing without ending up on a farm in rural Yorkshire...