Sunday, September 4, 2011

This Ain't Your Harraway's Cyborg Part 1 (of 24)

sidenote: I updated the bio info today. So... yeah. Be sure to spend 15-30 seconds perusing that.

I think it's safe to say that, shopping trips aside, the blog's in a bit of a rut as of late. Sure, I could spice things up with more exciting Real Life stories, or up the review ante. But let's face it: that's old hat. No, if I'm going to continue to court the rapidfire, quick-witted reader response that I so crave, I must continue to undertake bold new directions in hard-hitting blog writing.

So we're doing a 24 part series on season 2 of The Bionic Woman.

Okay, let's start a step back there. Recently, I acquired Season 2 of The Bionic Woman. I received it largely because I was slightly less disinterested in the series than its previous owner. I've never seen a single episode of the show, nor its progenitor series, The Six Million Dollar Man. In fact, the only things I know about either comes from an episode of Venture Bros where the Million Dollar Man runs off with a bigfoot to start a new life together. Oh, and that sound they make when they use their bionic powers.

Yeah, that's the stuff.

So I'm going into this 1977 production with a clean slate. Let's see what we find, shall we?
Episode: The Return of Bigfoot (Six Million Dollar Man crossover)
Amazing Action Sequence: Sasquatch and Steve Austin's "Battle Around a Girder."
Sparkling Dialogue: "Steve? Have I done something to upset you?"
Synopsis: Steve Austin follows the trail of a alien-controlled cybernetic sasquatch who's stealing components for a magnetic superforcefield, until his investigations are impeded by a bad case of falling girder.
Close detail: -The discs begin with an episode from another series entirely; that's right, season 2 of the Bionic Woman begins with part 2 of a crossover started in another show. It's very comic-book like. That means our 24 part series has already become 25 parts, but I'm thoroughly pleased that, given my Venture Bros. experience, that we're starting things off with the Bigfoot connection.

-The action starts with a theft from the Federal Gold Depository by a shadowy, furry figure that breaks in by pushing his way through a brick wall. Poor construction practices aside, what exactly does Bigfoot plan on doing with this money? Everyone knows Sasquatches have a primarily barter-based economy.

-The next scene has Steve Austin combing the site for clues. Lee Majors is looking appropriately manly, with a Tom Sellic mustache and a shirt half-unbuttoned, revealing a similarly manly chest of hair. Which raises the question, who's the real Bigfoot here?

-Some telescopic infrared vision reveals a big ol' footprint outside, and triggers a flashback to a Native American explaining the Bigfoot concept.

-And then we have the opening bit. It explains the premise: "Steven Austin. An astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster." I appreciate the recap, but that must have gotten a little tiresome, week after week.

-The 6MDM runs towards the screen. I feel like this happens a lot. He follows it up with a jump over a van, because he can. Then the shirt comes off. Hello, Lee Majors. A woman (a bionic woman) watches moodily from above. She asks another scientist if Austin has been moody lately, and greets the cyborg coming in with her concerns: "Steve? Have I done something to upset you?" Oh, Jaime. Your body may be futuristic, but your feminism is a little outdated. At any rate, he's been thinking about the bigfoot. She invites him to "go for a walk" to get his mind off things, and they change it into a slow motion bionic run. He's wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, while she's in a sweater and pants. It just seems odd, is all I'm saying. A mystery woman watches from behind a tree.

-Austin suddenly remembers running bionically with some other person. Jamie: "Well Steve, there just aren't any other women to run with." She automatically assumes it was a woman--she's right, but it still seems like Steve's robot girlfriend is the jealous type. They spot the woman with bionic powers, but she disappears. Does Jamie have bionic hearing and Austin bionic sight? It seems like you wouldn't want to make your million dollar cyborgs so that they'd have to work with someone else to be efficient.

-The woman reappears in Austin's room. He's keeping the cast of Bigfoot's, uh, foot, on the dining room table and is staring at it contemplatively, which isn't weird at all. The woman from the last scene reappears. She's Gillian. She returns his memory. In a flashback, it turns out she and hers sent him to fight the Bigfoot last year, and it also turned out to be a robotic perversion of modern science, like him. He followed it back to the base, and was captured. There, he met Shalon, and, judging from the flashback, she had a passionate affair with his unconscious body. They were deep space explorers, operating out of a remote mountainous location. Yes, that makes sense. Austin and the Sasquatch save the compound, and in reward, they erase his memory. It's essentially an extended flashback scene. Back now, Gillian explains that she's got a TLC. No, not the maternal type--it's a Time Line Convertor, that allows you to slow down or speed up the passage of time. Exactly why she felt it necessary to use this rather than, say, knock on his door, is left unsaid. Anyway, the reason for her visit: a splinter group of "explorers" has radioed the mothership with instructions that they're all contaminated, and should be abandoned. "They want to enjoy the fruits of this planet and have dominion over it." The sasquatch is with the dominion-types, and so they came for Austin's help.

-The sasquatch moves some boxes around for some... men. They are dressed... well, fabulously is the easiest way to put it. They are each wearing bright-colored pantsuits(purple, yellow, pink) with sparkling kerchiefs around their necks. It's kind of amazing. They're taking their plans to the next level.

-Apparently, the next level is an emerald theft. Nedlick (the splinter group's leader) forces the cyborg sasquatch to attack a guard, using Shalon's safety as a threat. The sasquatch tosses around the security guard, cyborg style. The guy is moving around, and is very plainly alive. Considering that he was attacked purely to remove witnesses, it's all rather sloppy.

-Next scene: Austin and a man in a tweed suit examine the crime. Austin is evasive, and the tweed is suspicious--especially since the vault was forced open with bionic-level strength. I predict a Bionic Woman vs. Bionic Man misunderstanding battle by act 3.

-Austin ponders that the thefts are components in some electronic device. Because only the most expensive metals are worth using in a proper 70s mad science device. Gillian tries to contact Gillian via her watch radio, but she lacks the power. Austin bionically twists a fire poker to act as an antenna. It happens very slowly, which makes it more impressive, I guess. Another fabulously dressed man answers, and calls Shalon over. She thinks they're building a phase-lock magnaton. It's a magnetic forcefield. And all they need to complete their nefarious defensive device is a radioactive isotope of boron-3, and some titanium. And they need to get the power convertor back to Shalan. Man, these deep space explorers--never satisfied.

-At any rate, this info allows Steve to set up an ambush for the Sasquatch at the power plant where boron is isotoped (that, I believe, is the technical term). Why exactly, a group with the power to slow down and speed up time must force a cybernetic sasquatch to do their crimes for them is left unsaid. (All right, they do make a point of mentioning that time powers don't unlock doors, but it seems like there would be ways around that.) Austin uses his bionic powers to jump a fence, and run fast. Again.

-Inside, the sasquatch is confronted by Austin, and Bigfoot has a flashback reminding him that the two are best buddies. Nedlick is having none of that. The sasquatch smashes Austin into a bunch of barrels. Outside, Gillian is spotted by Nedlick, because she's not very good at hiding in the dark. Austin slow-motions it after the Sasquatch, and is thrown across a room. The Sasquatch throws a barrel of boron at him, and Austin deflects it into a security guard. Oh, Austin. He then tries again to stop a fleeing sasquatch, and is thrown into a stack of empty "fragile" cardboard boxes. The guards get there and arrest Austin--presumably walking past the sasquatch taking their boron out for a stroll on their way over.

-Tweed and Scientist read Austin the riot act. "And one guard says--and I quote--"he saw you throw a steel drum at him. Can you believe that?" That the guard would phrase it like that? No, Tweed, I do not. Tweed didn't want to believe it, but "who else could throw a steel drum?" Well, if there was a s much in it as the "fragile" boxes, I'd imagine most people. Austin complains that he didn't throw it at him, he just tossed it into the space the guard was occupying. Bionic woman eavesdrops nearby. Austin comes clean--space people, time-controlling, sasquatch herding, splinter groups, magnetic forcefields. They're not having it. He's under house arrest. He's not having that, and jumps out a window. 90% of all bionic behavior involves either jumping or running. Or, on rare occasion, the running jump.

-Nedlick knows Austin's coming, following the radioactive traces that imaginary boron-3 leaves. He plans on framing Austin. Austin's following the trace in a helicopter, which he has apparently stolen on his new crime spree. Nedlick gives the plan: they're leading Austin here, then out with a new boron trail to their next crime scene, where the sasquatch, with new and improved bionic strength, will finish off Steve Austin once and for all. And he misses a perfectly good opportunity for a maniacal laugh.

-Sasquatch runs in slow motion and jumps, all in the name of acquiring that sweet titanium alloy. Austin lands, and slow motion chases the sasquatch. The sasquatch reluctantly squares off. Austin completely fails to dodge the first titanium cannister, and falls. Sasquatch 23-skidoos. Austin moves a 50 000 pound box in front of the door. We know it's 50 000 pounds, because the box is conveniently labeled as such. I imagine that convenient labels are as much a staple of these shows as slow motion. Sadly, it's all for naught, as the sasquatch pushes the door open as if the box was entirely empty. Nedlick, he of the odd name, forces Sasquatch to attack. Austin dodges. He then does the exact thing again, but Sasquatch grabs him , tosses him aside, and seizes a high voltage pipe to wield as a bat. Not one to be beaten in street-fighting bricolage, Austin grabs a lid to use as an impromptu shield. S beats it aside, and a girder falls on Austin. I've watched this scene twice, and I have no idea where this girder comes from.

-Apparently, they recovered the body, and Jamie asks Tweed about the rumors of Austin's new life of crime. Tweed: "I don't want to believe it's true, but I can't help facing the facts." Jaime offers a compelling counterpoint: "Oh, c'mon." Tweed sticks to the theory that Steve knocked a girder on himself, which sounds just slightly more believable than the alien sasquatch story. Scientist gives the verdict: Steve is irradiated, and will probably die in the next 24 hours. Unless, of course, he receives some sort of hypothetical superdrug like the one the splinter group stole from the main base.

-Jaime goes to see his weakened form, and he sends her after Shalan. End episode.

Next week? Jaime slow-motion listens a lot, I imagine.

Later Days.

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