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Nuclear Alert

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“Nuclear Alert”

S2 E1

Production 41201
Original Airdate: 13 September, 1974
Nuclear Alert
'
Produced by
Lionel E. Siegel and Joe L. Cramer
Written by
William Driskill
Directed by
Jerry London
Guest Cast
Guest Star(s)
Carol Lawrence as Dr. Clea Broder
Co-starring
Felice Orlandi as Cal
George Gaynes as General Wiley
Stewart Moss as Air Force Major
Fred Beir as Ted Swenson
With
Thomas Bellin as Carson
Sid Haig as Third passenger
Irene Tedrow as Farmer's wife
Savannah Bentley as Elaine
Broadcast Order
Season 2
← Previous Next →
"Run, Steve, Run" "The Pioneers"


Summary

When a tactical atomic bomb is sold for $60 million by auction on the international black market, one of the losing bidders reports the fact to Oscar Goldman, head of the OSI. Uncertain of whether the seller is in possession of such a device or plans to steal the necessary parts, Goldman arranges an urgent conference with high-ranking representatives from both the US military and science community. All assembled bombs and their constituent parts are accounted for, with the exception of a reflector fuse (which, it is revealed, has recently left the factory where it had been manufactured).

Steve Austin recommends that, rather than simply recall the fuse to a secure site, he should swap places with the driver of the truck containing the fuse, in the hope that those assembling the bomb reveal themselves and attempt to seize the vital part. Oscar Goldman reluctantly agrees, on the condition that he closely follows Steve with the US Army by using a tracking device. Steve shadows the truck to a service station where he swaps places with the van driver, unaware that the driver has been hired by the criminal gang. Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, a leading nuclear scientist, Dr. Clea Broder, is kidnapped by a corrupt fellow scientist – Ted Swenson – who is the leader of the gang behind the nuclear alert.

Shortly after taking over the truck, Steve pulls over and disables the reflector fuse by removing a transistor. Two other members of the gang have also been following Steve, and they stop to ask him if he requires any help. When Steve confirms that he doesn’t, they drive on. Shortly afterward, Steve stops to make a phone call and, when leaving the phone booth, is overpowered by the two men. One of them attempts to render Steve unconscious by injecting a drug into his arm before placing him in the back of their car and stealing the truck. However, as the attack was on Steve’s bionic right arm, the drug does not take effect, and he is able to run after the truck at 60 mph. When Steve reaches the truck, he climbs up the back of it and accesses the storage area by peeling back a panel on the roof.

Meanwhile, the original driver of the truck blocks the road behind by causing a deliberate road accident that results in Oscar’s vehicle being held up, thus preventing the tracking of Steve and the reflector fuse. The truck passes through a weigh station; when the driver is given the weight reading, he realizes that an intruder is on board. However, he and his colleague press on to their destination – Wakefield Airport. When they reach the airport, Steve escapes unnoticed through the roof of the truck and conceals himself in an aircraft hangar. From there, he identifies Swenson as the ringleader. Swenson has brought Dr. Broder with him to the airport to meet the two gang members and the stolen fuse. When Swenson and his gang leave the hangar, Steve sneaks into the cab of the stolen truck and is able to contact Oscar by two-way radio. He informs him of his location and that Swenson is the leader of the group behind the nuclear alert. Afterward, as he attempts to leave the area, Steve is captured at gunpoint and taken to Swenson’s jet aircraft which contains a nuclear bomb. Swenson then forces Dr. Broder to fit the missing reflector fuse to his bomb in order for it to be fully activated.

Oscar Goldman and General Wiley of the US Army order the closure of the airfield, but Swenson orders his pilot to take off regardless. Various military aircraft are therefore scrambled to intercept Swenson’s jet. On board, Swenson notices that the reflector fuse is not working and forces Steve to hand over the missing transistor. Aware that the interceptors are closing in, Swenson then radios Oscar and General Wiley and threatens to drop the bomb if their aircraft are not called off. He also makes Steve confirm to them that the bomb is on board and that it is active. As a result, General Wiley orders his planes to destroy Swenson’s aircraft in a specified remote area.

Conscious that time is running out, Steve manages to break free from his handcuffs and kicks open the passenger door on the jet. Instant decompression follows, and Swenson is sucked out of the aircraft to his death. Steve then overpowers the rest of the criminal gang and uses his bionic powers to disable the nuclear bomb. He also takes over control of the aircraft, which has been on auto-pilot, and radios Oscar and General Wiley to inform them that the crisis is now over. With just seconds to spare, the interceptors are told to abort their mission and return to base.

Deconstructed

Quotes

Farmer's wife: What is it, Henry?
Farmer: (having caught sight of Steve Austin running at high speed) Suspect I'll be needing a new pair of glasses, Martha. Beginning to see funny things...


Cal: Now we must be carrying an extra passenger.
Zeb: What?
Cal: Well, figure it out. You weigh 170, right? According to the scale back there, we way 370 lbs. more than this truck did when it left the factory. That means a guy who weighs about 200 lbs.
Zeb: What are you talking about? Where? How? I mean, the door's locked, sealed; I checked it!
Cal: I don't know, but we've got a passenger.


Ted: (pointing a gun at Steve) Hold it! What are you doing here?
Steve: Well, I came to get my truck back. If I lose it, it comes out of my check.


Oscar: The reflector is useless. Colonel Austin removed the the key transistor. I assure you it won't work; it's useless.
Wiley: That's not good enough for me, Mr. Goldman. I can't let them get away with that reflector.


Clea: Steve, the things you did on the plane, and even before that, the way you knocked down that door... how did you do it?
Steve: Oh, slight of hand, slight of foot.
Clea: Oh, really?
Oscar: Dr. Broder, he fascinates a lot of women with those tricks. I, well, I have to rely on my native charm.

Trivia

Production
  • The first episode of Season Two saw the introduction of a revised opening credits sequence, including the final version of the now world famous narration:
Narrator: Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive.
Oscar Goldman: 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.
At this point, a bass-dominant version of the show's theme begins, which mainly replaced the "buzztone" from Season One.
In addition, the wire-frame computer-style graphics of Steve's bionic hardware, along with the "catalog descriptions" of each, are also added to the opening. (These graphics provided some information on the bionic hardware for people who read fast. See the "Bionic Ability" section, below.) This is actually a rare case of an opening credits sequence being lengthened, as opposed to shortened, which is the usual progression.
  • Most of the sequences in which Steve drives and pursues the truck containing the reflector fuse were filmed along Interstate 5 (specifically between Magic Mountain Parkway and Valencia Boulevard) in what is now Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles. One sign indicates the mileage to three still-existing interchanges and another sign (which no longer exists) points out the current Valencia Country Club. "Houston Jet Leasing" at "Wakefield Airport" is an actual company that existed in the 1970s at Van Nuys Airport near Interstate 405 north of Los Angeles. No large commercial jet aircraft fly into this airport as shown in the episode, though; it is used by private, chartered, and small commercial aircraft.
  • This episode features a high-speed scene of Steve running, which became rare following the first season.
  • A slight change to the opening episode credits is also made as there is no longer a copyright notice displayed with each episode title as there had been in season 1.
Bionic Ability
  • It is revealed in this episode that Steve Austin’s bionic arm has a facility to connect a tracking device to it, with a range of 10 miles.
  • Those who were fast readers, or were later able to freeze-frame the catalog descriptions for Austin's bionic parts, would note that:
    • Steve's left eye has a telescopic zoom of 20.2:1 (slightly better than stated in Population: Zero), with 2,315 lines of resolution. This predated actual high-definition television receivers by over two decades.
    • Steve's right arm requires 1,550 watts of continuous power to operate.
    • Steve's legs require 4,920 watts of continuous power to operate, and also contain a 2,100-watt reserve.
    • Unfortunately, however, from exactly which catalog Rudy Wells has to place orders to obtain these parts for Steve's bionic hardware is not clarified.
Characters
  • Austin's arsenal of mission-related credentials grows as he becomes a member of the Teamsters (or at least is granted union credentials) in order for him to take over driving the truck.
  • Not everyone in Oscar's inner circle is aware of Steve's bionics, a fact that turns out to be quite fortunate given the betrayal seen here.
  • Austin kills the villain; while this was a frequent occurrence in season 1, after this episode Austin would rarely be shown killing, even in scenarios where one might expect him to (such as in "Act of Piracy").

Gaffes

Continuity

  • After the hijacked truck is weighed, the villians determine that they must be carrying a stowaway (Steve) because the truck weighed 200 lbs. more than when it left the fuse factory. They must have miscalculated, as Steve Austin is supposed to weigh almost 600 lbs. However, this weight was never consistently applied in the series, given how many times Steve has been knocked out and carried away, with no comment about his weight.
  • The technician in the truck following Steve says, "Mr. Goldman.... I'm afraid we've lost General Austin's signal." (This is not correct. He clearly says 'Colonel'.)

Illusion Breaker

  • When Steve is going to see what's in the truck, he forces a metal panel with his right hand, as the left panel is a bit over the right one. However, the previous shots show the right panel is a bit over the left.
  • When the truck arrived at the airport, Steve got off. But, he was inside the truck and couldn't see outside. How did he know that they had arrived?

Credibility

  • The door to the phonebooth that Steve uses opens directly into the street. Anyone attempting to step out will have to watch for traffic.
  • The agent who wins the auction at the beginning of the episode with a bid of sixty million dollars unnecessarily spends five million dollars of his country's money. He had the last bid and since he could not be outbid by the stated rules of the contest, all he needed to do was bid one cent over the previous stated bid of fifty five million.

Nitpicks

It seems unusual that the radar operator has the rank of Major. This could be explained within the story on two levels. First, the involvement of Steve Austin and Oscar Goldman would raise the security clearance needed for the operation. Second, the nuclear threat has a three-star general called into the field to lead the mission, so a Major running the radar van is not overdoing it.

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