Initially broadcast in 1987, Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman was the first of three reunion made-for-TV films bringing together the original casts of the two series. It was a "backdoor pilot" for a potential spin-off series centered around Michael Austin that never materialized. It was followed in 1989 by Bionic Showdown.
After ten years of little contact, Oscar Goldman seeks out a retired Steve Austin. He hopes to persuade him back into service for an OSI mission. A terrorist group calling itself Fortress has been on the move lately. This group feels that the American way of life is under siege. They want to stamp out those who they feel threaten their country, under the guise of patriotism. In reality, they are simply a paramilitary criminal organization looking to make their mark.
But Austin doesn't want to get back into that kind of life, worrying about who's going to shoot him in the back next. Besides, he has something else on his mind these days: his son. Austin has a son named Michael Austin whom he abandoned, along with his mother, Karen a long time ago. Michael's mother died when he was six, and he went to live with Austin's sister-in-law, Mary. Later, Michael joined the Air Force: and will soon graduate from basic flight training. Austin has decided he wants to become a part of Michael's life again, if he will have him.
Austin tells Goldman about how he's decided to meet Michael at a restaurant on the pier, where his boat is docked. Austin now owns a boat named Summer Maiden — a reference to his former sweetheart Jaime Sommers — which he uses to do chartered trips and earn a living. Goldman then decides to play matchmaker with Austin and Sommers. He knows Austin still loves her, even though he won't admit it. Goldman makes sure Sommers is in the restaurant that night.
When Austin arrives at the restaurant, Sommers is upset to see him. It turns out she received a concussion on her last mission for the OSI. When she woke up, Sommers remembered everything she had forgotten since the incident when she rejected her bionics — the day she almost died. So she remembers being in love with Austin, and can't handle the emotions right now. Not to mention she blames Austin for the death of Chris Williams — a fellow agent, and lover — on that last mission. Sommers ends up throwing Austin through the restaurant's front window, in anger.
Just then Michael shows up, cracking a joke about "using the front door next time" at seeing his father lying amongst the broken glass shards. Just when Austin thinks things can't get any worse that night: he ends up upsetting Michael at the end of their conversation. Michael wants Austin to be there on his graduation day, when he does a solo flight in a fighter jet to prove his skill: but Austin isn't sure if he wants to come. Austin ends up kicking himself, figuratively, for totally screwing up the evening.
Goldman talks to Sommers the next day, asking her to stop blaming Austin for Chris Williams' death, and to give him a chance. Goldman tells Sommers that Austin still loves her, and he is guilty enough for the both of them, for not helping Sommers and Williams in their time of need. Sommers decides to get to know Austin all over again, now.
Meanwhile, Fortress has decided that one of their goals is to capture either Austin or Sommers in order to learn about bionics. They try to capture both of them, but fail. Austin ends up rescuing Sommers from being kidnapped, and they come to talk about their feelings. The two make up, and want to start a new relationship. Steve invites Jaime to be at Michael's graduation.
When that day comes, Michael does his flight: as Austin, Sommers, and Goldman watch. Unfortunately, something goes horribly wrong with Michael's plane. It could be sabotage — Fortress seeking retribution against Austin. The leader of Fortress, Lyle Stenning, has a personal grudge against Steve Austin. It was Austin who put him behind bars ten years ago. But now that he has escaped from prison, Austin is enemy number one on his list. Michael Austin ejects from the crippled jet, but it's too late. He is severely wounded in the crash.
Now Steve Austin is really upset and angry. He decides to make a deal with Goldman. If Goldman will do bionic surgery on Michael to save his life, Austin will deliver Fortress on a silver platter. Goldman agrees to Austin's request, and Dr. Rudy Wells is called in to operate. The surgery is successful, but Michael is certainly not ecstatic when he wakes up and finds out what they did to him. He tells Austin that "no matter what happens now, your son died in that plane crash".
Sommers steps in, to help Michael deal with his recovery. She nurtures his mental stability back to normal, and eventually Michael comes to feel that the bionics are actually pretty "cool". This whole situation is great news to Fortress, once they find out. Now they want to grab the newest "bionic chip off the block". They can get their hands on the latest in bionic technology, and get back at Austin once again. Fortress proceeds to kidnap Michael, along with Rudy Wells.
Once Austin finds out where Fortress' hideout is, he and Sommers beat a path to their door. With some help from Michael, who manages to escape, they clean up the entire operation. Goldman is proud of his new bionic creation, and wonders if Michael Austin would like to become an OSI agent. Steve Austin is not pleased to hear this, and tells Goldman to keep his hands off Michael.
- First Aired: May 17, 1987 at 9:00 PM
- Network: NBC
- Story by: Michael Sloan & Bruce Lansbury
- Teleplay by: Michael Sloan
- Directed by: Ray Austin
- Executive Producer: Michael Sloan
- Supervising Producer: Bruce Lansbury
- Produced by: Bernadette Joyce
- Music by: Marvin Hamlisch
- Lindsay Wagner - Jaime Sommers
- Lee Majors - Steve Austin
- Tom Schanley - Michael Austin
- Richard Anderson - Oscar Goldman
- Martin E. Brooks - Rudy Wells
- Lee Majors II - Jim Castillian
Also Starring (In Alphabetical Order)
- Will Bledsoe - Tom Brubaker
- Gary Blumsack - Jerry Dreyfuss
- William Campbell - General Forest
- Robert F. Hoy - Kyle
- Terry Kiser - "Santiago"
- Cheryl McMannis - Carol
- Patrick Pankhurst - Duke Rennecker
- Bob Seagren - Martin
- Danil Torppe - Reardon
- Susan Woollen - Trish Sullivan
- Scott Kraft - Nick
- Bryan Cranston - Dr. Shepherd
- Keith Farrell - Jim Matlon
- Phil Nordell - Christopher
- Pamela Bryant - Blonde Girl
- Catherine McGoohan - Receptionist
- Deborah White - Sally
- Kawena Charlot - Megan
- Sandey Grinn - Waiter
- Leonard Kibrick - Jensen
- Michele Minailo - Holly
- Julie H. Morgan - Hostess
Steve: (watching some jet fighters fly overhead) Nice formation, huh?
Jim: Ever wish you were back at the controls of those, Colonel Austin?
Steve: Sometimes... only in a suicidal moment.
Oscar: Okay... I see your side. I just wish I could be on it. But be careful... remember, you're the man who put Stenning away ten years ago. Fortress may go after you.
Steve: C'mon... I'm ancient history.
Oscar: (watches Steve wave to a bikini-clad beauty) Not too ancient, I hope.
Jaime: Oh... Steve... my goodness... hi... how are you? I really wish I could stay and talk to you, but I can't, right now... I'm sorry.
Steve: I know it's been a long time.
Jaime: Yes, it has been... a long time. My... date is waiting for me out in the parking lot. I'd better get to him before he cons the parking kid out of his tip.
Jaime: You know, I really thought I knew what I was going to say to you when I saw you again. Now you're here, and I'm here, and I don't. Goodbye.
Steve: Wait... wait... wait justaminute. Hey, Jaime... give me five minutes. There's somebody I want you to meet.
Jaime: Blonde or brunette?
Steve: C'mon, it's not what you think.
Jaime: It doesn't matter what I think.
Steve: That was never true.
Jaime: Steve, I just can't deal with you right now. You... you know... you retreated inside yourself. No contacts, no friends, and when somebody needed you, you didn't care.
Steve: What're you talking about?
Jaime: That's fine, okay? Just stay there. Obviously you don't need anyone but yourself.
Steve: Jaime... (grabs her right arm)
Jaime: Please let go of me.
Jaime: Let go! (sends Steve flying through a window) Now look what you made me do!
Steve: (picking himself up from the broken glass) Well, at least your bionic arm still works.
Steve: Yes, I'd like to see Oscar Goldman.
Receptionist: Do you have an appointment?
Steve: Uh... no, I don't.
Receptionist: I'm sorry, sir, without an appointment, it will be absolutely impossible to...
Steve: (pulls out his OSI ID) Just tell him Steve Austin...
Receptionist: Oh! Colonel Austin! Yes... yes, of course, you don't need an appointment. (picks up the phone) You'll just rip the doors right off the hinges. (realizes what she just said) Uh... oh, I mean... (into phone) Uh... Colonel Austin is here to see Mr. Goldman. (to Steve) Someone will be right with you. (looks Steve up and down; Steve squirms uncomfortably) I wonder what parts are bionic.
Castillian: So... you're the six million dollar man.
Steve: Probably twenty-four by now.
Jaime: You knew I was gonna remember about me and Steve, didn't you?
Oscar: Yeah... what'll you do about it?
Jaime: Try not to throw him through another window? (Oscar chuckles) I don't know... I really don't know.
Oscar: I want you to stay away from him.
Jaime: Wha...? Last night you're playing Cupid; today you're sending me to my room? What's going on?
Oscar: Jaime, listen to me. Fortress has regrouped. They've back in business. No, no, let me finish. They're after the secret of bionics. They tried to pick up Steve this morning. That's why you have to stay away from him.
Jaime: (sarcastically) Swell. All these years, I haven't been able to respond to him, and now that I can, I can't?
Oscar: Be careful. You're no stranger to Fortress either.
Rudy: Your left eye is a miracle, a miracle of modern science, but what if it had an added factor - a laser beam - very thin, very concentrated, capable of burning through an inch of steel.
Steve: Come in handy if you got locked out of the house.
Steve: Well, last night wasn't my night for getting acquainted. Maybe tonight I'll do better, if I can find the right words.
Jaime: Words aren't that hard to find. Look inside yourself - say what's in your heart - even if it is made of Teflon.
(Michael zaps Stenning with his eye laser)
Steve: I can't do that either! You didn't kill him, did ya?
Michael: No - I can control the intensity of the beam. (mischievously) Bet you wish you had one.
Steve: You can say that again.
Oscar: Michael, if you ever get tired of being top gun in the Air Force, how'd you like to come to work for me?
Steve: No, no, no, no, Oscar. He is not gonna go to work for you.
Jaime: You think he has a choice?
Oscar: (indignantly) Jaime!
Jaime: (sheepishly) Bye.
- Richard Anderson was the main driving force behind the production of this movie, and became one of its Producers (but was not credited as such). The terms of his contract with Universal Studios, stated that this movie would serve as a pilot for a potential new series. However, should the pilot fail to produce a series, the contract stipulated that two more reunion films were to be made in that event.
- Chuck Yeager is a fan of the bionic shows, and came up with the idea that Michael Austin should have a laser equipped in his bionic eye. 
- Yeager may have made a cameo appearance, as the voice of the tower controller at Maffin Air Base who converses with Michael Austin on his graduation day test flight. 
- Steve Austin's bionic eye sound effect, Jaime Sommers' bionic ear sound effect, and both of their jumping sound effects, have been updated for this movie.
- Except for the "thud" sound when Michael Austin strikes someone with his bionic arm, all of his sound effects are also new. Particularly notable is his running sound effect, which starts off sounding like a sonic boom.
- Michael's slow-motion effect when he runs is also updated, so that his motion is blurred and leaves temporary after-images as he moves.
- Steve's interest in deep sea fishing is not something completely made up for this movie. In fact, he is seen to enjoy the sport in the syndicated version of Wine, Women and War.
- Chris Williams was killed on a mission with Jaime Sommers in Budapest, Hungary. Sommers states that she came back to work on a mission for the OSI after years of retirement. She and Chris became separated following an explosion at the American embassy, and she was knocked unconscious. Sommers suffered a concussion as a result. During her recovery, she discovers that she can suddenly remember every detail of her life. All of her lost memories have come back. Goldman adds that Williams was killed by a rifle bullet to the head, while being held captive in a cell.
- It seems that art imitates life when it comes to the story of Steve Austin's secret past: which bears a curious resemblance to Lee Majors' real life circumstances, in certain ways. Majors divorced his first wife, and she moved away with their son Lee Majors II — just like Austin was apart from his son Michael. At the time of filming, Majors was married to Karen Velez — and in the movie, Austin states that his wife was named Karen.
- Jim Castillian states that he is an orphan. This also appears to be a reference to Lee Majors' real life. Majors was orphaned as a child, his parents both died in accidents.
- Austin states that his wife Karen died of pneumonia in a small town named Placidville. Michael was six years old at the time of her death, and Austin sent him away to live with Karen's sister Mary. Austin married Karen "right out of college", divorced her almost immediately, and he then entered the U.S. Air Force.
- Michael didn't take an interest in his father until he was 14. Even then, they only wrote letters to each other. After that, they had little contact. Austin and Michael have not met each other again, since the time Michael's mother died.
- Austin talks about the M3-F5, the experimental lifting body vehicle in which he crashed. In The Deadly Replay, it was referred to as the HL-10. Although this reference breaks continuity with the earlier episode, it is consistent with Martin Caidin's original novel, Cyborg, which identifies Austin's aircraft as the M3F5.
- Michael is 23 years old, and has reached the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Air Force.
- Oscar Goldman states that he's left Jaime Sommers alone since the events of the series finale, On the Run.
- The OSI regional office located in California — the location in which the film takes place, and it specifically appears to be Los Angeles as evidenced by certain signage — is operating under the false identity of "Motor Cars Unlimited" as a cover.
- Steve is directly and openly addressed as "The Six Million Dollar Man" by another character (which also implies knowledge of his bionics is now widespread within the OSI, something that was decidedly not the case during the original TV series). This is one of the few times this occurs on screen.
- When asked how much his bionics are worth at this point, Steve Austin responds that he believes they would be worth $24 million if inflation was taken into account.
- Michael's bionic limbs have three times as many components as Austin's, and a microchip implanted in Michael's chest helps coordinate the bionic systems.
- A PA in the hospital where Michael undergoes surgery, pages a Dr. Joyce. This is a reference to the Producer of the movie, Bernadette Joyce.
- Gary Lockwood appeared in Eyewitness to Murder, Steve Austin, Fugitive and The Night Demon.
- Terry Kiser appeared in Love Song for Tanya and Mirror Image.
- Tom Connors III is credited as the First Assistant Director of this movie. Connors was also an assistant director and director on both preceding series.
- Rudy Wells drops the name "Max" when talking to Austin about his fundamental changes to research in bionics; he is referring to the Bionic Dog, Maximillian, who had featured during the final season of The Bionic Woman.
- The shootout between OSI agents and Fortress at the end - including a scene showing Jim shooting one of them - marks one of the few occasions since the early Six Million Dollar Man episodes that the heroes are shown using deadly force, although the non-deadly-force attitude of the original series is reflected a few moments later when Michael chooses to stun Stenning with his laser eye rather than kill him.
- There is considerable use of stock footage in this production, with clips from many earlier episodes of both the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman used for flashback and memory sequences.
- In addition, there are two scenes at the beginning of the episode, during Oscar's voiceover about the Fortress attack, that are borrowed from other programs produced by Universal Studios . The paratroopers in black outfits are borrowed from the Battlestar Galactica episode "The Living Legend - Part II" and the footage of the semi trailer running the blockade is lifted from an episode of "BJ and the Bear."
- Oscar Goldman begins the movie reciting a memo, stating that OSI stands for Office of Scientific Information. This contradicts both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman series, which (most commonly) stated that OSI stood for Office of Scientific Intelligence. However, given that nearly a decade has passed, it is not uncommon for government agencies to change their names.
- During the opening credits, we see wire-frame representations of bionic limbs and other components. One of these representations demonstrates a left arm. But none of the bionic characters — Steve Austin, Jaime Sommers, or Michael Austin — have a left bionic arm (although Martin Caidin's original version of Steve did).
- After Steve Austin has spoken with General Forest and leaves Maffin Air Force Base, we see that Santiago is tailing Austin. During the close-up of Santiago in the passenger seat of the car, he says "follow him" to his fellow henchman. The problem is, his lip movements clearly don't match what's said.
- When one of Lyle Stenning's henchmen fires a grenade at Austin's car, during the car chase where they try to capture him: you can tell when the henchman leans out of the passenger window, that the car and background aren't moving.
- When the grenade impacts Austin's car, it shatters the front windshield but part of the glass is still in the frame. Later however, the remaining glass suddenly disappears.
- How would a mere receptionist even know about bionics? It's possible that knowledge of bionics became more widespread within the OSI in the years since the end of the two series; also, office gossip can often be more powerful than security clearance levels,
- Oscar Goldman refers to the events of On the Run when he states that the National Security Board tried to arrest her. This explanation of the acronym contradicts that episode, in which it stood for National Security Bureau. Again, however, government agencies often change their names over time.
- When Jaime Sommers goes for a run in a park by herself, she runs at bionic speed. Oscar Goldman is there to greet her, at the end of her sprint. Goldman timed the run, and states that she ran a mile in 30 seconds. Unless Goldman is being facetious, this would mean Sommers was running at a speed of 120 miles per hour. This contradicts the generally accepted top running speed established for Steve Austin and Sommers in The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman series. Both suggest, albeit inconsistently, that Austin's and Sommers' top speed is in the 60 miles per hour range. A specific example is Burning Bright, where we can see a readout of 66 miles per hour on a treadmill indicator as Austin runs on it. However, there is precedent for greater speeds being possible: in Wine, Women and War, Wells makes Austin stop running once he hits 60 mph for fear of breaking the treadmill, while the first TV Movie shows a gauge momentarily reading 300 during Austin's test run; a few moments earlier the same gauge appeared to measure Austin running at 60 mph. The first regular SMDM episode, "Population Zero", however, establishes 60 mph as Austin's top speed at that point in time. In the case of Jaime, however, the episode "Winning Is Everything" explicitly shows her outrunning a race car going 100 MPH. It's worth noting that the later telefilm, Bionic Ever After supports the notion of Steve and Jaime's bionics being upgraded periodically, suggesting that what was considered the top speed for Jaime in 1976-78 might not have been the speed she was capable of in 1987.
- After her run, Sommers is exhausted, even though Her bionic legs are doing all the work of running. She never became visibly tired from running in The Bionic Woman series. The fact that she is older now, should not make a difference. We don't know that for certain, however.
- During the sequence where Goldman tells Sommers to stay away from Austin, Goldman says, "No, no, no, let me finish", as if Sommers were about to say something or interrupt him - only she wasn't.
- Dr. Rudy Wells is shown fiddling with a remote control in his lab. Why do we hear distinct button punching sound effects like typing on a computer keyboard, when the buttons on Rudy's remote are membrane switches? They would not sound like that, when pressed.
- There is a scene where Steve Austin leaps on top of a building, over three stories high. A "story" is defined as being approximately 12 feet in measure. In the episode The Last of the Fourth of Julys, it is established that Austin — and by extension, Jaime Sommers — have difficulty jumping higher than 30 feet. Therefore, Austin should not have been able to make the jump. (Similarly, a scene in which he jumps off a similar building likewise shouldn't have been possible given the precedent of "Kill Oscar" in which Jaime attempts a similar jump and nearly kills herself. (However, once again, an upgrade to his bionics may have occurred since the limit was previously established; and in the jumping-off example he does land on the roof of a car which cushions the impact - and in "Eyewitness to Murder" he executes a similar off-the-roof jump and lands on the street without difficulty).
- Afterward, when Austin leaps off the building and lands on the car Lyle Stenning's henchmen are in with the kidnapped Jaime Sommers — when Austin drops, he turns to his side as he falls. This would mean he should hit the car with the side of his body. But when he lands on top of the car, he is upright. (He might have realigned himself off camera.)
- Before Sommers kicks out the car door, it's clear that the door has already been removed from its hinges.
- You can tell that a stuntwoman kicks out the door, and not Lindsay Wagner.
- When Austin rolls over the car: not only does the roll look completely unrealistic in the way it moves, but you can see a cable at the right side of the camera frame attached to the rear of the car. Also, the way the roof of the car is crushed should have badly injured Stenning's henchmen, yet they are fine and manage to drive off in the severely damaged car.
- In the bar scene when the waitress Megan says "I was friendlier to you, leave me alone" to Tom Brubaker, it's very apparent that her line is dubbed. Her lip movements don't match what is said.
- During the bar fight, you can tell Jerry Dreyfuss (one of Michael's fellow Air Force graduates) pulls his punch, and did not close his fist, when he punches another bar patron.
- In the scene where Lyle Stenning's henchmen try to run down Steve Austin and Michael using a car, Austin grabs Michael by the arm and does a bionic leap. (Michael is not bionic yet, at this point in the story.) The leap carries him to safety on a high wall. But the problem with this, is that Austin's leap would realistically have torn Michael's arm out of its socket.
- At the beginning of the scene where Michael is about to go on his graduation test flight, Austin is talking to Oscar Goldman about the night before. About how Stenning's men tried to run them both down, and Austin was forced to lift Michael to safety by using a bionic jump. Goldman wants to know how Austin explained that he was able to make the jump. Lee Majors flubs his line a bit here, saying he gave Michael "the general ideal".
- Michael is flying a T-38 during most of his graduation test flight, but the plane that crashes is an F-100.
- Rudy Wells states that Michael's bionics feature "atomic power chips" and "bionic capillaries". Without further explanation by the story, these terms are completely nonsensical.
- After Michael and Jaime Sommers race, and she tells him "Leave me alone you little brat!" in jest and hits him: when Michael bends over, you can see a rectangular outline under his training vest. This would appear to be a transmitter for a wireless microphone, used by actor Tom Schanley. (Or, it could be a version of the sensors seen worn by his father during his training run in the original pilot film.)
- When Lyle Stenning's men attempt to kidnap Michael Austin, Michael resists at first. He then uses his left arm to push away one of the men, and we hear a bionic "thud" sound effect. The problem is, Michael's left arm is not bionic.
- After being captured, when Stenning warns Michael not to try and escape: you can see a boom microphone in the upper-right corner of the frame.
- When Jaime Sommers jumps through the window to rescue Rudy Wells from capture, you can tell it's a stuntwoman. On top of that, you notice that she loses her balance when she lands, after the jump. Just as she's about to fall, the camera cuts to the next scene.
- When Steve Austin leaps down and knocks over a couple of henchmen about to kill Michael, you can tell it's a stuntman doing the leap.
- As Michael is about to free himself from being in handcuffs, he knocks over Santiago using bionic strength. But he uses his left arm to do it — which again, is not bionic. (In theory, it could be argued that he shoved Stenning's henchman by using his bionic legs, and directing that force through his body to his non-bionic arm. However, this doesn't seem very plausible.)
- Even worse, when Michael knocks over Santiago with his left arm: it's clearly visible that he's actually not in handcuffs. Yet in the next scene, the handcuffs return and Michael uses the laser in his bionic eye to burn through the chain of the cuffs.
- Wouldn't Brubaker and the other Air Force grads helping to ambush Stenning's men, wonder why Michael appears to be completely okay after his plane crash? The same point, however, can be applied to both Steve and Jaime, who during their TV series are rarely asked about their respective accidents when they meet "old friends".
- Assuming the OSI's motivation for creating bionic operatives remains unchanged from the pilot film, and the fact Rudy is still active, it's surprising that Goldman doesn't by this time didn't already have several more bionic men and women at his disposal to replace Steve and Jaime, even before Michael's crash (and even then, Michael's bionic surgery is presented more as a reward to Austin than an explicit need for a new bionic man).
- It's indicted that a decade has passed since Oscar has worked with either Steve and Jaime. Assuming the film takes place the year it was broadcast, 1987, this contradicts both series that suggest their adventures continued into 1978, which was only nine years earlier.
- Lee Majors was criticized for appearing out of shape in this reunion film, with one critic referring to him as "beefy" in the role. However, this actually fits in with the concept of Austin being retired. In the subequent telefilms, Majors (and Austin) are in noticeably better condition, but those films also show that he has renewed his involvement with the OSI. (One topic never addressed in the series or films is how Austin's bionics are able to age with him; even though Austin reaffirms his retirement from the OSI at the start of the film, presumably he must still receive occasional "touch ups" from Wells, otherwise by rights his arm and legs should still look the way they did in 1972, and therefore not match the Austin of 1987 (and later).
Scenes Deleted in Repeat Broadcasts
- When Oscar Goldman cons one of his agents, Martin, into taking Jaime Sommers on a date to the Schooner restaurant so she will bump into Steve Austin — there are a couple of scenes immediately after this that were cut from repeat broadcasts of the movie.
- Goldman and Steve Austin are on Austin's boat, and Goldman is giving Austin a pep-talk to help him prepare for meeting his son Michael.
- Right after that, there is a scene where Michael is going through the same routine. His fellow Air Force graduates try to cheer him up and prepare him for his meeting with his father.
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