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| Production 41208|
Original Airdate: October 4, 1974
Lionel E. Siegel and Joe L. Cramer
Margaret & Paul Schneider
Anne Revere as Salka Pal-Mir
Leo Fuchs as Av Ni
|Special Guest Star(s)|
Alan Oppenheimer as Rudy Wells
Nate Esformes as Chief of Security Shahvid
Denny Miller as Stellen
Virginia Gregg as Sarah
Robert Rothwell as Helicopter Pilot Johnson
John Landis as Michael
Jamie Donnelly as Linda
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|"Pilot Error"||"The Seven Million Dollar Man"|
Steve Austin has the life of Prime Minister Pal-Mir in his hands. He will be her bodyguard as she travels to Tennessee to receive a bionic heart implant.
Salka Pal-Mir, the prime minister of Eretz, is suffering from an acute myocardial infarction with papillary muscle necrosis. Even though certain drugs can temporarily restore Pal-Mir's vitality between attacks, her syndrome requires a heart transplant. Unable to locate a suitable donor, Dr. Rudy Wells plans to perform the first full-scale bionic heart implant, thus offering her a thirty percent chance of survival. This is essential, because the peace process she has initiated with warring factions will surely fail without her. To convince the prime minister that Steve would make a suitable bodyguard, Oscar Goldman shows her film footage of Steve's bionic abilities. Shahvid, Pal-Mir's personal bodyguard, insists that she travel in secret, but all are unaware that he has placed a listening device in the room. Plans are made to use the mobile field unit, a bulletproof vehicle that is fully hospital-equipped, to transport Pal-Mir, Dr. Av Ni, and Steve to a research center in Mountain Springs, Tennessee. Left behind, Shahvid meets with two men who have been monitoring the conversations through the listening device. He tells them that he has given the prime minister a flower which has a tracking device inside of it. Shavid also tells the men that Pal-Mir must not make it to the hospital, and that there must be no survivors.
On the journey, Pal-Mir explains to Steve that his approval is important to her because he symbolizes a modern American. At one point, she insists on helping a young couple whose van is stuck in the sand at the side of road (Steve uses his bionic powers to release it). This allows the men that Shahvid contracted to narrow the distance between them and plan an ambush. Oscar, learning of the delay, orders that they not stop again. He then receives news from Rudy of a problem with the atomic power pack, which will cause a further delay. After stopping for some fresh farm fruit (where we learn about Pal-Mir's life on a farm back home with her now-deceased sons), a (phony) detour leads the mobile field vehicle through a rock slide. With Steve and Av Ni out to clear the area, the assailants take aim, killing Av Ni. Steve uses a rifle to make his way back to the safety of the vehicle. A chase ensues, with enemies on land and in the air. Steve navigates the rough terrain and drives under the cover of trees. After finally subduing the assailants, and the arrival of support forces, Steve returns to Pal-Mir to find her unconscious and near death. Contacting Oscar, Steve volunteers the use of the power pack in his bionic arm to expedite the implant procedure. With the success of the operation, Pal-Mir admits to Steve that she was scared of the surgery.
Pal-Mir: Which is better? To have a week of peace talks, now that I've got them together. Or gamble with our friends, have surgery and live for...
Rudy: Well, there's no telling, Madame Prime Minister. It could extend your life considerably.
Pal-Mir: I have never trusted very good-looking men.
Steve: Well, I've never trusted good-looking prime ministers. (Pal-Mir laughs heartily)
Pal-Mir: What a thing to say. I have been called many things in my time: ruthless, fanatical, dictatorial. But good-looking? This is a first! (another burst of laugher)
Av Ni: Salka, please!
Pal-Mir: Ah, my good Dr. Av Ni is afraid I will die laughing. Tell me, Av Ni, you know a better way to go?
Steve: Well, that's just the thing; you can't argue with a woman.
Pal-Mir: What's hard about it? It's very easy to argue with me. Av Ni, tell him how easy it is to argue with me.
Av Ni: Arguing is easy; winning is hard.
Linda: (After Steve bionically moves her van out the sand) Hey, it's out of the sand. How did that happen?
Pal-Mir: Meditation. Sometimes it works.
Pal-Mir: If only Salka Pal-Mir were 40 years younger...
Steve: If only Steve Austin were 30 years older. (kisses her hand)
- This episode features a brief cameo by director John Landis. In the scene with the girl whose van is stuck in a ditch, Landis plays the boyfriend who is "meditating" to free the van.
- Steve displays some borderline chauvinistic - and, for the era, common - attitudes towards females in positions of political power. In a rare case of a Six Million Dollar Man script making a political point, he points out that the election of a female leader is unlikely in the US (indeed it'll be nearly a decade before the first female vice-presidential candidate).
- This episode is the first clear sign of the "change of direction" for the Steve Austin character. If this had been a season one episode, in all likelihood some or all of the men pursuing Pal-Mir - and certainly those in the helicopter - would have been killed by Steve. Instead, all survive and are arrested.
- This episode includes the rare sight of Steve Austin firing a gun (though he doesn't hit anyone). An image from this scene adorns the UK edition of the Wine, Women and War novelization.
- For the first time we see Austin use his bionic eye while driving. In the (non-canon) Charlton comic book series, the one time Austin's eye is activated while he is driving (albeit unintentionally), he closes his real eye, causing him to crash.
- We are given a sense of how intricate Steve's bionic surgery was, as Rudy mentions how removing the power pack from Steve's arm could impact "thousands" of nerve connections to Steve's brain and spinal cord.
- According to The Bionic Book, the later episode "Double Trouble" was the only time Steve Austin traveled to New York City. However the first act of this episode, up to the point where Steve and Pal-Mir departs in the field unit, takes place in New York.
- A bionic field unit vehicle - actually a souped-up "diesel pusher" motorhome - is introduced. The vehicle contains a field hospital and other equipment. Although such large motorhomes are frequently seen on roads today, back in the mid-1970s this style of vehicle was still new and uncommon. Although Oscar pumps up the fact the vehicle is supposed to have so much special equipment, nothing on screen suggests this is anything more than a regular RV, although one with a rifle stashed away.
- Eretz comes from the Hebrew phrase, Eretz Yisrael, which is translated as the "Land of Israel".
- By extension, therefore, the character of Pal-Mir could be analogous to Golda Meir, who had only recently ended her term as the first female prime minister of Israel.
- Given how much Oscar has spent the last season-and-a-bit stressing the secrecy of Austin's bionics, it seems inconceivable that he would reveal so much detail about them to Pal-Mir, the leader of a foreign country that, while an ally, is still a country at war with itself. The idea is in part to give her someone to identify with as she faced the bionic heart transplant, but this could have been accomplished without revealing so much about Steve's abilities (just mentioning the eye would have been sufficient).
- When Steve approaches the detour sign, we briefly see a view of the sign, but it is reversed.
- Whenever they show a closeup of the people in the helicopter, the same static mountain range can be seen as a reflection in the front window. Even after it was hijacked, the same reflection can be seen.
- The film footage of Steve's bionic strength that Oscar shows to Pal-Mir includes him bionically removing a pole from the ground (Population Zero), as well as using his bionic arm to deflect a piece of falling steel debris while on Kamkov Island (Doomsday, and Counting). However, because of the nature of the assignments, having film footage of these actions seems impossible. (The third piece of footage used is the "fence run" from the opening credits, but at least that one makes sense because it was shown being recorded both in the pilot and in "Burning Bright".)
- The shot of the thrown rifle landing in the lake is taken from "The Pioneers", which aired only a couple of weeks earlier.
- An artificial heart is a device that replaces the heart. Artificial hearts are typically used to bridge the time to heart transplantation, or to permanently replace the heart in case heart transplantation is impossible. By the time this episode was broadcast (1974), it was well within the realm of science fiction the implantation of a totally functional (and permanent) artificial heart with any degree of survival. It would be until 2001 that the first self-contained, mechanical heart replacement (as the one portrayed in this episode) would be sucessfully implanted.