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Wine, Women and War was the second of three made-for-TV films broadcast by the ABC network in 1973 in advance of the the weekly series of The Six Million Dollar Man. Whereas the first telefilm adapted Martin Caidin's introductory novel, Cyborg, it was decided to produce an original storyline instead of a direct adaptation of Caidin's second novel, Operation Nuke, although the book does contain some similar plot elements, most notabily the idea of a syndicate offering nuclear weapons for sale.
Although often referred to as a pilot film, it's uncertain whether Wine, Women and War was actually considered as one, as it aired only a few months before the weekly series debuted, meaning the series would have already been in production by the time the film aired. Promotional ads for the film also declare it the premiere of "a new monthly series", although ultimately only The Solid Gold Kidnapping followed in that format before it switched to weekly broadcasts.
After a mission to steal an arms dealer's catalog in Egypt goes wrong, resulting in the death of a lover, Col. Steve Austin is resentful when Oscar Goldman tries to get him to go back into the field. Instead, Austin escapes from the bionics facility and heads for a friend's Caribbean vacation home, unaware that his "holiday" is being manipulated by OSI agents. Soon, Austin meets up with a Soviet colleague and finds himself back on the trail of the arms dealer, with revenge for his friend's death on his mind.
Tamara: (to Steve Austin) You said that you were not leave until tomorrow. Why is it that I feel that I have already lost you?
Meade: Eh, sir, would you mind telling me how we're gonna pick up this Austin fellow without running into patrol boats?
Dawson: Orders say he's going to swim out.
Meade: It will take him four hours to swim that distance.
Dawson: Orders say he'll do it in two minutes.
Dawson: We're to forget what we've seen here. Not just now, but forever. And you're to get on that horn, and tell Air Evac that if they don't break every record in getting here, we're going to lose what must be the most valuable man in the world.
Oscar: We're gonna need Steve Austin on this mission, with... or without his cooperation.
Katarina: (to Steve Austin) I don't think we shall wait until this plane lands to, eh, go our separate ways.
Rudy: (on phone with Steve Austin) You're experiencing a power surge in your hand induced by a sudden adrenaline increase in your system when you're angry. It's a minor adjustment.
Cynthia: (Steve offers Cyn a drink he's just mixed) What's that?
Steve: That is a moonshot.
Cynthia: A which?
Steve: A little number from the Cape. Guaranteed to keep you in smooth orbit.
Steve: Alexi, I didn't realize they paid you Russians enough for this kind of a life.
Alexi: Well it's an American shortcoming to believe your own propaganda.
Cynthia: Oh, is there anything you aren't good at?
Steve: Well, I've never had much success at milking reindeer.
Alexi: (to Steve Austin) Do you still insist that you are no more than an astronaut playboy on holiday?
Steve: (on phone with Oscar) Listen, pal, the next time you want me on a mission, you lay it all out on front, or I'll kick your department so high you'll need Sky-Lab to get it down.
Alexi: (seeing Findletter's stolen Polaris missile) So, the Americans are indeed in the same unhappy boat as we.
Findletter: I don't know what you are, but you know, from what I've seen, you have great commercial possibilities. And when this operation is over, I intend to seriously investigate the possibility of making you the newest entry in my Fall Catalogue.
Katarina: (having just watched Steve Austin break free from his shackles) In Russia they say all American men are soft.
Steve: Yeah, we rise to the occasion.
Katarina: How can you see where you're going?
Steve: I eat a lot of carrots.
Katarina: Maybe we should have taken our chances with Finletter.'
Steve: I guarantee our relationship is heading for a blowup.
- This movie represents a wholesale replacement of the entire team from the first telefilm both in front of and behind the camera, with the sole exception of Lee Majors.
- Richard Anderson debuts here as Oscar Goldman, replacing the Oliver Spencer character played by Darren McGavin. Interestingly, both Anderson and McGavin (who played OSI superiors in the pilot telefilms) both acted in the horror telefilm The Night Strangler, during the same year this telefilm was aired.
- Actor Alan Oppenheimer replaces Martin Balsam, who originally portrayed Dr. Rudy Wells in the The Six Million Dollar Man pilot. However Balsam is still visible in the opening credits recap in both this and the following telefilm. Rudy's character also undergoes some retconning - whereas in the pilot he is depicted as an outsider, in this film he's shown to hold a senior position within the OSI (though it's possible that between the events of the pilot and this episode he was promoted).
- Some changes (retconning) of Austin's character occurs in this film. In the previous film, he is described as a civilian test pilot and member of NASA. Starting with this film (and continuing through the series), Austin is now referred to as Col. Steve Austin, with no further reference to him being a civilian.
- Also retconned are important elements surrounding Austin's crash and aftermath. In the new opening credits we hear Oscar and Steve in radio communication just prior to the crash, with Steve indicating he has no idea what's happening (unlike the pilot and later series that have Steve identifying the problem, plus this is the only time it's indicated that Steve knew Oscar before the crash). Oscar is shown being the one convincing Rudy to make Steve bionic (using different dialogue than the pilot), and it's implied that this occurred with Austin in the room (since we get a Steve's eye-view of the exchange). Oscar also states that the cost didn't matter, while Oliver Spencer indicated a rather strict budget of $6 million.
- In the pilot, Austin is rebuilt and recruited by an organization called the Office of Strategic Information (OSO). Beginning with this film, the organization (again retconned) is now the OSI, the meaning of which will vary over the years but most commonly be defined as Office of Scientific Information. Despite the use of the word "Scientific" suggesting a research-based organization, throughout the history of the OSI it functions more along the lines of the CIA or MI6, usually (but not always) engaging in missions related to technology.
- This film, and Solid Gold Kidnapping, both attempted to cast Austin in a James Bond-like mold. In this film he wears Bond-like tuxedos, romances two women, and also uses deadly force (particularly at the end where he causes a nuclear detonation, killing not only Findletter and all his men but potentially catastrophic collateral damage as well). Once the weekly series began, however, the James Bond aspects were virtually eliminated, and Austin would rarely be shown killing.
- Steve Austin's mission in this movie, is very similar to his first mission in the Martin Caidin novel Cyborg — upon which the show is loosely based. There are also similarities to events in Caidin's second novel, Cyborg II: Operation Nuke.
- Austin briefly enjoys the company of a woman named Tamara at a party. This character is a reference to one in Caidin's Cyborg novel. In the novel, Austin works with an Israeli agent named Tamara Zigon for a time.
- This telefilm attempted to introduce a new brand/logo for The Six Million Dollar Man, with the words presented in a "tall and skinny" typeface shaped vaguely like a pyramid. Although this would soon be replaced by the more familiar squared off and "stepped" logo, the logo used for Wine, Women and War would be adapted for some spin-off merchandise, such as coloring books and activity books. Not included in the episodic version of the telefilm, the logo created for the telefilm can be seen in the "original title cards" animated gif at the top of this page.
- This is the first time we observe Austin use his bionic eye, when he needs to see in the dark. A green filter is used on the camera, when we see events from his point of view, similar to what is seen in night vision scopes and goggles in real life (in the series, a red filter suggesting infrared is used instead). But the familiar cross-hair is not superimposed over these POV shots. Also, the sound effect associated with his bionic eye is present in this episode, as well — but it is not associated with the eye's use. Instead, it is used when buttons are pushed on the missile silo's control panel. No sound effect is employed during the debut of the bionic eye. In addition, in the close-ups of the eye, a green light is seen emitting from it; in the subsequent series there would be no indication of the eye emitting light -- although the 2007 reimagining of Bionic Woman would return to the premise of the bionic eye lighting up when in use.
- Steve explains tells Katrina that he can see well in the dark because he "eats a lot of carrots". This same cover would be reused in Eyewitness to Murder and "Taneha".
- Bionic running is not seen in slow motion in this story, as it would be the vast majority of subsequent episodes. Instead, bionic running is depicted in fast motion shots.
- The telefilm features the first reference to OSI security clearance levels. Harry Donner has Level 5, which is shown to be high enough for him to communicate with Austin, but not high enough for him to enter the bionics lab (the series would later establish that this requires Level 6 security clearance).
- The briefly referenced subplot involving Austin losing control of his bionic arm when he becomes upset is unique to this telefilm; however it is referenced again in "The Bionic Woman" two parter. Jaime Sommers accidentally crushes a tennis ball, and Steve mentions that his arm needed some adjustments in the beginning as well. Similarly, a later scene shows Austin accidentally hitting a golf ball too hard; Austin would rarely lose control of his bionics in this way again.
- In this telefilm and its sequel, The Solid Gold Kidnapping, it's revealed that Austin has some experience as a gambler. In this telefilm he mentions that he has a "system" related to roulette, though it's not clear whether he's being serious or joking.
- Footage of the submarine is taken from the 1968 film Ice Station Zebra.
- Several episodes in the first season (including the three seperate pilot films) feature a submarine with the hull number "509" on the sail. I believe this is some of the same submarine footage that was used in Alistair MacLean's, "Ice Station Zebra". In this episode, an evil plot was hatched to steal an entire submarine (the 509) loaded with Poseiden missiles. I spent 10 years in submarines in the Navy and I can guarentee that there was never a submarine with the number "509" that carried Poseiden missiles.
- As part of ABC's attempts to recast Steve Austin in a James Bond mold, a promotional photoshoot for this film was undertaken in which a tuxedo-clad Lee Majors posed with a trio of beautiful women. One of these women happened to be Majors' real-life wife, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, who would later make four appearances in The Six Million Dollar Man before becoming a superstar in her own right.
- Coincidentally, the sequence in the opening credits where we see Oscar and Rudy talking through Austin's eye looks very similar to the view when looking through the "bionic eye" feature of the later Kenner action figure.
Scenes Changed For Syndication
Wine, Women and War originally aired as a 90-minute made-for-TV movie. When the series was released into syndication, this movie was padded out with stock footage and additional scenes taken from later episodes and split into two one-hour parts. This makes the resulting episodes somewhat long and drawn-out; not to mention that the added scenes cause continuity errors.
- The syndicated episodes created from this movie do not use the original opening credits sequence, which featured a song by famed singer Dusty Springfield. The intro sequence from the series is used instead. The version of the series credits used is the Season 4/5 variant, and is identical to that used for The Moon and the Desert, with the exception that Martin E. Brooks' credit is replaced by a credit for Alan Oppenheimer. This was repeated for the syndicated cut of The Solid Gold Kidnapping, making these episodes the only time Oppenheimer received a credit in the show intro for the run of the series (he is typically credited as "Special Guest Star" after the episode title).
- The "supers" (titles that are printed on top of moving footage) were yellow for the original, and are white for the syndicated version, to match the standard series titles.
- In Part I of the syndicated cut, after a series of shots from various episodes at the beginning, we are given a title card that reads: "A Port in South America." This contradicts several spoken lines from the original version that are cut in the syndicated version, the first by Tamara: "I'll admit it's not the most stimulating party in Alexandria's history.." -the "Alexandria" is cut from the middle of the shot quite glaringly, leaving a "jump cut". The discussion between the submarine captain and his officer is redubbed to avoid another reference. Another line is by Steve, to Oscar, describing how they "Went through four weeks of cloak and dagger, pitted me against the entire Egyptian Navy...." the word Egyptian is cut, again leaving a jump cut. Other references are also "scrubbed." This is one of the most significant plot alterations between the two versions of Wine, Women and War.
- Footage taken from later episodes includes: The Solid Gold Kidnapping, The Seven Million Dollar Man, Return of the Robot Maker, and "The Return of the Bionic Woman". Footage from the pilot film is also used during an artificially added "flashback" sequence. As a result, both Martin Balsam and Martin E. Brooks can be seen as Rudy Wells, and Darren McGavin can be glimpsed as Oliver Spencer. In the original version of Wine, Women and War, however, Balsam is also visible as Wells during the opening credits sequence, which incorporates footage from the pilot.
- Since the telefilm begins at night, all the daytime footage that begins the syndicated version can be immediately recognized as such.
- When Austin is picked up by the submarine, there follows an inserted collection of stock footage, with voiceovers of Navy personnel discussing the minutiae of getting Col. Austin back Stateside; essentially what is referred to in the industry as "shoe leather;" the getting from one place to another that can be safely cut without damaging the story.
- One of the most noticeable examples of padding occurs when Austin awakens aboard Alexi's yacht and is informed that he's a guest. Austin states he's going to enjoy himself fishing. In the original film, he exchanges some tongue-in-cheek words with the guards and goes below-decks. In the syndicated version, Austin's statement about fishing is followed by a lengthy sequence showing Austin doing just that, with a body double used to extend the scene. After the fishing sequence ends, the scene continues from where it left off as per the original version.
- Stu Phillips' incidental music for Wine, Women and War recieved an aggressive re-edit here, with some cues eliminated, others repeated, and most repositioned. Since music tells an audience how to interpret what is being seen on a subconscious level, this is one of the ways the telefilm was "redirected" for its re-edit, downplaying the "Bondlike" brashness of the original.
- The bionic sound effect was added to Part II (the syndicated episode created from this movie). This effect was not present in the original movie, it would not appear until Season One, and would not be wedded to bionics until Season Two.
- The footage that shows what looks like an infinite hallway of computer banks at "OSI Headquarters", is taken from the 1970 Universal Studios film Colossus: The Forbin Project.
- The closing credits of the original film are also changed for syndication; although the image of the nuclear explosion remains for Part II, a piece of Stu Phillips' score plays instead of Springfield's song: this is the playful theme heard immediately upon Steve's landing at Paradise Cay (in the syndicated cut, that is- originally the piece was used only at the beginning of the golf course scene). The closing credits of Part 1 consist of a still image of Austin running (this frame is of footage used for the center of the telefilm's opening sequence, and for the tail credits of The Solid Gold Kidnapping) with Oliver Nelson's Six Million Dollar Man theme music.
- The scene where Austin punches through a concrete wall after arguing with Rudy Wells, is cut short. We do not see a nearby guard reacting in shock, to seeing Austin's fist go through the wall.  (in response) In the original edit, the action continues from Steve's punching the wall, to an extreme close up of his fist emerging, to a wide shot of the 2 guards reacting. In the 2-part syndicated version, the shot of the fist emerging goes to freeze frame, then fades to black. Presumably after a break, we fade in to the shot of the 2 guards reacting. There is no single of either guard, only the 2 shot, and they have no lines. If the above is in reference to cuts made above and beyond the 2-parter by stations, I have no way to verify that. This is based on a side by side viewing of the 2 edits.
- The scene where Austin "boxes" a guard's ears during his first visit to Findletter's underground base is cut from the syndicated version (one of the only scenes from the original film not to be retained). There is also an edited version of the TV movie edit which cuts away just as Austin is shown putting his hands on both sides of the guard's head (see iillustration); in the original broadcast Austin slaps his hands together over the ears, causing the guard to scream and collapse (it appears the character is not seriously harmed, however, as he is later seen accompanying Findletter during Austin's second visit to the facility; in reality such a blow would have probably killed or deafened the man). Note: the 2010 DVD release version of the telefilm retains the original version of this scene.
- As discussed elsewhere, two major characterization changes are made in this second film: Oscar Goldman is now Austin's superior, and Austin now works for the OSI, not OSO, and neither the film nor later series ever make an attempt to reconcile these changes.
- When the patrol boat drops depth charges in an attempt to kill Austin, who is underwater: the same exact footage is used over and over, every time a charge is dropped.
- When Austin rips out the electrical cable in missile silo seven, the "rock" wall distorts.
- Why was the "bionic" sound effect added to the Part II episode created for syndication, but not to Part I?
- The nuclear explosion that ends of the film clearly occurs over desert (since stock footage of a Nevada test explosion is used), however it's established that not only is Findletter's base located in a wooded area and under a cemetery, but some aerial shots suggest residential development nearby (this "collateral damage" is not accounted for in the film). Also related to the explosion, both Austin and Katrina are shown looking directly at the explosion, with no ill effects.
- The opening credits break continuity with the original pilot film in several ways: it suggests Oscar Goldman was in communication with Austin just prior to the crash, and subsequently discussed the bionics surgery with Rudy Wells (in the pilot film, it was Oliver Spencer involved with promoting Austin's surgery, and clearly shows he was not in communication with Austin prior to the crash. The dialogue between Austin and Goldman/ground controllers also differs from the previous film. Goldman also states he wants the surgery done "no matter what the cost" while Spencer clearly had a budget in mind ($6 million) in the previous film.
- Austin is shown exercising his bionic arm by lifting a heavy weight (a scene later recycled for the weekly series opening credits). Why does he need to exercise it? This is different from Austin's training run in the first pilot, as the purpose of that was to test his endurance and speed, where as neither plays a role as to whether the bionic arm is capable of lifting hundreds of pounds repeatedly. The only possibility is to exercise the muscles and ligaments where the arm is joined to Steve's body (especially given that, in the universe Steve Austin inhabits, his arm appears to be joined at the shoulder with no apparent reinforcement elsewhere on his upper body).
- The telefilm in both original and syndicated versions contains a dialogue reference to Austin's trip to the moon having taken place aboard Apollo 19, which contradicts later episodes that established him as traveling on Apollo 17, and the reedited version of the first pilot film which identified it as Moonshot XYZ.
- The revelation that Austin is experiencing problems with his bionic arm seems like a potential major plot point, yet the way it's dismissed in a simple phone conversation with Rudy makes one wonder why it was mentioned at all. The phone call itself appears to be the cure, as Austin continues his mission with no access to Wells and his bionics team, yet his malfuncioning arm doesn't seem to give him any further problems.
- After the sub picks up Steve, 2 crew walk away from Steve, one explains to the other about the value of Steve and to call evac team, the following scene is a repeat of that scene with overdubbed instructions to air evac him back to the states.
- When the helicopter evac arrives at the sub, you can see there are 2 different helicopters. Prior mentions of scenes of the sub being from another movie would suffice.
Wine, Women and War was adapted as a novel by Mike Jahn, who made numerous changes to the storyline and the characterization of Steve Austin in order to bring the book in line with the original literary continuity of creator Martin Caidin. See Wine, Women and War (novel). Changes include the addition of a scene showing Austin sinking Alexi's yacht (in order to prevent Katrina and the guards from following him) and the addition of a scene where Austin kills two Russian agents with his CO2 poison dart gun (concealed in his bionic hand); this confrontation occurs in the novel after Austin leaves Alexi's yacht.