Original Airdate: March 1, 1974
Vasily activates the deadly laser defenses
Sam Strangis and Donald R. Boyle
Larry Brody and Jimmy Sangster
Gary Collins as Vasily Zhukov
Jane Merrow as Irina Leonova
|Special Guest Star(s)|
William Smithers as General Koslenko
Bruce Glover as Capt. Voda
William Boyett as Air Force General
Walker Edmiston as Russian Operator
Anne Newman as Female Technician
Rico Cattani as Male Technician
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Death Probe (Part II)
While trying to rescue the fiancée of a cosmonaut friend, Steve must also prevent the detonation of a nuclear bomb that would destroy Kamkov Island.
Col. Vasily Zhukov, a Soviet cosmonaut and friend of Steve Austin from his NASA days, travels to Washington, D.C. to seek help from the U.S. government in developing a joint U.S.-Soviet nuclear powered manned mission to Mars. Five cosmonauts and five astronauts will be recruited. The plan is to use a former early warning station located on Kamkov Island in eastern Russia, which contains a nuclear reactor deep underground, to develop and test the new spacecraft. While he is still in Washington, Zhukov is informed that a major earthquake has taken place on Kamkov Island, and he therefore cuts short his visit in order to return to the U.S.S.R. immediately. Steve insists on going with him to help. When they arrive on Kamkov, they learn that the earthquake has caused extensive damage to the facility and that Zhukov’s fiancée, Irina Leonova, is trapped underground. Shortly afterwards, another tremor strikes the Island, and Steve’s bionic powers are exposed when he saves Zhukov from a falling girder. As a result, Zhukov convinces Steve to help him rescue Leonova - against the express orders of his superior, General Koslenko. Once they are beneath the island, a further tremor occurs and results in the two men becoming trapped. They eventually locate Leonova, who was knocked unconscious during the earthquake, but is otherwise unharmed. She reveals that the former early warning station is protected by a computer which controls a nuclear bomb that is designed to be activated in the event of the base ever being attacked. They must disable the computer, as there is serious risk that the computer will interpret the earthquake as being an attack. However, before they can make any progress, they find that the computer has, indeed, activated the detonator sequence for the bomb, giving them less than an hour to reach and disable the computer. Soon afterwards, Oscar Goldman arrives on Kamkov and General Koslenko briefs him on the situation. Both agree to remain behind while the island is evacuated. Meanwhile, underground, Zhukov inadvertently activates a defense system and is tragically killed by lasers. Steve and Leonova struggle on and eventually reach the main computer room. There, with the aid of technical information relayed to him by telephone from General Koslenko and through the use of the Geiger counter in his bionic arm, Steve uses his bionic powers to short-circuit and destroy the computer with only two seconds to go before detonation.
Oscar: (on phone) Steve, nobody, nobody is going to approve the outlay of billions of dollars for construction and equipment on land that's on an earthquake's fault.
Steve: (in public phone booth) Tell that to the people in San Francisco, pal.
Steve Austin: Say, is Irina a cosmonaut?
Col. Zhukov: No. Uh, women in the space program are not interested in marriage. No, Irina is definately a perfect woman.
Col. Zhukov: That girder, how did you do that?
Steve Austin: Well, sometimes that potato vodka does more for you than just give you a headache.
Steve: And as far as being trapped down here, we're only trapped as long as we sit here crying in our Vodkas, right?
Col. Zhukov: You Americans, you are always so... so optimistic.
Steve: My friend, I don't know any other way. Let's go.
Koslenko: The last tremor that we had here disrupted our computer. Now Mr. Goldman, our computer has activated a nuclear weapon which is going to go off in less than one hour.
Oscar: General, there was no mention of a nuclear weapon.
Koslenko: Well, there was no need to mention it. Now my two officers and Colonel Austin are trying to stop the detonation, but I must tell you that it's hopeless.
Oscar Goldman: (Discussing the pending nuclear detonation) Do you think you can stop it?
Steve Austin: I don't know, Oscar. Get yourself on a helicopter and watch it on the late news.
Oscar Goldman: I didn't come all the way out here to talk to you from an airplane, Steve.
Steve Austin: Look Oscar, there's nothing you can do. I don't know if there's anything I can do. Now you get out of here and get out of here now.
Oscar Goldman: Pal, I've got more faith than brains.
Irina: Of course! You have a geiger counter in your arm.
Steve: It came with the equipment. I never thought I'd have a use for it, though.
- It is revealed in this episode that Steve Austin's bionic arm contains a geiger counter for detecting radioactivity.
- Bruce Glover, playing Capt. Voda in this episode, is familiar to fans of James Bond movies. He played the villanous Mr. Wint in Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
- Bruce Glover returned to SMDM as a different character in The Song and Dance Spy
- Steve's "NASA detente" was first hinted at in Survival of the Fittest, where he's returning to Washington after dialogue with cosmonauts. However, Wine, Women and War also revealed that Austin and the crew of Apollo 19 were once invited to Moscow, where he met and befriended Alexi Kaslov, a Russian rocket scientist.
- Oscar's deep friendship with Steve manifests itself fully as he volunteers to stay behind on the island, despite certain death, rather than abandon Steve. Later, Oscar will similarly put his life on the line for Jaime Sommers in "The Jailing of Jaime".
- We learn that the Russians attempted their own bionics program, but abandoned it as impossible.
- The basic story -- infiltrating a complex in order to disable a computer and prevent it from triggering a weapon -- is revisited in the Bionic Woman story "Doomsday Is Tomorrow".
- Irina returns in the "Death Probe" two-parter.
- Steve and Zhukov's friendship may be inspired by the real space program. At the time this episode was aired, US astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts were training for the joint Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission, flown in July 1975. The warming relations between the USSR and US at the time are also suggested by the fact the episode does not cast any Russian character in the role of villain.
- The Apollo mission that participated in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in July 1975 had no official mission number, but it was often referred to as Apollo 18.
- The director makes an atypical choice for an American-produced bit of filmed entertainment. Instead of having the actors playing Soviets attempt Russian accents, he allows them to keep their American accents (or, in the case of British actress Jane Merrow, affected American accent).
- The large national crest hung prominently in the command center is that of the DDR (East Germany), not the USSR. However, this may not necessarily be an error. There is a line of dialogue regarding taking something from the island back to Russia, suggesting the island may not actually be in Russia or the Soviet Union. Given that in the 1970s the various Iron Curtain countries were closely allied with the USSR, it's possible the island might actually be located off the coast of East Germany, in which case the DDR logo makes sense.
- Framed photographs displayed around the command center appear to show US space achievements (e.g., a Gemini launch), not Soviet ones.
- In the final segment of the episode, a framed photograph of the earth rising above the lunar surface is behind Steve. This appears to be a copy of Earthrise, a photograph taken by astronaut William Anders in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission. The Soviet Zond-7 and Zond-8 unmanned missions brought back similar photos of the earth in 1969 and 1970. (These images were not likely to have been available to the television studio in 1974. Details of the Soviet lunar missions were not released until 1990).
- In the scene immediately following Koslenko learning that Oscar is en route, we see Steve working to clear away some rubble from a corridor. During this sequence a piece of rubble smacks Lee Majors (or his stunt double) rather heavily on the head - there's even a smacking sound effect. Yet Austin appears unfazed by what might otherwise been a concussion-causing blow. This wouldn't be an error if one of the bionic enhancements included in Martin Caidin's original Cyborg novel - steel-reinforced skull - had been kept for the TV version of the character.
- Regardless of the circumstances, Austin commits treason by revealing his bionics to Vasily and Irina. Luckily (for Austin), Vasily dies and Irina seemingly agrees to not reveal his secret afterward.
- When meeting the Soviet cosmonaut at the airport Steve arrives in a 1969 Series 75 Cadillac limousine. They get into the '69 Caddy and it drives off. While they continue to speak, the camera view changes and the car suddenly becomes a 1972 (or 1971 - hard to determine from the distance) Cadillac Series 75 limousine. This massive continuity FUBAR also happens often with Cadillac limousines of the same era in Banachek.