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“Operation Firefly”

S1 E3

Production 40016
Original Airdate: 01 February, 1974
Operation firefly.jpg
Oscar briefs Steve on the wireless laser
Produced by
Sam Strangis & Donald R. Boyle
Written by
Sy Salkowitz
Directed by
Reza Badiyi
Guest Cast
Guest Star(s)
Pamela Franklin as Susan Abbott
Simon Scott as Samuel Abbott
Jack Hogan as John Belson
Joe Kapp as Frank
Vic Mohica as Eddie
Joseph Ruskin as Le Duc
Erik Holland as Ed Rawlins
Bill Conklin as Hobbs
Margarita Cordova as Desk Clerk
Broadcast Order
Season 1
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"Survival of the Fittest" "Day of the Robot"


It is feared that the inventor of a revolutionary wireless laser, Dr. Samuel Abbott, has been kidnapped. Steve Austin travels to El Capote, Spain to meet with his daughter, Susan, who is gifted with extra sensory perception (ESP). Susan senses that her father is being held in the Florida Everglades. On their way to the Madrid airport, an attempt is made to kill both Susan and Steve but they survive and eventually arrive in Florida. Meanwhile Oscar Goldman receives a visit from a representative of the kidnappers confirming that Dr. Abbott is indeed being held prisoner and seeking a ransom.

In the Everglades Steve and Susan begin their search but during their first night there they are attacked by four men. This results in the death of their local guide and the loss of their boat. The following day, in a canoe made from a log, they manage to continue their search. Susan is lucky to survive an attack by a crocodile with Steve coming to her rescue. Eventually they locate Dr. Abbott in a large house but they quickly discover that he has been tricked into believing that the kidnappers, the leader of which is an old friend of his, are his protectors and that Steve has been sent to kill him. Steve is imprisoned but soon escapes and removes a vital part from the wireless laser that Dr. Abbott has been working on. When the laser explodes during a test, the leader of the kidnappers is infuriated and hits Dr. Abbott. Now realising the truth about his captors, Steve, Susan and Dr. Abbott finally manage to escape.



Susan: Wait a minute. Mr. Goldman in Washington send you to tell me that my father is missing, right?
Steve: That's right.
Susan: Mr. Austin, are you trying to pick me up?
Steve: No, but..
Susan: Then why don't you go and take a tour of a Moorish Castle, and take Mr. Goldman with you, huh?

Susan: Hey, how did you stop the cab?
Steve: Well, by ruining my best pair of boots.

Oscar: You must have the wrong office, you want the purchasing office, Mr. Le Duc.
Le Duc: We have energy to sell, Mr. Goldman.
Oscar: I see, but you don't eh -
Le Duc: Cheap, non-polluting, inexhaustible supply. Energy that is capable of powering a... portable laser projector, Mr. Goldman. (Le Duc now has Oscar's undivided attention)

Steve: You know the thing about canoes is that they tip over easily, especially home made ones.
Susan: What happens if it sinks?
Steve: Well you'll be the first to know!

Big Frank: What's going on, Boss?
Steve: Well, I'm not sure, it could be trouble.
Big Frank: Hey, then I can really start earning my money. I'm a good fighter. They don't get up when I get through.
Steve: I appreciate your offer, Frank, but it won't be that kind of trouble. They'll have guns.

Abbott: Susan, I've licked it. After all these years, the laser works perfectly!

Susan: This man Belson, are you really sure about him?
Abbott: Darling, John Belson has been protecting with since the Manhattan project. I've known the man for almost 28 years. Why should I start doubting him now?
Susan: I've been such a fool. (her father gently laughs at her foolishness)

Susan: (speaking very rapidly) Steve, Steve, you were right about Belson, he is the enemy agent and he's got my father and -
Steve: No time for apologies now, let's get your dad outta here.
Susan: How did you get free?
Steve: It's an old Indian trick.

Abbott: Where are Belson and his men?
Steve: Well, as soon as you can prove you're the real Dr. Abbot, I'll be happy to explain.
Susan: (laughs) I think you had that coming, dad.
Abbott: (rather a fake laugh) Yes...

Abbott: How could you have know that by removing this, that projector would explode? Well don't tell me that you have a background in biocanical electronics?
Steve: Oh, I've snuck into a few classes here at MIT, professor.
Oscar: Steve has taken advanced science classes at, eh, at other universities as well, doctor.
Abbott: Him? I thought he was a football player?
Oscar: That too.

Steve: (pretending to be gifted at ESP) I just saw... a bottle of wine, flickering candles and an incredibly beautiful sunset.
Susan: I really like your visions.
Steve: You do? (she nods) Well, lets go.


  • Among Steve's many talents, we learn that he's a skilled Spanish guitar player (although he might also just be a quick study).
  • Steve's academic background is also touched on, as we learn he "sat in" on classes at MIT and other schools.
  • Samuel Abbott remarks that he thought Steve was a football player. This is the first of several references to football in The Six Million Dollar Man, and a probable in-joke reference to Lee Majors' real-life interest in the sport (which later culminates in his directing the football-themed episode "One of Our Running Backs Is Missing").
Sound Effects
  • This episode settles on, but does not introduce, the sound effect associated with the use of Steve's bionic eye. The sound had previously been used The Six Million Dollar Man (1973) and "Wine, Women and War" to indicate the operation of various background technology.
Visual Effects
  • It also introduces, but does not consistently use, the signature visual effects for Steve's use of his bionic eye. We first see a close-up of his eye, followed by a zoom — from his point of view — on the scene he is observing. The zoom features a reticle overlay that is similar to the viewfinder on many cameras, and includes a centered cross framed by brackets. If Austin uses his bionic eye in the dark or is scanning for infrared traces, a red filter effect is added to the brackets and cross. Though used in the top half of the program, the overlay is missing from an instance of eye use in the bottom of the hour, when Steve gets caught by John Belson and his men.
Filming Locations
  • The house where Dr. Abbott is being held hostage is known as The Queen Anne Cottage located on the grounds of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia, California. The Cottage has been used for numerous films and television shows, most famously for the opening of Fantasy Island .


  • Oscar and Steve's beliefs about E.S.P. are precisely the reverse of those shown in The E.S.P. Spy.
  • The black car that goes off the cliff and explodes is clearly not the same taxicab (a Checker Marathon) from which Steve and Susan just escaped. Furthermore, it doesn't have any taxi markings.
  • When Susan falls into quicksand, she is covered in mud up to her thighs. The very next scene, her jeans are clean and mud-free.
  • When Steve is running to struggle with the crocodile (a clearly false crocodile) there is a snippet of footage taken from "Population: Zero" (when Steve is running to launch a large metal fence post at the van of Dr. Stanley Bacon), as well as one from "Survival of the Fittest" (Steve running to intercept the snake).
  • When nearing the house where Dr. Abbott is being held, Steve looks off to his left with his bionic vision, but the camera is clearly zooming in on the river bank on the right side of the boat. This camera angle goof is repeated again in the next set of shots.
  • When the driver bails from the sabotaged black car with Steve and Susan he leaves the driver's side door open. But in the next shot, the door is closed.
  • Sounds of jungle animals are used for background in the Florida Everglades.
  • The depth of quicksand into which first Susan, then Belson and his men, fall is probably unrealistic. Very few quicksand formations are hip-deep on an average-sized human, and fewer still would immediately engulf someone up to their chest. To have two deep pools of quicksand within a relatively small area is extremely rare. Also, it may stretch credulity to believe that people who had been living around quicksand for any period of time would have reacted as Belson and his men do. The single worst thing to do when entrapped by quicksand is to thrash around, as Belson and his men immediately start doing.