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“Survival of the Fittest”

S1 E2

Production 40007
Original Airdate: 25 January 1974
Steve and Oscar talk to a rescue plane
Produced by
Sam Strangis
Donald R. Boyle
Written by
Mann Rubin
Directed by
Leslie H. Martinson
Guest Cast
Guest Star(s)
James McEachin as Ralph Cromwell
Christine Belford as Lieutenant Colby
William Smith as Ted Maxwell
Special Guest Star(s)
Joanne Worley as Mona
Laurette Spang as Helen (Wave)
Randall Carver as Pfc Barris
Reid Smith as Navy Lt
W.T. Zacha as A.F. Sgt. Roberts
Dick Valentine as 1st Pilot
Jim Raymond as 1st Co-Pilot
Broadcast Order
Season 1
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"Population: Zero" "Operation Firefly"
Related episodes
remade into "Fly Jaime"

After several subtle attempts to kill Oscar fail, the plane on which he and Steve are returning home crash lands near a deserted island.


Whilst returning to Washington from a meeting with Russian officials, Steve Austin and Oscar Goldman's military aircraft crashes on a remote Pacific island. There are a number of survivors and Oscar, fearing that some people do not want his talks with the Russians to succeed, is convinced that one or more of them want to kill him. His fears soon come true when a renegade Air Force Major and Navy Commander lure him deep into the island. When Oscar is subsequently shot Steve desperately seeks help to save him not knowing that a third traitor is present within the group. Fortunately a 'guardian angel' in the shape of a trained but self-doubting doctor is able to help and with the use of Steve's Bionic wiring they stabilise Oscar whilst they wait for the rescue submarine to arrive.



Oscar Goldman: (Watching Steve lift the car so they can change the tire) You know Pal, sometimes I forget how useful you are.
Steve Austin: Oscar, would you stop admiring me and change the tire?

Mona: My husband's a pilot, you know. He warned me not to fly this time of year. Oh, I should have listened to him, he's always right!

Oscar Goldman: Considering everything we've been through you're in great spirits today.
Steve Austin: Why not Oscar - we're alive.

Oscar: (Steve is carrying a large bag of supplies) You look like a... like a bionic Santa Claus.

Steve: Does anybody here have any medical experience?
Helen: (glances at Bobby) I don't have any experience, but if the patients are willing, I am.

Mona: You know my husband says that all these pacific islands have snakes on them. You think there are snakes here?
Roberts: Yes m'am. Oh, but small ones.
Mona: (smiles) Oh. How small?
Roberts: Three, four feet.

Oscar: (Oscar has been shot) Well, how am I doing, doctor?
Steve: Well, you're pretty tough.
Oscar: Didn't know I had all that... blood in me.



An experimental take on the bionic eye

  • For the first time on screen, the zoom function of Austin's bionic eye is shown. Prior to this point only his night vision capabilities had been demonstrated.
Sound Effects
  • None of the signature bionic sound effects are heard when Steve uses his arms, legs, or eye. However, the effect of the bionic arm upon other substances (i.e., the slowed-down sound of bending metal) is employed twice. Their absence isn't an "error," though, as the episode was produced before the show began using them.
Visual Effects
  • In a night scene, instead of a green filter effect — as seen in Wine, Women and War and The Solid Gold Kidnapping, a red filter is used when Steve Austin uses his bionic eye to see in the dark. This would be the approach for the series going forward.
  • In a daylight scene we see Steve use his bionic eye to zoom in on a plane and a snake, but only a crosshair is present (without the later brackets) and there is no sound effect. Instead, a "distressed" video look, with wavy interlace artifacts, is overlaid on the image. The final version of the effects for Austin's bionic eye, which would become a series trademark, debut in the very next episode, "Operation Firefly."
  • This episode is notable for being remade in 1976 on The Bionic Woman, shot-for-shot at times, as "Fly Jaime."
  • This episode provides another early example of Austin killing off the villain (it is strongly implied that he kills the phony Air Force officer when he throws the rock at him, since there is no sign of the man when the search party returns with Oscar and Steve).


  • Steve's mission prior to boarding the plane was to engage in dialogue with Russian cosmonauts. Though these talks were not specifically referenced later, it is possible to read the events of "Doomsday, and Counting" as the practical "fruit" of this dialogue.
  • Where, exactly, Steve and Oscar are flying from is the somewhat complex riddle of this episode. The essential contradictory facts are these:
  • The duo are seen driving a then-current Ford Mustang with plates that are shaped like those used in North and South America.
  • Prior to take off, an announcement is made, indicating that the next stops are Honolulu and San Francisco. A mid-flight discussion between the duo marks them as being in the "middle of the Pacific". And they take off from the "Inter-Pacific Air Terminal".
  • The most logical Pacific locations for a site that would've rented an American car are Hawaii, Alaska or one of the outlying American islands, like Guam. But Steve and Oscar are seen an area full of deciduous trees, atypical to any of the Pacific Islands.
That really only leaves Alaska as a possible Pacific match for the vegetation seen at the top of the episode. But Alaska is ruled out quite quickly. The plane takes off in daylight, but by the time they're in full night, they make contact with "Wake Island control". This suggests that, after travelling for several hours, they're still more than 2000 miles west of Honolulu. No eastbound flight from Alaska would reasonably pass through Wake Island's "jurisdiction", anyway — and certainly not that late into the flight.
Worse, the flight crew make reference to a weather report from Baker Island after having contacted Wake Island, indicating they were travelling away from San Francisco, not towards it.
In short, there is no reasonable flight plan possible that could account for all the details seen. Because Oscar describes negotiations with the Russians at their point of origin, It may be easiest to believe that the conference took place in the Soviet Union, and that the producers simply goofed by showing a Ford Mustang with American-style plates. Nevertheless, a flight from Russia to the US over the Pacific would not typically go via Wake Island and Honolulu. Therefore, a neutral site like Japan may be the most likely, despite the complete absence of reference to that nation.
  • Large, black. venomous snakes are not indigenous to most mid- and South-Pacific islands. The most likely venomous snake to be encountered in the area is the brown tree snake, but as the species has spread throughout the region through unintentional transport by man, it would unlikely be on an uninhabited island such as the one featured in this episode.
  • It's rather odd that on a plane full of mostly military personnel, that Steve is addressed as "Mr. Austin" as opposed to "Colonel" (although a sergeant who recognizes Steve does so).


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