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“The Bionic Criminal”

S3 E9

Production 43012
Original Airdate: November 9, 1975
Teleplay by
Richard Carr
Story by
Peter Alan Fields
Directed by
Leslie Martinson
Guest Cast
Guest Star(s)
Monte Markham as Barney Hiller
Special Guest Star(s)
Alan Oppenheimer as Dr. Rudy Wells
Donald Moffat as Lester Burstyn
John Milford as Shatley
And Maggie Sullivan as Carla Peterson
Broadcast Order
Season 3
← Previous Next →
"One of Our Running Backs Is Missing" "The Blue Flash"
Related episodes
The Seven Million Dollar Man


Barney Hiller, a race driver, is reactivated as the second bionic man over Steve's protests. Oscar explains that it is a test to see if bionics can be turned back up to full strength, on the premise of having a number of bionic men who live normal lives but are all "tuned up" when required in a time of emergency.

Steve has reason to doubt Barney's mental stability, and soon his fears are justified. When car owner Tom Shatley takes Barney out of the big race, Barney, in a fit of rage, uses his bionic strength against his sponsor, whom he believes he has killed. When his wife is kidnapped shortly thereafter, Barney has no choice but to use his powers for a series of crimes.



Carla: (about Barney) I don't know. In the next world, he's probably gonna be some laser beam with overhead cams or something.

Steve: Why are you doing it? Why make another Bionic timebomb?

Barney: Hey, come on, now Steve, don't rush me. I've only got 48 hours to play superman again, I wanna enjoy every minute.

Barney: Look, Mr. Burstyn, if everything else in my life goes down the tubes... you'd still be wasting your time.
Burstyn: My dear friend...
Barney: I'm not your dear friend. You're lucky I didn't report you to Oscar Goldman the first time you called me.
Burstyn: Yes, I suppose I am. The fact is you didn't tell Goldman. And another fact is: at this moment you're bionically activated and will be for 48 hours...

Steve: Oscar, don't you realize that a bionic man turned criminal how much he could steal? He could burrow into Fort Knox.
Oscar: I don't want to think about it.

Burstyn: You show amazing strength, Colonel Austin. Anyone who can hold his own with a bionic man...
Steve: Well I keep in shape.

Barney: Look Burstyn, what am I going to have to do to get you to release Carla?
Burstyn: I'll think of something, Barney.

Barney: I thought you'd never show up.
Steve: Well, after what you did to my neck, I wasn't sure I would.


  • Barney's last name changes to "Hiller" in this episode, contradicting the fact that he was named "Barney Miller" in The Seven Million Dollar Man. This is due to the debut and rise to popularity of a sitcom entitled Barney Miller, which premiered in January 1975, two months after the broadcast of "The Seven Million Dollar Man". The change of name is not acknowledged on screen.
  • Carla Peterson is still credited by her maiden name despite being married to Barney Hiller (although such things are commonplace today, a woman retaining her maiden name after marriage was still somewhat uncommon in 1975).
  • Col. Austin is once again driving a Mercedes 450SL. It may be a new car as the paint job is blue instead of gray. The last time Steve shared the screen with Barney Hiller, he was driving a Corvette.


Sound Effects[]
  • In the flashbacks to "The Seven Million Dollar Man", bionic sounds are added to the arm wrestling between Steve and Barney. When the original episode aired, it pioneered a greater use of these sounds, which had only appeared intermittently and without consistent application to that date. Afterwards, it became consistent to the point where it had to be used or it would be missed. This removes a central aspect of the original scene, which plays on the mystery of whether or not Barney is bionic, revealed when he wins. The sounds remove all doubt, although in the context of the flashback in this episode, Barney's bionic nature was no longer a mystery.
  • In the fight at the end in Burstyn’s office, twice Steve is using his left arm to hit one of the henchmen and the bionic sound effect is heard in the process
  • The episode The Seven Million Dollar Man establishes a distinct new musical theme by Oliver Nelson, which would prove popular for "tracking", ie reuse on other episodes. It is ironic therefore that, in the episode where the Seven Million theme might be deemed appropriate, that it is unused here.
  • In a scene late in the program, Steve and Barney are wrestling, and roll down 20 yards or so of a parking ramp. This is highly improbable to say the least. It appears as though they are just having a good time.
  • As is often the case, there are demonstrations of bionic strength in this episode that fall on the missing "bionic back". The scene where Barney turns an armored car with an iron pipe for a lever begs us to forget that Barney's bionic arms are attached to a normal torso. This is a running "gaffe", as it recurs whenever Steve lifts a car, for example. That said, at least Barney's bionic actions attempt to be more credible, such as the fact he actually uses a lever to overturn the truck (rather than simply flipping it), after which he elects to smash a window and open the truck door from the inside rather than rip it off its hinges, and he uses a table to assist him getting an angle on the bank vault door that would allow him to utilize his legs to open it.
  • It's not exactly clear why Barney's bionics are tuned down a second time. Although initially intended to be a 48-hour test, and despite the fact he does some criminal acts under duress and panics when he thinks he's killed a man, the Barney Hiller of this episode is far from the out-of-control, power-hungry villain of the previous episode. Unless he requested it, it might be seen as overkill for him to be tuned down again. Certainly, it is odd that in later episodes in which having a third bionic operative may have been useful (such as the "Kill Oscar" trilogy, or "Doomsday Is Tomorrow"), the idea of reactivating Barney's bionics isn't discussed, even though these are the scenarios for which the experiment was designed.
Recycled footage[]
  • The establishing shot of the OSI lab from the start of the episode is repeated later -- in fact, Carla can be seen sitting in the back the truck as she is in the earlier shot. (This same shot is recycled in the next episode, "The Blue Flash".)


  • This is the third episode out of the last 4 where the bad guys use a big red van or truck. After this, the OSI should be compiling a list of all vehicular purchases of red trucks and vans, and doing background checks on the buyers.

Video Links[]