- for other uses, see The Bionic Woman (disambiguation)
The Bionic Woman was a television series spin-off of The Six Million Dollar Man. It starred Lindsay Wagner as Jaime Sommers, a former tennis pro who gains superhuman abilities through bionic implants and prosthetics. The series was created by Kenneth Johnson, but since it used concepts and characters devised by Martin Caidin for his novel, Cyborg, Caidin received a special credit in each episode. (However, the character of Jaime Sommers does not appear in any of Caidin's original Cyborg series novels.)
The series ran for three seasons from 1976 to 1978; as with The Six Million Dollar Man, it debuted midway through a season, so as a result its first season was abbreviated. During its first two seasons the series featured occasional crossover episodes featuring Steve Austin, as well as two occasions ("The Return of Bigfoot" and "Kill Oscar") in which multi-part storylines were shared between the two series. Richard Anderson and Martin E. Brooks played their SMDM roles of Oscar Goldman and Dr. Rudy Wells in the new series.
The Bionic Woman was actually cancelled by ABC after its second season (which was its first full-length season). It was picked up by NBC for a third and final season. Although there were no further crossovers with Steve Austin, both Anderson and Brooks continued to play their characters, becoming two of the first actors in TV history to play the same ongoing characters in two different television series airing on two different networks at the same time. Under the new network a new ongoing character, the bionic dog Maximillian, was added.
Despite airing on another network, The Bionic Woman was cancelled in the spring of 1978 at the same time as its parent program. Wagner later reprised her role in a trilogy of made-for-TV reunion films between 1987 and 1994 that united the two series.
For syndication, the series is augmented by the addition of Part 2 of "Kill Oscar", which was originally broadcast as a Six Million Dollar Man episode, but reassigned to The Bionic Woman in order to keep their story arcs intact. Conversely, Part 2 of "The Return of Bigfoot", which originally aired as the second season premiere of The Bionic Woman, was moved to the Season 4 syndication package of The Six Million Dollar Man.
- Main Article: Home Video Releases
Although the series has been released in its entirety to home video in Europe, in North America complicated licensing issues prevented this series (along with The Six Million Dollar Man) from being released to home video for many years, in any format, although there was a limited release in the late 1970s of 3 SMDM adventures (including the debut of Jaime Sommers) in the Discovision format and a one-shot VHS release of The Bionic Woman (episode) in 1986.
Similarly, no U.S. home video release has yet occurred for any of the reunion telefilms, while releases vary in other markets (Main Article: Home Video Releases). However, the eight extant episodes of the reimagined 2007 Bionic Woman were released to Region 1 (North America) on March 18 2008 (though some Canadian retailers were selling it a week earlier), and to Region 2 in May 2008.
In summer 2010, North American fans were caught by surprise when Universal Studios announced that the rights issues had finally been resolved. Within days, Universal Home Video announced that the first season of The Bionic Woman would be released to DVD on Oct. 19, 2010 (with five crossover episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man included as bonuses). The three reunion films featuring Jaime Sommers are scheduled to be released on Nov. 23, 2010 as part of a complete series Six Million Dollar Man DVD collection from Time Life. It was followed by The Bionic Woman season two released to DVD on May 17, 2011 and the third season released on October 4, 2011.