Original Airdate: November 22, 1974
Steve makes peace
Lionel E. Siegel and Joe L. Cramer
Christian I. Nyby, II
Clifton James as Walter 'Shadetree' Burns
Jack Ging as Ted Collins
Robert Symonds as Jay Rogers
Lara Parker as Andrea Collins
Jack Manning as Carl Amison
William Scherer as Simcon
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The Six Million Dollar Man (1973)
Steve Austin visits old friend Jay Rodgers at Edwards AFB, and Jay convinces Steve to fly the HL-10 again. The HL-10 was the experimental lifting body he was piloting when he had his accident two years ago (The Six Million Dollar Man). Oscar Goldman tries to talk him out of it, suggesting there may have been foul play in Steve's accident, and not to tempt fate. Steve is undeterred and begins preparation while getting reacquainted with some old NASA friends.
He soon discovers he must prove himself in the simulator before making the flight. Was the accident a malfunction or pilot error? A man is heard giving orders to stop Steve and the mission, but neither he nor the person he is addressing are revealed. Steve's prior romance with Ted Collins' wife, Andrea, creates tension between the men, which flares into violence in the parking lot. Steve handles Ted easily while keeping a low profile.
The next day is the simulator, where Steve will be monitored while he simulates his last mission - the one that almost killed him. Steve becomes erratic while in the simulator and passes out. Suspecting he was drugged, Austin convinces Goldman to permit him another attempt, but secretly, in case he is being targeted. He passes the simulator and the mission is a "go." Though the colonel correctly suspects sabotage, he decides to go forward.
During the flight, as he begins his descent from max altitude, the stick slams forward as Steve activates the altitude control. He must fight thousands of pounds of pressure to pull the stick back and keep the nose up for landing. Victorious, Steve lands to the news that one of their own team, Carl Amison, had been working against them. In addition, they know now that sabotage had also caused the accident two years previously. Realizing that the HL-10 bore no blame for his troubles, Steve takes a moment with the HL-10, alone.
Rogers: The HL-10. We rebuild it from scratch. Modern technology can do wonders today.
Steve: Yes, I know...
Oscar: You are more to us, Steve, than just a man on the payroll. You're...
Steve: A six million dollar investment?
Oscar: I was gonna say 'friend.'
Shadetree: You got to be kiddin'. You hit that ball into next week!
Steve: Yeah, I guess I did kinda catch it on the screws, didn't I? That was a hundred, wasn't it, pard?
Shadetree: (standing in a crowded buffet) This reminds me of the Saturday night picture show. Before the prices changed.
Steve: Like everybody at NASA decided to get coffee at the same time.
Ted: You've, eh, got a pretty good grip.
Steve: Well, it comes from squeezing a lot of orange juice.
Steve: Tomorrow, when I climb into that bird, my stomach's going to feel like a bag of bricks. But, I'd still feel the same way without your suspicions. But, I've still got to fly it.
Oscar: Even though you know someone's trying to kill you?
Steve: I feel that's what I'd be doing to myself if I didn't fly it.
Shadetree: She looks like a changed person. What did you do?
Steve: I blew out a candle.
Shadetree: I feel like a long-tailed cat in room full of rockin' chairs.
Oscar: I couldn't have said that any better myself, Shadetree.
Ted: All right, Steve baby, you're just about to get the ball. Get this one for the home team, huh?
Oscar: Well, I didn't expect to find you in the rooting section, Ted.
Ted: I may not like him down on the ground, probably never will, but if he's up there, he's the man; dig it?
Oscar: Dig it.
Oscar: How long does it take?
Ted: As long as it takes! He's got the ball.
Shadetree: Buddy, you are luckier than a skinny turkey at Thanksgiving.
- The HL-10 is identified by name in this episode for the first time as the lifting body that Steve crashed in. The HL-10 is, in fact, the Lifting Body used in producing the episode (and in much of The Six Million Dollar Man (1973)). This contradicts Martin Caidin's original novel, Cyborg which identifies the aircraft as the M3F5. The later reunion telefilm, Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, takes its cue from Caidin's novel and also refers to the crashed aircraft as the M3F5.
- A major aspect of Martin Caidin's original concept is retconned with the revelation that Austin's original flight was sabotaged, a plot element never included in the original novels.
- The events surrounding Austin's crash are also revisited (albeit in a more fantastical way) in the third issue of the Six Million Dollar Man comic book.
- The gag involving Austin bionically hitting a golf ball is a partial reprise of a similar gag in "Wine, Women and War", only this time he meant to do it.
- This episode is one of the most "bionic-lite" in the canon, with only a few minor uses of his bionic arm before its major use with the control stick, and no use of his bionic legs or eye at all.
- Scenes taking place on the flight line were filmed at the NASA Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. The flight center is NASA's premier site for aeronautical research and home of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747 (seen pre-modification in this episode) that carries the space shuttle orbiter back to Kennedy Space Center when it lands in California. The center was renamed "Dryden Flight Research Center" in 1976, after this episode was filmed. That the episode's flight line scenes were filmed at the center is highly appropriate - the crash scene footage of the M2-F2 test craft used in the opening credits and in the flashback scenes actually occurred at the flight research center in 1967 (though this episode sometimes shows Austin flying an HL-10 and a later movie refers to it as the fictional M3F5, as noted above). While the flight research center is largely off limits to civilians, tours can be arranged through Edwards Air Force Base; it includes a walk to the flight line. A number of aircraft tested at the flight center are on public display at the nearby Joe Davies Heritage Airpark and the Edwards Heritage Airpark, both in Palmdale, Calif.
- The building in the opening shot after the credits is the Russell Senate Office Building, taken on the corner of Constitution and Delaware Avenue in Washington DC.
- Steve wears a NASA Flight Research Center patch on his left breast of his white flight suit during this episode. This patch was introduced at the NASA Flight Research Center around 1975. The colors echo those used on the fleet of F-104G support aircraft flown at the Center. Some research pilots and other personnel continued to wear it long after the FRC became the Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Center in March 1976. (https://www.nasa.gov/centers/armstrong/multimedia/imagegallery/logos_patches/FRC_1975.html)
- When Steve is approaching the Air Force base, the tower gives him active runway and wind information of "winds 090 at 40, landing runway 27." If this were true wind direction, especially at 40 knots, he would be landing on runway 090, not runway 270; otherwise, he would be landing with a 40 knot tail wind. Not likely!! (Edit: they actually say 'winds Zero Niner at Two Four Zero', which means the wind is 9 knots coming from a direction of 240. So runway 27 (at 270 degrees) would make sense.)
- This episode revisits the events of the pilot telefilm, which is itself, in many respects, out of continuity with the series. In particular, the accident has been represented differently than the pilot since Wine, Women and War. The show intro continued this "tradition" of re-inventing those events, and "The Deadly Replay" does so once again.
- In "The Deadly Replay," Steve's early flashbacks in the simulator are drawn from the show intro, a continuity quagmire when recreating the accident in long form. By using the show intro as a template for Steve's flashbacks (an approach which would recur in The Bionic Woman (episode)), the audience is prepped for a "blowout in damper three" and "she's breaking up, she's breaking up," an intro-only continuity that "The Deadly Replay" will not adhere to when showing an actual flight later.
- The successful flight in this episode inserts "we have separation" from the show intro, in contrast to The Six Million Dollar Man (1973). The events following max altitude show a series of crises that do not match the events of either the show intro or The Six Million Dollar Man (1973). The flight stick is not shown in the 1973 version, where the rocking motion of the M2-F2 (the lifting body shown during this sequence) was originally unexplained (The footage is of Pilot Induced Oscillation, a "dutch roll," which plagued the M2-F2), while in The Deadly Replay, this is a function of the flight stick malfunction. Finally, the episode concludes that both this flight and the original flight two years earlier were sabotaged, so this naturally reinvents the 1973 flight in retrospect.
- "The Moon and the Desert," the syndicated version of The Six Million Dollar Man (1973), draws on "The Deadly Replay" for footage in such a way as to make elements of the second flight retroactively part of the first. When the 1973 version was replaced, this led viewers who have seen only this version to conclude that "The Deadly Replay" got these elements from the pilot, rather than vice-versa. Thus, the flight stick coming forward, originally on a flight two years later, is now part of the original accident. This has the effect of changing the first flight in a fundamental way, making the cause less ambiguous. While other footage also makes its way in, such as the line "I am now a glider pilot," there is nothing as reconstructive as the flight stick material.
- The mix of footage between the HL-10 and the M2-F2 from the pilot telefilm occurs even more extensively with some additional archival footage of the lifting bodies. This exacerbates the confusion that existed already.
- Andrea gives no indication of knowing that Steve is bionic, despite the fact that, as the medical officer, she had to have figured it out when she applied the measuring instruments to Steve.
- Andrea and Steve appear to have been romantically involved at the time of his crash, yet the pilot film makes no reference to this as Steve seems quite happy to take up with Jean Manners (or, depending on which continuity you follow, Carla Peterson).