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“The Seven Million Dollar Man”

S2 E5

Production 41224
Original Airdate: November 1, 1974
Steve and Barney arm-wrestle
Produced by
Lionel E. Siegel and Joe L. Cramer
Written by
Peter Allan Fields
Directed by
Dick Moder
Guest Cast
Guest Star(s)
Monte Markham as Barney Miller
Special Guest Star(s)
Alan Oppenheimer as Rudy Wells
Maggie Sullivan as Carla Peterson
Marshall Reed as Gate Guard
Fred Lerner as O.S.I. Man
Broadcast Order
Season 2
← Previous Next →
"The Pal-Mir Escort" "Straight On 'Til Morning"
Related episodes
The Bionic Criminal

Steve Austin is surprised to learn that the OSI has built another bionic man. Unfortunately, Barney Miller has not psychologically accepted his new limbs or his new strength.


Steve Austin realizes Rudy and Oscar are deceiving him when he sees a man take a classified tape, and everyone denies it. Steve follows Carla Peterson, a nurse on Rudy's cyborg project who had a "Florence Nightingale"-relationship with him while he himself was recovering, to a club where he discovers the truth: there is another bionic man.

Following a major accident, world championship racing driver Barney Miller had both his legs and arms replaced with bionics at a cost of seven million dollars. The OSI's plan is to have Barney available in case Steve ever becomes incapable of doing his job.

Barney struggles to come to terms emotionally with his new bionic status, and Steve agrees to accompany him on his first assignment. When Barney uses excessive violence during the mission and shows signs of becoming increasingly unstable, Steve convinces Oscar that Barney's bionic powers should be reduced to normal human levels.

When informed of this decision, Barney attacks Steve and another OSI agent, and then embarks on a desperate attempt to destroy the source files relating to the Cyborg Bionic project, deluding himself that he can paint the OSI into a corner by making himself indispensable. After first breaking into Oscar's safe, Barney moves on to Rudy's lab. Steve follows Barney to try and stop him.

Arriving at Rudy's lab, Barney forces Rudy to reveal the location of the files in question; he then descends into the sub-levels as Steve arrives. Steve convinces Oscar to stay the "kill" order while he confronts Barney. Below, Steve and Barney have a legendary showdown.

Barney is brought back by Steve, and his bionics are turned down to normal strength levels. He seems to have made his peace with this, and Carla commits to stay with him.



Rudy: played a little patty-fingers with my head nurse there for a while, huh?
Steve: Well, Rudy, while you were rebuilding me into something other men weren't, Oscar was convincing me that I'd be better and stronger and so forth....why, Carla was there, you know.....all those days and nights that I spend staring up at the hospital ceiling....she was there...

Oscar: Look, pal, I dropped everything and high-tailed it out here because you... you imagined that you saw...
Steve: (interrupting) Well, what I'm starting to imagine is that the three people I trust most in the world are gaslighting me!

Barney: Did you really think that when the great Oscar Goldman pushed one of his little buttons and ordered up you, his brand new bionic gadget, did you really think he ordered only one of a kind? (pause) Wrong.

Oscar: Steve, your friendship is most important to me.
Steve: Oscar, I don't lie to my friends.
Oscar: There are times when I have to lie.

Barney: Every time it gets cold out, this arm starts creaking....had it back at Doc Wells three times now.

Steve: Relax, Barney. Like I said, you'll do fine.
Barney: Fine? Yeah, we're both just fine. A couple of carefully engineered deadly weapons by Mr. Oscar Goldman out of Dr. Rudy Wells.

Barney: How much did you cost?
Steve: Six million.
Barney: (taps chest) Seven.
Steve: Well, ol' inflation gets us all.

Barney: (laughs) Listen to the man, Rudy. Astronaut, world famous, authentic physical miracle. Probably still buys his wrist- watches at the Air Force PX. Listen, Stevie boy, when you got it, you don't flaunt it; man, you use it!

Steve: Barney, the adrenaline's flowing; you're feeling good. Don't get carried away.
Barney: (raised voice) "Away"! That rhymes with "pay" and that stands for... Oscar.

Oscar: (holding a file marked Most Secret) You want me to take seven million dollars worth of bionic perfection and toss it down the drain, huh? (tosses file on table)
Steve: Well, I got one advantage over you there, Oscar. I don't care about the seven million dollars.

Rudy: If I'm afraid, Barney, it's not of you; it's for you.

Rudy: (shouting) This is lunacy!
Barney: (turns round in door opening) You put me together, Rudy: the nuts, the bolts, the wires. Tell me, can the machine be more lunatic than those who created it?


  • Austin points out to Barney that if Oscar agreed with the plan, he could build a third cyborg; this foreshadows the arrival of Jaime Sommers later in the season.
  • Steve jokes with Oscar about getting a raise. This foreshadows a running gag between Oscar and Jaime in the first season of The Bionic Woman.
  • The project that gave Steve (and Barney) his bionics is given an official name: Project Cyborg.
  • Although Oscar indicates that Project Cyborg is his baby, he also makes reference to an unnamed "They" who ultimately called the shots; this is the first reference to Oscar answering to someone other than the Secretary, and is a possible reference to the somewhat shadowy group Oliver Spencer met with in the pilot film, who approved the six million dollar expenditure.
  • The bionics facility featured in this episode is clearly in the vicinity of Washington. However, Oscar initially arrives in the area by plane, suggesting he was elsewhere at the start of the episode. If the episodes in the early part of the season take place in chronological order, it's possible Oscar was working on the moon project featured in the next episode, "Straight On 'Til Morning".
  • Steve is rarely seen driving his own car in the first two seasons.  He typically drives a rented vehicle or one assigned for his mission.  In this episode Steve is driving a silver Corvette Stingray that is presumably his own car.  The Corvette is first visible in the parking lot of the bionics facility in the opening segment.
  • Monte Markham plays the titular role in "The Seven Million Dollar Man," who in this episode is named "Barney Miller." Two months later, a new comedy with Hal Linden would debut, using the same name for both the show and Linden's lead character. In the following season, Markham would reprise the role, but the character's name would be changed to Barney Hiller.
  • As indicated in The Bionic Book and the 2010 DVD release, Martin Caidin originally wanted Monte Markham for the role of Steve Austin. The Bionic Book also indicates that Caidin suggested replacing Majors with Markham when the show's lead actor considered leaving the series at the end of Season 4 (though it's unclear whether Caidin meant as Steve Austin, or as a reformed and re-bionic'ed Barney Hiller).
  • Before “The Six Million Dollar Man,” Monte appeared in an episode of “The Virginian” in 1970, one season before Lee Majors joined the cast for its final season.
  • Monte and Lee were reunited for Majors’s “The Fall Guy” in 1982 for the two-part adventure, “License to Kill.”
  • Barney Miller's accident occurred 18 months before this episode, and at some point after that he agreed to the bionic surgery; it is not indicated how long he'd been bionic, though clearly long enough for him to leave the hospital. Unlike Steve, all four of his limbs were replaced, but there's no indication of any other replacements.
  • This episode introduces the concept that bionic strength can be reduced to human level. According to Steve, the process of tuning down one's bionics is irreversible (a statement later proven incorrect). It is Austin who suggests the reduction in power; although never referenced prior to this, his knowledge of it might suggest that he'd once considered it, or been offered it as an option.
  • Yet another new function of Steve's bionic eye is introduced: the ability to rapidly scan a series of objects (namely a stack of photographs), though it's not explained how Steve's brain could process the information so rapidly. He might have previously displayed this ability in "Eyewitness to Murder" when he was seen quickly scanning a mug book, but with no accompanying bionic eye effect.
  • A massive, hidden wall safe is revealed for the first time as being in Oscar's office.


  • Carla Peterson is supposed to have had a relationship with Steve while he was recovering from his bionic surgery. This was depicted in the pilot episode as a relationship with another nurse character, Jean Manners (played by Barbara Anderson). While an argument can be made that Steve dated two nurses, it seems clear the characters are intended to be the same. Why the character was not simply recast (as with Rudy), rather than renaming her, is unclear. It is possible that, given the secret nature of the work, Carla worked under a cover name initially, or changed her name later for security reasons.
  • Also, Rudy makes an issue out of the fact that Steve has grown considerably in his psychological stability since the early days. While it's true that, during the events of the pilot film and arguably the "Wine, Women and War" follow-up that Steve was having some issues adjusting, there's little indication of major psychological problems from "The Solid Gold Kidnapping" onwards. Then again, the series does not chronicle every moment in Austin's life.
  • When Barney confronts Rudy in his office, Rudy's hair appears to be completely grey/white. But when Rudy is next seen as he inputs the computer tape, his hair is noticeably darker.
  • The scene when Oscar is arriving at the bionics facility (stopping at the guard) is repeated towards the end when he is after Barney at the facility.
  • At the bionics facility, there is no fence but in a small portion at the front, at both sides of the checkpoint door. This is noticeable when Oscar parks his car. This contradicts the scene when Steve jumps a fence to chase Barney. For a supposedly "restricted area", this is most irregular. Anyone can enter the facility just walking into the parking lot from the road. Also, there's only one guard at the checkpoint door, and no more security personnel in evidence for the rest of the facility.
  • A stunt transition nitpick: In the scene on the telephone pole, Steve has boots on; after he jumps down and begins to run, he is not wearing boots. Also, occurring at the end when Steve tries to stop Barney: Steve is wearing those 70's zip-up boots, but when Steve comes down the hall to kick the door down, he is wearing flat-sole shoes.
  • Adding to the stunt nitpicks: Tight polyester clothing in the 70's did not help to hide the fact that, prepared for stunts, the actors are wearing either/all knee, hip, and elbow pads. Case in point: before the men get out of their van, check out the driver coming around in the highwater, gray polyester pants being held up by his knee pads.
  • It's easier to enjoy a cyborg battle when you don't think about the bodies being thrown full force into walls and doors and the non-bionic body parts impacting without a sign of trauma.
  • In particular, this is one of several episodes in the series in which Steve is shown delivering a bionic powered punch to the stomach of an opponent. Unless Miller has a bionic midsection, by rights such a blow should be fatal.
  • When Steve knocks down and pulls Barney while he was kicking the "Vault 7" door at the bionics facility, we can notice that the brown cardboard boxes near the door are empty, as some of them open up and crush.
  • During the first meeting between Barney and Steve, in a pub, there are three people seated at a table: two women, one of whom is wearing a green dress, and one man. We find these same three people in a shot later in the same pub when Steve says to Barney that it was his the idea to reduce Barney's strength. Then again, they might be regulars (like Norm from Cheers).
  • Notice that the fighting sequence is out of order. For instance, when Barney knocks over the shelf to try to "crush" is somehow standing upright the next time we see it. And when Oscar comes in to see Steve holding Barney at the end of their fight, the boxes are all stacked up in the entrance again.
  • Why didn't Steve get into his Corvette at the end?. Where is his Corvette anyway?. He drove up in it. This can be explained by the fact that the final sequence is taking place several days after the fight, while Barney is recovering.
  • At the end of the scene when Oscar drives away, the shadow of the crane holding the camera (and the camera operator) can bee seen in the lower right corner of the screen while taking the shot.

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