My Childhood Declassified – One ‘Cyborgs: A Bionic Podcast’ At A Time…

 First-off, I just want to apologize, right off the bat, if this seems a bit windy. I’m relatively new to this whole social-media thingamajig, while many of you readers have been in the game (it seems) from the beginning. You’ll forgive me, then, if my over-exuberance for this subject gets the better of me – as I, too, want to share my bionic experience, with you. That, and I do want to give you my take on Cyborgs: A Bionic Podcast, along the way. So, bear with me, would ya. Besides, y’all love this stuff, as much as I do.

On March 7, 1973, when the pilot movie ‘The Moon and the Desert’ premiered on ABC for the very-first time, I became a wide-eyed, awestruck, lifelong fan of The Six Million Dollar Man – (and, later-on, The Bionic Woman, as well). I was almost 7 years old, then, but I had no idea – sitting in front of that TV with my dad – just how much these two series would impact my life. Hell, even Star Trek doesn’t hold that kind of place in my heart, and if you know anything about me, I practically breathe air, just for my chance to read the next adventure with Kirk, or Picard; or my favorites, Captain’s Benjamin Sisko and Mackenzie Calhoun.

See, Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers weren’t your usual superheroes; unlike Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, these were smart, funny, everyday human beings, who were just as fragile as the rest of us. Despite their having undergone bionic replacement-upgrades, I fantasized that could be Steve Austin – and, I was…just ask my family. But, unbeknownst to me, I wasn’t alone.In 1975, Steve Austin – ‘action figure’ – changed my life, again. When I tore that Christmas wrapping off of that box and saw Steve Austin inside (and, as an added-bonus, the ‘sold separately’ Bionic Transport and Repair Station, too), well…the joy and excitement of this 9-year-old was palpable! Indeed, it’d be pretty-accurate to say, I was over the damn moon! It’s my belief, that I joined a chorus of boys (and, maybe a few girls, too) around the world – in the countless-thousands, I’d wager –  that resonated so-profoundly, that our combined jubilence changed the course of TV and movie tie-in marketing history forever. Barbie and G.I. Joe may’ve been first – in fact, I got the ‘talking’ Joe, that Christmas, too – but, Steve Austin (and, later, Jaime Sommers – my sister had her), set the bar for everything that has come down the pike, since then. The creativity, durabilty and care that went into making these remarkable toys was incredible! And, they still capture the imaginations of middle-aged geeks, today. I’m one of them! (Just for the record, though, I am not a fan of the recent bionic knockoffs, from Bif Bang Pow. Sorry.)

Today, the Kenner line of bionic toys and accessories are some of the hottest, most-sought-after items on the internet! The nostalgia for these toys is even sparking fan pages, such as The Bionic Toy Action Page, (created by David S. Lawson); I’m an active member there, myself. It’s a place where we (all 1,337 of us) can play and have fun – together – like never before. My original action figures were lost (to many years of ambitious play), decades ago, but I am one of the fortunate few to have been reunited with these iconic toys; thus – enabling me to create ‘new’ adventures to share with fellow geeks across the planet. 

Unfortunately, we were left devastated, when both series were cancelled in 1978, leaving the core fans to move on. You all might remember that over-the-top, far-fetched flop called Star Wars, eh..? Or, those must-have Kenner toys, that that worldwide phenomenon spawned, in the millions? I mean, hell, it’s no secret that [they] passed-off our Bigfoot, as Chewbacca! Needless-to-say, though, we grew up, carried-on, and our interest waned with the shows’ absence in our daily lives. However, that all changed in May of 1987, with the made-for-television movie, The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman – (coinciding right about the same time as Al Gore’s new invention, the internet, was just beginning to take the world by storm… πŸ˜‰). 

The reunion of our childhood heroes, reignited our interest in those first-gen Cyborgs (that we’d previously-thought lost to television oblivion) in a BIG way. Many of the old-school fanboys (and ‘babes’) began to reach out to one another in ways that had never been possible, before; creating the beginnings of what is referred to, now – as the ‘bionic renaissance.’ Books were written, websites were created and two new reunion movies were produced: 1989’s Bionic Showdown and 1994’s Bionic Ever After? The Sci-Fi Channel brought both series back, as well; bringing in, not-only the ‘old’ diehards, but a whole-new generation of fans, in the process. There were even hopes that two new ‘modernized’ series, with Tom Schanley and Sandra Bullock, would be brought to the small screen; but, of course, those aspirations never panned-out. The closest we came to that, was CBS’s short-lived series Now and Again, with Eric Close and Dennis Haysbert, (1999-2000). There’s even been a lot of unsubstantiated-hype about making a major fearure-film over the years; although, that’s beginning to look like a reality, after all. The current fervor, notwithstanding, all of this led to the logical next step…

In 2010, 32 years after they went off of the radar, Universal Studios, in partnership with TIME/LIFE, (in a project overseen by the genre’s truest fans), we were finally given the best gift to come along, since that long-ago Christmas, in 1975. The Six Million Dollar ManThe Complete Collection, was the most-anticipated DVD-set of its kind! This off-the-charts, bionic-lover’s extravangaza includes 100 uncut, unedited, painstakingly-remastered episodes, the original and syndicated-versions of all three pilot movies, The Bionic Woman crossovers, and the reunion movies, all on 40 blow-your-mind-away discs; plus – a cache of never-before-seen bonus materials and informative cover inserts, that you won’t find anywhere else; all gathered together in a collector’s box that is (in my opinion) second-to-none! My God – that soundchip just ROCKS! (BTW, you don’t need ‘The Midas Touch’ to get these. You can pratically steal this spectaculer set, RIGHT NOW, for only $99!! Just click on the link, above). 

That release was followed-closely by The Bionic Woman DVD-set, in 2010-11. It’s not as lavishly-packaged, mind you; each season is sold separately; but, still – these 14 bonus-packed discs are a must-have for any true bionic aficionados, worth their salt.

That said, these releases were a long-awaited wish-come-true, for me; allowing me to re watch these iconic, groundbreaking, if not, cheesy and campish television classics anytime I want. While writing this, I’ve enjoyed ‘Day of the Robot’, ‘Wine, Women and War’, The Return of Bigfoot’ and ‘Welcome Home, Jaime’; as well as, the bonus featurette, ‘Bionic Action…Figures’, with Paul K. Bisson; including a slew of the shows’ stars, creators, writers and fans. 

Which brings me to why I’m writing this, in the first place: Cyborgs: A Bionic Podcast, hosted by John S. Drew, and his bionic pal and guru, Paul K. Bisson. This winner of the 2014 Parsec Award (for Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast) makes re watching The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman episodes a real treat; allowing me the opportunity to relive those long-gone days of my childhood, in a whole-new way. In each podcast, Drew and Bisson are joined by ‘guest pals’ and ‘guest babes’ – they’re a prestigious band of bionic geeks, too; which includes the likes of NYT Bestselling Author Dayton Ward and USA Today Bestseller Keith R. A. Decandido; plus – Betsy Dodd (The Bionic Blonde), James Sherrard (The Bionic Woman Files), Hugo and Nebula award-winner Robert J. Sawyer; as well as Matt Hankinson (The Complete Collection’s Chief Creative Consultant), Billy Flynn, Alex Green, Joe ‘The Major’ Burns, and many, many more. 

Each podcast gives a no-holds-barred, brutally honest, oftentimes – hilarious, review of each episode (in the order they aired on TV, back in the day); fondly deconstructing these fan-fave classics, while laying-bare the good, the bad and the ugly alike. Drew and Bisson discuss everything: the stars and guest-appearances, the writers and directors, the stories and behind-the-scenes minutiae, fashions, bionic sounds and effects, bloopers and gaffes, the legends, myths and rumors; even including those beloved toys and, my favorite: ‘Six Million Degrees of Star Trek Separation’. All the while making the listeners feel right at-home – if you’re a fan, you’re always welcome. At the end of each podcast, (which have an approximate running-time of about an hour), they rate the episodes reviewed on a 1-to-5 ‘bionic limbs’ scale.

So far, Drew and Bisson have covered the three pilot movies and 51 regular-season episodes; they’re now into Season Three of SMDM, and they’re just getting into Season One of BW. Plus, there are 10 ‘Critical Assignment’ and 5 ‘Case File’ podcasts. These include Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagners first-ever, separate – and, joint-panels at Dragon Con, in 2013; as well as, in-depth interviews with Robbie Rist, Tom Schanley, Richard Lenz, Jim McMullin and Guerin Barry. All I can say is, I’ve just caught-up, but I’ve already started listening to them, again – they’re THAT GOOD!! And, it’s all because of the hosts, John S. Drew and Paul K. Bisson. Their affection for these shows is contagious, coming through your speakers loud and clear. If this review gets you to give Cyborgs: A Bionic Podcast a try, then I suggest you begin with ‘Critical Assignments’ 0.3 and 0.7: Bionic Roundtable Parts 1 and 2; here they discuss the making-of, and they kickoff the release of The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Collection. 

I only have one gripe: When John gave a shoutout to the five-star raters, from iTunes, (in Season Two: Declassified), he called me Cone, ‘S’ GatorOne… (Please insert bionic breakdown sound-effect, here, Paul.) That’s Cone, ‘E’ Gatorone, (or, Lt. Eric Cone, Federation Security), John; but I forgive you, pal. No ‘Lost Love’ here. πŸ˜‰

My Rating: πŸ’ͺ🏻πŸ’ͺ🏻πŸ’ͺ🏻πŸ’ͺ🏻πŸ’ͺ🏻

‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’ 

Lt. Eric Cone πŸ–– 



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