SCORE: 3 out of 4 Tennis Balls
February 18, 1976
Mood Ring: Blue
The Bionic Woman was on again tonight. The boys wouldn't let the girls play softball so Jaime showed THEM! I wish Jaime would come to my house the next time my brothers tell me that sissies can't play with them. Steve was on tonight, too! But only for a minute at the end when he came to pick up the bus driver. When are Jaime and Steve getting back together?!
August 25, 2012
Dear Bionic Blondes,
Mood Ring: Blue
This episode is a blast thingy of the past, with another classic Bionic Woman scene that still remained memorable for me all these years. But our world series softball game will have to wait, because first we have to pack for our very first Bionic Blonde Picnic!
Go get your Coleman cooler and stock it with the ultimate picnic companion: Wine in a box. A really big box. Or maybe two medium sized boxes. Don't worry if it's too heavy, the Bionic Woman will carry it for you. You will also need a picnic blanket, a case of Bionic Blonde Power Bars™ to eat instead of the school lunch, a can of bug spray, and a can of spray paint for when the teacher isn't looking. Because repeat after me, “graffiti in the park is fun!” Ready? Set… F I E L D T R I P ! !
The Bionic Woman was only 30 seconds late for her show tonight, but we won't count off for that because the kids practically ran her down racing to get on the school bus. Today, her class is going on a field trip picnic. Woo-hoo! While the students are filing onto the bus, Miss Sommers stops little Teddy, who has sprung a water leak in his Levi® denim shirt pocket. Busted! Jaime confiscates his squirt gun. Then, while waving her hand in conversation, the gun accidentally goes off. OMG. Jaime just shot the bus driver!!
Intelligence Leak: At this point I’m thinking Miss Sommers should maybe begin to stock up on these water pistols she's confiscating from her students and pack them as ammo for a future field trip—visiting the Doomsday supercomputer, who, as it turns out, has a severe allergy to H2O. (Should I have included a spoiler alert with that?)
So anyway, Jaime is good friends with the bus driver known as Harry Anderson, played by the legendary Donald O'Connor— famous for old Hollywood musicals and most famously, "Singing in the Rain." But tonight he will neither sing nor dance, not even when he's cornered by the musical mafia, because (and excuse me while I pull out an emory board and file my nails for passive emphasis) APPARENTLY the school district failed to do a simple background check on the bus driver.
Man Your Stations: But Harry of course is a super-nice, folksy kinda guy that Jaime likes and trusts and they joke around a lot. We learn Harry also used to be teen-Jaime and Steve's bus driver 15 years ago, and he moonlights as an auto mechanic and owns a gas station in town. With the bus all loaded, on the way to the park they swing by Harry’s station to pick up his duffle bag of softball equipment. There, he bumps into a couple sleazy looking guys outside, one of whom thinks he recognizes Harry from, y'know, a thing… of the past.
In the following scene, the school bus finally pulls into the park where I immediately noticed that only the girls were tasked with the menial labor of helping to unload all the refreshments. Because the boys had already raced off to set up for their softball game. While two of the girls are carrying a heavy cardboard box off the bus, Jaime cautions, "Hold on to yer bottom, too… Pardon the expression." Aa-hahaha! Natch, the Bionic Woman carries the giant, heavy cooler all by herself, prompting Harry to stop her and offer to do the gentlemanly heavy lifting for her, but then nearly drops it when she lets go. (Harry, ya spent too many years tap dancing when you should have been working out at the MGM gym.)
Moo-ve Over: While Harry is out of view lighting the grill, Jaime has the horrifying job of taking the raw ground beef and bionic smashing it into hamburger patties. Hello, graphic warning, please? I'm a vegetarian now, so this scene makes me want to toss my cookies. However—in this little makeshift cafeteria display of fresh ingredients—I guess I should be grateful they didn't decide to go even fresher and show Jaime carrying a cow off the bus.
After lunch, it's time for the kids' softball game, but the boys won't let the girls play because girls "ruin the game." The Bionic Woman to the rescue! I heart this scene… As a girl growing up in the 70s., despite having most schools already offering organized girls sports in accordance with the law, it still felt like a constant battle to be accepted as legitimate athletes by our male peers. So, has this equality factor improved in the decades since? Join me at the end* for another installment of "Junior Feminist Fantasies."
A League Of Their Own: So Jaime negotiates a game deal with the boys. If Mark can strike her out, the boys can have their way. But if she hits the ball, they have to let the girls play with them, too. After a couple nail-biting strikes, at last, Jaime bats the ball out of the park—like practically into orbit with missile sounds and everything. Hooray, the girls are officially on the team!! Thanks for batting the way, Miss Sommers! Now if you’ll excuse us, we empowered girls will be back right after we go run the world with Beyoncé in this little video tribute.
Everybody boards the bus when the field trip is over, and Harry drops off half of the students at the first stop, I'm guessing because these kids' contracts didn't include the dangerous "burning bus" clause, nor could they sing well during the B-I-N-G-O auditions. Harry announces the next stop as "Sutter Street," and then they head down an old dirt back road in Ojai.
Singing in the Pain: While Jaime and the children are cheerfully clapping and singing about the farmer who had a dog and Bingo was his name-O "clap, clap N-G-O, clap, clap N-G-O” ahhhhh! (Seriously, after the 3rd round, my mood ring was about to shatter and I was contemplating stabbing my eyes out. ) When suddenly… a tire blows out, and driver Harry begins to lose control of the bus. Fortunately, this act of God immediately ceased their music set list, which surely would have included all 99 verses of that Bottles of Beer on the Wall song, next.
Yikes, Harry, Jaime and all the little children are gonna crash!!! (Do we have time to call in Sandra Bullock from Speed to handle this?) The bus eventually swerves off the road and lands in a deep ravine, sparking a brush fire behind the back of the bus near its gas tank. But they’re all trapped, because the front exit door is blocked by a giant Raiders Of the Lost Ark boulder, so after a clever distraction where Jaime convinces everyone to run towards the fire in the back, Jaime bionic-kicks the front door clean off the bus, smashing the boulder in two. Angry Bird Score: 500 points! She and Harry hasten all the kids off the bus, except the little Cindy Brady-looking girl named Caroline, who was left coughing and wheezing on a seat, weakened by the billowing smoke and the 4th music round of B-I-N-G-O. Harry risks his life and rushes back in to successfully save her— just seconds before the entire bus blows up. Whew!
ABC Person of the Week: For his heroic rescue, Harry's picture makes the papers and even gets picked up by the news wires. So all the kids proudly organize a little surprise party for him at school and frame the news clipping on a poster of thanks. But Harry is visibly uneasy with all this attention, and Jaime wants to know why on earth he would be so upset that he's trending on Twitter right now. Um, because Miss Sommers, #WitnessProtectionCoverBlown
The bad guys see Harry in the paper and recognize him as Walter Kreuger. (Not to be confused with his nightmarish brother Freddy Kreuger, wanted for multiple murders on Elm Street) It was Chicago, 1960, and he witnessed a mob hit at a night club but disappeared before police could find him to testify. These two mob guys decide to sell Harry's whereabouts to the mob boss Mr. Stone (for purposes of illustrating the mob chain of command, we'll just nickname him The Stonefather), who incidentally also pulled said trigger and could still be charged for the murder if Kreuger decided to come forward and identify him. Le plot thickens…
The Shoe Department: In the next scene, Jaime comes upon step-father Jim working in the horse stable. His pretty spotted palomino horse named Ajax has thrown a shoe, but the town blacksmith is inconveniently out of town. Poor Jim is struggling and smashes his finger with the hammer trying to downsize the horseshoe. Jaime teases, "You're supposed to be doing it under a spreading chestnut tree." Huh? Darnit, Miss Sommers has forced me to homework-google this one for extra credit. Turns out it's the first line of a famous-to-everybody-but-me poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow entitled, "The Village Blacksmith."
While I’m busy admiring her gorgeous tan suede tennis shoes, Jaime bionic-bends the horseshoe to fit, and while Jim goes to see who just drove up, she skillfully nails the shoe onto the horse with her bionic fist, earning 50 Angry Birds points for each nail with railroad-spike reverberation. Awesome! I noticed this horse was very gentle and obedient during this procedure, likely because he knows this meat-hammering lady is the reason there aren't any cows left on their farm.
MetLife Men: Hey look, the two mob guys are paying Jaime a visit, claiming to be with an insurance company and wanting to ask Jaime some questions about the heroic bus driver so they can submit an accident report. But Jaime immediately detects this insurance fraud and knows they're not legit, so she drives into town to check up on Harry at his station.
BREAKING ESPN NEWS: The ball that Jaime hit out of the park has just been spotted over Tuscson, Arizona. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.
Meanwhile the two mob guys creepy-confront Harry at the garage and tell him that if he doesn't fork over $20,000 clams by Monday, they're gonna turn him over to The Stonefather. Harry says he hasn't got that kind of money. Which, frankly didn't surprise me when I noticed his cheap gas prices in the following scene. WTF 50¢ a gallon? He’s practically giving it away, which is why—thanks to my free publicity—there is now a line of gas customers at his Ojai station stretching all the way back to Los Angeles.
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in: After the mob dudes depart, Jaime arrives and catches Harry loading bullets in his gun. He begs her to stay out of this, but Jaime of course cares too deeply about her friend and insists on trying to help. Harry finally divulges the story of his past life as as a box office smash in musicals and then as Walter Kreuger. Jaime offers, "I have a friend in Washington who can help." Meanwhile, across town, The Stonefather arrives at the hotel, and has decided to do da whack on Harry himself. (Don't you just love my mob speak?)
So all three gangstas head back over to Harry's garage to snuff him out. Harry's not very good with his tommy-gun and gets disarmed right away, and while they are chasing him around the shop Jaime bionic-spins a Mustang on a hydraulic lift and knocks the bad guys over. Then she bionics a big barrel of oil onto the floor, causing the perpetrators to slip and fall. Angry Bird Score: 200 points. Plus an extra 200 points for not endangering any pelicans in this oil spill. But alas, The Stonefather escapes and drives away.
Call Me Maybe: Jaime dials up Oscar, who offers to call the justice department to come get Harry so he can testify against the mob, and suggests Jaime and Harry go someplace safe in the meantime, such as the Air Force Base set.
While Jaime and Harry are relaxing in the Air Force Major's office lounge, she gets a call from her Bionic Beloved—I mean OSI colleague, Steve, who is piloting the flight to come pick up Harry himself! Steve says his plane is somewhere over Oklahoma at the moment and will be there in 2 hours. Jaime says, "It'll be good to see you, too." Squee! I bet they'll kiss hello and and then just reverse the tape when it’s time to kiss goodbye. Nah, they would never cheat us like that!
Where was I? Oh yeah, so Jaime and Harry go back to her classroom, she decides this is a fine time to go stock up on school supplies and leaves Harry alone. Meanwhile, The Stonefather has snuck onto the base disguised as a TV repairman. When Jaime returns to her classroom with her arms full of art pads and things, she notices the California flag by her desk has been knocked onto the floor and Harry's missing. Oh no, not the state flag!
Hark, Jaime hears some gunshots and follows them to their little mobster showdown in an airplane hanger. She bionics up some scaffolding, walks across the top of a plane and then, with perfect bomb dropping aim, jumps straight down onto The Stonefather's shoulders and knocks him to the floor. Ouuuch! Angry Bird Score: 250 points. After this, a stunned Harry—having witnessed her remarkable leap—introduces Jaime to The Stonefather she just jackhammered into the floor. Score! (And here, Jaime thought she was just punishing the TV repairman for failing to arrive between the hours of 8 and 5 as promised.)
Boyfriend Arriving At Gate 7: Finally, Steve's plane lands and he catches a ride on the tarmac to go meet Jaime and Harry at the (chain link) gate. Steve greets Jaime with a little kiss on the cheek, then tells Harry he's got some people in Washington anxious to talk to him about his eyewitness testimony. Jaime teases, "We have a little surprise for you, too."
Oh please oh please oh please let it be that you got your memories back and you’re ready to start dating again! My mood ring is exploding with purple-anticipation right now.
Dang, it was just to say they had the murdering mob boss in custody, too, Steve replies, "You guys don't fool around, do you?" (No unfortunately nobody does on this show.) And then the director totally did just reverse their greeting kiss and recycled it as their goodbye kiss. Because why shoot two kisses when you can just spin the sentiment backwards? Hurled at the TV in protest: 2 Bionic Blonde PowerBar™ wrappers.
As Harry and Steve walk back to their car, Jaime tunes in on her bionic hearing channel, and overhears Harry tell Steve he wouldn't believe the things she did.
"We all know Jaime's special, but what kind of things are you talking about?" Then Steve turns to wink at Jaime and she smiles back. Sigh. I just love happy endings!
Especially the one I made up in my head where Steve then tosses Jaime her softball and says, "Here, I found this flying over Oklahoma."
Game Highlights: Mood Ring: Blue. This was a nice episode that seemed to be designed more to explore Jaime’s character as a kids’ role model vs. her work as a government agent. Yes, she would unselfishly go out of her way to help a friend, rescue children from a burning bus and teach us all a valuable lesson about girls being treated equally. Next week’s Claws will be another “local story” that will explore Jaime’s passion for animal welfare, too. While they aren’t necessarily some of the best Bionic Woman episodes, that does not mean they weren’t memorable—and on some levels, were probably more influential than her usual adventures on OSI missions. The appearance of Donald O’Conner here was one aspect that regrettably failed to impress me as a girl, but now that I am more aware of his Hollywood stature and the fabulousness of his talents, I realize how lucky we were to have him help drive this memorable episode of The Bionic Woman.
We seem to be stuck on a 3-outfit limit from wardrobe again this week. Jaime wore a maroon blouse, bell-bottomed jeans and a khaki safari-style jacket for the picnic, a cowl-necked, blue striped knit dress with wedgie sandals at school, and then the lovely, one-piece bell bottomed jumpsuit belted at the waist—a style that would become an iconic look for her in the first couple seasons of her series. Two of her outfits were beige, which suggests Jaime accidentally walked into Steve’s wardrobe closet this week. (That shout-out was for Mr. Drew, who likes to point out in his Bionic Podcast reviews that The Six Million Dollar Man is almost always donned in beige.)
*Junior Feminist Fantasies: Title IX (9) was signed into US law in 1972, making it unlawful for any federally funded education program or activity to discriminate or exclude anyone on the basis of sex. Today, Title IX is best known for its powerful impact on girls sports in high school and collegiate athletics, even though, ironically, it does not specifically mention sports, and was designed to encompass all aspects of education (and did). Since this memorable boys vs. girls softball team debate aired on the Bionic Woman in 1976, the US has made some amazing strides in the field of women’s athletics. With just two generations to foster, this year—for the first time ever, the U.S .sent more qualifying women to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics than men, and in the overall standings, the female athletes brought home more medals. Most everyone, including the Olympians themselves, attributed this milestone to the success of Title IX and the equal opportunities it provided for girls to train and compete. Grade: A+ Currently, women’s professional team sports still has a way to go to catch up to the popularity and pay scale with men’s, but hopefully in time, this will become “A Thing of the Past,” too.
So why did this matter to me? This photo on the right is of me (wearing a white team jersey) in high school trying to grab a rebound in a girls basketball game. Although I enjoyed playing this sport, I basically sucked at it. I also sucked at softball, but one of my younger homerun-hitting sisters was really, really good. I fared slightly better on the girls track team and one year even managed to break our school record for the triple jump. (I couldn’t run, but I could bionic-jump.) Anyway, that’s my Title IX story. If you’re interested, surprisingly—I’m available for product endorsements. Just call my agent.
THE BIONIC WOMAN 1X04
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
Jaime hits a home run for Title IX, rescues kids from a burning bus and then helps take down the mob. (And on the 7th day, she rested.)
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