SCORE: 4 out of 4 Tennis Balls
March 23, 1975
Mood Ring: Permanently Black
I thought about the bionic woman a lot this week and I was SO excited to see her again tonight on part 2 of the Six Million Dollar Man. BUT JAIME DIED! NOOOOOOOO!!! I cannot believe this! WHY did they have to kill her at the end?! I cannot stop crying! Bring Jaime Sommers back! Stupid TV. I HATE THIS SHOW! I’M NOT GOING TO SCHOOL TOMORROW. I AM NEVER GOING TO SCHOOL EVER AGAIN! I HATE ABC. I HATE GROWNUPS. I HATE SPINACH.
April 28, 2012
Dear Bionic Blondes,
Mood Ring: Black
Sorry to start this out with a major spoiler, but since I found myself actually crying all over again when I sat down to review this episode, evidently I am still emotionally scarred from the original shock of how this wonderful little story tragically ended in 1975.
What I did not realize at the time, was that I was not alone in my grief. When this episode aired, turns out ABC and the producers got hit with a virtual tsunami of angry calls and letters from across the country. Like, had there been an internet at the time—it would have resulted in today’s equivalent of crashing a network's website. Oops. The audience wasn’t supposed to like Jaime Sommers THIS much. Only enough for a little temporary Nielsen ratings bump on The Six Million Dollar Man. Children understand the business of Hollywood, don’t they?
To make up for giving away the sad ending, let me put you at ease: Jaime Sommers WILL return. By any miracle necessary, because the national response to this episode was just too overwhelming for the network not to crank up the defibrillator and find a way to bring back the Bionic Woman. Simply put, she was ratings gold. You understand the business of Hollywood, don’t you?
Instant Replay: Tonight’s episode begins with a 3-minute story recap and scenes from last week. I’ll skip Oscar’s narrative and replace it with the Bionic Blonde’s summary: White-suited Ben & Jerry, vamoose, family vacation, heavenly angel JAIME SOMMERS!!, Cialis commercials, Six Million Dollar dating mistake, bionic lottery, the proposal, and freshly squeezed—I mean shattered Florida orange juice. (If none of this made sense to you, then I suggest you visit this hyperlink.) “And now, the conclusion of The Bionic Woman.”
The E! Hollywood Story: Tonight we begin with Jaime Sommers and Steve Austin leisurely riding horses and hiking by a stream in Ojai. Given their mega-star popularity as the world-famous astronaut and ladies tennis pro—and the way their engagement made headlines in the international papers last week—I’ve decided they really should have their very own “Brangelina” supercouple codename. I’m proclaiming them "Ausommers." I did find it surprising that TMZ and the paparazzi aren't camped out in Ojai tracking their every move. I mean Ruport Murdoch didn’t even hack their phone lines. But this was the 70s: The age of non-aggressive journalism.
After Jaime jokingly reminds Steve she’s the “one person who can fight you off” if he tries to get fresh, she gets serious for a minute and asks Steve what Oscar meant when he said her bionics weren’t covered by Blue Cross. Steve confirms it was Uncle Sam footing the bill, and that she was expected to be part of the quote unquote team. Then Jaime challenges him to a race back to the ranch. “What about the horses?” Steve asks. “We’ll race them, too.” Haha, good one, Jaime! And then they totally ditch the horses.
Farm Livin’ Is The Life For Me: Yee-Haw! It’s time for Cyborg Green Acres, as Jaime and Steve run slow mo together, jumping hay bales and tractors on the ranch—but then Helen drives up in her car and becomes an accidental eyewitness to their top-secret acrobatics. Oops, time to explain bionics and bring mama up to speed on the first 2 seasons of the series and last week’s episode. Doesn’t this woman own a television?
Then Oscar arrives and wants to talk to Steve privately. It’s serious Ben & Jerry news, and they have to stop planning their wedding! Oscar wants to use Jaime to help retrieve the other $20 bill printing plate the crooks still have— and because Ben is sponsoring a charity tennis tournament and has met Jaime before, she’s perfect for this undercover mission. No way says Steve, she isn’t ready. He and Oscar argue about Steve going back on his word—he promised to loan Jaime out to the OSI in return for her bionic surgery. But Steve is determined to protect his betrothed from this kind of danger.
I’ll Speak For Myself, Thank You: Wow, Jaime braves the wallpaper in Steve's kitchen again (I should start assigning Angry Birds points just for this), and interrupts—apologizing to Oscar and Steve for overhearing their conversation from outside. "It’s this bionic ear you gave me, remember?" She tells Steve she’s going to accept this mission, because she intends to “pay her own way” on this in exchange for Oscar and Rudy saving her life. Kids, I think we may have just witnessed one of the first scenes to define Jaime's independent nature.
Become an OSI Agent in One Easy Course! It's time to train Jaime for her very first assignment. How exciting! The guys set up a little obstacle course for her inside a warehouse, where she walks around labeled boxes to a blank painting with the name RENOIR taped over it. (Oh goody, the artist only created several thousand paintings in his lifetime, this should narrow it down.) Hidden behind the painting is a wall safe. Jaime forgets to attach a squelcher to disable the power on the alarm, and embarrassingly flubs her first attempt. But she goes on to successfully crack the safe combination by detecting the special clicks with her bionic ear, and swaps out the mint plates.
Congratulations Miss Sommers, welcome to the OSI! Human Resources will be in touch soon about your employee benefits package, but in the meantime, you and Steve need to hurry and catch a TWA flight before they go bankrupt!
You Are Now Free To Move About The Country: While the celebrity Ausommers sit next to one another in the flight’s coach declassé, Steve's face is stuck in worried-sick mode and Jaime leans over to assure him it will be okay. "I have a sensational right cross, and I can run the mile in 58 seconds flat, and probably a lot faster if I'm scared." But then her bionic hand starts to get uncontrollable turbulence again, although she manages to hide it from Steve.
At Ben & Jerry's (what else?) WHITE mansion, the Ausommers arrive in a fancy black limo, just as you would expect from our famous supercouple. Ben greets them and Jaime politely introduces her fiancée, Col. Steve Austin. Ben, of course, already knows Steve as the jerk who foiled his criminal activities, and with an inauspicious grin, offers to show them to their rooms, announcing "cocktails precisely at 7!" <---- Don't hurry on this mission kids, this sounds like fun!
Fast Forward: Speaking of 7, in an upcoming scene, Ben will mention he had been waiting 7 months for this chance to get even with Col. Austen—which gives us an actual time frame from the opening scene in part one, to the Ausommers courtship plus Jaime’s accident, bionic surgery and recovery. Yes we are moving at amazing bionic soap opera pace here. Too bad they couldn’t similarly condense those 19 years they made us wait for their wedding in Bionic Ever After.
Never Trust Your Valuables In The Hotel Safe: They had barely even checked into their rooms at Ben's graphically 70s Marriott —when Steve knocks on Jaime's door and wants to get the plate right away and go. While Steve stands guard outside the door of Ben’s den, Jaime sets her training exercises in motion, locates the painting (Incidentally the name of this particular Renior was "Woman at Piano" c. 1875) remembers to attach the squelcher (whew!) cracks the safe combination with her bionic ear, and of course I have to snicker again at the realization our white-suited bad guys had the plate hidden inside, what else, a WHITE money bag. Jaime smoothly makes the plate switch, but just as she's closing the safe, Steve gets stopped at gunpoint in the hallway, and then Jaime's bionic hand goes all haywire again, causing her to smash a vase and set off the alarm. Oops. RUN!!
The Nine West Wonder: Steve bionics a couple guys, crashes through the den door, throws a chair to break the glass and he and Jaime jump out the 2nd story window and escape. Yeah, but enough of Steve’s heroics. I’m focused on the bionic woman’s superior talents, specifically in her ability to make midair speed wardrobe changes: Jaime was wearing tennis shoes when she jumped out the window and had on wedgie sandals by the time her feet hit the ground. I *heart* this woman!
And how cute was it that Jaime and Steve held hands while they were being chased down backroads by the bad guys in a jeep? When Jerry catches up to them and tries to shoot, Ben accidentally stands up from behind a bush right in his line of fire. Oh dear, Jerry accidentally shot Ben! Their illegal ice cream empire is now minus its beloved co-founder.
We’ve Got A Wedding To Plan, Remember? On their return flight, Jaime apologizes for messing up but Steve doesn’t mind, their mission was still accomplished. Since they skipped cocktail hour at Ben & Jerry's, Steve gets them some champagne. Jaime asks, "Tell me something, we're going to live happily ever after, aren't we?" And Steve promises, "You bet, here's to us." Ahhhh! These are the kinds of perfect, fairytale lines characters deliver when you just KNOW the writers are planning to screw this up. Say goodbye to the Ausommers, kids. But I do love how Jaime says "cin-cin" when they clink their champagne glasses. Oh yeah, she's totally a party girl. I’m begging you bionic producer people, please don’t take her away from us!!
Back home in Ojai, the family is addressing wedding invitations. Since Jaime no longer has parents to share this special day, she asks Jim if he will give her away at the wedding. When she sits back down at the coffee table, Jaime’s bionic hand shakes and accidentally spills a bowl of water Steve was using for stamps. "Sorry. We're not even married yet and already I'm throwing things at you." A-haha I love this line! When they walk to the kitchen, first Jaime lies when Steve asks if her arm is still acting up, but then she fesses up—saying she thought maybe that was normal. Steve says it's not. But when he takes her to see Rudy for tests, the doctor can’t find anything wrong with her bionics.
So. I Guess Black Sabbath Is Out? Later, Jaime and Helen are going over wedding plans, and Jaime mentions the Reverend recommended a really good rock & roll band for their reception. (Seriously? I think the Bionic Blonde may need to do an intervention here.) But then suddenly Jaime's hand starts to freak out again, and this time it comes with painful Excedrin headaches. Jaime shockingly gets really cross with Helen. The next day when she and Steve play tennis, the migraines return and Jaime starts to lose it again. During a brief black out, she hurls her tennis racket and impales it in a post. “Steve, what’s happening to me?”
At the hospital, Rudy examines a series of head x-rays and discovers Jaime’s body is rejecting her bionics and she is suffering from a massive brain clot. Oh no! But just then Jaime has another Excedrin episode in her hospital room, smashes a lamp and barrels out of there into the dark, rainy night. Steve takes off after her, and finally finds her crashing her way out of a phone booth. A disoriented Jaime collapses in Steve’s arms, and he picks her up and races her back to the hospital. Thunder. Lightening. Sniff... hurry Steve, Rudy has to operate immediately and save Jaime!
Back After These Messages: I really don’t have anything to say here. Except that I wanted an excuse to postpone this ending as long as possible, and to warn you that you might want to gather any leftover distress supplies from your On The Run Survival Kit. We now return you to our regularly scheduled blog, already in progress.
Emergency Intermission: Need any snacks? This would be a good time to grout that tile you’ve been putting off. Hey look, Target has Poltergeist on sale this week. Feel free to find any excuse for another desperate delay tactic. Really, you don’t want to know how this ends. Sigh. Okay, back to your seats.
Second to last chance to turn back...
Last chance to turn back!
Zero Weddings and a Funeral:
In the ER before Rudy can even begin surgery to save Jaime, her vital signs suddenly start to drop. Slower and slower the EKG beeps. Her heart rate slows. A shot of adrenalin fails to work. Poor Steve begins to flash back to Jaime running in slow motion... the sounds start to get really echo-y and then all you hear is a flatline. Beeeeeeeeeep. Dr. Wells gives his expert medical opinion: “OH DEAR GOD!”
Y’all Mind Hanging Back? You’re Jamming My Frequency: And then America’s bionic sweetheart Jaime Sommers was gone. A stunned and bereft Steve removes his surgical mask and bends down to kiss his significant other goodbye: “I love you Jaime. I’ve always loved you.” The Six Million Dollar Man has tears rolling down his cheeks. OMG I cannot believe how sad this scene still is more than three decades later.
After the commercial, where audiences were collectively cursing ABC for killing Jaime Sommers—and parents were speed dialing their childrens’ therapists to book emergency morning appointments—Steve returns to close up his ranch house and say goodbye to Helen and Jim. Helen starts to cry, which of course means I lose it again, too. Then Steve walks up to the fence to pet a horse and recalls when Jaime went horseback riding. In a final music montage, he leans over to grieve again, and we hear a reprise of her song: “Sweet Jaime I'll love you forever / I know we'll never part / I love you like I've loved no other...”
Final Tally: Mood Ring black until further notice. As a matter of fact, I’m just going to wear black every day to reestablish my mourning phase. Despite this tragic ending, and the (thankfully, only temporary) end of the Bionic Woman—even with a few flaws—I still have to award this two-parter an excellent 4 tennis ball rating simply because it made such an indelible impression on me in 1975. And because watching it still makes me weep even when I know how it ends. Well done, bionic producer people. Well done.
(But I still hate you for this.)
I counted 7 wardrobe changes on Jaime in The Bionic Woman (Part 2). She also wore this rust-colored turtleneck sweater in the horse riding montage seen in both episodes, and the red blouse at the lab was the same one Jaime had at the lake in part 1.
Be sure to listen to the DVD commentary on this two-parter from writer Kenneth Johnson, who went on to become the producer and show runner for The Bionic Woman television series. As always, a ton of great behind the scenes information.
THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN 2X20
ZERO WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL
There are just no words to describe how much I disliked the ending of this. (At least not without getting kicked off the internet.)
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