SMDM & BW region 2 dvd reveiws release 2
October the 1st 2001 saw the DVD release of the 2nd SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and BIONIC WOMAN DVDs in the UK.
The discs, as previously, features 3 episodes from each of the Bionic shows. The SMDM disc features the Robot triology of stories with Steve pitting his wits against Dr. Jeffrey Dolenz's robotic creations - "Day of the Robot"; "Run, Steve, Run"; and "Return of the Robot Maker". All 3 are good, solid, stories and show off the series at it's best. Despite the fact the stories feature robot protagannists, there are some strong character moments throughout the stories, and Richard Anderson gets a rare break from playing Oscar when he becomes Robot Oscar and has a white-knuckle fight against Steve Austin at the end of "Return'"
The BW disc features the first 2-part story "Welcome Home, Jaime" alongside "Angel of Mercy". All are early outings for the young Lindsay Wagner in her new starring role, but she handles things admirably. The episodes demonstrate there really was room on televsion for another Bionic show as Lindsay makes the role her own and brings a female perspective to the show and the stories in what could easily have ended up being just another superhero show.
The boxes for the discs are the same as before, and there is still the annoying need to turn the boxes 90 degrees clockwise to read the back of them. It's only a tiny flaw I know, but it seems to make no sense when every other DVD box I have ever seen doesn't do this? The sound and picture conversion remain first rate, and again make the show seem instantly fresh, whilst at the same time familiar when viewed on this new format. The main menu's on the discs are again animated with moving images of Steve/Jaime, along with the main music themes. They have been re-designed slightly, but haven't gained anything from doing so. Of the two I prefer the SMDM menu, as the BW looks a little tacky with the use of garish colours and episode titles in color blocks on the screen.The discs include what is billed as "Bonus Stills", but these look to merely screen captures from the episodes rather than any genuine publicity stills. Why? This is another lost opportunity for Universal-Playback when they are looking to shift a big number of units to make conitnued DVD releases financially viable. Everyone bemoned the lack of extras on the initial releases and we had high hopes for something better this time round. There are dozens,upon dozens, of publicity stills in existence for both shows, why cheat the disc buyers with screen captures when they could be including some original material? You just look at the recent Gerry Anderson DVD releases in the UK to see what CAN be done with extras. These old british shows (some of them 30 year old puppet shows ) include orginal stills galleries, magazine covers, publicity material, TV spots, and even audio narration. For such high profile shows for their day, surely something like this is not too much for ask for the Bionic discs?
Overall, though, the discs are a much better buy than the first releases. There are a better selection of episodes which show the series off to much better effect, and some genuinely enjoyable guest stars: Henry Jones as Dr. Dolenz, one of the best returning villans on the SMDM and Noah Berry from "The Rockford Files" in "Run, Steve, Run". There's also Andy Griffiths, who anyone around in the 70's can't fail to remember, in "Angel of Mercy". Watching these particular episodes make you remember the reasons you liked Bionics as a kid, and used to run round the playground in slow motion making strange noises!. Yep, they were good times.
So,get yourself down the shops and go buy these discs and take a warm and fuzzy trip down memory lane.... we deserve it!
John Patterson - 01/10/01