Der Sechs Millionen Dollar Man: Die Complette Serie

Review by Joseph Burns 12-11-18

It’s a revealation! It’s a disaster. It’s fantastic! It’s deeply flawed. It’s a Bionic Home Video release, so what else is new?

Much, as it turns out.

The first release of a Bionic Show on 1080p Blu-Ray* is a thing to rejoice. Here’s some details:

The version of the 3 1973 TV movies The Six Million Dollar Man, Wine Women and War and The Solid Gold Kidnapping are the originals, and they've never looked better. The two-part versions are also available on the same disc. Interestingly, the first film is counted as the Pilot Film, while the other two are given the 1-4 Season numbers, despite film versions being available.

The transfer is a fantastic modern scan, of a very early generation print or the original negative. New titles appear to have been struck from a textless element. Color is just great, blacks and whites are clean, flesh tones are correct and natural, this aspect mostly a home run. Occasionally oversaturated, some small amount of crush and minimal clipping, some installments fare better than others. Fine detail abounds; noise, dirt and grain are minimal; this is a great transfer from mostly great elements. A vast improvement over the 2010 DVD releases. Mostly.

The sound provides some great detail and often seems to come from better elements.

Logos at the beginning are skippable, a nice touch. Menus all in German, of course.

Bonus Features:

Disc 3 has the bonus featurettes:

"Real Bionics," "An Iconic Opening," "Season 1 VIPs," and the Harve Bennett interview.

Disc 5 includes:

The "Movie" version of "The Bionic Woman." A strange choice, given the presence of the episodic version on the same disc, but does include some shots otherwise missing from the 2-part cut from this release.

Bionic Sounds (featuring yours truly, yay!)

Season 2 Guest Stars

Disc 8 should have Season 3 bonus, but does not.

Disc 10 should have Season 4 bonus, but does not.

Disc 12 contains the 3 reunion TV Movies. All featurettes and reunion movies are standard definition.

Package:

The outer packaging is a very sturdy cardboard box, which holds two plastic disc cases and a very nice booklet, which mein Deutsch is not proficient enough for me to properly evaluate, but clearly got a lot of attention, and nicely exploits the new ability to get HD pix from the whole show. They created a nifty, if overly Germanic seal for the OSI which adorns the art.

The plastic cases have 4 spindles per 6 discs, so 2 out of 3 discs are pressing against another disc. One of mine came with some loosies, luckily undamaged.

The flip side:

This is the German version of the show. English is available for 90% of the material here, but the show intro for Seasons 1-3 is a uniquely German version of the Season 2 credits, and of the Season 4 intro for 4 + 5. Interesting exception is the 2-part versions of the 1973 TV Movies: the original Season 4 intro is seen here.

No Season 1 version, IOW. All cold opens now show after the aforementioned intro, disrupting both intent and fans’ memories. Certain elements are cut as they were in Germany since the beginning; this is not uncut. Most are small cuts familiar to Americans from our own cutdowns, as can be seen on the early UK releases from Playback. Some are more significant; I can’t stand losing Barney saying “It’s wild Steve, it’s wild!” in “The Seven Million Dollar Man,” which is too bad, since otherwise is the first time this episode has actually looked good on any release. “The Bionic Woman” removes some great moments like the run after Steve proposes.

The very sharp and mostly noise-free. high-contrast image is very modern, and digital-looking. This might be a negative for some folks who want an image that looks like its era. Further, the whites occasionally look like a parade job. That is, white was equalized between all color channels (using the parade waveform monitor or equivalent), stripping any natural cast from the light out along with the casts you legitimately want to get rid of. This leaves a stripped, stark look that works in some scenes, but not in others. That said, it’s still very nice-looking and far superior to anything seen to date.

*The Reunion Movies are still in SD, MPEG-2. There is no English track for these, so hang onto your english DVDs.

The average is nine episodes per disc. A firm but not overdone DNR pass was doubtless necessary given the stingy bit-budget here, which removed most grain and some fine detail. DNR and compression have come along way, but those with big screens/ refined sensibilities will see the hit. It’s not a film look, mostly, and some will be disappointed here, but grain is a major casualty of the DNR and compression.

OBP

Those who have heard from me in the past on this know that I’m a stickler for the Original Broadcast Package. How’d they do?

Mixed. The 1973 TV movies are the only OBP element changed for syndication that are here. No “Kill Oscar, Part II,” and the version of “The Return of Bigfoot, Part II,” is the Sixified version with Eurostile supers, but nonetheless is plagued by the muffled sound of the 2010 release! The three movie events from Season 4 and 5, “The Bionic Boy,” “The Thunderbird Connection,” and “The Lost Island,” are in their two-part form.

Time-Life Home Video, which produced the 2010 DVD release, worked with fans and found OBP elements for “Kill Oscar, Part II,” “The Return of Bigfoot, Part II” (and included all episodes of both epics, while “Kill Oscar” is not present in any of it’s parts here, in keeping with the syndication package), as well as the 3 movie events from Seasons 4 and 5. They also released the original, two part version of “The Bionic Woman,” previously only available as the “movie version” edit.

I glad to report that this is the case here, as well, and one better: the opening scene where Steve steals the plates from Wrona, is properly day-for-night! Strangely the effect was removed in 2010 as well as earlier releases, excepting the 1979 laserdisc. Looks real good.