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18 April 2016 @ 10:33 pm
Six Million Dollar Man: The Solid Gold Kidnapping - part III of III  
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Scene 57: Upstairs, he finds Erica still asleep. As he gets out of his wet clothing, she dreams more images of Roger’s mentor/killer, the Chairman, The Contessa, and the gun firing the lethal bullets into him. She awakens screaming.

Even after awaking, Erica is distraught. She tells Steve that it feels like Peck [a name that has just come up from Roger’s memories to her] was shooting her, that she can physically feel the bullets tearing through her body.

Steve tries to comfort her, but she admits that Steve may’ve been right about taking her experiments too far. She’s now very afraid that Roger’s last moments will keep coming back to her for the rest of her life. Steve tries to tell her that she risked everything to save Mr. Cameron, but Dr. Bergner admits to Steve that she did it for herself. She just wanted to know if she could, and this was her chance to skip years of drudgery through the slow, methodic scientific method, just as Rudy suggested to Oscar earlier.

Steve pushes her to tell him all about Peck, despite her emotional fragility.


Scene 58: Elsewhere, a train rushes through the morning grey.

Aboard is Mel and the shipment of gold, checking in.


Scene 59: Elsewhere-elsewhere, aboard the Secret HQ Freighter, Mr. Cameron still hasn’t loosened his tie. He’s engaged in a game of chess with Chairman. He checkmates the Chairman, and asks if everything is proceeding on schedule as far as his ransom payment.

Mr. Cameron brings up his release and this time when Chairman deflects again, Bill presses him. He admits that there are others willing to pay for his freedom from the Organization as well, if they’ll deliver him to their waiting arms.

Bill tries to impress on the Chairman how important it is that he be given the time to help the world reach accommodation between the opposite world powers. But they’re interrupted by the Secretary bringing an update to Chairman.


Scene 60: Later, at another set of docks, the crates of ‘ball bearings’ are being loaded aboard for another leg of the extensive journey under Mel’s continued watch. He phones Goldman at a phone booth to report the safe arrival of the ball bearings at Marseille. The next destination is Naples.


Scene 61: In the lab, Oscar isn’t encouraged, while Rudy continues looking worried for Erica as the test rodent continues to deteriorate in its behavior. Wells tries to get Oscar to warn Bergner about these developments, but Goldman states that they have no idea what is happening in the rat’s mind, or any indication that Erica is running into problems on her end.

Rudy snots that he’s willing to spend a billion dollars for Bill, but he can’t be bothered to spend the cost of a phone call for Dr. Bergner. He storms over to the phone himself to call the hotel in Switzerland, but Oscar disconnects him before he can dial.

He tells Rudy that he does care about her safety, but also tells Wells to hold out a little bit longer as they’re in the home stretch one way or the other. Rudy is conflicted, but acquiesces.


Commentary: Yeah, between this Rudy Wells and the one who dealt with Oliver Spencer, it’s really difficult to not see him as a tool, in the most insulting sense of the word.

Rudy can be really hard to like, until Martin E. Brooks takes over the role for the series, where his character too becomes a bit more humanized after Jaime comes on the scene.

Here… well. I’d have made the fuckin’ call right after Oscar left the room.



Scene 62: Later-later-later, Mel calls from inside a truck to report that they’re traveling from Naples to Rome. He gives us a timetable of 7 hours for Steve to find Cameron before they have to take the risk of turning over the money, or simply leaving Bill to his fate.


Scene 63: At the time, within The Contessa’s villa, Steve is manhandling her and asking how much she was paid to set him up. She admits that she’s cash poor and that she accepted the money as he said. But she insists that Peck told her that he was only going to discourage Austin, not murder him.

Steve tells her she’s going to return-set up Julian.


Scene 64: Which leads back to the casino.

Peck is snottish at being summoned. The Contessa, or whoever she is, reports with regret that she’s sold him out and points out the approaching Steve Austin.

Contessa tells Julian that she regrets doing this to him, but Steve was quite persuasive, and Julian was tending to be a bore. He intimates that there will be a reckoning later after Steve goes back to America, but Austin tells him he’s not leaving anytime soon without William Cameron [For Shame, Steve!! You didn’t use all three of his names with an important period stop-pause after each name! I can’t even look at you, now.], and is planning on a trade of Peck’s freedom for Cameron’s.

Julian asks amused if Steve intends on locking him in a basement cell at the Pentagon, but Steve points out the French police will do. Peck is puzzled by this, but Steve reports that he murdered a man, and the police tend to frown on that. Contessa DeRojas is shocked and appalled to be working with kidnappers who actually occasionally murder, too! Shocked! And Appalled!

Steve then has to report to [oh, let’s call her Luciana] Luciana on the departed Roger Ventriss, to her renewed shock. Peck tells Austin that he can’t prove that, but Steve intimates a witness who can describe everything about Roger’s last moments breathing right down to the last detail.

Julian insists there wasn’t a witness. Steve summons the gendarmes that were waiting in the wings to take Mr. Peck into custody. [The two stand-ins… and I’m going to assume their OSI agents or their entire fascination with Steve’s conversation across the room with Julian would make no sense… are AWFUL. How can you be so self-consciously awful when your entire roll is to just sit there as background props??]

Steve then calls to Erica, who had been sitting there with her back turned as well. Unfortunately, when Steve asks Erica if this is the man who killed Roger, she responds with “You killed… … me!” and launches an attack on him. He’s quickly wrestled away by the police, while Erica is forcefully restrained by Steve.


Scene 65: Peck manages to break away and runs for it, while Steve goes in pursuit of him. Julian sees his chance at a bit of vengeance and aims his escape car at Steve… [And uhm… what was happening with John Vernon’s lips?? I think he turned into a Kewpie Doll right in front of our eyes!!]





Steve impressively dives right through the windshield, causing peck to crash the car onto the casino steps. He’s rendered unconscious… or dead…. It’s unclear, but Steve’s attention is taken by a Marseille window sticker.


Commentary: And the whole scene is very weird. It’s odd how Steve just throws aside the undercover thing to confront Julian so directly, it’s weird how easily Peck gets away from the police, and they don’t even follow him. It’s bizarre how quickly Julian is suddenly written out of the film, when he was clearly being set up to be killed by a ‘possessed’ Erica through the memory indent of Roger but then wasn’t even.

And it’s super abrupt to just fade out on this whole thing with a not-commercial break, without our even knowing if Julian is being taken into custody or to a morgue. The scene just… ends….



Scene 66: Back with Mel, he calls in from the back of the truck [a truck by the way which would never hold 66 crates of gold] to find out if anyone has heard where they’re supposed to go after Rome.


Scene 67: In Lucerne, Oscar arrives at Steve and Erica’s hotel room. Oscar reports to Steve that Julian has surrounded himself with lawyers and it’ll take too long to break him into a deal for information.

Oscar asks after Erica. Steve objects to putting her through anymore so soon after her breakdown at the casino, but Oscar tells him she’s still the only game in town.

There is a brief argument between Steve, Oscar and Erica over if she’s up to continuing the assignment. Goldman presses her to find out where Roger was sending Bill after his abduction from the hospital. But Erica reports that it’s like there isn’t anything left of Roger after her breakdown at the casino. She reports that it’s like she’s looking at a blank screen now.

Steve starts thinking. He grabbed the sticker pass from the windshield of Julian’s car and he pulls it out now. He tells Oscar that they’ve been assuming that Bill was being held at a stationary location, like the Ambassador in Mexico. But the pass in his hand indicates that Julian had been to the docks in Marseille.

This sparks a reminder of Erica seeing repeated images of a ship… the cargo ship. Oscar suddenly wonders if that gold of theirs is actually still sitting in the Rome warehouse.


Scene 68: Later in Rome with Mel, the crates are checked by Oscar. He finds that their gold bars are actually painted lead. Speaking to Mel, he reports that the only time they were out of his sight is when they were in the hold of the ship, and there isn’t any way they could’ve transferred the cargo between ships without being noticed.

But Oscar figures out they had the duplicates stashed on the same ship already. They must’ve arranged to have the fake gold unloaded at one of the sites… probably Naples, while leaving the real billion with the ship.

Things don’t look good for William Cameron [and now everybody is forgetting to use his name properly, darn it]. Nor, I suppose, for Agent Bristo. And possibly not for Oscar. Somebody’s head is going to roll for this screw up.


Scene 69: But while Oscar was rushing to Rome, Steve went to Marseille and he’s currently checking out the docks.





There is only one cargo ship tied up, so he slips aboard it [or his stunt man does, anyway].


Scene 70: Meanwhile, Chairman stops by to inform Mr. Cameron that his ‘new host’ will be along presently to pick him up. Chairman is faux-apologetic and infuriatingly upbeat, while Bill is dour and silent.


Scene 71: At the ship rail, Steve’s tight-panted butt gets shoved in our face before he starts to make his way across deck. He starts prying open the anchor stop, when he’s spotted by a gun wielding guard. Guard, rather than ordering him to freeze - or shooting him on sight - instead comes up behind and starts choking him out from behind with the gun barrel.

He’s sent over Steve’s shoulders into the sea below [and helpfully doesn’t reflexively shout out an alarm during his fall… very considerate of him]. Steve goes back to releasing the anchor so there will be no quick getaway by the freighter.

[And no, Steve couldn’t have known this ship had anything illegal going on, let alone that it was involved in the Organization before the guy with the gun tried to choke him out, which was after he started sabotaging the anchorage system. I guess he was just really lucky this time.]

Above the ship, a copter starts hovering. Meanwhile, Steve has to leap from a high deck to a lower one to punch out another gunman. [The jazzy score seems all wrong here. Instead of making this a sneaky-tense situation while Steve tries to find and free Cameron, it’s giving the impression of a lightly fun situation that isn’t at all dangerous. What a weird musical choice.]

Steve takes off running across the deck toward the living quarters for the ship. Another pistol wielding goon comes out of nowhere and fires at Steve’s back twice… but misses from like 15 feet away…!

[Or Steve is maneuvering bionically, but since we’re not using any special effects to indicate that, it’s impossible to say so the impression is just that this guy is a suck shot.]

He chases after Austin.


Scene 72: In his cell, William. Henry. Cameron. hears the gunshots ringing out.

So does Chairman and his always present secretary. Our crack shot continues to miss Steve’s back. Steve uses his enhanced strength to open a heavy metal door right into the racing gunman’s face, causing him to brain himself unconscious.





Scene 73: In the boardroom, Chairman is being updated by somebody that there is a one man intruder aboard ship. Chairman offers this is sounding disturbingly familiar.

He orders the helicopter pilot to stand by for a passenger… just not the one that he was paid to retrieve, as he starts packing a briefcase.


Scene 74: Meanwhile, Steve wanders to random doors and forces them open. He finds Mr. Cameron and reports that Oscar Goldman asked him to drop by and say hello, bringing a smile to Bill’s face.


Scene 75: Chairman arrives on the same deck, only to see Steve there. He quickly retreats, closing an automatic door between him and his unwanted visitor. Steve forces this open, to find himself in the Boardroom. In the meantime, Chairman opens his briefcase for the gun stashed there.

But Steve takes a [presumed] bionic leap onto the board table, sliding across the room and into the old man. The tackle knocks the old coot out. Secretary goes belatedly for the gun on the carpet, but Steve heel smashes it with a quip.


Scene 76: In the meantime, the helicopter flies overhead.


Commentary: OW! Goddammit, another brutal scene cut. This one was worse than whiplash… it nearly snapped by neck!


Scene 77: But forget about that copter because we have to re-meet at the Paris Hospital.

There, William. Henry. Cameron. and Oscar Goldman meet and greet the reporters with Mr. Cameron feeling so much better after his few days of rest. There is a joke about Mr. Cameron feeling like a prisoner the last few days… yuck, yuck.

Oscar shares smiles with Steve and Erica.


Commentary: Wait. Meaning that the whole Rat-Breakdown Tidings of Dire Warning added up to ZERO. WTH.

This was set up to put Erica in danger, and with her suddenly taking on Roger’s memories as her own, and getting confused at who she was, it looked like she was in real trouble… but then, “Never mind, the memories are gone now and I’m all good“.

Ugh. Whatever, stupid empty fake-danger.




The Good: I really liked the acting work between John Vernon and Craig Heubing when they're sparring over their roles in the Organization. It was a shame when Roger gets killed.

I liked the beginning set up with the Ambassador's rescue in Mexico.

Lee Majors remains a charmer as Steve Austin occasionally has a cute bon mot to toss out there.

I liked the intriguing inclusion of the memory swapping experimental science and enjoyed Elizabeth Ashley as the scientist.

I was really surprised pleasantly when the stereotypical on-mission romance didn't happen between Erica and Steve. It was a really great touch when they remained professional throughout the mission.

I enjoyed Leif Erickson's William Cameron, but I want to especially mention the scene where he works out that the Countess used his pillow talk to set him up. It's obvious he's left feeling like a silly, old fool and there is some nice face-acting.


The Bad: Our bionic action is woefully sparse for a movie focusing on a bionic agent, and when they do appear it's more through suggestion than cool visuals. For being a Six Million Dollar Man telemovie, this was really underwhelming in the super spy arena.

The actual kidnapping of Mr. Cameron was just pathetic. It really did play out like a tv episode short changing the obvious security somebody like he would've actually had attached to him, and making the abduction much less intriguing and exciting than it could've been.

I'm going to put pacing here as a real problem, mostly because the movie was stretched out with walking and walking and talking and talking, to fill up space more than to fill in story. A 45 minute episode would've worked fine for this, but trying to stretch it to 73 minutes just doesn't work... mostly because some intersting subplots sat there doing nothing and then weren't ever picked up.

How can you have somebody spying on Steve's extraordinary physical feats [Julian spying on Steve kicking a car door off of its hinges, and a metal bar being warped out of shape after striking him] and then DO NOTHING WITH IT? NOTHING.

The basic soundtrack, while not bad on its own, really had very little to do with many of the scenes. It's a bizarre score that seems designed to de-emphasize the action sequences, instead of intensifying a sense of risk for Steve or Erica.

The actual rescue of Bill is also pretty lackluster -- again, not helped one whit by the score.


Other Thoughts: The beginning flashback to Steve's accident once again changes details in ways that don't seem necessary, and basically makes a shambles of any sort of continuity, which is probably only my issue. It just bugs me when we revise what we've seen before for no concrete reasons. It doesn't affect the rest of the story in any way.

As expressed above, it was a shame that Roger was killed so soon into the film, because Julian became a far less interesting generic bad guy once his rival was disposed of.

The various subplots were really badly neglected that could've added some more interest and urgency to a rather staid plot. I'm thinking specifically of the danger to Dr. Bergner being overwhelmed by Roger's memories, the hint that the entire procedure would threaten her physical health after 18 hours, the danger Julian was in by disappointing the Chairman and the aborted betrayed mentor aspect hinted at between Julian and Roger. Any or all of these could've been fleshed out much more to fill in some of the time spent instead on wandering Lucerne or chatting and chatting without learning any vital clues, or Mel's constant inserts to "report" on the status of the gold shipment which amounted to "all's well". Mel doesn't even come under attack after Bill's kidnapping. He's utterly extraneous to the plot.

I feel like Julian Peck was supposed to have been set up to be a clever antagonist dogging Steve throughout the film until a final confrontation, but it just never gelled that way. The whole Julian involvement in the plot just... wimped out and then he was easily captured and that was that.

The Contessa character was really confused. I have the feeling that she was supposed to have more of a role in things, and that her entire 'arc' was severely truncated. This is especially true of her relationship with Roger prior to his death, and exactly how much she knew/was responsible for when it came to the various kidnapping schemes. I also didn't like how she apparently karma houdini's herself out of the story after turning on Julian and how Chairman never seems to know about or express any opinions on Julian's arrest/The Contessa's unreliability. Her whole characterization was botched, but she was minor enough in the end to keep this out of The Bad.

The whole attempt on Steve's life by the assassin waiting outside the Contessa's villa and on the lake was pretty unremarkable and clumsy. It just wasn't exciting at all, and the soundtrack wasn't helping any.


The Score: I was really disappointed in this one. The ending wasn't nearly as bad as the last film, where Steve blew up the Bahamas with a nuclear bomb to kill one guy, but that one had more intrigue, more bionic action and better character arcs than this one. Honestly, after the last two telemovies, I'm not sure how this was greenlit into a series.

I liked the bad guys more in this one, but there are far more story problems than last time out, so it's mostly a wash. But the waste of several potential subplots and guest characters knocks this one a bit lower than the battle against Findletter.


2.75 out of 5 stars.



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