Scene 23: Sometime later, the medical staff wait as Austin comes around. Rudy is at his bedside with Manners so they’ll be the first faces Steve sees. He makes a Dr. Frankenstein quip, which Rudy greets with a wan quirk of the lips, but Manners looks very concerned by the “joke”.
Everyone waits anxiously for Steve to attempt to move his limbs and he is able to move his feet without prompting, which is a promising result. Next, with some focused concentration, Austin is able to move his arm and flex his fingers on the bionic unit. Steve raises his arm enough to stare at the foreign limb while Rudy and Jean share relieved smiles of relief and pride.
Commentary: I really like the way this scene was filmed. It’s a little slow, as they take their time with Steve investigating his new arm, but I like the soundtrack and the way there isn’t any dialog. I also like that they have the entire anonymous/dialogless staff in the room really sharing this unique moment. But what I really like in regards to the filming of this scene is the way that the camera work is used to give us a viewpoint of the new arm and hand from Steve’s prone viewpoint. It manages to convey the sense of “alien-ness” of Steve seeing this artificial part being manipulated by his will and Lee Majors does a really good acting job of both being relieved that the limb is responsive, while also having this warring sense on his face of being slightly repulsed by this same limb being attached to him. It’s a subtle mix of emotions to capture and Lee does so admirably.
Scene 24: Sometime later, Steve is feeling stronger and sitting up. He continues to compare and contrast the sensations and looks of his fake arm with his real one.
He summons Jean Manners to sit with him for a moment. He asks if he can touch her and with her consent feels her face and hair with his human hand. He next stares at his bionic hand and asks Manners if he touches her with it, if he’d feel anything. Nurse Manners explains that the hand has touch circuits which will give a sensation similar to touch. “Similar” doesn’t sound all that great to Steve. As they talk, Jean sees that Steve is still feeling resentful about being saved and altered in this way. She reaches out with sympathy, but Steve pushes her away telling her that he didn’t give her permission to return his touch.
He sounds a bit assholish, if you want to know the truth.
Commentary: The only weird thing about this whole sequence of events is Steve’s mother and step-father, who we’ll never hear about until the series. It’s - in retrospect - really bizarre that they’re never represented as wondering just what the hell is happening with their son after his accident and none of Steve’s family or friends are brought in to provide him emotional support. Even for somebody as rigid and cold as Spencer, it seems odd that there isn’t some attempt at providing for Austin’s psychological/emotional adjustment and even more insensible that the script never bothers to even mention that other people actually know Steve and worry about him outside of Rudy and Jean.
Scene 25: We skip forward again as Steve begins his most basic rehabilitation with learning how to walk again on the new limbs.
He proceeds to being able to walk without the harness contraption, though his movements remain jerky and unsure. Steve stops in the middle of the session to confront Rudy about what this “gift” of his is going to cost him, something that Rudy tries to avoid speaking about.
Rudy Wells tries to impress on Steve that they’ve given him this gift out of caring, but Steve accuses him of trying to treat him like he’s some naïve child. He accuses Rudy of hiding who is “paying the freight” and wondering what all of this miracle is going to end up costing him “when the bill comes due”. Wells accuses him of being too suspicious.
Commentary: I don’t like this scene for two reasons: First, it’s unconscionable for Wells to pretend that Steve isn’t basically going to be treated like an indentured servant if he wants to keep his new bionics. Oliver has made the goal of this entire project quite clear and Austin deserves to have that at least broached since he’s asking directly about what he’ll have to do to “pay back” what has been given to him. But Second, the way that the dialog reads on screen, it’s like Rudy is the most simplistic, naïve man alive who has completely forgotten WHY this bionic replacement experiment was funded in the first place. You can't really believe that Wells does think that this is some amazing medical mercy for the science of it, despite his being involved with Spencer and it just makes him look like an idiot.
It’s a disservice to both characters by the script toward Wells and by Wells toward Austin that just plays utterly unconvincingly.
Scene 26: Shortly later, Oliver Spencer makes his first visit to check on Austin’s progress but doesn’t speak with him. We have a montage of Steve’s rehab progressing as he gains more control over his limbs.
His progress is, of course, very closely monitored as his actual bionics begin to be worked in full. Including his ability to run at 60 miles per hour.
Oliver suggests now is the time for Steve to be told why he’s been given this second chance but one of our female board members states that Austin should be given a few days of R&R after his hard work before they begin informing him that he’s expected to become an agent. She suggests that Jean Manners can help with that.
For some reason, Jean doesn’t take this as an insulting intimation that she’s now a Nursing-Whore for Steve’s “relaxation”. Instead she smiles as they watch Steve continuing to run faster than any other man on the planet.
Commentary: Ew. This scene. First, it’s impossible for me to think of Steve as anything but a planned slave, whatever money he’ll be paid because it’s extremely clear that he isn’t going to be given any type of choice whatsoever in doing what the government through Spencer wants. But that scene with Jean Manners basically being told that she’s to give Steve a good time on his R&R before they being pressuring him to go on his first mission is entirely gross and the fact that Jean just smiles at the prospect is … ew, god… at least glare at somebody over the implication you’re a floozy, Jean!
Ew. Ew. Ew.
Scene 27: Shortly later, Steve and Jean are having a picnic out in the hills. Steve talks about how man always sees nature doing something and wants to figure out a way to top her. Steve almost strokes her with his bionic hand, but when she glances at him, he pulls away.
Manners grabs his hand and doesn’t let him jerk away from her. She tells him that she was there when the vibratory sensors were being fine tuned to allow him sensation through the unit. She admits to him that when they were doing so, it was all just technical and even after the surgery, Steve was deep in electro-sleep [using electrical impulses directly in the brain via wires to keep him in a deep unconscious state] so it was all just this theoretical experiment. But now he’s a real person and this limb is a real thing. She strokes her face with his bionic hand. He at first pulls away, but Jean smoothes his nerves. When he takes her hand to help her stand, there is a moment of pain as he doesn’t yet have complete control over his hand’s functioning but she smiles this off and promises that it’s alright, nothing was broken.
Scene 28: They get into the car to return to the center. On their way, they come across a VW Bus that has gone off the road. A woman is on the road yelling for help in the middle of nowhere and basically being useless to whoever needs help in the small ravine below.
Steve goes down the hill to find a small boy unconscious in the van. While Jean struggles to keep the hysterical mother from following, Steve is able to use his new powers to tear off the door and yank out the pinning seat.
In the meantime, gas drips onto the hot tailpipe, starting a fire. Steve and the boy are just able to avoid a fireball. At first Steve sees the value of his new abilities, but sometime during the rescue, the covering on his arm is torn along with his shirt sleeve.
In the midst of the woman’s excited thanks, she freezes in confusion and then mild horror as she sees the wires protruding from his arm. She asks him what he is and looks like she may be about to scream….
Commentary: This will become quite the overused trope in both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. Steve and Jaime both will become less and less careful about revealing their bionics and this scene will actually be replayed in a different context by Jaime in her last series episode, “On the Run”.
It actually points to something that the show should’ve taken much more seriously… the covering for the bionic limbs are extremely flimsy and seem to tear at the drop of a blunt blade which doesn’t seem to be useful for keeping this highly classified technology under wraps. You’d think that something would’ve been done about putting a resistant, hard covering underneath the synthetic skin so that protruding wires wouldn’t constantly be a thing.
What I like about this scene though, is it takes Steve several attempts to get the seat out of the way of saving the boy, in keeping with his not having access yet to this limb’s full strength. I also like the subtle way that when he grabs hold of the kid to drag him up and out of the VW, he deliberately uses his human hand/arm after having just caused Jean discomfort by taking her hand earlier without care. In the series proper, this type of subtlety will become very rare, so it’s nice to see when something is handled like this.
Scene 29: Sometime later, Manners has lain down to nap on an office sofa. Oliver has been summoned about this set back in Steve’s adjusting to his new condition. Steve is behind a door with a mirror that is actually a coated window so that the mirror can be “activated” or “deactivated” allowing Rudy to see into an exam room beyond.
There Steve sits in brooding thought about the woman’s question. Rudy tells Oliver that Steve won’t let them repair the arm, help him sleep or eat any food. He just sits there.
Spencer asks if Steve is suicidal but Rudy claims not. He’s just fighting them. Spencer finds this mildly amusing and leaves to tend to it.
Meanwhile, Rudy tries to comfort Jean who is emotionally suffering for Steve’s plight.
Scene 30: In the exam room, Oliver Spencer joins Steve Austin. This is their first meeting in person. Oliver tells him he has an assignment for him. Steve refuses to cooperate.
Steve tells Oliver that he won’t work for the O.S.O. but Spencer belittles Steve for his feelings of self-pity because of one incident in which he was made to feel like a Frankenstein’s Monster. He goes on to point out that Uncle Sam put a hell of a lot of resources into him to give him the privilege of being one of only six men to walk on the moon. And to Steve’s assertion he’s given back to his country above and beyond his obligations already, Oliver further asserts that there is no end to a man’s obligations to his nation. He tells Steve about the O.S.O.’s requirements and their descriptive specifications for a specialized weapon which basically describes Steve’s new abilities.
Austin accuses Spencer of wanting a robot, which he actually agrees would make things much tidier and easier for them all, but what they have to work with his him instead. He bluntly tells Steve that he’s the optimal compromise of what Oliver would’ve actually wanted because this is the limit of technology at the moment. To this, Steve backhands him with his human hand.
Oliver responds with even more aggression, telling Austin that they didn’t order him to test the flight vehicle, and they didn’t order the crash. They just picked up his broken pieces and put humpty-dumpty back together again.
Jean reacts with a sense of horror at the things that Spencer is saying to Austin, while Rudy also looks concerned but Steve actually starts to listen. Steve accuses Oliver of being more robot than he is and tells him that he should’ve been the bionic man, which Oliver completely agrees would’ve been a lot simpler.
Steve starts to theoretically consider taking whatever this assignment is that Oliver was referring to, seemingly respecting Spencer’s blunt… and truthful… personality. Austin tries one more “I just want to be left alone” pity party, but Spencer doesn’t even respond to that. He goes on to tell Steve about the highly important Israeli negotiator that has been kidnapped at a crucial junction in the Middle East peace process [if only they knew… it’s completely wasted, don’t even bother].
As Steve considers what is being asked, he tells Oliver that he doesn’t want to kill people. Spencer says that nobody is asking him to, but Steve isn’t naïve that it may be required. Spencer replies that it depends on his ingenuity in the field - the point is that the mission is to rescue a hostage, not assassination. Austin’s sense of duty to his country breaks through his self-involvement enough that he promises to listen to the mission’s specs but he’s not yet ready to agree to do it. Oliver Spencer accepts this as a victory.
Steve has a request of his own, though. He tells Oliver that he wants Nurse Manners replaced, hurting her. But Steve goes on to tell Spencer that having a permanent nurse makes things too personal.
Commentary: I loved this scene. This is one of the very few times when Oliver Spencer comes across well with his prickish personality because it’s exactly what Steve Austin needs. Rudy and Jean both spend too much time being his friend when what he really needs is to have an authority figure basically order him to get the hell over himself and think about what his nation needs from him. It plays into Austin’s entire psychology as an astronaut and patriot, while also allowing Spencer to be bluntly honest about what he thinks of having to use a human being at all for O.S.O.’s missions and cutting off Steve’s indignant attitude by not entertaining it.
I also like this scene so much because it’s a long one and it’s given the amount of time needed to establish a reluctant sense of respect from Austin toward Spencer, however much he may not like his circumstances. It’s nice to see a scene like this not handled with a shortcut or a scene transition and Lee and Darren really play well off one another.
Scene 31: While Steve stares into the one way mirror, Jean has gotten off the sofa and walked into the exam room to confront Steve on basically firing her. She tells Steve that they need to sort this out. She goes on to tell him that this isn’t about a nurse and patient but them as people. She admits to Steve that she’s fallen in love with him. She warns that getting her replaced doesn’t solve the emotional entanglement between them. She asks him to think about them and she’ll wait to see if they have something when he gets back.
Commentary: Oh, honey. You just have no idea how many women Steve “falls for” who vanish after one episode. I doubt he can recall your face by the time of the next film.
Scene 32: Sometime later, Steve and Oliver join a small group, headed by our boardwoman again, in a mission briefing. Steve is briefed on the negotiator that is an important Arab living in Israel who supports the détente between the Jews and Arabs but has been nabbed by a group of terrorists opposed to any peace in the region.
Austin asks why the Israelis aren’t going in after him and it’s explained that should the hostage die in an attempt by Israel, they’d be blamed by the entire Arab world for the death. Steve guesses that Israel is in a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” situation.
Steve’s mission will be into the Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia.
Scene 33: Steve is sent parachuting into the desert, far enough away and with the plane high enough not to be spotted. Upon landing, he buries the chute and then starts the long travel through the one of the fiercest deserts in the world.
He’s able to do this via a running montage.
Commentary: And unlike the television series, we’ll not get the distinctive bionic effect sounds as Steve runs. Even the iconic slow motion is used sparingly as we watch Steve make his way through the desert. I’ll admit that I didn’t actually miss the sound effect because I liked the brass score over the scene but I’m glad that the sound effect was instituted in the series proper -- for the most part, but we’ll not get into specifics here.
Scene 34: Steve arrives at the terror band’s encampment. With the cell being out in the middle of the inhospitable desert, they’re not expecting anyone to be able to sneak up on them without a lot of notice of a plane or vehicle’s engine to warn them so they’re not as guarded as they really should be.
Austin is able to make his way down a sand dune and hide behind the single tank that the bad guys have at their disposal.
Scene 35: Taking the napping tank driver by surprise, he knocks the man out and puts on his head dress and carries his rifle to slip through the camp. The one man he passes doesn’t look in his face, and so nobody realizes the very Caucasian skin-tone peeking around the face covering. This allows Steve to make it to the bunker where the prisoner is being held.
Austin finds a prisoner who isn’t the man that he was sent in to rescue. He risks contacting this prisoner to ask for the whereabouts of the Arab he seeks, but is told that his intelligence is out of date and the man he’s trying to retrieve has been dead about five weeks.
Before Steve can decide what to do with this information and find out who the prisoner in the bunker is, he finds himself surrounded by rifleman and ordered to freeze.
Scene 36: Back in D.C., Rudy Wells is in Oliver Spencer’s office and beside himself. He accuses Oliver of deliberately lying about something and it turns out that through his own contacts, Rudy has found out that Steve has been sent on a wild goose chase. Spencer already knew that the Arab wasn’t being held at the encampment in the desert and appears to have sent Austin into the situation as some sort of sacrificial lamb for reasons unknown.
Oliver tells Wells that he has no idea what sorts of things Spencer does and he should stick to his own field of expertise. Spencer tells Wells that Austin was a risk from the beginning and leaves Rudy with wondering why he didn’t just let the astronaut die in the first place, but Spencer replies that he needs to find out if Steve has the will and determination to survive if he’s to be of any good to the government.
[So… they spent Six Million Dollars on an untested technology just to send the successful test case into a near-certain suicide mission? To see if Steve has the will and ingenuity to get himself out of it? And that’s supposed to … uh… make him a high caliber government asset when he gets back? Or was his getting killed and taken apart by a foreign terrorist power not a big deal if he doesn’t?
Ugh. Not only does this sound stupid… but it actually does sound a bit government-y. Oliver Spencer is the worst.]
Wells points out the fallacy of thinking Steve would do anything for Spencer again if he makes it back after he finds out that he was thrown into a suicidal test. Oliver’s response is that he needs to know what Austin is capable of before he risks WWIII by sending him against the Soviets. And if he doesn’t survive this test, it’s not like Oliver can’t come up with another six million in the budget for a second bionic man. He also makes it clear that he’s not interested in Steve’s, Rudy’s or even his own feelings about the steps he takes to keep the United States secured.
Commentary: I really don’t like this scene. Wells’ ability to know that Spencer was lying about the Arab being held in the terrorist camp to which Steve has been sent isn’t at all explained and seems really unlikely. The fact that it’s not brought up at all that Steve could be seen doing superhuman things and then shot in the head and his bionics discovered over a stupid test run isn’t brought up at all, and should’ve been - at least by the woman who seems to have some sort of authority over Oliver. And finally, while I like Darren’s acting job with this hard and unlikable character, Martin Balsam is really under-acting what should be outrage: He has a personal relationship with Steve that goes back to before the bionic replacement experiment -- you’d think he’d not only be mildly disgusted and shocked by Oliver’s attitude, but angered and afraid for his friend being pointlessly killed for nothing. Rudy Wells’ outrage isn’t nearly hot enough for the circumstances and it throws off the entire confrontation with Spencer.
Scene 37: Meanwhile, in the Saudi desert Steve has been placed in the bunker cell as well. He finds out that his bunk mate is Israeli and that is why the terrorists haven’t killed him… he’s a negotiating pawn/hostage. But he tells Steve that he fears Austin won’t be kept alive for very long.
Our Israeli is soon discovered to be the pilot and Steve tells him they’re getting out of there. This despite their each being chained to the wall. As the Israeli jokes about how they don’t appear able to simply walk out of the bunker, Steve is yanking on his restraint. Thankfully, he was chained by the right arm.
Israeli Pilot is left with a look of amazement as Steve is able to tear a weak link from the rest of the chain. He’s even more nonplussed to see Steve tear him free as well with seemingly little effort.
Israeli Pilot is warned that he’s to stay put until the shooting starts and then go for the plane and get the engines started for a quick getaway.
Steve takes a run at the two-inch steel door and kicks it hard enough to knock it and its cement casement off. A guard near the door is easily knocked out and this gives Austin a supply of grenades to add to the terrorists confusion over his break out.
Commentary: This bionic scene does suffer a bit from not having the “proper” bionic sound effects in place. The chain yanking isn’t so badly done … except that the “tear away links” are slightly discolored and it’s really easy to notice it on DVD. The door being knocked off the hinges is where I really wanted to get the slow motion two footed kick and the classic bionic noises. Without them, the action is without ‘oomph’… but more, it’s not even done in slow motion or an action theme so it feels like it’s being handled far too low key for a bionic moment in a movie that hasn’t had many at all. Finally, the moment really fails because the “bionic” sound being used for the kick at the door is a weird, electronic keystroke sound that sounds both bizarre and entirely out of place to represent Austin activating his super-powers. I can’t even imagine how this sound was chosen when even just an electricity sound would’ve been more convincing.
Scene 38: With confusion reigning among the terrorist group [who apparently were sitting around without all of those guns handy for some reason], Israeli Pilot is sent scampering across the sands to their way out of there.
While Pilot is on his way, Steve has to take out the machine gun emplacement and does a running leap over a sandbag wall to tackle the gunmen as he tries to cut Steve in half with a barrage of bullets. This gives Steve a handy gun to keep the Pilot from being killed before he can get the plane engines running.
Commentary: This is another scene that really would’ve been improved by some judiciously used slow-motion as Steve makes the flying tackle over the sandbag wall. Everything that Steve is doing isn’t as impressive in real time, because it doesn’t look particularly bionic even though I think we’re to assume that he’s using his cybernetic strength and speed.
There is also a real problem with the silly terrorists running around like chickens with their heads cut off, instead of actually doing some major firing back at Steve. It would’ve been more impressive if he was shown doing more weaving and dodging of the weapons fire instead of only having one machine gun firing into the sand a half foot from his feet.
Scene 39: As Steve is keeping the cell distracted from what Israeli Pilot is up to, another of the terrorists makes it to the tank. Steve grabs a few grenades from the machine gunner and goes to stop the tank.
Before he can do this however, a smart terrorist has not only grabbed up his rifle but he’s run up one of the dunes to give himself a better vantage point. He takes a few shots at Steve, forcing him to dodge out of the way behind a small sand dune. His grenades are used against the terrorists and that gunman, rather than the tank.
Scene 40: Meanwhile Tank Guy spins the turret in Steve’s direction. He’s able to run under it though and get onto the hatch, while rifle fire spings and spangs around him.
With Steve no longer a viable target, Tank Guy spins the turret again to blow the hell out of Israeli Pilot while he’s also weaving and dodging through the sand.
Apparently to stop the escape, Tank Guy is also more than willing to blow the hell out of the only plane they have access to. He targets.
Steve is able to yank the tank door off of its hinges and his last grenade is tossed down into the interior. When it blows, Steve isn’t off of the tank’s top. He goes flying off onto the desert ground, but worse than that is his shrapnel injury to his side.
As he sprints for the plane, Israeli Pilot is able to get the propellers to turn over.
Scene 41: With the plane starting to roll out, Austin takes a bullet to the back and falls. It looks like he’s going to be doomed as Israeli continues picking up speed, but Steve forces himself to get up and race for the open step-ramp for the plane.
The terrorists continue firing wildly, but Steve is able to make it up into the plane despite his injuries. And despite the volley of gunfire, the plane gets up into the air and away from our humiliated gunmen.
Commentary: This was a nicely shot action scene, including some nice explosives and the stuntman running behind the plane and leaping up onto the step-ramp while the plane was taking off. But again, it was hard to tell when Steve was supposed to be using his bionics because all of the running and leaping was shot ordinarily [and of course, ordinary human ability is all that was required for those actions] so we’re left to just kinda assume.
I did like the action music over the scene and the real desert location was nicely filmed. I also like that the plane is filthy, as if it had in fact been sitting in the blowing sand for weeks but a line of dialog about Pilot not being sure that the engines would turn over since they’ve been exposed to the desert idle would’ve been nice to introduce a little more tension into the scene. It was also nice that Steve was injured twice because his bionics don’t make him immune to getting shot. Something that could’ve been used more often to really emphasize Austin’s [and Jaime‘s] real danger in the series, despite their bionics.
Scene 42: Back in the states, Steve is lying on a gurney when he tells Jean Manners that he wanted to get back… to live….
She smiles. In the meantime, he also tells Spencer that he fooled him and to Oliver’s questioning, Steve intimates that the bureaucrat didn’t think he’d survive. Oliver doesn’t deny that, but does say that he’d hoped he would.
Steve asks him to bend down so he can tell him something. We don’t hear what Steve told Oliver, but they both share a laugh at what was obviously an insult. Wells tells Steve that they’ll be returning him to “electro sleep” while he heals.
On hearing this, Oliver calls Rudy aside.
He asks if Steve Austin can be kept asleep indefinitely if required. Rudy intuits that Oliver is considering the idea of keeping Steve asleep between assignments and only waking him as needed for mission. He tells Spencer that he’ll only get away with that over Wells’ dead body. Oliver thinks for a moment, but smiles that it was only an idea before he exits.
[God. He’s the worst.]
Scene 43: After Oliver has left, Rudy finishes placing Steve into a deep sleep.
We close on Steve’s sleeping face as end credits roll.
The Good: First, the location shooting is marvelous and we spend a good deal of the movie in outdoors shots.
Both Lee Majors and Darren McGavin excel in their roles; Especially when Steve is suffering an emotional breakdown following the accident and Oliver's getting tired of him and Dr. Wells' touchy-feely crap. I also liked the acting by Martin Balsam when he's insisting to Steve that he look at the bionic arm and keep repeating that there isn't anything foreign about it, but it is Steve's arm. That dialog was nicely delivered.
I liked both the soundtrack for the telefilm, and the way that it's used or not used - especially the lack of incidental music when Steve is having problems with the test plane and during the horrific crash [although that footage is mentioned in other thoughts].
I very much liked the scene where Oliver Spencer basically tells Steve Austin to get over himself and get off his ass. Lee and Darren play off one another wonderfully in this scene.
The Bad: There is a real lack of people from Steve's personal life that isn't even explained and you can't help but wonder just where his parents are, his friends, his colleagues... what do they think is going on with him while he's spending months incommunicado??
I really disliked the scene where Austin is questioning what he'll have to do to repay the government for their investments in his new limbs, and Rudy pretends like there isn't any ulterior motive involved in this experiment. But worse, the way it's acted by Martin, you almost think that Rudy never met Oliver and it makes him look like a simple minded moron.
I also don't appreciate the way that Oliver's plan to basically turn Steve into an indentured servant for the OSO is never addressed, even by Steve himself. And it gets even uglier when the controlling boardwoman for the OSO basically implies that it's part of Jean's job to give Steve his R&R after his rehab, like she's some government callgirl.
Other Thoughts: I shall not allow it to affect scoring, but the 70s fashion can be a real eye-assault if you're not prepared.
I'm of two minds about the pacing on this one. As you can see by the number of seen switches, which is comparatively few for the movie length, the scenes are quite drawn out. On one hand, I really like that we don't have the hyper active editing, and I like that dramatic scenes are allowed to breathe. But this is a double edged sword in that it takes forever before Steve actually has his accident, and then an eternity for him to go on his first mission. If you don't mind a slower story to spend time with characterization, then you'll not have a problem but otherwise you're going to find things much too leisurely to hold your interest.
I also have a two-minded problem with the Oliver Spencer character. I like that he's not at all a nice man and he's downright ruthless about Steve being little more than a tool for the government's use. But on the other hand, he's so obnoxious in some scenes that it's downright difficult to believe that there wouldn't be some sort of intermediary that would handle Dr. Wells and Austin on behalf of Spencer to keep them onboard and cooperative. Oliver nearly torpedoes the entire project by being an unapologetic bastard and it comes across as a little too overdone, despite Darren's great acting work.
I found Martin Balsam's acting a little bit problematic at time. There were some scenes when he really did well, but there were others when he was just flat. It was a mixed bag for Dr. Rudy Wells.
I also found Barbara Anderson's work a mixed bag. There were some scenes where I really liked Nurse Manners but there were other scenes where it was like Jean was a mannequin.
I have a minor problem with the stock footage of Steve's accident, since it is in fact a real crash involving a real person who was badly injured in it. It feels a bit tacky to incorporate that.
I also had an issue with the big mission for the movie: It was actually pretty lackluster, not enough was done to accentuate Steve's bionic powers and it felt ultimately too easy for Steve to break the Israeli Pilot out of the camp and make their escape. It was interesting to have the target of Steve's rescue attempt already be dead and for Oliver to have already known that, but the logic of sending Steve into a suicidal mission as a "test of his will to survive" feels stupid and wasteful and we don't get any acknowledgement that Steve ever found out about that, despite Wells having figured it out and being Steve's friend. The whole thing is oddly scripted.
The Score: This was an adequate television movie, but it was also an oddly scripted one with so much time being spent on Steve's accident recovery and bionic replacement, that the actual mission that was supposed to show us all of his cool powers seemed truncated and unimpressive, actually. I liked most of the acting, but some of the character moments just didn't come across as sensible or emotionally true.
3.50 out of 5 stars
Next Up: BTVS, Season 10, Issue 12
Angel & Faith, Season 2, Issue 11