ACTION TV SHOWS
THE BIONIC WOMAN/THE SIX-MILLION DOLLAR MAN
The man came first, ex-astronaut Steve Austin (Lee Majors), whose left eye and left arm were made bionic. Steve was 6'1" tall, and weighed 185 lbs. He had a dimpled chin, thin narrow lips, strong pointed nose, piercing blue eyes, broad forehead, and straight brown hair. He was muscular and beefy, with a baritone voice. He was followed up Jaime Sommers (Lindsay Wagner), a Carnegie Tech grad, school teacher and world-class tennis player. Steven and Jaime were high school sweethearts for a time. Jaime was 6'9", a tawny blonde with olive eyes, born in 1950 to college professors who were presumably murdered: Ann Sommers, b. 1930 and died April 1966, an undercover U.S. agent, and James Sommers, born 1927, died April 1966. Jaime's legs, right arm, and right ear were badly injured in a skydiving accident. Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson) ran the OSI (Office for Scientific Intelligence, I believe) and made the assignments for them; Jaime reacted to him as to a father. The surgeon/scientist who invented bionics, Rudy Wells, was more like her uncle. He has a reputation for breakthroughs like artificial crystalline forms (radioactive isotope U-96) for interstellar communication; or using one kind of nuclear power to cancel out another (to handle nuclear waste); or a plastic-based chemical called adrenalizine which, when dissolved under the tongue, let paralytics walk. Some of these were accidental discoveries. Other bionic modifications made by the OSI: well, there was Maxamillion (it's a pun, get it?) the German shepherd....and Barney Hiller(Monte Markham), the race car driver who was unable to handle the power. (Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely....)
Set in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1968. Three people--Sharon McCready, Craig Stirling, and Richard Barrett--are in Tibet for a deadly Chinese bacteria when their plane crashes. An old man of an unknown race takes their unconscious bodies and heals them, leaving them with "mental and physical capacities fused to computer efficiency; their sight, sense, and hearing raised to their highest futuristic stage of mental and physical growth." Still unconscious, they are returned to the wreck, but Richard later meets the old man and promises to keep it all secret and benefit Mankind. Now the three work for NEMESIS, a powerful top secret group. The boss is Tremayne, who has a dark receding hairline, a mustache, and looks to be in his 50's. Craig (Stuart Damon) is American, dark, with a flat voice. Richard (William Gauntt) is very British, lean, languid, a smoker, with brown hair and a high forehead. Sharon is smooth, with short blonde hair piled high and a vaguely foreign accent. The trio are telepathic, super-strong, can see in the dark, and have photographic memories.
THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO (1980--1983)
Whitney High School special ed teacher Ralph Hinkley (William Katt) of Palmdale, California, is on a field trip when he and a stranded FBI agent, Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp) are selected by aliens (the outer space kind) to protect Earth from self-destruction via use of a suit that bestows superhuman powers. Unfortunately, Ralph loses the instruction book somewhere in the desert. Therefore, Ralph tends to be a bumbling superhero who usually falls down when he lands from a stint of uneven flying. Complications also arise from the different natures of the two men: Ralph is an easygoing liberal, Bill a very rightwing hardnosed conservative. Ralph was divorced and had a young son, Kevin, in his wife's custody; she was Alicia Hinkley.
RALPH HINKLEY was idealistic and caring; he hated working with "The Suit." He had a leonine cub's mane of golden-blond curls, blond eyebrows, and blue eyes. He tended to wear things like blue jeans, a dark sweater, a tan corduroy jacket with elbow patches.
BILL MAXWELL was nicknamed "Billy the Kid" by coworkers. Although he wore a three-piece suit, the tie was usually loose and the collar open; the black shoulderholster was always present. He had neat greying brown hair, a lantern jaw, and usually work dark sunglasses. Bill caught one in the lung in Korea. During the series, he got stuck on a stakeout with nothing to eat but a box of Milkbone dog treats, and as an in-joke for the rest of the series, he would sometimes be seen eating them--apparently he developed a taste for them. He had 20 years of dedicated service with the FBI.
Billy the Kid phrases often heard: "Covert scenario," "grunts," "Russkies," "Reds," "Kid," "When things go bad ya gotta keep goin'." He referred to Ralph's special ed class as "Romper Room."
THE SUIT was red, with a black cape. In the center of the chest was a black-rimmed white circle with a black rocket-type design in the center. The aliens previously gave the suit to another pair of men who ended up using it for self-gain and had the suit taken away from them.
Connie Selleca played Ralph's love interest, Pam Davidson, a lawyer with delicate but firm features, dark eyes, and long black hair swept back. During the first season Pam worked as a lawyer for the firm Carter, Bailey & Smith but for the remainder of the series she worker for Selquist, Allen & Minor. She married Ralph in episode 34, January 6, 1983.
Michael Pare was Tony Villicana, a John Travolta-type student with straight dark brown hair and a brown leather jacket. Other students were Rhonda Blake (who dated Tony; she had thick light brown hair), Cyler, and Paco Rodriguez.
William Bogert played Bill's stiff-necked superior, Carlisle, who did not like Bill at all. The feeling was more than mutual.
Kelly Robinson (Robert Culp) is a Californian, 31, lean, boyish-looking, taut, and tanned. A wry, worldly Princetonian, he is well-dressed, volatile, taut, aggressive, imaginative, glib, and sophisticated. He holds two Davis Cup certificates, and his cover is as a professional tennis player. He is a superb marksman with a .357 Magnum.
Alexander Scott (Bill Cosby), or Scotty, is a powerfully built, crewcut Rhodes Scholar who has mastered 11 languages. He graduated Phi Betta Kappa from Temple U. This wisecracking Eastern-born intellectual from the ghetto seems soft but is sober, tough, and warm-hearted. An anthropologist and cryptographer, his cover is as Kelly's trainer.
Donald Mars is the stocky, smooth-faced spymaster with black icepick eyes, in charge of the team codenamed "Domino."
ROCKFORD FILES (1974--1980)
Jim Rockford (James Garner) owned Rockford Private Detective Agency; he was easygoing, clever, and great at being exasperated with the assorted cuckoos he ran into. Rockford spent 5 years in jail on a bum rap. Now he lives in a trailer in Paradise Cove Trailer Colony, Malibu, because it's cheap, tax-deductible, earthquake-proof, and movable. He drives a gold Pontiac Firebird. He is an Aries. He doesn't have a gun permit, is more likely to hurt himself than the villain he punches, and charges $200 a day plus expenses. He is an average guy, liking Oreos, beer, fast food, basketball and baseball.
Noah Beery played his father, retired truck driver Joseph "Rocky" Rockford, a salt-of-the-earth type who worried about his Jimmy and loved fishing. Stu Margolin was Angel Martin, a weasel of a con-man, Jim's former cell-mate. Jim's lawyer was Beth Davenport (Gretchen Corbett), and he sometimes did pro bono work for her. He was friends with Sgt. Dennis Becker(Joe Santos), a harried, balding, middle-aged cop who usually cooperated with him even though the Los Angeles Police Department wasn't thrilled about it; Dennis was married to Peggy.
TENSPEED AND BROWNSHOE
Set in Hollywood. Most episodes involved gullible, naïve Lionel tackling a case, Tenspeed's crooked past catching up with him, and success due to perseverance and coincidence. Lionel worshipped a (nonexistent) series of detective novels about Mark Savage, written by Stephen Cannell (the series writer/producer, who later actually did start writing novels), and often started proclamations with, "Savage says...."
Lionel "Brownshoe" Whitney (Jeff Goldblum) was very tall, thin, with a fast eager faintly nasal voice, brown eyes, a long nose, shock of thick unruly black hair needing trimmed, and a chipped front tooth. He drove a blue Datsun. He had a third degree black belt in karate. Lionel playd Clue, not chess. He went to Mexico with the Pomona College Pistol team. He was a stubborn, naïve puppy.
E.L. was born in a taxicab 35 years ago, medium height, muscular, good-looking, with stunningly white teeth. A born actor, very confident, a great improvisor, he rattled off lies at great speed at the drop of a hat. He wore a light brown jacket, rolled shirt sleeves. His parole officer was John Dallem.
Phrases in the show: "tube ya" (put in jail); "stay frosty;" and "situational time warps" (disasters that sweep together in eddies of time).
Together they operated Lionel Whitney Investigations.
GOLDBLUM.COM's "Tenspeed & Brownshoe" page
Mark Savage says a detective should never go anywhere without his Cheat Sheet Index full of clues about other shows.
A powerful Tibetan old man advises you to learn HOW TO WRITE ALMOST READABLE FAN FICTION.
Read stories about shows like these, or a bionic hit-man will be sent to break your eyeglasses.
Copyright © 1999 - 2013, Jane A. Leavell. All rights reserved.