Children of the 1970s---no matter what their current age---will squeal when opening the lid of this beautifully assembled box set. From out of nowhere comes a tinny voice (just like those annoying Christmas cards, but somehow much cooler): "Steve Austin, astronaut...a man barely alive." A heart monitor beeps twice. Then: "We can rebuild him...we have the technology."
Nostalgia is being stoked here. But this won't be the first column to vouch for the deeper significance of The Six Million Dollar Man, a show targeted at boys but created by anxious men. Into the same paranoid moment as Watergate and The Parallax View came a TV show loaded with weekly conspiracies. The only way to combat these global fears was by reconstructing a ruined man, his left eye now a zoom lens. Years before Star Wars and Kiss adorned lunch boxes, kids were learning how to play spy games with their Lee Majors toys, a cultural phenomenon of dizzying irony.
Replete with extras, Time Life's package (only available online at 6mdm.com) tips the occasionally uneven series into a collector's essential. You get all three preseries made-for-TV movies from 1973, along with the 1980s reunions and five years of episodes. The Bigfoot ones are still absurd; the doomed romance of Jaime Sommers, bionic woman, is, if anything, more moving than before.