Friday, November 29, 2013

Bionic Bigfoot

I have something additional for which to be thankful this year.

I couldn't believe my luck when I found it.  As most fellow sophisticates will understand, part of my developmental years in science fiction (not to mention transhumanism) was spent watching the Six Million Dollar Man.  So when I found that Season 3 was available for the bargain basement deal of 15 bucks, well what can I say?

Why the furor over Season 3?

You must know already.  Two words: Bionic Bigfoot.

I've already blogged about Steve Austin, the Bionic Man before and even mentioned a bit about the bionic Bigfoot.  But after watching the two-part episode on DVD today for the first time in what must be years, I feel compelled to explore this science fiction classic in detail.

Steve Austin and his government spook "handler," Oscar Goldman, head to the forests of Northern California to help setup experimental geological tech that may discern the time and date of the killer earthquake that California has dreaded for decades.  But things, of course, go terribly awry.

Two geologists go missing and equipment gets destroyed.  The only clues left behind in the attacks are massive, humanlike footprints in the soil.  Fortunately, there is a Native American (of course) aiding the military team and he says that the tracks and the destruction of trucks and heavy generators could only have come from what legends call, "sasquatch."  Known to whitey as "Bigfoot."  Steve takes off into the wilderness to find the beastly Bigfoot and hopefully track down the missing geologist.  He's successful in half his aims, resulting in the fight of his life.

Steve Austin throws down against the wight Bigfoot.  During the fierce (although in retrospect every bit as hokey as Kirk v. Khan in the episode "Space Seed") battle, he manages to rip off one of Bigfoot's arms.  Sparks shower out.  As Bigfoot retreats, Steve begins to suspect that he is fighting a robot and not a flesh and blood creature.  He pursues Bigfoot.

Via his bionic telescopic vision, Steve spots Bigfoot (still carrying the severed arm) heading into a cave.  Following him into the cave, Steve gets knocked unconscious in a spinning tunnel.  The cave, in fact, leads to an underground colony of aliens (shades of Mac Tonnies' cryptoterrestrials?)

These aliens take the unconscious Steve and do what aliens always seem to do...medical experiments.  They learn that he his bionic and become even more interested in him.  Upon awakening, Steve learns from an alien named Shalon that the ETs have been on Earth for over 250 of our years, watching humanity develop.  Bigfoot is in reality a bionic being just like Steve, built to protect the aliens and to fetch them the occasional human for testing.  Thus, the legend of Bigfoot began amongst the Native Americans.  The aliens are all friendly with Steve but things turn foul when they declare their intentions to stop Oscar Goldman from detonating an underground nuclear weapon nearby, thus destroying the alien colony.

But why would Oscar do this?  To prevent the oncoming "super earthquake" and save perhaps thousands of lives.  The aliens just don't share this desire.  Conflict ensues.

I remember watching this as a kid and being utterly enthralled.  Bigfoot was big in the news during the 1970s as sightings and footprints seemed to be occurring in higher numbers.  It was almost a craze if my six year-old self remembers correctly.  I was fascinated by the idea of the sasquatch and its relative the Yeti, reading everything I could find on the subject and even leading me into UFOs believe it or not.  So to have Bigfoot appear on my favorite show and be bionic...I'll have to ask my Mom if I wet my pants.

This two-part episode features several quality guest stars.  First, there's Stefanie Powers as the alien Shalon, looking quite fetching and sultry back in the day.  There is also Severn Darden as the alien leader.  He was magnificent as the mutant leader in Battle for the Planet of the Apes and also had a smaller role in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.  Lindsey Wagner makes a cameo appearance as the Bionic Woman.

There is of course the episode "Bigfoot Returns," but that is a post for another day.

Meanwhile, I'm going back to the TV for my second contemporary viewing.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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