Thursday, March 22, 2012

Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman - The Return of Bigfoot (1976)

I just thought I'd blow your mind with fight scenes from The Six Million Dollar Man "The Return of Bigfoot" episode. This one had it all: Bionic man and woman, running to the rescue in incredible slo-mo, Sasquatch (played by Ted Cassidy) under the control of John Saxon as "Nedlick"—who heads a team of visiting space aliens while wearing a lavender jumpsuit, and an exploding volcano that resembles an elementary-school science project—oh, it's chock-full of surprises, people!

Jaime Sommers must take evasive action and is eventually rescued by her cohort, Steve Austin. Feminism only went so far in 1976. I especially like the details of this episode, such as Sasquatch's home-perm hairstyle (his original Six Million Dollar Man body hair had a more unkempt style). Also the way Jamie adjusts her hair before racing toward a sea of molten lava. Plus Sandy Duncan's helium-like line readings, in keeping with the end-of-the-world sci-fi action-adventure scenario. And of course Jaime's delightful send-off to Sasquatch: And you! You get a big bionic hug!

Here's Steve Austin's first encounter with Bigfoot in "The Secret of Bigfoot," snappy dialogue and flanger sound-effects all on display. Andre the Giant played Bigfoot, giving kids nightmares for weeks afterward.

I would have loved to have been a foley artist on this show—the crew member who adds all the sound effects, post-production. Foley studios had crates full of percussion instruments, old junk, and homemade contraptions to make sounds like ticker-tape machines, jangling fire alarms, Model-T engines, crackling fires, or whatever was needed to complete a film.

Now most of it is on computer, of course, so it's not as wacky. But during this show's run, there were plenty of ol' fashioned crunchy, poppy, boomy, screechy sound effects that might have been honed from scratch. Put me in charge of Bigfoot's arm being ripped off! Here, they went with an explosive BOOM! I would have added some seam-ripping noises—subtle. That would be my trademark—subtle.

The Bionic Bigfoot doll was definitely cranked out fast and furiously. The bionic wires and gears are behind the removable chest piece, but they don't blink or whir or anything. A plastic disappointment. (As seen on the Rue Morgue site.) Did you know Jamie Somers had a bionic German Shepherd? I'm telling you, this series had it all.

Speaking of sound, VFX sound master, Ben Burtt, demonstrates some classic analog sound effects that went into the making of "Forbidden Planet" on this Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences link. Click on the video of Ben in the right column of the page. If you ever have a chance to see Ben Burtt give a demonstration, go. He's funny and brilliant. His work on Wall-E is mind-boggling.

[I update this post annually to keep up with copyright infringement situations on YouTube.]


Tuckers said...

Wow, that is about the strangest thing I have seen in a long while! The 70's were so weird!

hraabhraab said...

Just watched this story tonight. Good gracious, it was bizarre.

Interesting that they had these 'crossover' episodes, where Part One is a Six Million Dollar Man episode and Part Two is a Bionic Woman episode.

Actually, Andre the Giant played Bigfoot in 'Secret', but it was Ted Cassidy in 'Return'.

Miss Lisa said...

Thanks, hraabhraab. I finally fixed those Bigfoot credits. Ted Cassidy was a "friendlier" foe. Maybe it was the curly hair.