Childhood Science Fiction: Television (Part 6)

More bionic and psychic abilities today. Does anyone remember Max(imillion) the Bionic Dog?


The Tomorrow People (1973-1979)

One of the highlights of my childhood science fiction watching, The Tomorrow People¬†introduced the scenario of children hitting puberty developing psychic powers. These included teleportation, telekinesis, telepathy, and some other psychic traits, as well as an inability to take human life. Every school child’s dream – to wake up and be able to read minds and teleport.

The series narrated humans “breaking out” as the next step in human evolution (homo superior), bringing humanity into the same stage of life as other human-like races in the Galactic Federation. The initial stories were set on Earth, but later stories took the cast off-planet to deal with different people and threats. Time travel also featured, as did the fact that there were groups in the galaxy that worked against telepaths and the Federation (e.g. Season 3 “Worlds Away”).

The show featured strong portrayals from male and female characters, a mixture of ethnicities, as well as dealing with various social issues as key parts of the story line (e.g. “The Blue and the Green” which has similarities to the blue-eyed/brown-eyed discrimination exercise performed by Jane Elliott).

The show featured one of the most distinctive title sequences of its time with instantly recognisable music and visuals (similar in many ways to the more recent Fringe title sequence imagery). It also managed its share of jump-scares and tension, though I found the later episodes tended to get more fantastical (e.g. “Living Skins”).

The show has been rebooted twice.


The Bionic Woman (1976-77)

Originally introduced in The Six Million Dollar Man, when Steve Austin’s girlfriend Jaime Sommers is injured in a skydiving accident. Given bionic replacement parts (arm, legs, and ear) after Austin pleaded with his government employees, Sommers became a government agent. Sommers body rejects her bionics leading to her death in the second part of The Six Million Dollar Man story line. She is kept in suspended animation and restored to full health later, though Austin believes she is dead and Sommers can’t remember anything before her “death”. (She was brought back from the dead because she was very popular with viewers).

Bionic-Woman-Lead

Sommers’ work for OSI raises some interesting questions of her being indentured to the government against her will (a theme picked up in the 2007 Bionic Woman reboot). She also picks up Max, the Bionic Dog, who was also introduced in a one-off episode with the potential for a spin-off series aimed at kids but stayed as part of the show.

This was one of the few programmes I can remember from this time, along with Linda Carter’s¬†Wonder Woman, that had a strong female protagonist in an action role.

The show also had its toys and comics which were in the same line as the Steve Austin ones, though I note that one option for the Bionic Woman action figure includes a “mission purse”.

The Bionic Woman was rebooted twice recently. Once in a one season TV show, Bionic Woman in 2007, where the bionics were coupled with nanotechnology and a psychotic bionic nemesis, and also in the Bionic Woman comic series from 2012.

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