They have rebuilt him, remastered him, he is Lee Majors - The Six Million Dollar Man in HD! All of the classic episodes of the series come home to Blu-ray with the three reunion films starring The Bionic Woman’s Lindsay Wagner. Turbine Media Group delivers a solid 12-disc set. Video transfers are generally great with some slight compression anomalies here and there, but nothing too distracting with clean clear audio and a nice assortment of bonus features to pick through. If you need some classic television on your shelf, start running now because The Six Million Dollar Man will catch up real quick! Recommended
Also available from Turbine:
[Excerpt From Our Shout Factory Complete Series Blu-ray Review]
"Colonel Steve Austin (Lee Majors) - test pilot and famous astronaut. As one of the few men to walk on the moon and test-fly highly experimental aircraft, he’s a man who knows the risks. But when his latest test flight crashes leaving him minus two legs, an arm, and an eye, his friend Doctor Rudy Wells (Martin Balsam, Alan Oppenheimer, and then played by Martin E. Brooks for the rest of the series) has been working on an experimental protocol to repair damaged limbs. Replace damaged tissue. Rebuilding a normal blood and bone man into a super-powered cyborg! Now capable of nearly unlimited strength in his right arm, capable of running over 60mph, and able to see microscopic details, Col. Steve Austin is now The Six Million Dollar Man and he’s going to save the world!"
"The Six Million Dollar Man began with three simple and to-the-point pilot film adventures. It moved on to a full series that lasted 99 episodes over the course of five seasons. During its run, it crafted the highly entertaining spinoff The Bionic Woman starring Lindsay Wagner, and the two series frequently crossed paths and then capped off both super-powered heroes' adventures with three made-for-television reunion films. Between the two shows, there are over a hundred hours of slo-mo action and adventure to pick through!"
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Six Million Dollar Man tops 60mph running onto a 12-disc Blu-ray set from Turbine Media Group. Each disc in the set is a Region-Free BD-50 disc - I did test this on multiple setups without issue. The discs are housed in a clear Scanavo case with each disc getting its won little spindle to sit on with half of the discs overlapping each other - thankfully there’s enough distance that they don’t rub on each other. The inside of the artwork is the episode listing for each disc title - but that’s in German. Likewise, each disc loads to a static image main menu that is also in German. The Google Translate app is an easy way of looking at the list of episodes with a fairly accurate title translation. As such, German is the default language track but it’s easy enough to switch to English in the main menu or during playback.
The 1080p 1.33:1 transfers for Turbine’s release of The Six Million Dollar Man are pretty close to identical to the ones sourced for Shout Factory’s discs. The difference here is compression. On average, there are eight or more episodes on each disc where Shout kept theirs to four. As such, bit rates take a little bit of a hit. This isn’t much of a perceptible difference most of the time, however, whenever there’s a complicated pattern - especially in clothing - there’s a bit more ringing and artifacts and the image can appear a little crunchy at times. Thankfully it’s not overly distracting but it’s noticeable. Since the same elements were used details and the conditions for each episode are the same. The first pilot film is still the roughest of the lot since it used more optical zooms and edits. The next two pilot films improve nicely and by the time the main series gets going things even out.
As for the reunion films, The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, Bionic Showdown, and Bionic Ever After? are all presented in SD. They have not enjoyed the same HD upgrade as Turbine's more recent The Bionic Woman complete series - even though Bionic Ever After? is still in SD for that set.
All in all, these transfers are still pretty damn good for a series that started nearly fifty years ago. Perhaps not perfect but then when these shows were made an out of the broadcast market wasn’t a consideration. Again this is an area where there is a lot of content being squeezed into the same disc and that’s going to come with some little nitpicks and issues.
This release of The Six Million Dollar Man comes with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 English and German track for every episode and the three reunion films. German is the default track but it’s easy to switch to English at the main menu or during playback. Dialog is strong throughout. There’s a little hiss and softness with the first pilot film but it gradually gets better with each subsequent film and then the main series sounds uniformly excellent without any issues. ADR and overdubs sound pretty obvious but that’s par for the course for a show of this vintage.
Now, I know folks are going to ask about the Bionic Woman crossover episodes, and compared to the Shout set, there is a discernible difference. Dialog and clarity are stronger. My understanding is this is one of those goofy rights issues where the licenser is bound by region restrictions where Shout was handed what they were given and not permitted to make alterations. Move to a different region like the EU and those restrictions ease significantly - kind of like how Turbine was able to roll out amazing new Atmos and Auro 3D tracks for films like Dragonheart, Daylight, and Twister or even get the original audio tracks with unaltered music cues for Northern Exposure. It’s just one of those things that don’t make sense but is what it is.
Slipped into this set is a decent assortment of archival bonus features. These all date back to the DVD days and were featured on the Shout set, but if you’ve never seen them, they’re a pretty good look at how the show came together.
The Six Million Dollar Man is 1970s classic television at its best. This wildly entertaining series spanned five seasons and kicked off a three-season spin-off series culminating in three feature-length television reunion films. That’s a lot of slow-motion bionic action! While there have been rumors of a reboot series and even a comedy feature film, I don’t think anything is going to be as good as this original series and The Bionic Woman.
Now from Turbine Media Group comes a complete series set that includes all of the original series episodes. The crossover episodes from The Seven Million Dollar Wife originally aired as part of The Six Million Dollar Man in Germany - that’s why the episode count is a little different but ultimately the same content. You also get the reunion films to cap off the series. Now the differences here versus the domestic releases come down to video transfer bitrates and slightly improved audio. Most of the time the differences in quality between this release and the U.S. one are nearly indistinguishable. But, this series offers up a cleaner more consistent audio experience but has fewer bonus features. For Bionic fans out there, you’ll have to consider all your options. Either way you go you’re scoring great entertainment value. Recommended.
Also available from Turbine:
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.