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The Bionic Woman Season 2

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#1 of 2 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

Kevin EK

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Posted May 19 2011 - 11:40 AM

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THE BIONIC WOMAN

SEASON 2


Studio: Universal

Original Airing: 1976-1977

Length: 22 Episodes plus 2 Bonus Episodes (19 hrs, 58 mins)

Genre: Science Fiction


Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame

Color/B&W: Color


Audio:

English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono



Subtitles: English SDH

Rating: Unrated (TV Safe Action)


Release Date: May 17, 2011


Rating:  3  

Starring: Lindsay Wagner, Richard Anderson and Martin Brooks  (Bonus Episodes star Lee Majors)


Executive Producer: Kenneth Johnson

Based upon the novel “Cyborg” by Martin Caidin

Directed by: Various



The Bionic Woman: Season 2 is a 5-disc DVD set that continues the adventures of the original Jaime Sommers (Lindsay Wagner) as the female bionic counterpart to The Six Million Dollar Man.  With this, the show’s first full season, things really hit their stride with a series of double-sized episodes and a pair of crossovers with the original bionic series.  I should also note that Lindsay Wagner won an Emmy for her performance in the title role for this season.  There’s a lot of fun to be had here, from the opening crossover “The Return of Bigfoot”, to the 3-part ultra-camp Fembot crossover adventure “Kill Oscar” to Kenneth Johnson’s final directorial work on this series, the 2-part “Doomsday is Tomorrow.”  Along the way, we get to see Jaime go undercover as a female wrestler, a nun, a police cadet, a country singer, and various other guises.  It’s all of a piece with the 70s milieu in which it was made, and it can be great fun, both to appreciate Wagner’s performance and as a time capsule.


I need to add a caution, however.  There are some audio issues with some of the episodes – and I’ll indicate which ones they are for your convenience.  Essentially, there seems to be a problem with the crossover episodes “The Return of Bigfoot pt 2”, “Kill Oscar pt 1”, as well as “Deadly Ringers pt 1”.  Some posters at this forum have noted issues with other episodes as well.  What I’ve noticed, particularly with the teaser for “Kill Oscar pt 1” and almost the first 10 minutes of “Deadly Ringers pt 1” is that the dialogue is almost completely muffled, with the music and sound effects instead overwhelming the track.   This does not apply to all the episodes, or even the entire episodes when it occurs – but fans should be aware of the problem before purchasing the sets.


I can also note that the five episodes shared between this Season Set and last year’s Time/Life Six Million Dollar Man megaset are the same copies.  I noted the same audio defect in the teaser of “Kill Oscar pt 1” last year, and the picture looks about the same for all five episodes between the two releases.  The one difference I noted is that the picture on this new DVD release seems to have a lighter filter over the same transfer, if that’s possible.  It’s a small thing, but the older set seemed to me to have darker and more solid black levels.


The DVD set includes all 22 episodes, plus 2 Bonus episodes in full frame and 2.0 mono sound, along with four commentaries, a retrospective featurette, and a photo gallery.  As with the first season, released last October, this is not a bad assemblage for a 35 year old series.


VIDEO QUALITY 3/5

The Bionic Woman: Season 2 is presented in a full frame transfer that gives us the best possible picture quality we can expect from 35 year old episodes, and it’s quite acceptable.  The episodes of both series on these discs are presented as we would have seen them on TV back in the day, notwithstanding the fact that our TVs today are of a much higher quality.  I will note again that the crossover episodes are the same copies from last year’s Time/Life set, and that the only difference here is that the copies on the new set seem to have lighter black levels – as if a lighter filter had been applied over the earlier transfer.  It’s not a major issue for me, but it’s there.



AUDIO QUALITY 2/5

The Bionic Woman: Season 2 is presented in an English Digital 2.0 mono mix that preserves the sound we heard from the original airings.  For most of the episodes, the dialogue is clear, as are the trademark music and mechanical sound effects for the Bionic hijinks on screen.  However, as noted above, there are some serious audio glitches present on several episodes, where the dialogue is muffled far below what any viewer could accept.  I’m counting off a point for that, but not going farther since the problem doesn’t apply across the board.  (This would be a different matter if every episode was affected, or if entire episodes had been muffled.)  I don’t know that this issue will be addressed.  If it is, I’ll revise my score – but otherwise, fans should be aware of the issue.


DISC BY DISC:

As I regularly do with television series sets, I’ll account for what can be found on each disc, in order. 



DISC ONE:


Episodes: 


The Return of Bigfoot, Part 1 – This is the 4th Season Premiere for The Six Million Dollar Man, crossing both series over and having the heroes deal with a new appearance of our old friend, Bigfoot.  As originally aired, this ends with a cliffhanger, leading directly into the new series.  (And if I’m remembering this correctly, the original episode would have aired on a Sunday night, with the second part then airing that Wednesday.)


The Return of Bigfoot, Part 2 Here’s the 2nd Season Premiere for The Bionic Woman, completing the crossover with a final showdown that has our heroes teaming up with Bigfoot to defeat the real bad guys.  An audio issue with muffling has been noted with this episode, but not as severe as the one that plagues other episodes of this season.


In This Corner, Jaime Sommers – Jaime goes undercover as a female wrestler.  That is not a typo.


Assault on the PrincessJaime works undercover as a blackjack dealer on a floating casino and deals with Romero, a character we met during a first season episode.


This disc also contains:


Bionic Blast – (11:30, Anamorphic) This featurette picks up where last year’s “Bionic Beginnings” featurette left off, and like that earlier piece, this one mostly consists of interview footage conducted with Kenneth Johnson, Lindsay Wagner, Richard Anderson, Martin Brooks, James Parriott, Alan J. Levi, and a few others.  A bit more attention is paid to Wagner’s stand-in and stunt double here.  There’s also some discussion of the creation of the action figure for the title character.  Johnson relays a fun anecdote about his frustration that the action figure was provided with a makeup kit and other typical “girl stuff” that had nothing to do with the real nature of the character.  Much of this footage is taken from the same sessions conducted for the Time/Life set last year, but there are additional bits with Johnson and James Parriott not to be found on the other set.


When you first put the DVD in the player, you’ll see previews for Covert Affairs, Season 1, In Plain Sight Season Three, Murder She Wrote, Heroes, and Battlestar Galactica (the 2000s revival).


There’s also a menu of previews, starting with the standard Universal Blu-ray trailer, and moving on to  other Universal television DVD releases, including Eureka, Friday Night Lights, Law & Order, Monk, The Rockford Files, The A Team, Knight Rider, Magnum P.I., and Warehouse 13.




DISC TWO:


Episodes:


The Road to Nashville – Jaime deals with a country star played by Hoyt Axton.  This episode features a scene-specific commentary by Lindsay Wagner, which varies in interest level.  At times, she’s simply watching the episode with us.  At others, she provides some specific insights that ring true.  During the climactic escape, she notes that a close-up of Jaime’s hand turning a doorknob would have been her stand-in’s, given that her own nails were usually cracked.  The sound is a little muffled during the opening of the episode, but not as bad as in later episodes.


Kill Oscar, Part 1 – John Houseman guests as an OSI scientist gone bad, whose evil plan involves the use of the notorious Fembots…  This episode has the same audio glitch I noted on the Time/Life set, where during the teaser, the dialogue is muffled beneath the music and sound effects.  After the teaser, the problem is corrected.  This episode is the only one on the set to feature a Main Title theme by Joe Harnell. 


Kill Oscar, Part 2 – The Fembot fun continues on this episode of The Six Million Dollar Man.


Kill Oscar, Part 3 – The last, and biggest, crossover concludes with this episode, which finds Jaime and Steve trying to defeat Dr. Franklin and his weather-control apparatus.  The more I think about this crossover, given that it aired around the end of October in 1976, I have to believe that this whole three-parter was intended as a Halloween event. 


Black Magic – Jaime goes down on the bayou for this one.




DISC THREE:


Episodes:


Sister Jaime – Jaime plays a nun.  Enough said.


The Vega Influence – Jaime deals with an abandoned military base.


Jaime’s Shield, pt 1 – Jaime goes undercover as a police cadet.


Jaime’s Shield, pt 2 – The latest two-parter concludes.


Biofeedback – An OSI scientist acts rashly when his biofeedback research funds are cut.  Lindsay Wagner provides a scene-specific commentary for this episode, which she has noted is her favorite one of the series.  In the commentary, she states that the basic idea for the episode came from her own experiences with meditation.  I need to note that there are other accounts of how this episode was created.  At one point, Wagner also identifies Alan Levi as a writer on the series, where Levi was actually a director of many segments.





DISC FOUR:


Episodes: 


Doomsday is Tomorrow, pt 1 – This is probably the biggest two-parter done on the series outside of the crossovers.  Kenneth Johnson wrote and directed this one, which finds Jaime dealing with a scientist who’s threatening the world with a doomsday device to make everyone stop it with the nuclear weapons.  Kenneth Johnson provides a thorough scene-specific commentary, walking the viewer through the various production details and biographical information as it comes up.


Doomsday is Tomorrow, pt 2 – Jaime’s battle with the Alex 7000 computer occupies much of this episode.  While this is obviously similar to the Hal 9000 issues in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Johnson’s commentary notes that he was more interested in pitting Jaime (a human with machine parts) against Alex (a computer with a human mind).  Johnson concludes his commentary with a major compliment for Wagner’s acting talents, and elegies for various men who worked on these shows with him, closing with a tribute to the late Joe Harnell, whose music filled not only this series but also The Incredible Hulk and V.  I note that this is likely the final commentary we will get from Johnson, as he’s now provided them for every episode he directed from his own productions.


Deadly Ringer, pt 1 – This two-parter finds Jaime behind bars after a woman surgically altered to look like her switches places.  This episode has a significant muffling problem in the sound for the first 9 minutes or so.


Deadly Ringer, pt 2 – The last two-parter of the 2nd Season concludes as Jaime battles her duplicate.




DISC FIVE:


Episodes:


Beyond The Call – Jaime deals with an attempt to steal a missile guidance system.


The DeJon Caper – Jaime travels to Paris (which looks a lot like the Universal backlot…) to deal with the theft of major works of art.


The Night Demon – Jaime deals with a man haunted by a demon after disturbing an Indian burial ground.


Iron Ships and Dead Men – Jaime goes undercover with a salvage crew when a skeleton is found with the dog tags of Oscar’s brother.


Once A Thief – Jaime goes undercover as a bank robber.  This is the final episode of the 2nd season, and the final episode before the series was cancelled by ABC, only to be transferred to NBC.  It’s also the final episode to be produced by Kenneth Johnson.


The disc also contains


Photo Gallery – A series of 24 publicity and on-set photos of Lindsay Wagner and other cast members are included here for posterity.



 Subtitles are available in English.   There are no chapter menus for the episodes, but there are chapters at three places within each episode.



IN THE END...


The Bionic Woman: Season 2 continues the releases of full years of this 70s science fiction series.  The best and most memorable episodes of the series are included here, along with the appropriate crossovers with The Six Million Dollar Man, a featurette and four scene-specific commentaries.  This is, like the first season set, a nice gift for fans of the show, but those audio glitches are truly frustrating.


Kevin Koster

May 19, 2011. 



#2 of 2 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

Kevin EK

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Posted July 01 2011 - 11:58 AM

UPDATE:  Universal is doing an exchange program for Disc 4 of this set, to address the audio issues on Deadly Ringer.


"The initial release of Bionic Woman Season 2 was issued with the best audio elements that the studio had available at the time, which included noticeably imperfect audio from the episode, Deadly Ringer. Constructive feedback and suggestions since provided from fans has led to the uncovering of additional source material to improve the audio on this specific episode.

Consumers not satisfied with their purchase can contact Universal Studios Home Entertainment Consumer Relations by email at
USHE.ConsumerRelations@bydeluxe.com or by phone at 888-882-5779 for information on returning Disc 4 which featured the episode, Deadly Ringer, in exchange for a replacement disc with corrected audio."