Former lunar astronaut Steve Austin takes on the sometimes dangerous career of test piloting experimental aircraft after retiring from NASA. During one test flight, the experimental plane he’s flying crash-lands after a series of system failures. Austin loses both legs, his right arm, and his left eye in the resulting explosion. Dr. Rudy Wells, a former NASA doctor who followed Austin out of the space program, knows that bionic prosthetics could save Austin’s life and restore his mobility – and then some – but doesn’t have the budget for such an experimental procedure.
Enter Oliver Spencer, director of the secret Office of Special Operations, who has a six million dollar budget to create the perfect secret agent. He originally envisioned a robot that could pass for human, but the time and money to create such a machine exceeds what the OSO has available. He offers to finances Austin’s recovery and Dr. Well’s highly unusual prosthetic surgery, but at a price: Steve Austin will become a government agent with strength and abilities beyond those of most men. His first assignment is to free a kidnapped hostage being held in a remote area of Saudi Arabia. Austin has the ability to save the hostage, but what he doesn’t have is the knowledge that the entire operation is a trap.
Cast: Lee Majors (Steve Austin), Barbara Anderson (Jean Manners), Martin Balsam (Dr. Rudy Wells), Darren McGavin (Oliver Spencer), Dorothy Green (Mrs. McKay), Anne Whitfield (Young Woman), George Wallace (General), Robert Cornthwaite (Dr. AShburn), Olan Soule (Saltillo), Norma Storch (Woman), John Mark Robinson (Aide), Charles Knox Robinson (Prisoner), Ivor Barry (Geraldton), Maurice Sherbanee (Nudaylah)
Notes: In syndicated rerun packages, this movie was split into two one-hour episodes titled The Moon And The Desert Part 1 and Part 2. Unlike the remainder of The Six Million Dollar Man on TV (and unlike the original 1972 novel “Cyborg”), Steve Austin is portrayed here as a civilian astronaut/test pilot with a disdain for the military; the next Six Million Dollar Man TV movie retcons him into an Air Force colonel. This is the only appearance of Darren McGavin as Oliver Spencer; the character was replaced with Oscar Goldman in the next movie, while Dr. Wells would be recast.
LogBook entry by Earl Green