By Mark Payne and Wikipedia
This series was a spinoff
of the ABC series, The
Six Million Dollar Man. Jamie Sommers, played by Lindsay Wagner,
was an internationally known tennis pro who, one day while parachuting
with her then fiancée Steve Austin (the Six Million Dollar Man), was
critically injured and rebuilt at Steve's request for a cost of slightly
less than Six Million Dollars ( "My parts were smaller"). In
exchange for the lifesaving bionic replacement legs, right arm, and ear
Jamie agreed to work for the OSI as a special agent. She eventually worked
out of her old hometown of Ojai, California under the guise of a school
teacher by day, secret agent by night.
This series brought several new additions to the bionic family,
including the Fembots and Max, the bionic dog. While similar to the series
it was spun from, "The Bionic Woman" had more emotionally driven
storylines. Lee Majors guest starred as Steve Austin on several occasions.
The series ran on the American Broadcasting Company from 1976 to 1977
and on NBC from 1977 to 1978.
Jaime Sommers and Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man, had
been engaged prior to his career as an astronaut, but had drifted apart.
Jaime first appeared in a two-part episode of The Six Million Dollar
Man in 1975 entitled "The Bionic Woman." In this episode,
Austin travels to his old hometown of Ojai, California to visit with his
parents and take a vacation from his work. During his visit, he rekindles
his old relationship with Jamie Sommers, now one of America's top tennis
players. Their relationship progresses rapidly to the point where Austin
an outing, Steve and Jamie take part in some skydiving. However, Jamie's
parachute malfunctions and she crashes through a tree and hits the ground,
hard. Her injuries are extensive and she is not expected to live. Austin
makes an emotional plea to his boss, Oscar Goldman, who agrees to assign
Dr. Rudy Wells and the bionics team to rebuild her.
Jamie's body is reconstructed with parts similar to Austin's, but
smaller. (The actual cost of rebuilding her is not revealed but is said to
be less than the $6 million it cost to rebuild Austin.) Jamie is given two
bionic legs and her right arm is also replaced. In addition, her right ear
is augmented by a bionic device that gives her the ability to hear a
whisper a mile away. Jamie recovers well from her operation and even
threatens to upstage Steve in some areas. Over Austin's initial
objections, Jamie agrees to go on missions for Oscar Goldman. But during
one mission, her bionics malfunction and she begins experiencing mental
instability and blinding headaches.
Dr. Wells determines that Jamie's body is rejecting her bionic
implants. Soon after, she goes berserk and crashes her way out of the
hospital, Austin in hot pursuit. He catches up with her and she collapses
in his arms. Soon after, Jamie appears to die on the operating table, her
body shutting down. The downbeat episode ends with Austin weeping at her
The character was so popular that the next season it was revealed that
Jaime hadn't died after all, although Steve Austin was not informed of
this fact. He discovers it when he is hospitalized at Dr. Wells' bionic
clinic after a mission goes bad and he suffers severe damage; he sees
Jamie as he is being rolled into the operating room for repair.
Eventually, Jamie is revived from a coma and the rejection issue appears
to have been resolved. An unfortunate side-effect, however, was she
developed a form of amnesia that caused her to forget her relationship to
Austin; any attempts to make her remember her life with Steve causes her
headaches and pain. Steve reluctantly let her go on to live her own life,
as an agent for the OSI.
Jaime, now retired as a tennis player, took a job as a schoolteacher in
Ojai, where she lived in a converted farmhouse rented from Austin's mother
and stepfather, who were aware of her and Steve's bionic nature and their
double lives as secret agents. In later episodes, Jaime all but adopted
Maximillion, a German Shepherd that had been given bionic legs and other
augmentations in an experiment to see if trained animals could benefit
from bionics. She also worked frequently with Austin on missions and the
two reestablished their friendship, although no romance resulted
initially. (It is never explained how the issue of Jamie's memory-linked
pain was resolved, but it is never referenced again.)
Her most noted enemies were the Fembots, a line of powerful androids
that Jaimie fought twice in the series.
Jamie's bionic abilities were depicted as being similar to Austin's.
She could run in excess of 60 mph, could bend steel bars with her right
arm, and could jump great heights with her new legs. (One episode
illustrated limits in her abilities: after jumping out of a particularly
tall building to escape from a fembot, Jamie's legs virtually exploded
upon impact when her legs' shock absorption function was overwhelmed,
although she was soon repaired.) Instead of an artificial eye, one of her
ears is an extremely sensitive implant that can detect most sounds
regardless of volume or frequency. As it is encased in her body, it is
also typically not subject to the negative effects extreme cold has on
In later years, the love between Jaime and Steve rekindled, and this
was further explored in three made-for-TV reunion movies in the late 1980s
and early 1990s (see the article for The
Six Million Dollar Man for more information). In one of these
films, a new "Bionic Woman" was introduced (played by
then-newcomer Sandra Bullock) a paraplegic whose entire body essentially
becomes bionic after receiving an extensive series of next generation
bionic implants that did not require the replacement of whole limbs. This
bionic woman appeared only once.
In the final reunion film, Bionic Ever After?, Jamie's bionics
are corrupted by a computer virus. She undergoes a major upgrade which not
only increase the power of her devices, but also gives her bionic vision
similar to that of Steve Austin (although there is no evidence to suggest
her eyes were actually replaced).