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The Curator of Schlock #68 by Jeffrey Shuster

A Bionic Christmas Carol

Steve Austin vs Ray Walston

Bionic1I’ve got a problem with mustaches. I admit it. I don’t like it when they curl up into the nostril, fusing with the nose hair like Jauquin Phoenix’s in Her, but I also don’t like the kind that Lee Majors had on The Six Million Dollar Man.

bionic3It’s too thin and it hangs too low on his upper lip. These men need to take their cues from Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds.

BurtMustaches aside, it is this Curator of Schlock’s expert opinion that the tenth episode of the fourth season of The Six Million Dollar Man entitled A Bionic Christmas Carol stands as one of the greatest adaptations of the classic Dickens’ tale.

Bionic2Now I know some of you movie snobs out there are decrying the very idea of including an episode of a TV series on this blog, but every episode of The Six Million Dollar Man was like watching a major motion picture! The guy fought Sasquatch! Sadly, you’ll get no such fights in A Bionic Christmas Carol. Our episode begins with Colonel Steve Austin (Lee Majors) meeting up with Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson) for their annual day before Christmas lunch. Wow! I mean day before Christmas lunch sounds delightful! I wonder why Steve Austin didn’t just call it Christmas Eve lunch, but who am I to question the Six Million Dollar Man?

Anyway, their lunch is cancelled because some curmudgeonly old miser named Horton Budge (Ray Walston), president of the Budge Corporation, is keeping the plant open on Christmas Eve. Boooooooh! Now, some of you may know Ray Walston from TVs My Favorite Martian or Picket Fences, but I’ll always remember him as Mr. Hand from the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  I can’t believe he ate Spicoli’s pizza in front of the entire class. What a jerk! All the kids are on dope? Go to bed, old man!

bionic4Anyway, Mr. Budge hates Christmas, and hates his nephew, Bob Crandall. It seems that Bob embezzled some money from Budge, but it was to save his Mrs. Crandall’s life and pay for her expensive medical treatments. Instead of reporting his nephew to the police, Mr. Budge made Bob into his personal chauffeur, having Bob run errands whenever he wished. This means no Christmas dinner with the family for Bob and no Christmas bonus to spend on gifts for his kids. Sadly, there is no scene of Steve Austin reaching into Mr. Budge’s stomach and pulling out his spine with his bionic arm. You could only get away with so much on network TV in the 1970s.

Steve Austin was sent to Mr. Budge to inspect the equipment Mr. budge was developing for a future NASA Mars mission. (Hahahahahahahaha!) The test astronaut almost catches fire due to the fact that Mr. Budge only pays for the bare minimum of safety requirements. You’d think that the bare minimum would be enough. What else happens in the episode? Steve Austin bionically leaps up and tears off the top off of a Sequoia so the Crandall kids can have a Christmas tree. He also dresses up as Santa Claus in order to spook Mr. Budge into accepting the spirit of Christmas. What more do you want from 70s TV?

Five Things I Learned from A Bionic Christmas Carol

  1.  Leisure suits are still better than Parisian Night Suits.
  2. The Bionic Man loves Christmas, unlike Batman who hates Christmas!
  3. Ray Walston was born at 60-years-old.
  4. Sunny California doesn’t exactly scream Christmas.
  5. Kids were hard to love in the 70s.

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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102, and episode 124) is an MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida.

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