Was The Bionic Woman Considered A Hit During It's Original Run?

  • Avatar of Canada_Michael

    Canada_Michael

    [1]Jun 14, 2007
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    The show is a classic now but during it's original run? The show didn't last many seasons and switched networks after its second season I believe. What were its ratings like?
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  • Avatar of charley28

    charley28

    [2]Jun 21, 2007
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    I would say it was. But that is me. Lindsay won an Emmy for her part of Jaime Sommers. I believe the show topped #5 in the Neilson Ratings and was in the top 10 and 20 for all 3 years.
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    Canada_Michael

    [3]Jun 21, 2007
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    I thought it did pretty well too but was confused by the network switch and why only three seasons. My guess is that the cost involved in making the show got too high and/or the writers were running out of ideas. I recall a BW episode closely resembled a first season episode of the SMDM to the point of having some of the same dialogue, both took place on a island after a plane crash and required the use of hot wires from a bionic finger to stop bleeding.
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  • Avatar of aesgaard41

    aesgaard41

    [4]Jul 16, 2007
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    It was a cult hit, but it was getting regularly trounced in the ratings against Sixty Minutes on CBS. NBC picked it up after ABC dropped it.
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    jekyll

    [5]Jul 23, 2007
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    charley28 wrote:
    I would say it was. But that is me. Lindsay won an Emmy for her part of Jaime Sommers. I believe the show topped #5 in the Neilson Ratings and was in the top 10 and 20 for all 3 years.
    Close. Think about it-- if it were that highly rated, it wouldn't have lasted just 2½ seasons. According to the yearly Top30 Nielsen charts in The CompleteDirectory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, for that first half-season in early 1976, it was #5 for the year (SMDM was #9). The next year it was #14 (SMDM was #7), though I'm guessing trending downward badly if ABC cancelled it. The next year, and last for both,the bottom fell out and neither was in the top 30.
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    spletchie

    [6]Aug 5, 2007
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    aesgaard41 wrote:
    It was a cult hit, but it was getting regularly trounced in the ratings against Sixty Minutes on CBS. NBC picked it up after ABC dropped it.

    Actually, Bionic Woman was never opposite 60 Minutes (During 76-78, ABC and NBC left that Sunday night battle to more kid-oriented fare like The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries and Wonderful World of Disney). When it first premiered, Bionic Woman wason Wednesdays at 8pm against Tony Orlando & Dawn and Little House on the Prairie - both of which were moved to new timeslots that fall, presumably to escape the beating in the ratings they were taking opposite BW. The only notable show against it in its second season was Good Times. When it moved to NBC however, it was shuffled off into the "dead zone" of Saturdays at 8pm. It wasn't being trounced by any one show at this point - the viewers just weren't there at all. None of the shows on ABC, NBC or CBS in that timeslot even cracked the Top 30 that year.

    Edited on 08/05/2007 7:39pm
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  • Avatar of Superbatfan

    Superbatfan

    [7]Sep 9, 2007
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    Actually, you are wrong on at least one account. "Little House on the Prairie" was always on Mondays at 8 p.m. on NBC. I may be wrong, but I do not recall the Bionic Woman airing on Monday nights while it was on ABC (of course, during the last season of "Bionic Woman", it aired on NBC, the same network that aired "Little House on the Prairie", so there was no confilct there). I do remember that "The Six Million Dollar Man" aired on ABC Monday nights at 8 p.m. during its final season (which was also "The Bionic Woman"'s final season as well).
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  • Avatar of TCharmed77

    TCharmed77

    [8]Oct 9, 2007
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    The last year maybe it was all the FAR OUT storylines that made viewers tune out. I love this show. But the last season was off in my opinion!! Best eps to me Kill Oscar Pt.1 2 3 and Doomsday Is Tomorrow and more but those are my top two!
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    bblakenoel

    [9]Oct 11, 2007
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    As someone stated, The Bionic Woman ended season 1 as # 5 and season 2 as #14. Though I don't see how it could have been "trending downward badly" because the ratings listed in "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows" are the ratings each show ended up with for the entire season. Therefor it had to have consistantly been in the top 15 all season to have done well enough to have averaged 14. I too have always been puzzled as to why ABC dropped it with such good ratings. Perhaps it had to do with the deomgraphic audience that watched the show????

    Also, wasn't Wonder Woman also popular when it was on ABC (the 1st season when she was in WW II)? It came on Sat. nights but was dropped after the 1st season when CBS picked it up for a 2nd season where it continued the rest of its run on Friday's.
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  • Avatar of my1sunshine

    my1sunshine

    [10]Nov 8, 2007
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    I was a fanatic of both shows. I had every little bit of merchandising you could think, and watched it religiously. The cold hard fact was, in 77, the blockbuster, multimillion dollar fad hit. Star Wars, Close Encounters, Saturday Night Fever, Grease, etc. Times change, and for some odd reason, Universal's reaction seemed to me to put characterisation on the backburner in favor of action. They also dipped into previous stories and cliches a lot more. SMDM suffered the most, and BW was always better at character development, but like I said, times change. I think though the biggest thing that fried both shows was that Universal was putting it's resourses and bankroll into the planning and devepment of Battlestar Galactica, which, you'll remember was the most expensive series in the world at that time. That and Buck Rogers, and the Incredible Hulk. Times change. I think it's as simple as that.
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  • Avatar of jekyll

    jekyll

    [11]Dec 22, 2007
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    bblakenoel wrote:
    As someone stated, The Bionic Woman ended season 1 as # 5 and season 2 as #14. Though I don't see how it could have been "trending downward badly" because the ratings listed in "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows" are the ratings each show ended up with for the entire season. Therefor it had to have consistantly been in the top 15 all season to have done well enough to have averaged 14.
    You're a little confused on the concept of averages. If itaveraged 5th for the first half of a season and 23rd for the second half, that would roughly average to 14th for the entire season and be trending downward badly. And the fact it finished out of the top 30 the next year only adds more credence to a scenario like that.
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  • Avatar of revbucky

    revbucky

    [12]Jul 14, 2008
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    The show was a hit to me and my friends in high school. To this day I have fond memories of the show.
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  • Avatar of BenCam91

    BenCam91

    [13]Apr 11, 2009
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    I know Lindsay Wagner personally, and even if you don't, she has said in print that she didn't want to get typecast in a sci-fi series, as she wanted to do movies. Originally, neither Universal nor ABC had any plans for a regular bionic show featuring Lindsay, and when they decided they wanted her, they had to pay her $500,000 per season with a guarrantee of five seasons contracted for. Yet another issue was Lindsay's insistence on having a hand in the story development for each episode. She has said in both a Lifetime special and an interview on "Supreme Master" (Buddhist nun) Ching Hai's TV network that her "struggles" with the writers and producers over content, coupled with the long hours eventually wore her down. She wanted Jaime to win not just through brute force, but by winning over people's hearts, including the bad guys, who she wanted to see portrayed as decent people just doing the wrong thing because they had temporarily warped perspectives. You'll note how the best episodes, starting with Season Two, all had that element. Lindsay felt so strongly about keeping Jaime gentle and nonviolent that in the early nineties she testified before a Senate subcommittee on violence in children's programming, which had become relevant because by that point she had had two boys with BW stunt coordinator Henri Kingi. In her interview on a "Forty Years of TV Stars" special, she even said she wouldn't let her kids watch Bionic Woman reruns when they were young because: "they're watching their mom, not some superhero".

    So my guess is that The Bionic Woman ended so soon because Lindsay and the writers/producers found it too taxing to work together week in and week out. I say this as someone who thinks the world of Lindsay, and with firsthand knowledge of how spiritually evolved and active she is. Every inch of film she shoots is an opportunity for Lindsay to push her message -- which, while very empowering, just doesn't mesh well with mainstream television. That's also why we haven't seen much of her since the nineties: when cable channels started asking for more sex and violence, Lindsay "dropped out" of the Hollywood scene, and hasn't really come back. The last couple things she's done have been in limited distribution, like Billy, The Early Years, or not even come out at all, like Buckaroo. And one more thing: The Bionic Woman killed Lindsay's marriages to both Michael Brandon (#2) and Henri Kingi (#3), whom Lindsay still spoke of loving in that 1999 Lifetime special. You notice she hasn't been on any regular series since BW, except for a very short-lived show called Peaceable Kingdom, which isn't available on DVD and I've never even seen in reruns.

    So that's my guess: The Bionic Woman just ran out of steam. Her power pack ran down, and she got tired of chasing spies, and decided to take her life in a different direction. Her gain, and ultimately ours, too, since she's now offering her message in the form of workshops and retreats ANYBODY can go on, Bionic Woman fan or not.

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  • Avatar of cybercontroller

    cybercontroller

    [14]Apr 9, 2012
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    I've heard that ABC (which was the #1 network at the time) dropped the successful BW due to the glut of shows they had ready to develop. They were so successful, they could afford to drop a hit show!!!! NBC was a distant third back then and jumped at the chance to grab BW but someone there must have not been a fan to throw it in a death slot. Maybe they resented a show begun on another network & one that had a supporting cast still appearing on SMDM on ABC! (the sharing of Oscar & Rudy by 2 networks is supposedly why the DVDs were held up so long BTW).

    Now, as BW went into a third season, SMDM on on it's 5th. I'm sure there was burn out for the creative teams as how many scenarios with bionics can you come up with. Plus, perhaps the audience was losing interest along with the 2 leads. The kids who watched from the start were probably too old for the shows by 1978. Maybe the toy & game lines were selling as well too. So both shows bowed out at the same time. And I'm sure they knew they would do well in syndication without having to make any more episodes. They must have made a mint with next to no effort.
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  • Avatar of archangelwho

    archangelwho

    [15]Jun 23, 2012
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    Most of the people I interacted with watched it and seem to be a hit. I think both BW & SMDN was too close together and just got old fast because of it.

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