Site hosted by Build your free website today!

"A Bionic Christmas Carol"

(Original air date 12/12/76)


Steve teaches the true meaning of Christmas to a grouchy industrialist


Writer: Wilton Schiller

Director: Gerald Mayer

Before leaving for Ojai to spend Christmas at his parents' farm, Steve drops by Oscar's office to give him his present, a desk lamp, and to remind him of their traditional Christmas lunch. Oscar informs him that the date is off on account that he's sending Steve to investigate a major system supplier for the space program when it is believed that sabotage may be involved. The company's president, Horton Budge (Ray Walston), a cynical and greedy industrialist refuses to close shop for the holidays and the enquiry must be completed before they further proceed with the tests.

Miffed of having to work through the holidays, Steve bends Oscar's lamp and stamps out of the office.


Outside Budge's office, Steve waits for him to finish writing out a check to his employee, his nephew Bob Crandall (Dick Sargent). In turn, the man is impelled to endorse the check back to the company to pay off a debt. He begs his uncle to leave him some cash in order to buy nice gifts for his three children, but Budge won't hear of it.

As his personal chauffeur, Crandall drives Budge and Steve to the research center. Budge takes Steve to the test module, inside which a man is testing a new combination for a walk on Mars. Budge is irate at the sight of his employees idling their time away at trimming a small Christmas tree and orders it down.


Next stop, the control center where Steve is quick to point out a flaw in the system. Budge accuses the man in charge, Charlie, (Sheldon Allman) of negligence and tries to minimize the problem by putting the blame on the holiday season, time when the company is understaffed.

A malfunction in the Martian Environment Test Module triggers the alarm. Steve rips open the airtight steel door and takes Fred out before the gas fumes overcome him. Furious at this incident, Budge orders the damages to be repaired at once, even if it takes all night. He turns a deaf ear to the employees' complaints of having to work on Christmas Eve.


After learning that Steve intends to spend Christmas in a hotel room, Crandall invites him to have dinner at his house. On their way, they stop at a toy store to buy last-minute gifts.

At the family home, Crandall is showered with hugs from his three children, Elsie (Quinn Cummings), Bob jr. (Adam Rich) and Cissy (Natasha Rye). He goes to the kitchen to his wife Nora (Antoinette Bower) and leaves Steve with the children. When he learns that the family cannot afford a Christmas tree, Steve asks the kids to make a wish and to keep their eyes closed while he goes outside to tear off a branch atop a pine tree.


Later, Steve offers to take Crandall's place as chauffeur to pick up Budge at the research center but Bob declines. Nora sits down with Steve and explains that he husband was once the company's accountant when one day he was caught stealing money to pay for her medical treatments. To Bob it was merely a loan that he intended to reimburse. Instead of sending him to jail, Budge agreed to a compromise: to take the money out of his monthly salary until he meets his liabilities. As part of the punishment, he dragooned Bob to act as his private chauffeur.

Over dinner Steve promises the gloomy kids that Santa Claus will be visiting them this year. To make due on that promise, he goes to the toy store before closing time to ask the school janitor Mr. Webley (Peter Leeds) in the Santa Claus suit to borrow his costume for the night.


He makes a brief stop at the research center. Given the gravity of the incident encountered earlier during the day, Steve asks Charlie for a copy of the specific requirements for the metals employed, samples and the tools to measure their density. The results are conclusive. Budge is using cheap standard material which could lead to serious problems in the long run.

Steve goes to Budge's house to inform him of his findings. As he enters, he sees the man in a state of stupor at the top of the stairs. He catches him as he falls and carries him upstairs to bed.

Dr Hendrick's (Noah Keen) diagnosis is a drug overdose, which explains the drowsiness and hallucinations. He instructs Crandall and Steve to keep him awake for next few hours in order to prevent him from lapsing into a coma.


Steve calls Oscar to share the results of his study. Both seriously doubt that Budge will agree to cough up the extra money to upgrade the quality of the material. Steve therefore suggests indemnifying Budge and finding another supplier, but they are too deeply involved in the project to back out. Steve devises another plan to bring Budge to his senses.

He goes outside to pick up a concrete slab and fashions it into a tombstone. He dons the Santa Claus suit and offers Crandall to sit with Budge to allow him to go home and spend Christmas with his family.


Steve snaps Budge out of his daze and takes him outside to peek at his headstone, which prompts the grumpy man to think that he's dead.

After singing with a bunch of street carollers, Steve brings Budge over to the Crandalls to witness their blissful Christmas despite their lack of money.


In the morning, Budge rouses from what he believes was nothing but a dream. When he picks up his coat, he accidentally drops a Christmas Carol song book onto the floor, which is evidence that last night's events really did occur. Believing that God is granting him a reprieve, he decides to change his ways. First on his agenda is to close the center and send everyone home.


Clad in the Santa Claus suit, Budge shows up at the Crandalls with a sack full of gifts for the kids. To dad, he gives an envelope containing his debt with the company that Bob is more than happy to tear up.


After spending the holidays with his parents, thanks to Budge who chartered one of his private planes, Steve returns to Washington. Bearing no heart feelings, he restores Oscar desk lamp to its original shape. In return, the boss presents him with his gift.


Return to Episode Guide     Return to Homepage