"The Bionic Boy" Part 1

(Original air date 11/07/76)


Steve helps a paralysed teenager through the process of bionic implant


Story: Lionel E. Siegel

Teleplay: Tom Greene

Director: Phil Bondelli

On a hot sweltering day Rudy interrupts Steve’s endurance test to deliver a good news on the completion of his bionic implant, and invites Steve to witness the result on a paralysed chimp. He and Oscar inform him that they are ready to test the implant on a human subject, one that was paralysed in an accident but who still retains 3% of leg nerves functioning. The computer found the perfect test subject who fits the requirements and Steve will need to guide the him through the psychological trauma that will undoubtedly rise from the operation.


Steve drives to Andy Sheffield’ s (Vincent Van Patten) hometown of Kanab, Utah, and finds him on a baseball field as the umpire; a wheelchair-bound, mule-headed teenager who won’t have his decisions overturned when it comes to calling the shots, even if the star player, Joe Hamilton (Greg Evigan), says otherwise. The snack vendor, Mr. Savannah (Woodrow Chambliss), who also puts out the local newspaper, commends Andy for his writing talents but deplores his lack of social skills.

Savannah introduces Steve to Andy who remembers him from his football days. After the praises, Steve fills Andy in on the classified project that can give him back the use of legs, but Andy quickly dismisses that possibility as he’s been down that road before.


Steve then tries to persuade his sister Valerie (Joan Van Ark) that this experiment stands the highest chance of success with Andy. Valerie is reluctant, refusing to put her brother through another disappointment. He finally convinces her to let Andy decide his fate, seeing as he’s the one in the wheelchair.

Alone in his room, Andy goes through old newspaper clippings about the deadly rock slide at Haunted Mountain, accident that killed his father and left him paralysed. He confides in Valerie that he’s fed up with all those false hopes, but wonders if that technique could be successful.


Andy agrees to hear Steve’s sale pitch but remains sceptical as to the experimental surgery’s success.

They hear a rumble coming from outside. A bull has broken out of its pen and is now charging after the horses in the corral. Andy and Valerie witness Steve’s incredible bionic feats as he steers the bull back into his pen and closes the break in the fence with logs.


After Steve exposes the wires in his bionic arm, Andy is convinced. He wants the operation, in spite of the fact that his legs will have normal strength.


Rudy travels to Kanab to set his instruments in the small-town hospital. He meets with Chief of Staff, Doctor Penny (George Martin), and swears him to secrecy about the ground-breaking surgery.

During the night, Andy relives the expedition that he and his father undertook up at Eagle’s Point to find an ancient tribe’s burial ground and all of its treasures. Steve rushes into his room to reassure him it was just a nightmare and that he’ll be right outside until the surgery in early morning.


Valerie arrives to wait along with Steve. At his request, she tells him the story of how their father was intent on proving everyone wrong that the burial ground did exist. One day Andy went along with him and that’s when the rock slide occurred. It crushed his legs and killed their father. A huge price to pay for a crazy dream, said the villagers who never stopped mocking the man’s beliefs.

Steve follows the surgery through the glass door. The procedure prompts him to recall his own accident when it was him on that operating table, but he remains undisturbed.


Hours later, all wait for Andy to regain consciousness. He awakes to learn that the surgery went well and the implants are ready to be tested, but surprisingly the monitor remains silent. Rudy panics. There are undoubtedly interferences in the room and Steve finds the culprit: a radio that was turned on but the sound tuned off. The signals from the implants now emit normally.


Three weeks later, Steve unceremoniously brushes off a nosy journalist Vernon Craig (Richard Erdman) who is curious as to why the boy hasn’t made significant progress. Steve remains optimistic and so does Andy who goes as far as invite his girlfriend Judy Grant (Carol Jones) to a social dance.

Suddenly his legs start trembling, which is a sign that time has come to take his first steps.


Steve and Valerie help Andy with the therapy but eight days later, the petrified boy still won’t take a step. Steve grows impatient and gives him an ultimatum. Outside the room Steve begins recalling his own healing process when he had to learn how to walk with bionic limbs.


The next day he takes Andy outside to get him to give it another try. Football player and Andy’s pal Joe Hamilton and his girlfriend Colleen Lightfoot (Kerry Sherman) drop in on him to wish him luck.

Andy starts boasting about how he intends to pick up where he left off before his accident, when he beat Joe at just about every sport. Joe gets ruffled, as he won’t have Andy belittle him in front of his girl. He will win the football scholarship, not Andy. Angry, Andy gets up and takes his first steps, but falls. He confesses to Steve that he won’t walk, afraid that he’ll fall down and ridicule himself in front of his friends.

Suddenly it dawns on him that Steve orchestrated this meeting to get him riled up enough to take those first steps. First annoyed, Andy later thanks him for his solicitude.


Days go by with Andy making remarkable progress with Steve as his coach.


Following a successful workout, Rudy goes to Steve to enquire about Andy’s whereabouts. The boy was scheduled to meet with him for his routine tests, but never showed up. He wonders whether they haven’t been smothering him, but Steve believes the boy is troubled by something but can’t get Andy to open up to him.

Andy stands at the bottom of Haunted Mountain, where he promises to be back and finish the work his father started.


Part Two

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