Synopsis: In ‘The Secret of Bigfoot’. Two geologist friends of Steve Austin disappear in California while placing earthquake sensors in the woods. A giant footprint is found nearby, leading to speculation of the involvement of a Sasquatch.
Review: Given how popular our ‘Six Million Dollar Man’ article was for the Relaunch, Reboot, or Reimagine column. I thought I would add to it by doing this retro review of one of the most loved two-part stories from the show. Indeed, ‘The Secret of Bigfoot’ is loved for a number of reasons. One of which was an early TV credit for the much loved Wrestler André the Giant. So, here we go.
Steve Austin and his boss Oscar Goldman are called to a geological site in the California mountains. It just so happens that two of Steve’s friends are geologists who are measuring the seismic activity along the faultlines. However, things get a little hinky when Steve’s two scientist friends go missing, and as Steve investigates he finds a giant footprint. A local scientist who is helping out with the scientific survey happens to be a Native American who believes that the footprint belongs to a Sasquatch. When one of steves two geologist friends is founds. He appears very dazed and confused and has little memory, but when he sees a plaster cast of the giant foot. Something is triggered in him.
After the bigfoot attacks the scientific base camp. Steve goes after him and has a bit of a wrestling match. In the fight, Steve manages to rip off one of the creature’s arms. Steve follows the creature and finds himself inside a secret mountain hideout where an expedition of humanoid aliens have been living. Furthermore, it is revealed that they have been there for quite some time.
Their lead scientist Shalon (Stefanie Powers) takes a bit of a liking to Steve and is intrigued by him. She seems a tad more fascinated by him than his bionic though. As they get to know each other. Shalon tells steve about the advances that her people have made in science and medicine. It turns out they have a medicine that can cure all diseases, which works with the person’s DNA. We also learn that the Sasquatch is an android that is created with a more advanced version of bionics.
Meanwhile back at the scientific base camp
While Steve is in the mountain hideout. Things are getting tricky for Oscar and the team because they have detected an Earth Quake, which left unchecked could kill hundreds of people. The only way to stop the quake is by triggering a controlled explosion to cause a smaller earthquake. The trouble is Steve Austin is missing and Oscar is reluctant to follow through on the plan.
Back in the Mountain base. Steve has learned about the Earthquake and finds out that Shalon has been dispatched to prevent Oscar from triggering the explosion because it threatens her people’s research base. Obviously, Steve goes after her and manages to save the lives of her people in the process.
It goes without saying that television acting has come on a little bit since the 1970s. That being said. We have some great performances in this story from pretty much all the leads as well as the guest cast. Lee Majors is the quintessential heroic figure as Steve Austin and gets a memorable fight scene with André the Giant’s Bigfoot. The fight is very much more of a wrestling match than it is kung fu or anything too fancy. But that was the charm of this series. It kept fight scenes relatively simple and not overly violent. It was classed as a family show after all. But Major’s really sells the physicality of the character that he plays whereas his characterization of Steve is of a rather laid back type of person.
In contrast to Steve. Oscar Goldman, who was played by the late Richard Anderson is far more serious and more dramatic. When he learns about the Earth Quake and how it will endanger Steve. His concern is very convincing. Anderson plays Oscar in such a way that he was both steves friend and boss. But at this stage in the show, they’d pretty much established their friendship having both been through a few scrapes.
Stefanie Powers portrayal of Shalon was very 1970s alien with a fascination for the male human being. Bionics were just a bonus. Unfortunately, this was a bit of a stereotypical plotline of the time. But that said Shalon also has a bit of power in that she is a super smart scientist who is perhaps a little too attached to her creation in Bigfoot. And in the more dramatic moments. Powers delivers.
There’s quite a lot to like about ‘The Secret of Bigfoot’. But there are also a few plot things that will likely give modern audiences a meltdown. So we’ll take a look at both the good and not so good.
Aside from the obvious primitive special effects. The episode still holds up well. I was entertained by the storyline and the acting performances were pretty good considering the time it was made and the style of writing. It’s a style of writing where more was implied as opposed to showing. The relationship between Shalon and Steve for example. A lot gets implied but not shown. The fight sequences were pretty good as were the effects for the time period that this was made.
I enjoyed how we never got to see Big Foot aside from his legs walking through the shrubs for a good half hour of the first episode. It built-up tension and anticipation for what he would eventually look like. Again for the time period. The Big Foot suit was pretty good and the way it was shot prevented it from looking too cheesy.
The Not So Good
Although, I love the music of this series. I found the music cues to be a little repetitive at times. It’s a common failing for most shows that were made in the 1970s. So I can’t be overly hard on it.
We never learn where Shalon and her people are from or why they are studying humanity. Additionally, when it came to explaining the science it was a bit wishy-washy and could have been thought out a little more. Especially when it came to the wonder drug that they had created. As well as their explanation of time travel. But that said. They were playing to a broad audience and ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ was quite rare in that it combined science fiction with spy drama. I was about six years old when I first saw this episode. So six-year-old me would have just been happy with Steve Austin beating up Big Foot. Whereas the more grown-up me wants a bit more substance.
The science aside though. They did do a pretty good job of explaining the plan about using a small explosion to trigger a small quake to stop a bigger earthquake. So it wasn’t all wishy-washy. Although not being a geologist. I wouldn’t know how feasible the plan was. But I suspect creating a small earthquake would relieve some of the pressure and thus prevent a bigger quake. Please don’t ask me to do the maths though because I’d probably kill you all by miscalculation, but I do have a friend that is a maths genius that could probably explain it.
Overall. I can still enjoy ‘The Secret of Bigfoot’ and can see why it is so loved by the fans. Look out for further retro reviews in the future. We have a few plans.
- Visual Effects & Stunts7.5
- Incidental Music8.0