Recently, I watched a few episodes of the old 1970s science fiction drama The Bionic Woman. For me, it was a treat because I remember watching both it and The Six Million Dollar Man when I was a kid. I don’t think it was during the original run, but after both shows were cancelled in 1978 and a network in Canada started to show re-broadcasts of all the episodes. There are two things I distinctly remember from back then: I wanted to be the Six Million Dollar Man and marry the Bionic Woman – as I jumped off things making bionic sounds; and I got the Six Million Dollar Man board game for Christmas one year.
I don’t remember many of the Six Million Dollar Man episodes, but I do remember many of the Bionic Woman episodes – probably because there was more meat to the storylines and I liked Lindsay Wagner as Jamie. Looking over many of the episodes again, she delivered a great performance – nuanced, dramatic, quirky, carefree, real. It was no surprise to me that she won the Emmy Award for best lead actress in a drama series in 1977 (specifically for the episode ‘Deadly Ringer’). She was a most deserving winner. She was amazing in that episode. I remember reading an article about the Emmy Awards many years ago with the writer opining that Lindsay winning was the low point in the history of the awards. I wish I could find that article online somewhere so I can give that writer a piece of my mind. What a low brow swipe – an obvious situation where instead of actually viewing a piece of work, the writer dismisses it because the series from which it came is dismissed as science fiction fluff.
Lindsay put in one hell of a performance on that episode and was rewarded not just because she played diverse dual characters, but because there was depth there absent from other actors who have roles in action/sci-fi/mystery series. Having roles in these type of series really limits the dramatic performance an actor can give because the FX, the gadgets, the supernatural, the hook and the CGI have all the big dramatic moments. Her characters faced trauma, went to very low points and came back up. It was a complete performance. That she was able to have the opportunity to put in such a performance on an action/sci-fi series was very fortunate. This is also the main reason why Angela Lansbury never won an Emmy for Murder, She Wrote – her character was always level-headed and never battled cancer, alcoholism, abuse, drugs and other evils.
Both the Six Million Dollar Man (and especially) the Bionic Woman were rare hits – successful action/sci-fi/supernatural series. They connected with people and it was only after their audiences skewed to a different demographic that the networks didn’t want were they both cancelled – even though they were both still hits at the time. I was especially fond of the Bionic Woman’s attempts to inject a good dose of humanity into the scripts. It wasn’t all just action and bionic stuff – there was real human interaction, stories about fate, the consequences of war, power, psychological trauma, PTSD, affliction and healing. The writers made some bold statements and if critics were to look beyond the somewhat implausible supernatural aspects (Bigfoot, the fembots), they would see a series with heart and humanity.
It’s a real treat seeing both series again. Steve Austin and Jamie Sommers were my heroes when I was little, so they have a very special place in my memory bank. Looking at the series, it is heartening to see both of them not take things too seriously, yet be able to tell a good story and provide some seriously solid entertainment. In today’s world of television and film, you can’t compare the Bionic Woman and the Six Million Dollar Man with anything seen today. I think Lindsay Wagner said it best when the reboot of the Bionic Woman arrived in 2007 on NBC: “It was like a lot of things today, angry and dark”.
It’s pretty clear that the undisputed greatest tennis player in Canadian history is Daniel Nestor. That was clear well over a decade ago when he won the Olympic gold medal in doubles in Australia in 2000 with Sebastian Lareau. It’s remarkable that he has continued on for another 13 years – racking up titles at all the majors, all the Masters and contributing to the health of the Canadian Davis Cup team.Today, Daniel added to his legacy by adding another major to his resume. He and French player Kristina Mladenovic won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title – his third overall mixed doubles major. Listing off all of Nestor’s titles would fill a book, but to briefly summarize so far what he has done to cement his name as the greatest Canadian tennis player of all-time (the Canadian G.O.A.T.) here is a brief history of his accomplishments:
Olympic gold medal in tennis, men’s doubles: 2000 Sydney Olympics
8 major men’s doubles titles: 4 French Open; 2 Wimbledon; 1 U.S. Open; 1 Australian Open
3 major mixed doubles titles: 2 Australian; 1 Wimbledon
25 Masters titles
4 World Doubles Championships
80 doubles titles
And those stats only scratch the surface. I’m not even mentioning all the Tour doubles finals he has reached (132 by the way), the major doubles finals he has played in (23 by the way), the prize money he has won (over $10 million so far), the accolades he has received (the Order of Canada, Canada’s Walk of Fame). All of these stats are Hall of Fame worthy and the moment he is eligible to enter the Hall after he retires, he should be waiting at the Hall’s doorstep.
Over and above all those amazing stats, he and Mike and Bob Bryan are the only doubles players (and the only men) to win all four majors (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open) and an Olympic gold medal. He and Mike and Bob Bryan are also the only doubles players to win all of the Master’s titles at least once. He’s also 4th all-time with 80 career titles.
Doubles has always taken a backseat to singles in professional tennis. The glory, the press, the money, the coverage, the television, the fame – it all goes to the singles part of the tournament – no matter if it is a major, a Masters or a 500/250 tournament. That is why Daniel Nestor is one of the most underappreciated athletes in Canadian history. Consistently over his 20 year career, he has been snubbed in the Canadian press in favour of head-bashing, street fighting on ice, otherwise known as the NHL. To be frank, it’s a disgrace. He’s one of the most decorated athletes in sports history and only a small portion of Canadian sports fans (tennis fans by and large) know his name. If a hockey player sucker punches another player from behind, it’s front page news. If Daniel Nestor wins Wimbledon, the greatest prize in tennis, he’s relegated to page E9. It’s disgusting.
Daniel started out as a singles player, which is why many people still remember him defeating Stefan Edberg in Davis Cup as a singles player in 1992. Even that irks me because he did so much more as a doubles player over the next 20 years. It’s as if all those accomplishments are tainted because they are in doubles. Singles truly is the beacon of tennis, which is why Canadians still remember Carling Bassett and Helen Kelesi, rather than Daniel’s accomplishments. It’s just the way things are. But looking over Daniel’s results, it’s hard not to ignore the facts. I’m sure if the Canadians who don’t know Daniel Nestor were made aware of his stats, they’d say ‘wow’. Wow indeed.
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