Right off the bat I’d like to make clear that no episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man are actually missing. None. However, the original elements to the original broadcast version of “Welcome Home, Jaime – Part 1” (broadcast on January 11th, 1976) are missing and thus the syndicated version of the episode will be included in The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Collection when it is released as an exclusive by Time-Life on November 23rd, 2010. The official press release for the set, published by TVShowsOnDVD.com last week, includes the following:
*Note from the producers: Despite best efforts, Time Life was unable to locate the original master for “Welcome Home, Jaime – Part 1,” therefore, the syndicated version appears on these DVDs.
The episode in question was the first half of a two-part story that helped launch The Bionic Woman; it was later edited slightly and included in a syndication package for that show. The original broadcast featured opening credits for The Six Million Dollar Man; the syndicated version featured opening credits for The Bionic Woman. Other alterations have been documented at The Six 1973 (click on the Series Reassignment link on the right).
David Lambert of TVShowsOnDVD.com has written an in-depth article about the syndicated substitution, revealing that Universal Studios could not find the original elements to the episode, so Time-Life contacted a variety of institutions (like the Library of Congress and UCLA’s Film & Television Archive) hoping to find a copy. Time-Life also urged Universal to take another look and reached out to international distributors and licensees as well as fan consultants. Despite this exhaustive effort, no trace of the episode as originally broadcast was found.
In terms of pure story content, the way I understand it the syndicated episode is identical to the original broadcast version. It will not be cut or otherwise edited for time. It will likely look just as good as the other episodes. It will just have some “structural” differences. While it is unfortunate that the original elements are apparently gone for good, overall this really shouldn’t be an issue even for the most ardent of fans of The Six Million Dollar Man.