The Fall Guy: Every Way the Movie Pays Homage to the 1980s TV Series

As a Gen Xer who grew up fascinated by The Six Million Dollar Man and in turn tuned in for Lee Majors’ The Fall Guy, I walked into the Ryan Gosling/Emily Blunt movie this weekend with a certain excitement, but also tempered expectations.

As a rule, I don’t read reviews before seeing a movie. But I’d glimpsed enough headlines and social media chatter to know that The Fall Guy was only (very) “loosely” based on the ABC action series that ran for five seasons. I like Gosling, love Blunt and enjoy stunt work, so I decided to take a flyer on this. (Plus, I have about a half-dozen podcast episodes about it waiting in queue, and sometimes I’ll see the “hot” movie just so I can press play.)

More from TVLine

If you saw my Facebook update Saturday night (as I said, Gen X here!), I had only one “demand” heading into the Fall Guy movie: I needed to hear the TV series’ theme song, “Unknown Stuntman,” which had been sung by Majors himself and featured cheeky nods to Hollywood’s beautiful leading ladies of the time.

Was my singular wish fulfilled? Modest spoilers for the Fall Guy movie follow….

The Fall Guy stars Gosling as Colt Seavers, a seasoned stunt performer who is doubling for movie star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a Matthew McConaughey/Tom Cruise hybrid, when he is greatly injured in a stunt gone wrong. Colt retires from the biz, but 18 months later is asked back to double for Tom in a blockbuster that will make or break the career of first-time director Jody Moreno (Blunt), Colt’s longtime, now-former, sweetheart.

Straight away, the premise is far removed from TV’s The Fall Guy, which starred Majors as a stuntman who moonlights as a bounty hunter — though Majors’ character was also named Colt Seavers. Similarly, Blunt’s character shares a first name with the the TV series’ lead female character, Heather Thomas’ stuntwoman Jody Banks.

To be fair, when Colt is enlisted by Tom’s producer, Gail (Ted Lasso‘s Hannah Waddingham), to investigate a bit of a mystery, some of his tactics echo those employed by Majors’ clever bounty hunter. And Colt’s go-to ride for that escapade is, like his small-screen counterpart’s, a big ol’ pickup truck.

Best TV Theme Songs 1980s
Best TV Theme Songs 1980s

Top TV Theme Songs of All Time: 1980s

View List

Speaking of Majors, one of the Fall Guy movie’s stealthiest TV Easter eggs comes during a fight scene, when The Six Million Dollar Man‘s bionic power sound effect is very briefly sampled as Colt shoves someone out of the way.

I clapped. In fact, upon hearing that bionic sound effect, I got a very good feeling that I would get the “Unknown Stuntman” — and maybe even more.

Sure enough, as the movie comes to a close and the end credits start to roll, we hear those finger snaps. Followed by… Blake Shelton’s cover of TV’s Fall Guy theme.

Though I had hoped that any such needle drop would retain more of the original lyrics but update the references (a la “I’m not the kind to kiss and tell, but I’ve been seen with ScarJo…”), I took the win.

Then came a mid-credits scene, which my MediaStinger app had advised me to stick around for, and boom, there he was — Lee Majors, making a cameo as the lawman coming to scoop up the Big Bads. What’s more, at Majors’ side was long-ago co-star Heather Thomas.

Did you fall for the big screen’s Fall Guy, if that was your weekend choice of movie?

Best of TVLine

Get more from Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Newsletter