Wonder Woman Now the world is ready for... the Wonder Woman TV series thread

Discussion in 'Comics Central' started by Mel O'Drama, Apr 24, 2017.

  1. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Lynda Carter is Wonder Woman. At least that seems to be the general consensus in the Wonder Woman film thread.

    And so, as our previous WW series thread mysteriously vanished somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle, here's a new space to talk about the TV show.


    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Just as Vivien Leigh was born to play Scarlett O'Hara, and Linda Evans and Joan Collins were born to play Krystle and Alexis, Lynda Carter was born to play Wonder Woman.

    And why do I always hear Cher singing the WONDER WOMAN theme in my head instead of the guy who actually did it??
     
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  3. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Never mind the forthcoming film - my excitement is reaching epic proportions with the news that a 3-disc WW TV series soundtrack set is to be released next month.

    It's been hinted at for some time, but now there's a definite date I'm beyond excited. The series had such a dynamic Seventies score with lots of kick drum. And of course it went all disco in the final season.

    There aren't enough shows from this era with an officially-released soundtrack, and this is one of those Holy Grails that for decades has seemed like just a fantasy that would never be realised. It won't seem completely real until I'm listening to it.

    God - I hope there's a version of the Season Three theme sans sound effects.





    Yes. Once she put that costume on it seemed so right.

    Chris Reeve is - for me - the ultimate Superman, but there seems to be some debate about that amongst fans. It's difficult to imagine a similar discussion around the (admittedly few) actresses who've played Wonder Woman. I haven't yet seen Gal Gadot's version, but in pictures - even though she looks the way WW has been portrayed at times in her medium of origin - I find it hard to get past the fact that she doesn't look like Lynda Carter.
     
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  4. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Oh, not for me. Even as a kid, I didn't like Reeve's casting.
     
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  5. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    This is it exactly. When it comes to Superman, there's some discussion among fans about which actor works in the role. That's been good for his film and TV career. For every person that hates the idea of a new actor playing him there's another that prefers him to the previous actor and vice versa.

    Part of the reason so little has been done with WW's screen career in the wake of the series is that Carter is so indelibly associated with the character. Even, I suspect, by people who've never even watched it.
     
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  6. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It's official. 9th May!!!


    [​IMG]








    It's even more comprehensive than I'd hoped. Beautifully packaged, too. It's all here: the spin transformation FX; the episode bumpers; the main and end titles for each season. And representation from a variety of composers and musical styles from the '75 pilot, The New, Original Wonder Woman to the final episode produced (though not the last aired aired) - 1979's The Man Who Could Not Die.

    I'm especially pleased to see what looks like the full score for The New, Original Wonder Woman. It's the episode I've watched more times than any other. Charles Fox's quirky, jazzy score for that telemovie is ingrained into my memory and is consequently my goto when I think of music from the series - particularly some of his variations on the main title that were peppered throughout the episode.



    The Season Three score promises to be fun. The episodes that year were aimed very much at kiddies and as I remember are almost unwatchable today, what with their abundance of Rover the robot dog and whatnot. But the soundtrack (and Lynda Carter) makes that season feel far better than it actually is.

    I'm ridiculously excited about this. The last time I was this excited about a new soundtrack was back in 2009 when the Film Music Society said they were planning to release soundtracks for Knots and Dallas in 2011. And that came to nothing. The WW soundtrack is the real deal.
     
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  7. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat Addict

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    I grew up watching George Reeves on television but when the 1978 movie came out it was such a different concept that I never even tried to compare the two - the multiverse exists for a reason ;)

    I think you've hit on it there. Aside from Cathy Lee Crosby in the all-but-forgotten first pilot, who else has even played Wonder Woman in live action?
     
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  8. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes. I had a similar experience with Tim Burton's take on Batman having grown up with the Adam West version. The most successful revisits often take on a different tone.

    Very few, really. There was that weird Who's Afraid Of Diana Prince? sitcom pilot produced and narrated - like the Batman TV show - by William Dozier.



    And that ill-advised Adrianne Palicki pilot from a few years ago which looked godawful.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It's uncanny you should mention the Cathy Lee Crosby version. I rewatched it last night. I had originally planned to watch an episode or two of the Lynda Carter series, but thought I'd do the 1974 pilot in case I get into a rewatch jag.

    Anyway - a few thoughts about the Crosby film:

    Artie Butler's theme is foot-tappingly, head-noddingly enjoyable.



    The music he used through the entire film was great. Some smooth Seventies action music and a couple of softer themes too. I particularly enjoyed the Mantovani-esque sweeping strings that accompanied Diana's arrival at the hotel. Now that the Carter series is getting music released is there hope for music from this pilot to arrive on CD? Probably not, but I can dream.

    Incidentally, I had thought Artie Butler had composed for the Lynda Carter WW series, but that was Artie Kane who has a similar musical style as well as a similar name.

    The opening scene was fairly dark. A group of men getting gunned down in cold blood by a pair of assassins. The delivery of the scene was comic book-ish (the deaths off-screen) and light in tone. But just the fact that it could have happened stopped things from feeling too "safe" from the start.

    Pretty much all the Steve Trevor scenes dragged. The office-based stuff felt so static and lacking in energy I struggled to maintain interest. The pacing was quite slow in general, and it felt longer than its hour-and-a-quarter running time.

    The Paradise Island scenes were more watchable than I remembered. Yes, there were lots of plastic plants and a bunch of women about whom we knew nothing sharing scenes that were consequently difficult to invest in. And Diana's mother served no purpose at all here. But the dewy eyed earnestness of most of those involved carried it through. Crosby was strong in these sisterhood scenes - particularly when the action moved away from the island. Her facial expression on learning that Ahnjayla had gone rogue was perfect, as was her final scene with Ahnjayla, where Crosby's eyes said far more than what was written on the page.

    The bitter relationship between the two women - along with Anitra Ford's statuesque physique and evil smirk showed promise for what could have been her arch nemesis had the pilot gone to series. Particularly chilling was Ahnjayla's promise that if she won a battle she would not spare Diana's life.

    [​IMG]


    Crosby doesn't resemble any incarnation of Wonder Woman before or since. A blonde, jumpsuit-wearing, motorbike riding, high-kicking woman whose secret identity is barely secret. Much has been written about this version resembling the comic book character's Emma Peel influenced powerless period which ended a couple of years before the film was shot (why begin a contemporary series based on a concept that's several years out of date anyway? There's nothing older than yesterday's news, particularly amongst the show's target demographic). But her powerlessness and penchant for martial arts are just two of the many ways this film digresses from the Wonder Woman legend. About the only concession to the WW of the comic are the amazons and a tongue-in-cheek reference to her invisible plane.

    But not being true to the original doesn't mean this isn't fun and enjoyable. It manages both. Crosby is one of the best elements here. She has good screen presence and is charismatic enough. If one can get past this concept being Wonder Woman in name only then it becomes enjoyable. In content and tone this feels very much like the natural bridge between The Avengers and Charlie's Angels. Indeed, Diana's mix of glamour and cool felt very much like it set the tone for the Angels - still two-and-a-half years away at this point.

    The villains of the piece are great fun to watch too. Ricardo Montalbán does his Ricardo Montalbán thing, as a Bond baddie type Abner Smith, concealed for much of the time but instantly recognisable by his voice. "This is not a democracy", he hisses at a subordinate stupid enough to disagree with one of his decisions. Naturally he tries to work his charms on Diana, even as he is hauled away by police. "Wonder Woman - I love you", he grins. And she smiles back as she lights his cigar. It's daft, but it works.

    Rather than the unwordly ingenue, Crosby's Diana is shown to be capable and unfazed by pretty much anything she encounters in this new world. She calmly phones for room service with a venomous snake wrapped round her leg, looks decidedly unimpressed when she sees a box that's intended to be her final resting place and even has a snappy comeback for someone who sexually harasses her:

    GEORGE: "Let me make love to you."
    DIANA: "Why?"
    GEORGE: "Because your eyes..."
    DIANA: "You misunderstood me. I didn't mean why should you want to. I meant why should I?"


    Having watched this a number of times over the decades, I've mastered the art of not comparing this directly to the Lynda Carter series, which is rather like comparing apples and oranges. But it's worth noting some of the common ground between the two:

    • Watching last night it occurred to me that all the scenes featuring the villains would fit very well into the Carter show. The casting, the MOs, the dialogue and even the music played to accompany them. All would be echoed by the later show once it changed channels and updated its setting to the late Seventies.
    • The whole top secret mission stuff would come to be embodied by the I.A.D.C.
    • Carter's Wonder Woman would also ride a motorcycle with a helmet over a jumpsuit
    • And by the close of Wonder Woman's third season, Diana Prince - powerless as she was - had far more screen time than her alter ego. She was well-dressed and personable and was shown to use her smarts and nerve rather than spinning. Just as Crosby does here. Funny how it all came full circle.
     
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  10. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Last night I re-watched the Lynda Carter pilot. THE NEW, ORIGINAL WONDER WOMAN.

    [​IMG]


    God - there's so much to love about it.

    Firstly there's that title. It's so unnecessarily wordy and unless you know exactly why it has that name (to establish that it's not Cathy Lee Crosby's older version which wasn't based on the original character) it seems quite nonsensical. Actually, it can seem quite nonsensical even knowing the reason for the name. But I suppose "new" and "original" were two heavily used marketing words at the time, so why not pair them together - even if they appear to contradict each other.

    All the same, I found it a really exciting and enticing title when I was young and even today just seeing that name taps into how I'd feel when I saw it in the TV listings. Usually on a Bank Holiday.

    What really grabbed me this time round was how good it looked. And how expensive. So much effort had been put into the Forties period sets and dressings. They haven't just changed the hairstyles and thrown in the occasional old car. There are streets of realistic looking exterior period sets. Scores of extras all looking era-appropriate. And huge indoor sets: apartments; hospitals; Nazi headquarters. With gorgeously dismal greens and greys everywhere. At times it's still quite clear from some details that it was made in 1975, but the production values say otherwise. It occurred to me while watching that it's now being watched on TV screens far larger than would have been imagined at the time it was produced. And those screens show off a very impressive amount of detail that make it feel very cinematic.

    Then there's that cast: Red Buttons; Stella Stevens; Cloris Leachman; Henry Gibson. It's a little like watching a Seventies disaster film full of stunt casting. What's interesting here are how many different acting styles are going on: Stevens goes for arch camp; Buttons for larger than life sitcom charm; Gibson wouldn't seem out of place in 'Allo 'Allo; Leachman is overwrought and quite neurotic, giving WW's mother a Joan Crawford air. It's perhaps telling about people's frame of reference for superheroes at the time. Some of the performances feel tailor made for Adam West's Batman series, while others feel like they hark back to the jingoism of mid-century black and white superhero shorts. Lynda Carter plays it mostly completely straight. Waggoner does the same but his deep tones and puffed-up chest machismo are almost like a satire of heroic types. In other words he's Zapp Brannigan.

    The story is the classic WW origin, about to be retold in the upcoming feature film. To date, though, this is the definitive screen version of the story. The balance of humour and drama feels good here. It's easy to imagine this being a way to satisfy both young viewers who are absorbed by the simple story and the adults who are forced to watch with them who can chortle at the silly humour. I know that the older I get the funnier this seems.

    Charles Fox's music is stirring and energetic and feels so right. As someone for whom the series forms some of my early TV memories it's difficult to imagine there was a time before the Wonder Woman theme existed, and I can't help wondering whether it sounded so right to first time viewers (my guess would be yes).

    The icing on a rather delicious cake was that catfight, without which Dynasty may have been very different. It's a treat:

     
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  11. Payton Cross

    Payton Cross Soap Chat Fan

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    I've never seen the 70's tv series Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter on TV, but I've been tempted to buy this series on DVD a few times, but I never really went to buy them, but now the new movie is coming out, maybe i will.
     
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  12. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat Addict

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    I forgot about the David E. Kelley-produced Adrianne Palicki pilot (even though it had a lot of publicity fairly recently) but I'm sure I've never even heard of the other one before.

    They obviously junked the comic backstory but it's nice to see a pre-Planet of the Apes Linda Harrison and the presence of sixties mainstay Maudie Prickett lifts it a bit. It reminds me of Buck Henry's Captain Nice which had Alice Ghostley as a similar overbearing mother.
    It made sense at the time. The Cathy Lee Crosby pilot was still fresh in the mind and the juxtaposition of "new" and "original" seemed quite clever.
     
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  13. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    WONDER WOMAN MEETS BARONESS VON GUNTHER / FAUSTA: THE NAZI WONDER WOMAN / BEAUTY ON PARADE / THE FEMINUM MYSTIQUE / WONDER WOMAN VS. GARGANTUA


    Heading towards the halfway point, Season One is proving quite enjoyable this time round.

    Already the tone has changed a couple of times. The lower budget of the series versus the pilot movie was immediately evident. And I mean immediately. The very first scene of the Von Gunther episode showed Diana working in an office space that felt nothing short of claustrophobic after the impressively spacious sets of the pilot. That said, the look of the series proper is still quite attractive, with lots of location work. Whereas the pilot created its own unique little world with the huge outdoor sets, it's occurred to me this time round that the look of the regular episodes feels more in line with the modern day CBS series with those familiar California locations that can be seen in any number of shows of the Seventies, with with a Forties flavour.

    With a couple of exceptions, the knowingly camp performances of the big names appearing pilot have mostly been replaced with something far straighter. Now there's a more standard formula where the earnestness of the majority is juxtaposed by the light relief, which in this show is mostly provided by the gurning, eating and swooning of Etta Candy. It's all fine, I suppose, but there's no escaping that this is a kids show, whereas the pilot felt as though it was pitched at adults with its appeal to a young audience being entirely coincidental.

    I usually group the first two "standalone" episodes from the 75-76 TV season (which actually ran in The Bionic Woman slot when Lindsay Wagner couldn't work for a couple of weeks) separately from the rest of the season which aired in the 76-77 TV year for a number of reasons for a number of reasons. There are the shorter end titles, which work better in my opinion. The reprise of the animated opening that begins with the first regular episode, Beauty On Parade, feels like filler.

    The standalones also continue the more complex (and expensive) way of showing Diana's change into costume with a dissolve rather than the blast of light that began with Beauty. In this case, I think the thunderclap is head and shoulders over the dissolve in terms of effectiveness. The dissolve looks a bit messy to me, not least because it ends with Wonder Woman holding her Diana Prince clothes and looking for a place to dump them. I'm keeping an eye on the evolution of the Wonder Spin. Even with the red, white then blue blast in place, there's still too much going on at this point. We've got the trademark half turn to the left with arms out and then a spin to the right, but Carter then gilds the lily by raising her hands into the air as the spin ends. By season's end she will have perfected it by going for simplicity (her arms remaining out at her sides for the whole cycle). This series seems to be at its best with

    Another thing that separates the standalones from the rest of the season is that they used villains from the comics. Fausta Grables and Paula von Gunther were both lifted from early WW comics (with some tweaking). After that we've gone onto more standard seventies fare of beauty contests and fighting a wild animal played by a man in a gorilla costume. But each manages to put a unique Wonder Woman stamp on the story, I suppose. And it would have got a little old to see WW chastise her female villains for not matching her ideal of womanhood week in week out.

    It took some suspension of disbelief to swallow Diana entering a beauty contest sans glasses and wearing a swimsuit in full view of Steve. It felt more like a vanity project or the producers (understandably) not wanting to miss the opportunity to tap into Carter's beauty pageant past. I know that Lynda would fight for Diana to become more glamorous once the series flashed forward to the Seventies, and by the third season the glasses were history and she was even wearing her hair down, but it's interesting it happened so early in the show's run.

    The Feminum Mystique two-parter is both daft and hugely enjoyable. Debra Winger is quite charming as Wonder Woman's little sister Drusilla, and it's a nice touch to introduce the Wonder Girl* mythos to the TV audience:

    [​IMG]

    But the episode is even more fun to watch because of how uncomfortable Winger quickly became with having done this role very soon afterwards and the way she has framed her experiences of working with Lynda Carter. Winger later claimed Carter was a complete diva, fighting to ensure nobody wore the same shade of eyeshadow she did**. Carter has said it's untrue***.

    To be fair to Winger here, there is an uncomfortable exploitative side to the role. Her Paradise Island garb and her Wonder Girl costume are certainly all about the boobs and butt.



    It seems even more wrong when you consider Drusilla is meant to be fifteen here (Winger was in her early twenties).

    This is a bit of an issue with the entire episode. The Amazons in this episode feel less like the strong women we saw in the pilot. They're too giggly, vacuous and - well, a bit porn star looking. Seriously - it feels like they're about to start soaping each other up or something. It's a bit like going to a wedding and seeing those over tanned women in bridesmaids outfits. You know that given the occasion they're supposed to look wholesome and virtuous, but they don't. It doesn't help that one of the whorey looking amazons went on to be the slutty nurse in Halloween II.

    There's a bit of retconning going on here. Not only is this the first we know about Drusilla, the clip above shows her present when Diana first changed into her WW costume (which is possible, I suppose, given the way the scene was shot).

    Anyway, I can forgive the episode its imperfections. There's too much good stuff going on.

    Carolyn Jones is quite a different Hippolyta to Cloris Leachman. There's more of a sense of fun here. She's regal enough, and also looks very weary. It's clear Jones isn't taking it seriously at all and the episode is all the better for it. Had she appeared in the pilot it may have been too much, who knows. There was enough hamming going on there. Here she gets to stand out.



    * Though it would have been even more enjoyable had she been named as the Donna Troy Wonder Girl of the comics at that time.


    *
    * Here, among other places:



    *** Like so:
     
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  14. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    THE PLUTO FILE / LAST OF THE TWO DOLLAR BILLS

    These two are enjoyable for being examples of the "smaller" episodes. There's less of a sense of event compared with every single episode that came before. They don't feel as iconic as, say, the Drusilla episodes or Diana entering a beauty contest, but that goes in their favour. Instead, we get two well-structured stories that don't feel too showy.

    The Pluto File
    is notable for being the first episode in which the plot doesn't centre around a Nazi plot. Instead we get a charming Irish terrorist carrying the bubonic plague. The Nazis are back in Two Dollar with an elaborate ploy to destroy the economy by forging money. And the only way for them to do this is by using plastic surgery to create doppelgängers of a man who works at the mint and his wife who runs the nearby cafe. It's delightfully OTT and foreshadows a theme that the series would pick up and run with in its second season: that trendy Seventies preoccupation with human cloning.

    I wonder if the episodes aired in a different order to the filming chronology. In Pluto, the transformation spin is the one that became the long-term standard - Diana's hands are out at her side from beginning to end. In Two Dollar Bills, she's back to raising her hands in the air in a flourish, which still looks messy to me.

    Watching this series is all about Diana's accessories. For the record, Two Dollar Bills sees two notable uses of wardrobe. Her star-spangled cape is worn again for a tour of the minting facility (previously seen in the Fausta episode, though worn by Fausta rather than WW). Here it's paired with the skirt briefly seen in the Pilot:



    It also marks the first time she uses her tiara as a boomerang to stop the bad guy:



    Role model moment: In The Pluto File, WW is asked by a professor to give the square root of potential energy in order to prevent a meltdown that would cause a catastrophic earthquake. She happily obliges, pointing out that she was very good in school:

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Sarah

    Sarah Super Moderator Staff Member Original Member Since 1998

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    I do love WW but I have to be honest. My breasts would be having their own kind of wonder if I ran in that outfit.
     
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  16. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    JUDGEMENT FROM OUTER SPACE (PT. I & II) / FORMULA 407 / THE BUSHWACKERS / WONDER WOMAN IN HOLLYWOOD

    Wonder Woman mythos aside, a general rule of thumb for me is that the more sci-fi heavy the episode the less watchable it becomes. For that reason I've never particularly enjoyed Judgement. And so was the case this time round. Even with the threat of earth being annihilated. This time round it occurred to me that the omniscient and advanced aliens observing Andros felt very Kryptonian in manner, outlook and power. I started to wonder if they were inspired by the upcoming Superman film which would have been in development at this point. Or perhaps just Superman in general.

    Reservations and cheesy space stuff aside, it wasn't all bad news. Carter's earnestness helped, as did Tim O'Connor's gravitas - not easy when wearing the traditional silvery white surgeon's suit of all 1970s futuristic aliens. Truthfully, it could probably have been condensed into one 50 minute episode and not lost a great deal.

    I could barely remember Formula 407 so it was enjoyable for the freshness alone. A day or two down the line and it's fading again, so I think it will remain an "under-the radar" episode for me. Which is a pretty good thing. It's odd that I find it so forgettable since it contains all the classic WW elements of the first three standalone episodes: evil Nazis after knowledge of a specific item that could win them the war; good people blackmailed to do their bidding; Steve kidnapped; WW in bondage, etc.

    I wasn't particularly looking forward to The Bushwackers, which has always felt like random episode to me. Perhaps the reason for this is that when I first properly watched the ABC episodes (quite possibly as late as the DVD releases in the Noughties*, but perhaps I caught them in the Nineties) I somehow missed WW In Hollywood and found Bushwackers an unimpressive finale to the 1940s-set episode.

    In many ways Bushwackers feels so much like what the contemporary version of the series would become (to its detriment, if memory serves): there were lots of kids that WW got to connect with and who served as a kind of mirror for the young audience. When she kindly asked them to do their chores and spoke to them about parental love or whatever, there's a message to the young audience. It's almost like the lessons that would be learnt at the end of He-Man episodes where kids would get the moral of the story laid out to them. It's more subtle in this WW episode. But not much.

    All the same, it's done quite well here and has the advantage of not being sandwiched in among a load of other episodes featuring kids getting involved in WW's adventures as an intended outlet for the audience (I'm expecting to struggle with Season Three again for that reason). The only other kid that's featured prominently in this season was the irritating Tommy in the Von Gunther episode.

    Now, I don't know if it was last night's huge full moon having an effect on my emotions, but I found The Bushwackers oddly moving. The kids were mostly endearing rather than a test of tolerance, though there were some godawful stereotypical attempts at accents in order to emphasise the United Colours angle - particularly the "British" kid.

    Roy Rogers was fine here and as odd as the setup was, his rapport with his screen son was great. It's interesting how the dynamic shifted from having an episode built round a guest-star, but it was all to the good. Even Rogers' discomfort with WW wearing her skimpy outfit to hang out with a single man and a group of kids gave us a modest little twist on her outfit, predating some of her daytime wear in the George Perez stint on her comic by a decade. I smiled to think that if this were Season Two or Three, she'd probably have spun into some star-spangled sackcloth in order to better cover herself. Here she had her sweater and pants provided by the housekeeper.

    War orphan angle aside, the timeless ranch setting makes this feel less period than the rest of the season. And not in a bad way. It could have taken place in any time and could almost slot comfortably into a later season. There are some Season One specific tropes here: most notably WW's girdle of strength getting removed.

    Lyle Waggoner got to look ruggedly heroic, calmly staring down the men who ambushed him as he wore a cowboy hat. Moments like this highlight what a shame it is that his role wasn't beefed up a little more. After all, he was very nearly Batman a decade earlier. But then WW needed a dude in distress. He also looked ruggedly handsome in his uniform in the Hollywood episode.

    Ah - the Hollywood episode. Didn't every series in the Seventies have at least one contrived episode where the characters visited a film set? Last year I watched a pretty dire Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys episode where they ran round the Universal lot for no particular reason, battling everything that studio had to offer (including the shark from Jaws).

    With that fairly fresh in my mind, this one worked out pretty well. It felt like the setting was there to serve the plot, rather than the other way round (there was an actual, honest to goodness plot). Debra Winger was back to swoon over Robert Hays. I want to scream when she spins into Wonder Girl anti-clockwise in this episode. Not only is it the opposite direction to Carter, it's the opposite way to Winger's previous appearance.

    Anyone tuning in especially to see Carolyn Jones (who had the huge "Special Guest Star" billing this episode) is going to be very disappointed. It was just a cameo really - a cough and spit in a brief scene with Winger a couple of minutes in and that was it.





    * Apart from regular screenings of the Pilot, I don't remember the ABC version of WW getting a look-in when it came to repeats on British TV. I remember some early Season Two episodes screening on weekday mornings during a mid-Eighties school holiday once, which was a thrill. As I recall, an early-Nineties screening on Sky aired The New, Original WW and then confusingly skipped to Season Two's Anschluss '77.
     
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  17. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    To wrap up Season One I watched Carter and Doug Cramer's audio commentary for The New, Original Wonder Woman.

    While I dare say there's a bit of Hollywood flannel here and there, it does serve as a sort of time capsule conversation about the show. They cover a lot of familiar ground: Carter's lack of acting experience and her having $25 in her bank account when she was cast; Cramer talks about showing the catfight sequence to the Dynasty team to convince them to get Joan and Linda to do it.

    They discuss the SFX: the little explosive in the bracelet set up used to simulate the bullets hitting; the men crawling on the floor carrying Waggoner on a board to make it look as though Carter is effortlessly carrying him; and the hell reigned down by the studio when Carter did her own stunt by hanging onto the bottom of an airborne helicopter for that scene that ended up in the titles.

    The feminism of the show is also spotlit. The powers that be wanted to shorten a speech given by Diana about sisterhood and there was a fight to keep it in. Cramer observes that all great shows have a lot of fights, and many not so great shows are a result of people not fighting enough. It's an interesting outlook and one that made sense as I heard him say it.

    Some of the behind the scenes friction bubbles under the surface. Cramer - having worked on Batman - talks about enjoying the camp comic book angle of the show, while Carter talks about wanting it to be straighter. She suggests that this could only happen by moving the show away from the 1940s period (I don't agree with this at all). Cramer implies that Cloris Leachman was a nightmare to work with and refused to take any direction (Lynda, it seems, was just in awe that she was working with Cloris and wanted to be good enough to share a scene with her). Carter mostly avoids talking about Lyle Waggoner but at times her silence on the issue speaks volumes. She does concede that he looks in great shape in his shirtless recuperation scenes, but there's also a telling little moment over the credits where Cramer says how Waggoner hated the cartoony sparkle that was added to his grin. After a brief pause, Carter flatly responds "I bet he did."
     
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  18. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    THE RETURN OF WONDER WOMAN

    The Season Two premiere. The first CBS episode. The revamped costume. The next generation supporting cast. The feature-length running time. The retelling of the WW origin story. And a new series name: The New Adventures Of Wonder Woman.

    It's fair to say there's a lot riding on this episode. Expectations must have been fairly high all round. The big question is whether or not it delivers.

    As bold a move as this episode seems, there are also some helpful parallels to the character's original comic book medium.

    Like it or not, a significant feature of the WW comic was its frequent changes in creative teams and consequent revamps. Along the way they've tried it all: taking away WW's powers and costumes for a while; having a period setting (a change that actually was inspired by the first season of the WW TV series) to having others taking on WW's identity in her place.

    At the end of each short-lived revamp, the powers that be always go back to WW ground zero: the Amazonian princess leaving her island having been gifted with her costume and the responsibility of bringing hope to a warring world. And that's exactly what we see in this episode. Something that sets this particular revamp apart is the continuity. There are no retcons (at least not major ones). We're not being asked to forget what we've seen and start over. Instead there are references to the history of the series to date. There's even a montage of Steve Trevor's scenes from the ABC season which, brief and wordless as it was, I suspect may have cost CBS a bundle.

    I'm sure there was a lot of promotion around the relaunch explaining how the setting has changed from wartime to the present, but even so I appreciated how that information wasn't dropped in our laps immediately and unfolded organically.

    There were similarities galore to The New, Original Wonder Woman. Some scenes felt like they'd simply re-shot aspects from TNOWW. This is necessary. There are some parts of WW lore that simply have to get re-told with each update. Steve's plane crashing off the island; Diana seeing it and rescuing him (as in TNOWW she's frolicking with one of her sisters here and sends her on to tell the Queen); the Queen forbidding Diana to leave the island; the contest; Diana assuming her Diana Prince identity and attracting the attention of fans and enemies alike.

    Beatrice Straight is my favourite Queen hands down. She seems level with Lynda Carter in playing the scenes simply and for truth and seems to embody the Hippolyta of the comics during that era very well. She lacks the knowing camp of Carolyn Jones (enjoyable as she was in her own way) and - thankfully - the hand biting drama and seemingly permanent irritation of Cloris Leachman's version.

    Enjoyable as they are - and they are certainly that - some elements serve to reinforce how TV censorship had taken hold in the two years since TNOWW. The Bullets & Bracelets contest in particular highlighted this:
    • In the original Pilot, the Queen spoke of how the contest was a test of the true skill which only Amazons possessed, which they must use to avoid the bullet.
    • In The Return Of Wonder Woman, the Queen speaks of how neither competitor can be harmed as they're wearing their feminum bracelets - essentially telling the audience not to worry and taking any sense of jeopardy out of the scene.
    • In the Pilot Diana won the contest when one of the bullets she fired struck her competitor on the arm.
    • In The Return Of Wonder Woman, the contest is won when Diana's bullet hits a star shaped target behind her competitor. Adding insult to injury, at this point there was some naff ADR of a disembodied Amazon explaining to nobody in particular how Diana had won the contest by hitting the target. Presumably because The Powers That Be feared the audience would be too thick to understand what they had just seen.

    That said, the moment where we get this season's first Wonder Spin into the new, improved, tighter and teenier costume makes it all worthwhile.

    Let's talk Donfeld for a bit. He was the maestro of bringing DC comics characters to life, as the Batman series shows. His first Season WW costume, too, was incredibly authentic.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This revamped version feels like he's put his own stamp on it as he did Catwoman's getup in the Batman TV show. While it echoes the previous costume, this version introduces a look that is very much unique to the TV show. The differences between the ABC and CBS version - both Donfeld designs - can best be seen by comparing them side-by-side.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    The gold bracelets feel more cohesive than the previous silver ones. They're certainly more glam. Incidentally, at the time the series aired, the comic usually showed the bracelets as a dark blue, the bracelets being remnants of the shackles that had once held them in bondage when they were dominated by men (based on his own interests, WW creator William Moulton Marston included many themes of dominance and submission in WW's early appearances. Hence the lasso and endless examples of characters ending up in forced submission). So the bracelets were actually reminders of male brutality and the need for women to be free. There's so much symbolism to the WW mythology. But the series happily (and probably wisely) avoided all that, accessorised said bracelets with some stars and the rest was history.

    While the difference is clear, these changes are nothing compared to the evolution of WW's costume in the comics over the years. She's gone from wearing a skirt to trunks to french cut knickers and (highly controversially) long pants. Her belt has been white or gold. She's alternated between boots and sandals. Her belt and tiara have been adjusted to have points at the bottom as well as the top.

    Probably the most noticeable difference between the two main versions of the TV costume is the eagle bustier motif, which went from a definite eagle to something a bit more abstract. Curiously, this new bustier foreshadows a fairly major change that occurred in the comics just a few years after the TV series ended when DC tried to trademark its well-known characters for marketing purposes. They did Superman's "S" symbol, of course. And Batman's chest logo. But then they discovered they couldn't trademark the Eagle, forcing DC to give WW a new symbol which the character still uses today:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    To my eyes, the revamped TV costume resembles the one that would come years later. Maybe Donfeld planted a seed. Hell - even some of the TV show designs have shown up in the comics from time to time

    [​IMG]

    But with the move to the Seventies, there's a sense of the show losing a little of its USP. Once Diana arrived in Washington, there are scenes, dialogue and setups that could just as easily be featured in The Bionic Woman or something.

    The scenes of Diana establishing herself; plotzing at inflation; showing how she had enough money to live well by pawning ancient coins; and setting up her new identity as an IADC agent by overriding their computer all work really well and show some thought had been put into giving the changes a kind of credibility.

    But it's good news/bad news. With no Nazis to battle (but watch this space...), the world here is threatened by a terrorist group who plan to turn governments against each other with the threat of nuclear destruction (plus ça change...). When an Amazon suggests they're like the Nazis, Diana laments that they may be worse. Now, I'll happily believe that a woman flies round in an invisible plane and fights off bullets and can change clothes by spinning round. But to say that The Third Reich pales when compared with the extremely arch and rather daft Dr Solano is taking it a little far, I think.

    Even by the standards of the time, the killer robot unleashed by Solano is dire. The fencing battle between WW and the robot version of Solano is pretty much unwatchable. I dare you not to laugh when she removes his face to reveal the robot head underneath (which, naturally, is twice the size it was before she removed it). It's an issue with this show that the more futuristic it tries to be the worse it is. But that's part of the charm.

    That said, Fritz Weaver captures the tone and gives his all to this one, taking some terrible dialogue and giving it more meaning than it deserves. He's a bit of a mumbler though, and delivers his lines at quite a pace. I'd have had trouble picking up some of his dialogue had I not watched this episode so many times.

    Jessica Walter is very watchable as the bitchy Gloria who spends half her time glaring at Diana and making passive aggressive little digs and the other half scheming.

    Steve himself is replaced by a robot at one point. And a pretty horny one too, since it decides to try it on with Diana. Waggoner gets to be at his sleaziest here, which is entertaining enough.

    All in all, it's a decent start. Albeit one which encapulates everything that is great about this new version while also starting to show the shortcomings that the series would (as I remember it) become more attached to as time went on.
     
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  19. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    ANSCHLUSS '77 / THE MAN WHO COULD MOVE THE WORLD

    Unlike many other TV shows, it's curious how different seasons of Wonder Woman take me back to different, unconnected times in my life rather than one specific block of years. For example, I have very clear memories of watching Season Three at a young age when it first aired (BBC1 aired it at 5.05 on Saturdays). It's the first show where I can remember the excitement of anticipation. In terms of TV shows, it takes a lot to excite me these days, but back then it was full-on season premiere eagerness every week. Whereas Season One I probably watched a decade and a half later in the early to mid Nineties.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, my earliest memory of these early Season Two episodes fell in between these two times: at some point around the mid-Eighties when they were shown on weekday mornings during a school holiday, which was a thrill. I didn't have a VCR back then, never mind DVD boxsets and I had to take my Wonder Woman as it came along. This was the first time the show had been on in perhaps half a decade or longer. A long time to someone who still had fractions in his age. As I remember it, Anschluss '77 was the first episode shown (so it was probably a Monday morning) and because of that impact some scenes from it still remind me of watching it then.

    Despite the big dramatics of the Nazi plot and the Hitler clone, the little moment that made the most impact on me back then was that of Steve and Diana arriving at the deserted house in Cordova. Steve found the door open, turned to Diana and teased "after you" at which point she pushed him in. It's a nice, natural moment that feels unscripted and free. Watching last night, and for similar reasons, I also enjoyed a small moment where Steve, Diana and Joe Atkinson were walking in the IADC corridors and Diana asked Joe about his daughter's birthday. Again it felt quite ad libbed and unrehearsed and had the benefit of giving Norman Atkinson a little bit of business and making him feel a little more fleshed out. Small touches like this are scattered throughout these first Seventies-set episodes and they work well. It's easy to see that Carter is more relaxed here than in the period setting of the first season, which works in the show's favour.

    These early S2 episodes also feel like WW at its most classic for another reason: clips of many scenes from these episodes would find their way into the live action title sequence which would first appear seven episodes from now and continue through to the show's end. Anschluss '77 is very rich with these, including Steve driving the jeep and jumping from the ridge; WW skipping down the hill, running up to the peak, stopping the tank, throwing the bombshells and the controversial helicopter riding scene. If I'm not mistaken, the head shot of WW smiling which was used for Carter's credit and the closing titles is at Bronson Canyon, so possibly from this episode too.

    The Hitler cloning scene is the creepiest thing in the show to date. Far more effective than I remember it being. The dismal, strobing red lighting; the darkened room; and Hitler himself materialising and opening his eyes probably freaked some young viewers right out.

    It's a little ironic that having updated to the present day to broaden the pallette, the first two regular episodes tap into WW's Second World War heritage. First Hitler and then the telekinetic guy who was out for revenge believing WW had killed his brother during WWII. They're both good episodes though, so I'll take having them all together rather than dotted in among some other stories.
     
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  20. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    This made me smile. WW meets ONJ:

     
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