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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    GOING, GOING, GONE / SPACED OUT / THE STARSHIPS ARE COMING / AMAZON HOT WAX / THE RICHEST MAN IN THE WORLD / A DATE WITH DOOMSDAY / THE GIRL WITH A GIFT FOR DISASTER / THE BOY WHO KNEW HER SECRET

    The journey of censorship within the series has been an interesting one. It began with that glorious fight with Stella Stevens where they threw each other violently through plate glass and over tables and Wonder Woman got to smash her opponent in the face with her fist. Then it evolved into something rather less satisfying - usually of the variety where henchmen are thrown gently into cardboard boxes or onto light fittings. The latter part of the final season has seen something of a return to form, with WW managing to get a few chops and hits in before throwing the henchman of the day around. It's been quite unexpected and more pleasing for it.

    Guest actors have been a fairly balanced combination of older character actors and younger teen pinup types. Some of the latter have been a little bland but then there's the occasional one that breaks the mould. The Richest Man In The World had on board one of the angriest young men of the era: Barry Miller.

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    Here he would be in between Saturday Night Fever and Fame. He's a fascinating actor - very intense and unpredictable. There's an appealing feeling of danger to him that served to bring layers to the proceedings. The episode had him playing to type as a troubled teen who bonds with one of the older characters. Even the obligatory happy ending where the rich older man invites Barry to live with him forever and ever felt like it had a slightly less wholesome subtext in these hands. And it was all the better for it.

    Along with some more creative Wonder Spins, Season Three has also played with viewer's expectations around it. A couple of scenes have shown Diana just about to spin when something happens: a man comes crashing through an overhead window or a colleague walks into the corridor. The Boy Who Knew Her Secret took this to the next logical level with one of the Just Seventeen pinup types witnessing the Wonder Spin and learning her secret. It was dragged out to be a two-parter and fitted into a schlocky 50s B-movie type story of invading aliens taking the form of townspeople and is one of those storylines that loses something once you hit double digits. But it played out fine.

    Going, Going, Gone featured one of those scenes that's embedded in my memory from watching as a six year old: Diana being put into a submarine's torpedo chute and Wonder Spinning her way out. Turns out the plot wasn't bad either, with a fifth columnist thrown into the mix.

    For all the silliness of some of these episodes - and there's silliness aplenty - it's actually Amazon Hot Wax that feels like the episode where the series did some serious shark jumping. It was one of the episodes where Diana went undercover with a fake name. This time she was disguised as a singer who was cutting a record. Which, of course, was all a flimsy excuse for Lynda Carter to show off her singing skills and promote her new album by singing a couple of the songs from it. It's by no means an awful episode, but it had "vanity project" written all over it to the point of making Beauty On Parade seem subtle. It's to the detriment of the series, of course. And perhaps quite telling that at this point in the run it doesn't seem to matter.
     
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  2. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh - and at the end of The Boy Who Knew Her Secret, Diana mentioned that she'd be in California on a more permanent basis within a month.

    I know that the next episode, The Man Who Could Not Die, was the last WW episode in production order and was intended to wrap up the season by setting up the new direction for Season Four with Diana's move to California and the new cast - sans Lyle. But somehow the Phantom episodes got shown last, even though it was still part of the older format. So I'm going to assume that The Boy Who Knew Her Secret was the penultimate episode by production count.

    The move did make a kind of sense given that she's headed to California in most of this season's episodes. That said, I did enjoy seeing lots of Washington landmarks from jaunty angles in A Date With Doomsday. It's a shame more episodes didn't do this.
     
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  3. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    THE MAN WHO COULD NOT DIE / THE PHANTOM OF THE ROLLER COASTER

    Yet another reboot with The Man Who Could Not Die. As mentioned earlier, this was the last episode filmed and was intended to set up the premise for the following season. Watching it makes me grateful the series ended when it did. While the series had certainly found its niche, it's been sad to see all the original elements being dropped one by one. With The Man Who Could Not Die yet more go out of the window. The Washington setting is gone and - even more crucially - so is Steve.

    Steve's diminishing role in the series has been much talked about. But it hasn't been as drastic as I remembered. He was still appearing in every episode for a scene or two. Granted he was mostly tied to the IADC where he'd interact mostly with IRAC and Rover (and sometimes even with Diana, on those occasions she deigned to show up). But he was still enough a part of this series to deserve a proper exit. It's sad to see how it was handled here. One episode he was there. The next he was gone with not a single mention. Diana had moved on.

    Adding insult to injury, Diana's move to California still saw her working for the IADC. She just reports to another man doing Steve's role. In place of IRAC we have a smart mouthed streetwise kid played by an actor named (oh dear god) James Bond III. In Rover's stead is a chimp.

    This series was never shy of jumping on trends, and the kid feels like an attempt to cash in on the popularity of Diff'rent Strokes. He's entertaining enough as a one-off, but it's not really what this series is about and would have got wearing on a regular basis. As for the chimp... well, he's certainly cute enough. But there's something very uncomfortable about the thought of an intelligent animal being held captive, trained to perform and placed under hot lights in an unnatural environment for long periods simply to give this show the comic relief it didn't need.

    Gone is Inglewood City Hall doubling for the now-iconic IADC building.

    I can't help but wonder what purpose this reboot served. Why drop everything that is so familiar simply to have variations on a theme?

    As previously mentioned, the move to California makes sense. It's all filmed there anyway and it's been quite unconvincing at times when doubling for Washington or (chortle) Heathrow.

    But most tellingly there's now a definite hierarchy. Lynda Carter is now the sole, undisputed star of the show and the only person shown on images in the titles. Everyone else is tertiary at best. I dare say it saved a bit of money. And bruised egos. All the co-stars now know their place.

    The addition of the invulnerable man feels like one of the many ways this series has started taking its cues from the Kenneth Johnson Bionic series. Several episodes in Season Three have featured Wonder Woman being shown in slow motion as she runs. It's partly, perhaps, a nod to jiggle TV, but also very much reminiscent of the way Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers would be seen to run. There have also been close-ups of WW's ear as she turns to listen to something. Again, this is shamelessly lifted straight from The Bionic Woman. Now onto the scene comes a man who has been enhanced into a superhero through science and chooses to join a government agency. He's basically Steve Austin. Add to the fact that he's teaming up with a woman who also has special abilities and it's basically the Bionic team ups. The invulnerable chimp (did I mention he was invulnerable though scientific enhancement?) is basically Maximillion the Bionic Dog. Oh - and the invulnerable guy seeing his new abilities as a curse and searching for a cure was very reminiscent of Johnson's Incredible Hulk series. I can't help wondering if there were spinoffs planned in the long term. Because it seems a sure thing they'd be fired from this series if they got too big.

    On the plus side, Diana's new residence is very nice. Certainly a step up from her apartment. But with true Warner frugality, Diana's apartment does indeed show up in the rebooted version. Redressed, it's now the invulnerable man's apartment.

    Diana being tied to her car in the garage is one of those scenes I clearly remember watching back in 1980. I'm fascinated by the stuff my selective memory remembers.

    The episode features what I believe is the only overt reference to another superhero in the entire series. Diana told the new superhero that he could make a fortune as "the Man Of Steel", to which he replied that he'd look terrible in a cape and tights.

    All in all, it's safe to say that not renewing the series put it out of its misery. Three seasons with perhaps half of the episodes being decent is just enough.



    It's gratifying that the final episodes aired in America were in the "classic" format and featured Washington, Steve Trevor and the good old IADC. I was even almost happy to see Rover. Steve actually got to leave the office in this episode. Ok, so he only went to another set (God forbid Lyle would be allowed to go on location at this point) but still, he got a change of scene and the chance to interact with Jared Martin.

    Speaking of which, Martin's dual role was enjoyable. There's a poignancy to watching these with him having died so recently. And it felt almost fitting for that reason that he had the final line the series aired.

    Diana's car crash at the end of the first part of Phantom is one of those fragments of memory from watching the first time round. One of my earliest experiences of a cliffhanger and having to wait until the next week to watch. Turns out it was a terrible cheat. According to everything we've seen in this series, Diana is not superhuman until she spins into Wonder Woman, and there's no way she could have escaped the car before the collision. Not the way it was filmed. I forgive them because they gave me a whole week of worrying intensely about Diana's fate, but anyone else would feel very cheated indeed.

    I was looking at the IMDb for air dates, and it seems Season Three was shown in a VERY random order in the UK. Episodes from earlier in the season were shown way after these three. I'll have to go through sometime and try to recreate the order I would have originally watched them in.
     
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  4. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Last night I completed my WW viewing with the remaining bonus features.

    Having rewatched the commentary for The New, Original Wonder Woman after Season One, last night I dived into Lynda Carter's audio commentary for My Teenage Idol Is Missing and the three featurettes - one per season.

    Carter's enthusiasm for the series shines through. While clearly not a hardcore comic book fan it's easy to see that she's explored the character a little beyond the TV show and mostly understands what makes her tick.

    I'd forgotten pretty much everything that was in these bonus features and found it interesting to find that Carter missed some of the more traditional elements of the comic - such as the Amazons - as the series evolved. I did remember that she preferred the series when it updated to the Seventies and that she disliked the invisible aeroplane.

    Carter did lose me with her take on feminism. She's many things, but - despite her claims - she doesn't appear to be a feminist. In a few of the features she mentioned feeling sad because Wonder Woman hasn't had the joy of becoming a mother (and, by implication, a wife). Still, you can't be all things to all people and overall it's good to see Carter giving input on what the Wonder Woman legend has come to mean to her.

    She spoke mostly in glowing terms about everyone she'd worked with - including Lyle Waggoner and Debra Winger, though in the commentary she did mention Winger's later complaints about working on the show (she put it down to Winger not being comfortable with the TV medium). Regarding Lyle, she actually mentioned that her one regret about working on the show was that she didn't get to spend much time with him, which seemed both sweet and surprising.

    Nice to see comic book staff associated with Wonder Woman talking about their passion not just for the character but for the Lynda Carter version. Phil Jimenez's geeking out over the series was particularly adorable.
     
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  5. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat Addict

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    I have no recollection of ever seeing this. I'll have to try to catch up with it sometime.
     
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  6. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It's an interesting taste of what we could have expected from a fourth season.

    I too had all but forgotten about it. Its placement as the third from last episode doesn't help in that regard. It's easy for it to go under the radar.
     
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  7. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Has anybody seen Lynda Carter lately? I saw her a few weeks ago on the new, dreadful MATCH GAME with Alec Baldwin, and she's turned into a little ol' redneck grandmaw!
     
  8. J. R.'s Piece

    J. R.'s Piece Soap Chat Addict

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    James Bond III?
    51WEiD1b2sL._SY445_.jpg 81VjSGS6hLL._SY679_.jpg
    The British Broadcasting Corporation used to repeat the crime-solving series called The Red Hand Gang, in which James Bond III was a regular, playing Doc. Doc was the only character who ever got an episode title with his name in it. And he got an "and" credit. The BBC showed it again and again over decades. I used to be able to do guest villain Anthony Zerbe's lines from memory. I charge for that service now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
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