WONDER WOMAN’s Best: A Look at the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman

Categories Film, Uncategorized
WONDER WOMAN’s Best: A Look at the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman
As Part of
Watchtower of Babel’s Seven Days of Wonder Woman Celebration, it’s time to take
a look at the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman series. 
The series was developed for Television by Stanley Ralph Ross (who also
wrote for the Adam West Batman
series and it shows) was produced by Love
Boat
Producer Douglas S Cramer (and it shows) and starred Lynda Carter
(duh!) and Lyle Waggoner (playing both Steve Trevor and Later Steve Trevor Jr
and we’ll get to that.)
A lot of parenthetical asides already, I need to ratchet back before this becomes “Tangent:
The Article.”
Anyway, this
series is not only probably as big on the American pop culture landscape as Star Trek or the previously mentioned
Batman and Love Boat but like the Adam West Batman or the Christopher Reeve
Superman has left a long lasting mark on the character.  For good and bad and in many of the same ways
as those two portrayals.  But I didn’t
come here to wax philosophical on the series as a whole.  Rather to discuss the best the series had to
offer.
I didn’t
take any sort of poll to determine the ratings of the series.  Rather I watched the whole thing (Starting back
in march) and picked the episodes I either enjoyed the most or came the closest
to showing what the series was all about. 
Nor are they in a ranked order, rather, these are in order of airing. So,
let’s get to it:

Season 1 episode 1:  “The New Original Wonder Woman”
Much like
the comic itself, our series begins in the early-World War 2 United States
where US Army Pilot Steve Trevor (Waggoner) is tasked with shooting down a
secret Nazi mission.  (That’s right
Disney, in the 1970s Nazis were still allowed to be villains as opposed to
being too evil even for the Red Skull) 
If you know Wonder Woman’s origin you can guess what happens next.  He washes up on the shores of Paradise Island
and is tended to by the Amazon Princess, Diana. (Carter) 
Diana is
first intrigued and perhaps smitten with the man and offers to return him to
America as he recovers but Queen Hippolyta (Cloris Leachman) forbids it as any
Amazon that leaves the Island may find she can never return.  Instead she holds a tournament whose champion
will return with Trevor.  Diana enters in
secret and wins then returns Trevor to the US.
This is
where things get fun as Wonder Woman is a classic a fish out of water in 1940s
Washington DC and more than a little amused by concepts like “money.”  After foiling a robbery and gaining the
attention of a showbiz promoter (and we later learn fifth column spy), she
tries her hand at fame to acquire the money needed to stay nearby and watch of
Steve.
Later she
foils a kidnapping plot and the Nazis second attempt at bombing the continental
US and takes on her secret identity of Diana Prince, Navy Petty Officer and
Steve’s secretary.  This episode is a ton
of fun, many of the Nazi are played to comedic affect and there’s a fight scene
between Wonder Woman and Nazi spy and “Third Reich Judo Champion,” Marcia (Stella
Stevens) that’s just silly (but charming) and everything’s resolved in under an
hour.  But like most pilots it does
enough to keep you coming back.

Season 1 Episode 3: “Fausta: The Nazi
Wonder Woman”
Just two
episode later the Nazis send in Fausta Grables, (Linda Day George) German
Olympic Athlete and Nazi officer to capture and bring Wonder Woman back to
Germany.
The Nazis
kidnap Steve and allow Wonder Woman to rescue her so Fausta can scout her
abilities.  They later manage to drug her
and use her lasso to subdue her and learn her abilities then take her back to
Germany.
Now it’s up
to Steve to sneak into Germany and stage a rescue for a change.  He sneaks over to England then is smuggled
into Germany but his contact is secretly a double-agent.  Fortunately his friends in Army Intelligence suspect
that and send someone to keep an eye on both and help.  Meanwhile, Fausta becomes disillusioned with
her cohorts and inadvertently helps Diana’s escape. 
Diana
returns to Washington and quickly learns that Steve has been captured to be
executed as a spy.  This means Diana has
to return to Germany and rescue her friend. 
This time the Nazi place her and Steve in a series of death traps.  Fausta helps them escape after seeing the
error of siding with the Reich and vows to help the German Underground.
This one’s a
bit silly and a bit preachy but it does a good job of establishing Steve and
Diana as a team on par with their comic counterparts.

Season 1 Episodes 5&6: “The Feminum Mystique”
Did you
forget I was a known cheater when it comes to lists?
That’s right
a two-parter and once again the Nazis are after secret but this time it’s for a
secret jet the Allies have designed.  The
jet is destroyed but the Allies plan to build another and the Nazi spies soon
have a new objective in Diana’s bracers. 
At the same time Diana’s sister, Drusilla (Deborah Winger) arrives to
ask her older sister to come back to Paradise Island.
Because of
her heritage, Drusilla is as powerful as Diana but she’s a bit more precocious
than her sister.  (There’s also an ice
cream joke which, knowing Geoff Johns, probably inspired her love of ice cream
in the New 52 years later.)  Diana also takes
the opportunity to teach her sister about America and justice of their cause.
The Nazis
capture Drusilla, mistaking her for Diana capture her and learn that her
bracers are made from a metal called “Feminum” and is found only on Paradise
Island.  They trick her into revealing
the location to them and plot an invasion. 
Diana must return to Paradise Island to help protect her home from the
Nazis.
After
stopping the Nazis from stealing the new prototype jet, Wonder Woman introduces
the world to Wonder Girl while Drusilla also poses as her teenaged sister and
shares a dance and ice cream with a guy her age (that looks a bit like Zack
Snyder.)
The
introduction is fun, and it’s not like they could be too comic compliant, after
all the original Wonder Girl was a time displaced younger Diana… (God comics
can get weird.)

Season 2 Episode 1: “The Return of Wonder
Woman”

Season two
leaves the forties behind in favor of “modern day” (and the ABC Network in
favor of CBS.  The time skip was to
reduce costs which were off-setting the high ratings the show was getting on
ABC.)  The show reintroduces us to Wonder
Woman and Steve Trevor Jr (still played by Waggoner.)  Trevor is a US Air Force veteran and is an
Agent for the CIA.
The plane
Trevor is on is sabotaged over the Devil’s Triangle (the same region his father
was shot down over) but unlike before, the Amazons are prepared and they land
the plane using a “magnetic field.” 
After determining what happened and that Steve is working to stop an
international terrorist group, Diana decides to return to man’s world at Steve’s
side.
The move
into the modern world changed the show to make it more of a Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman type show than a spy show (including the sound effects) and this feels like a bit of a
rehash but it is still a good episode to watch if you’re skipping through to
just get a feel for the show as it does establish the status quo to follow.
They try to
set Steve Jr’s relationship with Diana a bit apart from his fathers (the
producers even going so far as to write off the possibility of romance between
the two) but it’s still enjoyable.  Diana
is also far less of a fish out of water this time around, which is both a good
and a bad thing.  That type of this is a
fun way to poke at things we take for granted but it can only be fun for so
long.

Season 3 Episode 10: “Stolen Faces”
Hey,
remember when I mentioned The Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman?  Well by Season 3, the show was pretty much a
clone of those.  Stolen Faces is pretty
much a good example of this season.  By
this point Steve’s role had been reduced and things like a robot named “Rover”
had been introduced to increase the comedy. 
Diana was also doing things like skateboarding which has lead to this
GIF:

(Really the whole Show is pretty gif-tastic:)

In this
episode, Wonder Woman has to investigate a theater troupe that has been
manipulated into helping a thief steal millions of dollars in jewels.  It’s pretty standard television stuff.  The B-plot is one that the neighbor of one of
the would-be thieves is in love with her but she doesn’t know who he is.  (This is the 70s where a shy man not having
the courage to talk to his neighbor wouldn’t be treated like a serial rapist by
a television show.)
By this
point the show was having trouble staying on top of things which is why they
tried to pander instead of appeal but this episode is pretty good.
So what’s
the verdict?  This show really is the
spiritual sequel to the Adam West Batman. 
It’s silly and tongue in cheek and self-aware and even in Season One it
screams late 1970s.  But Lynda Carter is
just as charming as you would expect from the way people still revere this show
forty years later.  Lyle Waggoner does
really well considering he gets knocked out damn near every episode.   It’s very much a television product of its
time and should be judged as such. 
I’m not
going to tell you it holds up.  I have a nostalgic soft spot in my heart for this
but I think it can still be enjoyed today in the fun spirit it was intended to
be enjoyed… Just maybe stick with the first two seasons.
So this
wraps up my look back at the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman for Watchtower’s Seven Days of Wonder Woman Celebration.  Come
back tomorrow for more because I’ll be back with five possibilities for a
sequel for Wonder Woman.  Will this
cover:

Inspire
Wonder Woman 2?  I’ll guess we’ll see,
won’t we?
Just another guy on the internet.