Series Created by Stanley Ralph Ross based on the comic book characters created by William M. Marston
Starring Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner, Beatrice Colen, Richard Eastham
- All thirteen first season episodes plus the pilot movie
- Commentary on pilot episode by Carter and Executive Producer Douglas S. Cramer
- Featurette: “Beauty, Brawn, and Bulletproof Bracelets: A Wonder Woman Retrospective”
Released by: Warner Brothers.
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Rent it.
[ad#longpost]The call to defend liberty rang out during the Second World War. Ordinary men and women answered that call to fight the rampaging armies of the evil Axis Powers. Even those who were extraordinary answered. Yes, I’m talking about the Maiden of Might, the Amazing Amazon, Wonder Woman! She has left the safety and beauty of her secret home, Paradise Island, in order to kick some Nazi butt. Assuming the secret identity of Yeoman Diana Prince (Carter), she works for Major Steve Trevor (Waggoner) in Army Intelligence. But when trouble threatens, she spins into action with her great strength, bulletproof bracelets, and her magic lasso of truth. So spies, saboteurs, and schemers beware, because Wonder Woman is here.
It is rather simple to dismiss this show for its faults. And it does have many faults. Now you really can’t criticize the show for bad special effects since at that time FX for television sucked in general. However, I can’t understand why most actors in Hollywood at the time can’t do a decent German accent. You’d think that would be in an actor’s standard accent repertoire. The stories feature everything from manmade earthquakes, a trained Nazi gorilla, and even a rip-off of The Day the Earth Stood Still. If you want to be charitable, you could say these are meant to be evocative of the comic book stories in the Golden Age of Comics. If not, you could say it’s just very campy writing.
So why bother watching the show? One reason: Lynda Carter. Very rarely, as with Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes and Christopher Reeves as Superman, do you see such a perfect marriage of an actor and a role. In fact, her performance is reminiscent of the late Reeves. Both play the character honestly without any sort of irony or knowing wink to the audience. Wonder Woman, like Superman, is an icon and should be played straight.
Another similarity with Reeves’ performance is that Carter plays the superhero with humility. Since the other Amazons have roughly the same abilities as her, Diana doesn’t consider herself that special so she never acts like she’s the gods’ gift to humanity. This allows a lot more warmth and compassion to come through. So when she talks about sisterhood and the value of freedom and democracy, it doesn’t feel like she’s feeing you a line but it is a true and sincere conviction.
It also helps that she does a lot of the stunts, only relying on body doubles for the really daunting action. Of course…they could have taught her some fighting moves. No offense…but she fights like a girl. Something I noticed while watching the show is the preponderance of female villains Wonder Woman battles, from the spy mistress Baroness Von Gunther to Fausta, the Nazi Wonder Woman, to the trainer of that Nazi gorilla. Now admittedly, they have to do a few stupid things, they are villains, after all, but they’re not just for eye candy. You even get Wonder Girl, Wonder Woman’s kid sister, played by Debra Winger. They show that the show’s feminine imperative is more than just lip service. This is not Jiggle TV. Especially with that impressive corset Lynda Carter wears.
The features on this box set are somewhat spare. There is a documentary, “Beauty, Brawn, and Bulletproof Bracelets: A Wonder Woman Retrospective,” on how the show started, how Lynda got involved, how the various effects worked, and the impact the show has on people at the time. Nothing earth shattering, but informative and entertaining enough. Both Carter and one of the executive producers, Douglas S. Cramer, give commentary on the pilot episode that introduces Wonder Woman to the world. It’s always fun to hear stars that haven’t seen a show they’ve done in years rediscover it. More than once you hear Lynda go, “I forgot about this!” One fun fact we learn is that Cramer used the fight between Wonder Woman and the German spy Marcia as a basis between the classic catfight between Linda Evans and Joan Collins in Dynasty.
If you want to indulge in some better than average nostalgia, then rent Wonder Woman.