Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet: Yet Another Review Series

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Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet: Yet Another Review Series

Post by Disciple »

Yeah... I doubt this will surprise anyone who's been following along my last two review series.

As far as most people are concerned, Wonder Woman is the first (and greatest) super heroine, and the superheroine fetish crowd is really no exception. Her cultural weight and sex appeal are legendary, and while the '66 Batgirl technically predates her on that front, there was no doubting that it was this lovely lady who first stirred the feelings of many an adolescent boy (or girl) back in the 1970s and 80s.

So step on up, wipe your feet, and get your nostalgia cap ready as we travel back to the slightly-more-sober 1970s (and maybe beyond) to enjoy the trials and tribulations of Princess Diana of Paradise Island. Three seasons of star-spangled peril and power await, my friends!

(Watch this space for the first review, coming later today! Promise!)
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 0: The New Original Wonder Woman

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The New Original Wonder Woman
Original Airdate: November 7, 1975
Director: Leonard Horn
Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross
Supporting Cast: Red Buttons as Ashley Norman/Karl, Stella Stevens as Marcia, and Cloris Leachman as Queen Hippolyte
Yeah, apologies to any pedantics who wanted to see me tackle the Cathy Lee Crosby telefilm first, but I think we all know who 99% of the people reading this are here to see. I'll get to that one. Eventually. As soon as I've refilled my vodka stash.

Besides, this one's got Wonder Woman killing Nazis. What more could a superheroine lover want?

(If you're wondering about the funky title: the aforementioned CLC telefilm was apparently so horribly received that the people behind this one wanted to distance themselves from it as much as humanly possible. Good on them.)

We begin with a charming little 40s-era newsreel, filling us in on everything we need to know about World War II, circa 1975. Am I the only one who finds it pretty quaint how everyone still thought that Mussolini was as competent or bloodthirsty as Hitler or Imperial Japan were?

Still, the real highlight is at the end, where the magic of footage splicing makes FDR himself advocate Wondie as the only hope for freedom and democracy! Hell. Yeah.

This segues right into the iconic animated title sequence, a neat little carry-over from the '66 Batman (since a lot of the people behind that show worked on this one - some of you might remember how I considered Stanley Ralph Ross to be hands-down the best writer on Batman). While I daresay it's not quite as remembered as the Batman intro, at least it's got actual lyrics, and the cartoon characters slowly "melting" into their live-action counterparts actually hasn't aged that badly.

We're tossed right into the plot, and I gotta say, the explanation Ross came up with for why two Nazis in Berlin are doing all this exposition in English is pretty slick - someone in the Resistance might be listening in, after all. This Nazi mission is pretty straightforward: fly over to New York and bomb the hell out of a certain factory manufacturing a key Ally bombsight. But never fear - an infiltrator is here, and he leaks this info straight to the Allies.

Right off the bat, we can see that this is a lot darker and more serious than Batman, and in this environment, Ross's trademark humor actually works better. I mean, I can only imagine that the Ally infiltrator was blocking the projector every chance he got on purpose...

Over to Washington, D.C., where we meet half the show's regular cast: Major Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) and General Blankenship (John Randolph). Okay, anyone remotely familiar with the Wonder Woman mythos should know where this is going: Steve's going to take a solo flying mission that'll put him somewhere over the Atlantic. I kind of raise an eyebrow at the implication that The Whole War rests on this one operation, but hey - guess it's part and parcel with WWII dramas.

But gasp! Shock! Turns out that Steve's current secretary Marcia is a filthy Nazi turncoat! The ensuing scene at the Berlin Nazi base is another great balance of comedy and tension - sure, we might chuckle at the faces that the Ally infiltrator is making in front of his oblivious boss, but we also know full well that if he gets found out, he's getting a one-way ticket to the camps.

And back over with Steve... baww! I call foul! The Bermuda Triangle didn't start getting its reputation until after the war! Well, that notwithstanding, we can still enjoy a great dogfight...

... as long as you don't mind tons of badly-spliced archive footage mixed in with shots of the actors making the most constipated faces imaginable. With extra greenscreen, too! Okay, I get that this was probably the best they could do on a TV budget, but it's still a slog to get through. Anyhoo, Steve's opponent tags him with a couple bullets, but the real joke's on him - the sharks in these areas, you see, have a particular hankering for Nazi pilot today.

Meanwhile, Steve lands on an Uncharted Island (TM), where we meet the real star of the show, about fourteen minutes in. Yep - it's beauty queen, budding actress, and all-around sex symbol Lyyyyyynda Carter! Put your hands together, ladies and germs! I usually don't go for women - no matter how hot they are - in mundane clothing, but somehow, Carter just pulls that dress off like nobody's business.

Like in most early Wonder Woman stories, Paradise Island isn't that well-explained. We never learn why the Amazons all speak perfect American English, or - if no man has discovered the place in a thousand years - they can still identify a man on sight. Maybe they're all immortals? That would certainly fit in with certain takes on the WW mythos...

(By the way - I don't really like Leachman as the Queen. She's a little too manic instead of regal, like she should be hoarding cats and ventriloquist dummies in an old, dusty house somewhere instead of ruling over a mystical island of women. Diana haranguing her to be allowed to nurse Steve was cute, though.)

On the U.S., Steve is presumed dead, and the General and Marcia drink a toast to him. But in truth, he's alive and... ugghhh...

Geez, I know Paradise Island is kinda still in the bronze age, but don't they have normal blindfolds? Those things they put on Steve make it look like an amateur BDSM movie.

Yadda yadda, more Nazi exposition... and Diana's mother finally decides her daughter's had enough fun and pulls her off nursing duty. But, in a feat matched only by Disney princesses, Diana's fallen in love with a guy who's never even seen her face and wants to be the Amazon that takes him back to Man's World. The Queen keeps pussyblocking the hell out of her, going so far as to hold a tournament to determine who gets to take Steve back and specifically locking her out of it.

I don't even care if they barely disguise anything - those little masks the Amazons wear at the tournament are adorable. I know a lot of superheroine fetish enthusiasts have toyed with the idea of what Wonder Woman with a mask would be like (Mr. X's Ms. Americana character is probably the most famous), and this is probably the closest we'll get to seeing it in any official WW production.

Oh, the tournament itself? Your standard Ancient Greek Sports - riding, running, archery, etc. - only sadly missing the nude wrestling event. Bah.

We finally get to the most iconic part: Bullets and Bracelets. No, it's not really explained how or why the Amazons keep guns on Paradise Island (years after the fact, George Perez would give a pretty convoluted explanation in the comics), but it makes up for that by being really damn hardcore. I mean, they're shooting at each other, for Christ's sake, and I'm not sure whether they've invented the proper medical techniques for bullet extraction yet.

So some blond Amazon wins, and... dammit, dammit, dammit. I've seen this pilot at least three times and that scene still surprises me, even though I should know there was no way anyone except Diana could've won.

One commercial break later comes our first glimpse at Diana in full Wonder Woman regalia. I think I'll let Mr. Wolf handle the reaction for me.

(I don't know why they stuck in the skirt if Diana was going to take it off immediately, though. Maybe as a reference to the original Golden Age costume?)

Aww. It's Diana's mom who coins the term "Wonder Woman" here.

So Wonder Woman flies Steve back to the States in the third-best invisible jet a 1970s TV budget can buy, plops him off at the closest hospital, and generally freaks everyone out. Marcia finds out, and starts contacting her other Nazi buddies in the states lickety-split.

("[The woman who saved Steve Trevor] must be found and stopped"... from what? She's already dropped Steve off, and you don't even know what she's going to do next. Hell, wasn't Diana supposed to come right back home after returning Steve?)

Meanwhile, the show continues to emphasize just how different it is from Batman: Wondie's just strolling down the street with a big smile, and everyone is staring. This isn't the kind of world where people can just pop out of a window and hold a conversation with some nutjob in tights, or determine the fate of the Universe on a surfing contest - or at least, it won't be for another season or two.

(I've always had a soft spot for these fish-out-of-water superhero stories, so what can I say - I love it.)

Wait, so the Amazons literally have no conception of currency? Is Paradise Island so utopia-y that it's moved past capitalism altogether? Or does everyone just barter?

Ahh, never mind. A convenient bank robbery pops up just a few stores down so Wonder Woman can do what she does best. We get to see the first real fight scene and it's... not that bad. It's got a lot more weight to it than the zap-biff-pow fights of Batman, but some of the moves that Wondie uses just look awkward.

(Memorable Ross dialogue: "Me?! I never shot a woman before, 'cept in self-defense!")

After a bit of trouble with the cops, Wondie gets propositioned by Ashley Norman, a talent agent who looks weirdly like Major Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark. And man, I've still got a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that "Ashley" used to be a popular name for men. Anyways, after a bit of finagling, Diana pretty much agrees to do Bullets and Bracelets as a Vaudeville act.

Some more Nazi junk, and... oh, look at that, Steve's finally woken up. Diana wastes no time in dressing up as a nurse so she can stal... er, lovingly and platonically watch over Steve. Oh, and according to the General, if Steve doesn't recover soon America is screwed. Or something.

But never mind that, it's off to Wonder Woman's first vaudeville performance! And may I just say that Buttons is absolutely on fire here as 1940s showmen go? Oh, and a certain Nazi turncoat's in the audience, too, but it's a free country...

Tommy gun-toting Nazi grandma ahoy. Okay, maybe we should dial down those Second Amendment freedoms just a smidge...

Of course, Wonder Woman just tosses all those bullets aside like a boss. And I love that "Bitch, was that your best shot?" face she makes right after. Marcia, naturally, is horrified.

Heh. And who says Ross doesn't have range? He's just managed to inject an ounce of human dimension into a Nazi, for crying out loud.

Back to Wondie and Mr. Norman, whose gravy train has just run out. Seems that now Steve's been declared fine and dandy by the hospital, Diana considers her job done and is ready to leave (with her half of the money, of course). He tries to pull a gun on her, but of course gets his ass kicked (little bit of advice, dude: put the muzzle against her head, not beside it!).

Oh, and he's a Nazi double agent too. Spoiler.

More military talk, and apparently the new bomber the Nazis are flying over the Washington is so sooper-dooper that nothing the Allies have (except Steve Trevor) is a match for it. Steve's technically confined to bedrest, but some "bad connections" on the phone takes care of that quick enough. Sadly, he's still stupid enough to tell Marcia that he's leaving, giving the traitor enough time to set up a roadblock and capture him.

Good thing Wonder Woman's still stal... protecting him. The second she learns he's out, she's out, too. Here comes the iconic Transformation Spin, boys and girls!

... okay, not quite the iconic Spin. No flash of light or thunderclap yet, but I think I prefer this slow-mo one on certain factors. It does give us more time to appreciate Carter's fantastic body, after all.

Since Waggoner's contract isn't up yet, the Nazi collaborators drag him back to their hideout instead of just killing him. The excuse is good enough - they need him to get to the bombsight plans - but I seriously don't get what all the "take him back to Germany after the operation is over" stuff is about. Personally, I think Marcia's still sweet on the American pig.

Bonus: Steve gets high as a kite on the Nazis' truth serum. Well, this show was made in the '70s...

So Steve spits out the combination to the all-important safe with the plans, but good thing Wonder Woman shows up right when Marcia's stealing it. Marcia's gun is useless, but no worries - she was apparently Nuremberg judo champ back in the day!

Cue awesomely porntastic fight scene.

(I know that 90% of this fight is probably stuntwomen, but it's the imagination that counts. That said, it does get surprisingly brutal at certain points, and Marcia looks pretty scruffed up by the end.)

God damn it, that final blast of "Wonder Womaaannnnn!!!" gets me every time.

Wondie whips out her favorite toy, the Golden Lasso, and proceeds to take the Nazis' whole plan apart with one phone call. Her voice-imitating power came out of nowhere, I'll admit, but it's kinda neat. That done, she proceeds to torture Marcia with a feminism lecture before using the lasso's power to force Marcia to stay there. For all eternity. Or until the cops pick her up. Whichever comes first.

("Lasso of mind control", apparently, wasn't too skeevy for ABC. Hear that, you wimps at Warner Bros.?)

With Steve out of danger for the moment, Wondie gets the invisible jet and peacefully teaches the remaining Nazis the error of their wahahahaha. No. She just dive-bombs the new Nazi plane into a U-boat and kills the fuck out of all of them. 'cause they're Nazis.

... no, wait, wait, she left the head Nazi alive so they can pump him for info (I guess). Good for her. Now it's time to go bail Steve's ass out.

(I don't know what to make of Mr. Norman's face here - it's like he knows that shooting at Wonder Woman is useless, but he's contractually obligated to do it anyways.)

One quick fight scene later, Steve's back on his feet and learned a valuable lesson: don't trust pretty girls. And swell guy he is, the General's even gone and picked out the drabbest, dullest girl he could find to be his new secretary.

... well, screw you, General. That's your idea of "duller than a fat lapdog after dinner"? I've seen models less pretty than this "Yeoman Diana Prince", whoever she is...

(Seriously - I've always had a crush on both of Wonder Woman's identities. I had a thing for girls with glasses as a kid, and it's never really went away.)

Long story short: a pretty good intro to the world of '70s Wonder Woman, though not without the usual caveats and nitpicks. Carter was absolutely born to play the sexiest superheroine alive, and Waggoner and Randolph are serviceable, if less impressive, as the military men. The villains are fun, the humor's spot-on most of the time, and the action... ranges from above-average to kinda terrible. Music is, as expected, a real ear-worm.

Omega's Rating:

8-and-a-half Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
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Next time: The Third Reich is nothing if not adaptable, and it's got a Wonder Woman of its own already! Tune in for some more Amazonian girl-on-girl action! (No, not like that... probably.)
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet: Yet Another Review Series

Post by Visitor »

Great review as always.

If you look at what else the cast had done, almost everyone was a comic actor so they could keep a straight face while doing such silly stuff. Which probably cut down on retakes to keep it in budget. So plenty of sight and dialogue gags.

The skirt appeared in the first comic and lasted only slightly longer because the artists needed longer to convince the editors to change it than TV executives. The commentary track points this out.

Ashley has gone out of favor for a male name from the post Civil War days when Mitchell used it in Gone With the Wind.
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Re: Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet: Yet Another Review Series

Post by Disciple »

Visitor wrote:Great review as always.

If you look at what else the cast had done, almost everyone was a comic actor so they could keep a straight face while doing such silly stuff. Which probably cut down on retakes to keep it in budget. So plenty of sight and dialogue gags.

The skirt appeared in the first comic and lasted only slightly longer because the artists needed longer to convince the editors to change it than TV executives. The commentary track points this out.

Ashley has gone out of favor for a male name from the post Civil War days when Mitchell used it in Gone With the Wind.
Thank you very much, Sirrah.

I'm a young whippersnapper, so I'm not that read-up on '70s pop culture references, let alone '40s ones. I had to look up several of the names mentioned in this pilot.
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Re: Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet: Yet Another Review Series

Post by SGWriter »

Nice first one OW, looking forward to your looks at Fausta and Baroness episodes.
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 1: Fausta, the Nazi Wonder Woman

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 1, Episode 1: Fausta, the Nazi Wonder Woman
Original Airdate: April 28, 1976
Director: Barry Crane
Writer: Bruce Shelley and David Ketchum
Supporting Cast: Lynda Day George as Fraulein Fausta Grables and Christopher George as Rojak
So... cat's out of the bag, I suppose. I'm watching and reviewing these by production instead of airing order, mostly for continuity's sake. Apologies to those who wanted to see Baroness von Gunther - 'fraid you'll have to wait another day.

Our main baddie this time around is a lady - one who apparently swept the 1936 Olympics (you know, the ones that the Nazis hosted). My first impressions of Fraulein Grables are good; Lynda Day George is certainly a looker, and she can definitely speak with authority. The suspenders and tie are a welcome touch, too.

Fausta shows Nazi Boss #1 and Nazi Boss #2 a couple of clips from the pilot movie, and Nazi Boss #1 promptly blows them off as propaganda - everyone knows that there's no such thing as magic or Amazons! I can see that someone's not getting into the Thule Society...

So Fausta, the self-proclaimed "Nazi Wonder Woman", wants to get into the U.S. and kidnap Steve Trevor to use as bait, the Nazi bosses are not happy with being bossed around, yadda yadda yadda. Let's check in with our Yankee pals.

In an amazing coincidence, Fausta kidnaps Steve's sorry ass seconds after Diana leaves for the night. Take a shot, folks - this is the first time our good buddy Artificially-Induced Knockout (AIKO) shows up, and he's gonna stay awhile.

By the next morning, Diana finds Steve gone, and we're introduced to the fourth and final cast regular: Etta Candy (Beatrice Colen). Now, having gone and read a bunch of Golden Age Wonder Woman comics beforehand, I can say that Colen's take on Etta is a mere shadow of the comics version (who was basically Wonder Woman's overweight dominatrix Nazi-fighting sidekick... yes, really), but taken on her own merits she's adorable enough. 'sides, I think this is the first version who's part of the military instead of being a civilian.

Anyways, Fausta sets the trap, and Wonder Woman immediately jumps in with both feet (The Spin, sadly, is still in its primitive stages). Cue the standard abandoned warehouse, and WW whaling on a bunch of bit actors. The real ringleaders are safely hidden, so they can see her strength for themselves. Fausta actually isn't that impressed at first - apparently, she can also hurl grown men around like ragdolls - but then the Golden Lasso comes out and kneecaps the whole plan.

(Why did they hide Steve in the warehouse, anyhow? It's not like Wondy successfully finding him was part of the plan.)

Nice of WW to just let that last Nazi run away like that. Gold star.

So, our vile villains decide that getting the lasso is the key to Wonder Woman's downfall. And they plan to do that by... having Fraulein Grables dress up as Wonder Woman for... some... reason. Fuck it, two Wonder Women on-screen gives you a lot of license to take plot shortcuts, at least in my book.

Commercial break, and we go to a war bonds rally where "Wonder Woman" has decided to make a guest appearance. The mask is obviously there to hide Fausta's face, but I have to wonder if the showrunners threw in the cape so all the kids at home could tell the two Wonder Women apart more easily...

The real WW shows up a split-second later, also wearing a mask for some reason (where'd she find an identical one on such short notice?). She naturally shows up the impostor, who responds with Good German Sportsmanship like all Nazi spies do.

... what? Didn't you know that Good German Sportsmanship always involves trapdoors and chloroform? By the way, take another shot.

So the Nazi agent hidden below the stage drugs WW and uses her own lasso against her aaaand I'm holding this episode at least 75% responsible for the superheroine fetish genre today. Just look at those eyes Carter is making.

My, a KO and a carry? You spoil us, O Plot Gods.

Once again, Steve shows up seconds too late to see the love of his life getting kidnapped, but to his credit, he susses out the truth quickly enough and takes after the baddies in a commandeered taxi. Oh, and apparently he's standing up Harry Truman in the process, but fuck 'im.

(Why'd Steve bring Etta along, though? She's not even armed!)

One extraordinarily dull car chase later, Steve and Etta find themselves too late. WW's getting taken to Der Fatherland, and there's nothing they can do about it.

(Apparently, Steve's not armed, either. Moron.)

Steve wants to stage a rescue immediately, but his superior officer shoots him down - nobody's been able to penetrate the Nazis' coastal defense yet, and he's too valuable to lose. When the General orders him on vacation, Steve does just that.

And he hears Nazi Berlin is wonderful this time of year.

("That doesn't sound very restful!" indeed...)

Since there's no room for any secret-identity shenanigans (as delightful as that would've been), Steve nips that in the bud by sending Diana on vacation too. Without ever seeing her. Guess that's just how they rolled in the 1940s.

Another commercial break later, and WW is getting her first breath of that sweet German air. And man - I forgot to mention this before, but Bo Brundin is turning in quite a performance as the Nazi colonel. You can practically taste the contempt in every word he says to Fausta.

Meanwhile, Steve pulls a few strings in the OSS and gets himself a Berlin vacation, too. Oh, and spoiler alert - the guy he's meeting there is married to Lynda Day George. Also, he's another filthy Nazi turncoat.

Back to Wonder Woman and jeez, Fausta and the colonel are three seconds away from ripping each other's throats out. Poor Fausta just wants to help the Fatherland, but the colonel wants all interrogation credit to himself, and he has no time for fairy tales. It's possible that Wonder Woman is deliberately making her answers sound as stupid as possible here to discredit her own lasso, but I'm not quite sure that's such a good idea when the colonel's own interrogation methods will probably involve hot knives and cattle prods.

Over to Washington, D.C. for some Dramatic Irony (TM) before we return to see the Nazi colonel literally hand Wonder Woman her power belt. Because he doesn't think it has any actual power. Okay, on the one hand, this is entirely consistent with the character, but on the other... can we really call this a victory for Diana? I find it oddly unsatisfying.

(For those of you keeping track at home: this version of Wonder Woman doesn't need the belt around her waist to have superstrength. All she needs is to touch it.)

Good ol' Diana beats the shit out of every Nazi in the room, and chains Fraulein Grables to the interrogation table for good measure, presumably the showrunners' attempt to appease the spirit of William Moulton Marston. Meanwhile, Steve gets into a jam of his own with Rojak, but makes it out okay... with no help from WW whatsover.

Problem is... we've still got fifteen minutes left. Now what?

Oh, right. Wonder Woman steals a plane while Steve blunders into another trap. And these Nazis aren't fucking around any more - Rojak's shooting the motherfucker then and there. But surely he'll be saved by another Deus ex Wonder Woman, right?

Commercial break. To hours after the fact. Turns out Diana flew back to the States. Without Steve.

Ahh, well. C'est la vie. Now we need a new male lead, and I hear that that Adam West fellow may be interested...

... no, no, of course not. Against all odds, Steve has somehow stayed alive long enough for the Berlin Underground to get word over to the States. Also, I'd (try) to make a Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell pun here, but my mind is too busy trying to reconcile the previous point.

What the hell kind of War Department is this, anyhow? They'd hand out a few days off to someone with a stubbed toe!

Holy Jesus I'll never get used to the sight of Wonder Woman imitating a dude's voice. It's a neat talent and everything but something about it just feels... wrong. Anyways, it's back to Berlin in the Invisible Jet, and apparently - wait for it - it was Fraulein Grables' idea to keep Steve alive. So it's still a narrative cheat, but at least it makes sense internally now.

By the way - a touch I really like is that while the Nazi colonel is still a misogynistic, bad-tempered louse, he's not as keen to shoot down Fausta's suggestions this time around, at least not for the same reasons. While Wonder Woman's powers aren't touched on anymore, he does believe that there's no way Wonder Woman would come back for a "mere" major.

He's wrong, of course, because fuck the Nazis.

Really? Trash-compactor walls? Batman's childish enough to get away with it, but I kind of expect better from this show. And to no one's surprise, Wonder Woman sends them reeling back like a couple of yo-yos. After a seizuretastic explosion, Diana and Steve land in Deathtrap B: the electroshock well.

Fortunately, the Nazi colonel picks this exact moment to be such an ass that he decides to kill Fausta too. And, for the first time in this episode, Fausta shows us exactly why she's nicknamed the "Nazi Wonder Woman". Man, this suddenly switch in allegiances is cheesy as hell, but it doesn't bother me as much as it should. Dunno why.

All right, baddies all taken care of, Fausta pledges to join the Berlin Underground, and Steve stole a book containing the names of every Nazi double agent in the States on his way out, which means that he'll probably be court martial-proof for at least the rest of his life. Good guys go back to Washington, secret-ID joke, roll credits.

This episode's got a lot of individual elements to recommend, but I feel that the overall plot didn't hang together quite as well as the pilot movie's. Still, every superheroine lover ought to give it at least one watch, and the Fausta character certainly merited a return appearance. Alas, it was not to be.

Omega's Rating:

8 Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Now quick, tell me: how do I make you helpless and take you prisoner?"
"Now quick, tell me: how do I make you helpless and take you prisoner?"
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Next time: Another female baddie under Der Fuehrer's command, much more devious than Fraulein Grables, and the only immigrant from the comics, to boot! Be here.

NOTE: I have since learned that Fausta actually also appeared in the comics. I haven't read that story yet, but rest assured that I'll update these recaps accordingly when I do get around to it.
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 2: Wonder Woman Meets Baroness von Gunther

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 1, Episode 2: Wonder Woman Meets Baroness von Gunther
Original Airdate: April 21, 1976
Director: Barry Crane
Writer: Margaret Armen
Supporting Cast: Christine Belford as Baroness Paula von Gunther, Christian Juttner as Tommy, and Bradford Dillman as Arthur Deal, III
So... a little background. Baroness von Gunther was, I believe, Wonder Woman's first recurring foe in the comics, predating more well-known villains (aw, who am I kidding? Wonder Woman's rogues gallery has less recognition than Bruce Wayne's mailman) like the Cheetah, Ares, or Circe. While she started out as a standard Nazi Noblewoman that kept a spy ring/harem of slavegirls, I understand that after a few appearances, she was taken to Paradise Island and reformed (hopefully after many nights of kinky lesbian bondage sex) into a stalwart ally of justice and one of the Amazons' best scientists.

Let's see how much of that managed to seep through the S&P of 1976, shall we?

Huh. This is interesting. According to the General, this version of the Baroness is a spy ringleader who's already been exposed and thrown in jail, thanks to Steve. Only her spy ring seems to be reorganizing itself as of late. Hmmm...

Uh... not that I don't appreciate seeing Wonder Woman as much as possible, Diana, but do you really need to Change just to get a message over to Steve?

(By the way - the Federal jug that Von Gunther is in seems to be roughly on the same level as the Gotham State Pen, given how easily Nazi double agents can get on guard duty.)

Steve's running a wargame involving a truck hijacking, and it's kind of hilarious to see WW just stand there and be all Edward Cullen-y instead of doing any superheroing. But then things go horribly wrong, the guy in the truck... dies or something, and Steve proves so incompetent that he can't drive a truck off a five-foot ledge without needing Wonder Woman to come in and save his ass.

For extra points, the truck then explodes. That'll teach you to use archived footage as fuel...

Back in the General's office, it turns out that that truck wasn't a training truck, but one carrying new hi-tech rifles for the war effort. Everything points to sabotage... and J. Edgar Hoover's boys think that Steve is the one behind it. By the way, this is the first time in the series that Lyle Waggoner's really been called on to emote, and... he needs some work. He doesn't really look or sound like an outraged war hero so much as a teenager who's just been grounded.

(Parents still do that, right? Ground their kids?)

So Steve needs to go to a Senate hearing, and it's being headed by bigshot steel magnate Arthur Deal, to boot. To make things worse, Diana can't find the top-secret files that might give him an alibi.

(This is why you should spend more time secretary-ing than stalking Steve, Diana.)

Steve promptly gets a phone call from an Anonymous Informant (TM), who confesses to stealing the files and tells Steve that he has some real info on the sabotages. Now, to Steve's credit, he immediately tells Diana this, and okay, maybe he felt that no one else at the War Department would believe him anyways, hence why he goes to the meeting site alone despite that being a good idea roughly never.

Man, Diana really needs a car or a motorcycle or... y'know what, never mind. I'm totally okay with her jiggling... er, I mean jogging everywhere.

Our Mystery Villain's KO'ed Steve (take a shot) and set fire to the place, but Wondie gets him out right quick. One quick recuperation, and Steve's decided that the Baroness in Federal lockup may hold the key to the entire mystery. I dunno, man - Christine Belford's only listed as a guest star here, so she could well be just an innocent dope...

But never mind her, it's time to meet a real star:Tommy, the warden's son! Yes, this episode is the first (sadly not the last) to feature an annoying little kid as a co-protagonist. I'm not real hot on kid characters to begin with, but my first impressions with this little shit are not good, though his being a Sherlock Holmes fanboy is a cute and era-appropriate touch.

After his pa gives him the boot, Sherlock Junior goes snooping outside the place and (of course) instantly starts finding skeleton keys and secret tunnels that'll be vital to the plot later. Credit where credit is due, though - he's silent all throughout this part, which does give it a more Holmes-y touch.

Meanwhile, Steve and Diana visit the Baroness' cell, which looks better and roomier than half the apartments I've lived in. Despite not being blonde like the comics version, Belford does a decent job with this stock villain role, and her (fake) ruminations on prison have a bit of actual gravitas to them. I do wish, though, that the script was smart enough to make a joke about how Hitler and his pals came to power through a democracy.

Good ol' Diana then sees Sherlock Holmes' Dumber Brother (not to be confused with his Smarter Brother) climbing a rickety ladder outside, and goes to save his ass. Steve and the Baroness then proceed to talk smack about her behind her back, because fuck both of them. Lynda Carter could win Miss America dressed in a burqa.

Wow. Just wow. Steve recognizes the pattern on the Baroness' necklace as a key and he's still too stupid to follow up on it.

Anyways, WW gets the dumbass kid off the ladder. By the way, a dummy of Juttner is used for this scene, presumably because even if nothing had gone wrong, his classmates would've murdered him the next morning for getting that close to Lynda Carter.

Breaking news: Steve's interrogation of the Baroness gets him nowhere, and for some bizarre reason, Wonder Woman leaves Tommy in charge of her lasso. The excuse is seriously weak - what, you can't just tell Steve "Diana wasn't feeling well, so I took her home" to explain where she disappeared to?

Come night, Tommy is still spying on the bad guys, and not doing a half-bad job. Granted, the bad guys are making it really, really easy for him. Is that cloak supposed to be for stealth, Baroness? You look like you're cosplaying as Little Red Riding Hood.

Sudden shocking plot twist: Arthur Deal is another filthy Nazi turncoat. Le gasp!

In all seriousness - Dillman turns out what might be my favorite performance in this episode. His snooty high-society voice is a joy to listen to, and he turns it off real quick when he realizes that the plan to frame Steve isn't as airtight as it looks. The plan that he and the Baroness hatch isn't real original - abduct Steve, kill him, and leave his body at the next sabotage site - but the actors' expressions is what pulls it off.

Next morning finds Tommy just hanging out in the prison courtyard reading The Hound of the Baskervilles (objectively the best Sherlock Holmes story ever, according to science). The Baroness and her guard buddy stroll by and con the lasso's location out of him in a hot second, natch.

(Oh, and there's no shame in thinking that Sherlock was a real person, Tommy. 20% of Britain is right behind ya.)

Steve goes over to Deal's house for a pre-hearing hearing... thing, at which point the Baroness stops fucking around and has him taken at gunpoint. See, this is why you should always take your sidearm with you, Steve.

With Steve nicely bound and gagged, Deal phones the General and keeps heaping guilt on the poor guy, knowing that in a couple hours he'll be too dead to protest. Still, Diana gets wind of Steve's disappearance, and resolves to find him before tomorrow's hearing.

In a nice touch, Tommy learns all by himself that he dun fucked up keeping Wondie's lasso safe, but Juttner doesn't really pull a convincing "horrified" face here. Really, he looks more disappointed that the school's not serving pizza today. Oh, and for a moment there I thought the Nazis were going to use the lasso to mind-control Steve into the last bit of sabotage, but they just use it to prove they have Wonder Woman captive and threaten him into signing a confession, which admittedly makes more sense since no-one else seems to know its full powers.

(But I'm really not sure what good a signed confession is going to do to "prove" a saboteur's guilt, especially when the guy is supposed to be at large. Something like that should scream "frame-up" to anyone with a working brain.)

How convenient of you to leave out that it was your fault the lasso got stolen, Tommy. But I guess he sorta makes up for it, since he took down the plate number on the Baroness' getaway car. Wondie then sends him off to bed, and would you look at that, he actually looks like he's going to listen!

Well, we can't have that, now can we? Cue the Nazi-loyal guard popping up from the bushes with a "Why-Don't-You-Have-A-Seat-Over-There" face if I ever saw one.

The voice imitation is still creepy. But I just realized that it means technically, everyone in the cast will "play" Wonder Woman at one point or another, so good for them. Oh, and Deal seems dumb enough to use his personal, licensed car to pick up the Baroness, but that was only so they could spring a trap on Wonder Woman and capture her too.

God, this scene is just perfect. Dillman does his best Bond Villain here, and we get our second WW knockout for the season (take a shot). Granted, there's no long chloroform struggle here, but I think it makes up for that by giving us a better view of Diana being unconscious.

Meanwhile, Tommy gets busted by the corrupt guard, and finds himself chained up alongside Diana and Steve over at Arthur Deal's mansion. Apparently, killing a small child is just too much for these vile Nazis. That said, it is pretty slick of Tommy to leave his notebook behind for the other prison officials to find.

Alright, we've got just a little over five minutes left, so Tommy's dad figures out everything. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman immediately starts kicking Nazi ass the second they untie her (why? See the first sentence of this paragraph), and even Steve gets to join in on the fun. Naturally, the Baroness escapes, so it's time for our big boss fight...

... which is even more awesomely porntastic than the one in the pilot movie. Seriously, it's kinda like a mud wrestling match without the mud, and the camera angles make it look like they locked lips at least once or twice. But of course, all good things must come to an end, and Diana finally remembers that she's got a lasso.

Physics no worky that way, but what the hell. Any excuse to get hot women soaking wet is fine by me.

Wrap-up's predictable as can be. The Baroness, Arthur Deal, and the corrupt guard are all sent to jail, Tommy is vindicated, and Steve is cleared of all charges. Diana ruminates on how even Nazis are capable of redemption, roll credits.

A few standout performances in this episode, but the plot is roughly on the same level as the last episode (I will say, though, that I love it when the civilians start figuring things out for themselves instead of needing to be led by the hand). Tommy wasn't as annoying as I thought he'd be, but I'm not terribly torn up about the fact that he never returns. It's a tad more unfortunate that Baroness von Gunther never returns either, but such is life. 'sides, there's one reformed Nazi lady already.

Omega's Rating:

8 Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
Wonder Woman 02.jpg (140.22 KiB) Viewed 23150 times
Next time: More pretty girls galore as Diana goes undercover at that most harrowing of female spaces... a beauty pageant!
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 3: Beauty on Parade

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 1, Episode 3: Beauty on Parade
Original Airdate: October 13, 1976
Director: Richard Kinom
Writer: Ron Friedman
Supporting Cast: Dick van Patten as Jack Wood, Anne Francis as Lola Flynn, and Bobby Van as Monty Burns
This opening scene of a Nazi saboteur attaching dynamite to a truck should be one of the tensest scenes on the show, but I'm afraid I'm a tad too busy laughing at his "camouflage" helmet to be properly scared.

And besides, according to the General, he didn't even kill anyone. What in the hell, man.

The plot should probably sound familiar by now: Nazi agents are blowing up a bunch of sites important to the war effort, everyone's chewing their hankies, and no one knows how the hell they're getting past security. The General puts Steve in charge of safeguarding the next probable target: Fort Russell.

By the way, William Lanteau puts in a pretty decent performance as the fort's colonel. He looks and sounds every inch like someone with a huge stick up his ass, but the second that a bunch of pretty girls come onscreen, he slips into horndog mode without missing a beat. Yeah, the 15,000 men at the fort might all be screened, but the contestants in the Miss G.I. Dreamgirl contest most certainly aren't.

So there's not much of a mystery left for the older viewers, but let's play along anyhow. And enjoy those tight, tight T-shirts while we're at it.

The lucky dog hosting the whole beauty contest is none other than radio comedian Jack Wood, who I'm sure I'd find thrilling if I knew anything about '40s radio comics. Anyways, Steve and Diana figure that something stinks about the contest, so it's undercoverin' time.

Diana's not gorgeous enough to infiltrate the contest, huh, Steve? Funny, I don't remember anyone else on this show having a Miss World USA award under her belt. Do you?

One Gilligan Cut later, and Diana's put on a hideous blonde wig and enters the contest as "Diana Paradise". Man, I don't know if it's the wig or the resolution or her makeup or what, but Lynda Carter suddenly looks about ten times worse.

The other girls and Monty the piano guy are understandably miffed at Diana's last-minute entry, but Lola - the lady who's organizing the whole thing - has no problem with it. So... I guess this thing was volunteer-only, then? No tournaments or preliminaries or anything like that?

But in comes Jack Wood with the tiebreaking voice, and...

"If I [said what I want you to do], the draft board would say I'm old enough to fight!" Okay, I'm warming up to the old codger a little. By the way, I know nothing about dancing, so I'll just take everyone's word for it that Diana's dance is the best thing since sliced bread.

So Diana's in. After some we get force-fed Lola's backstory and some Subtle Social Commentary (TM) about the nature of beauty, we're introduced to Rita, Diana's main rival for the contest. God help her, Rita's actress is trying, but she doesn't sound anything close to threatening.

Welp, Steve's been left alone for more than five minutes, so it's time for him to get into a jam so Wonder Woman can come bail him out. At least this time Steve was smart enough to pack heat.

Because we're not even halfway through yet, the guys who tried to jump Steve don't know anything - some guy just paid them a bunch to take Steve out. WW shows off her muscle a little more, prompting Steve to make an exceptionally dumb wisecrack I'm not even going to recap.

And it's back to the War Department, where Steve finds Diana prepping for the beauty contest. Oh, "the transformation's incredible" all right - incredible at making Lynda Carter look halfway ugly. I guess it's commendable that Steve doesn't even try to talk her out of it, though the "Joan Crawford" crack is pretty close.

Diana goes back to the beauty contestants' dorm, where Rita is busy racking up more Queen Bitch points by hogging the shower and dishing out ninth-grade insults. 'course, Lola defuses it before any real catfighting starts, and then Jack shows up for some more zingers. Fun!

Alright, I'll admit that Jack's little stand-up routine with Diana is cute (I like it when they play up her naivety, as long as she doesn't look incompetent), and it does have a kinda-plot purpose. Jack's decided to make Diana his Lovely Assistant at the pre-contest magic show, which instantly lands Diana on Rita's shit-list. I know, you're dying from surprise.

Jesus, Rita got lucky. Diana would probably break her in half if that hit had actually landed.

Night falls, and... ahhh, there's the Lynda Carter we all know and love. Good thing, too - I think that wig was starting to make me go blind. We then get the iconic Spin - flash of light, thunderclap, everything. But somehow, no one else in the dorm wakes up. So either the thunderclap stuff is all in Diana's head or those girls are taking some heavy sleeping pills.

By the way, night suddenly turns into day the second that WW steps out the window. I'd make a joke here, but it's so thematically accurate that I won't bother. Oh, and Steve's been left alone for more than five minutes again, and even having his gun drawn this time can't save him from getting blackjacked (take a shot) and being put next to a bomb.

(Man, I just love how that saboteur runs off after he sets the bomb, and runs right the fuck back when he sees Wonder Woman. You have to see it to believe it.)

Steve gets saved again, the saboteur's bomb misses its mark, and Diana gets back to the dorm just in time to avoid some awkward questions and humiliate Rita. By the way, it's the half-hour mark, so here comes the obligatory Nazi turncoat reveal: Lola and her piano guy Monty. So what generic scheme do they have up their sleeves? Stealing a couple papers or blowing up some interchangeable doohick...



Seems they're going to assassinate Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Ladies and gentleman, Hitler's watch appears to have hit Not Fucking Around O'Clock.

In a pleasant turn, Diana's three co-stars figure this out themselves, thus cementing this show as one with more actual detective work than the one starring the World's Greatest Detective. Meanwhile, the beauty contest's about to begin and... yow. I love me some girls in top hats and fishnets.

At this point, the episode decides to throw all subtlety out the window and hammers in Monty's plan to murder Diana with all the subtlety of a 90s PSA. Lola suddenly grows a conscience and tries to stop him, but it's too late - Monty's goon squad is already in position to kill Ol' Ike, and all the nearby soldiers have been KO'ed with gas (take a shot).

The beauty contest kicks off, and one particular girl pulls a pretty eye-catching contortionist act. Pretty soon we get to Jack Wood's magic show, but what's this? Seems Rita has gone and stolen Diana's showgirl outfit, so now she gets to be Mr. Wood's assistant!

Oh, the rickety old P.A. hanging over her head? That's all hers, too.

(... I suppose now would be a bad time to mention that Rita's actress was murdered shortly after this episode was filmed?)

Lola realizes that the situation is now superdoubleplusungood, but Monty no longer has time for explanations and shoves her in a disappearing box. To the episode's credit, it does show that from his vantage point, he has no way of telling that it's not Diana's head he's going to be crushing... not that I think he'd lose a whole lot of sleep if he knew anyhow.

Alright, we've only got a few minutes before the episode's up, so WW leaps into action and catches the P.A. before it can splatter... the stage directly behind Rita. Seriously, that thing doesn't come anywhere near her head. Still, this is the only part where Bobby Van elevates his character beyond mere shtick - he sounds legitimately angry before he shifts into the all-part-of-the-show phase - so I can't ding it too badly.

Monty, seeing his murder attempt FUBAR'd, reasonably gets the hell out of dodge and heads for Argentina- oh, no, wait, he decides to go kill Eisenhower directly. Whatever the Nazis are paying him, it has to be good. Or maybe he's just got an ego the size of Jupiter.

All the parties - Steve, the General, Wonder Woman, the assassins, and Ike himself - collide on the same dirt road, and I have to say, I'm rather impressed that they bothered with an actor for young Eisenhower instead of just treating him as the Ghost. Steve warning him with a series of horn beeps in Morse is fairly neat, but he's unfortunately too late - the assassins trap everyone there and start opening fire...

... for about five seconds until Wonder Woman chases them off. Whatta bunch of pansies.

But Monty Burns is made of stronger stuff, and when he assassinates bigshot generals, he uses a fucking rocket launcher. Whatever respect he's earned is quickly lost, however, when he misses his first shot. At a target that can't be more than twenty feet away.

That said, this does lead into what is undoubtedly WW's most badass feat so far this season: when Monty hurls a second rocket, she grabs it with her bare hand and throws it back. Sure, it's done with the magic of reversed footage, but the idea's pure, undistilled awesome.

Resolution: bad guys all get caught, and Jack Wood bleats the whole story out to everyone within earshot. The beauty contest gives Wonder Woman first prize, Eisenhower himself wants to give her a special citation, Lola's (possibly) managed to dodge any heavy punishment, and the other contestants are no doubt already planning an untimely accident for the bitch who cut in line. In other words, a happy ending.

In short, this episode was a lot jokier than the previous ones, but that's not necessarily a good thing, and most of the one-liners (even Jack Wood's) miss as much as hit. And there's not much peril to be had, either. That said, I think the harmless fanservice of the beauty contest and the improved moments of competence from everyone in the cast are enough to make up for that.

Omega's Rating:

8 Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Ah, but what woman wouldn't? Wonder Woman is just too much."
"Ah, but what woman wouldn't? Wonder Woman is just too much."
Wonder Woman 03.jpg (144.03 KiB) Viewed 23102 times
Next time: the other Amazing Amazon you've all been waiting for! Wonder Girl (and lots of blathering about DC's Escherworthy continuity) is next!
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 4: The Feminum Mystique - Part I

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 1, Episode 4: The Feminum Mystique, Part I
Original Airdate: November 6, 1976
Director: Herb Wallerstein
Writers: Barbara Avedon, Barbara Corday, and Jimmy Sangster
Supporting Cast: Debra Winger as Drusilla/Wonder Girl, Caroyln Jones as Queen, Charles Frank as Peter Knight, and John Saxon as Captain Radl
Comic book fans today might bitch about DC or Marvel not caring about continuity, but they've got it easy - back in The Good Old Bad Old Days, there wasn't even an Internet to keep track of continuity with, and even encyclopedias like Who's Who or The Ultimate Guide were a relatively recent creation. In this sort of environment, writers were much, much freer to write whatever the hell they liked (within reason), and DC in particular had two writers who could not give a shit about what came before or after: Bob Haney and Robert Kanigher.

Now, this isn't to say they were bad writers - Kanigher created the likes Barry Allen, Black Canary, and Poison Ivy, while Haney created the Teen Titans and had a pretty long stint of crazy crossovers on The Brave and the Bold. But boy howdy, were they fond of throwing ideas at the wall and razing whatever didn't stick, and Kanigher especially used this in spades when he became the writer on Wonder Woman's title. One of his many nutty ideas was creating a "family" for Wonder Woman... that came from Wonder Woman's mom using a magic movie projector to make Wonder Woman team up with herself as a teenager and as a kid. "Wonder Girl" and "Wonder Tot" soon became staples in '60s Wonder Woman stories, to the point where Kanigher eventually stopped bringing up their convoluted origins.

Enter Bob Haney, who, not knowing said origins, cemented Wonder Girl as an independent character by making her a founding member of the Teen Titans. This resulted in a lot of snarls with her origins, and it's only gotten worse a dozen retcons later. To this day, Wonder Girl's continuity is the butt of so many jokes that DC themselves have started taking potshots at it.

What does the Wonder Girl in today's episode have to do with all this? Absolutely nothing. Ahahaha... no wait, come back! Please!

In all seriousness, it's not surprising that the showrunners wanted a sweeter, more naive sidekick to Wonder Woman with none of that baggage up there. And for me, at least, it's Debra Winger's take on Wonder Girl that remains the Wonder Girl for me. Let's see if her intro episode holds up, shall we?

For a change, it looks like we're not going to have any sudden Nazi turncoats. The episode begins with our two main baddies meeting on a beach, and they're soon off to steal a shiny new jet engine from the Allies. Good thing Diana and Steve are there to protect it. I think.

... okay, I know I've heard that music from somewhere, but damn if I can remember where. I want to say... the Apollo 11 launch?

As soon as the jet's rolled out, our Nazis roll in and fly off with it despite Wonder Woman's best efforts (real help there, everyone else). I scratch my head a little at WW just letting them fly off, since a later episode does show her being strong enough to hold down a plane in the middle of takeoff, but I'll let it slide. It doesn't make a difference anyhow, since the Allies were smart enough to put a self-destruct device on the thing.

But the Nazi still survives. Boo! Booo!

Oh, it turns out that blowing up the plane was actually part of the plan; the Allies already have designs for a newer, shinier jet engine, so the old one went boom to convince the Nazis to turn their attentions elsewhere. This sounds like a decent gambit on paper, but Lyle Waggoner's face reeks more of "I'm making this up as I go along" than anything.

Man, now the Nazis have park rangers on their side? As if I needed another reason to hate national parks...

So the remaining Nazi in the operation, Captain Radl, radios Berlin and tells them about the strange lady in colored underwear who kicked their asses. More important, though, are her bulletproof bracers - imagine what that metal could do for the Nazi war effort!

(Y'know, it's rather odd at this point that Steve or the General or someone hasn't talked to Wonder Woman about studying the metal in her bracers for the Allied war effort, but I guess it's a mighty convenient way of showing how the Allies are morally/technologically superior.)

Oop - fanservice levels are getting dangerously low, so it's off to Paradise Island for several plot-free moments of the Amazons just gettin' it on. Yes, I meant competing in perfectly wholesome, chaste athletics. What'd you think I meant?

(Kudos for the minimum of trick photography here - these girls may or may not have acting chops, but their skills are top-notch.)

And look at that - this version of Wonder Girl does respect her comics roots as a walking continuity error! In the pilot movie, the Queen said that Diana was her only kid, but now she's got a little sister? Man, either her memory's going or Diana's been away from Paradise Island longer than we thought.

Speaking of which, Carolyn Jones (some of you may remember her as Marsha, Queen of Diamonds on Batman, or Morticia Addams) puts in a much better performance as the Queen - regal but also warm and likable. And wow, I did not remember Drusilla being a little hellion, but apparently she totally is. Could you imagine her big sister plunging a snake down someone else's dress?

Anyways, the Queen's decided that Diana has dawdled in America long enough, and if she stays any longer she might (gasp!) start thinking in customary units. So Drusilla's been tasked with bringing her back to the island. This may be harder than it looks, since Diana is not only busy fighting Hitler's cronies, but has also finally made some progress in asking Steve out.

(Man, Diana and Etta's bromance in this scene is just awesome.)

Far be it from me to judge, Diana, but shouldn't you Change into Wonder Woman before you go into the apartment if you suspect there's a stranger in there? Ah, whatever - adorable sister reunions make up for almost anything. Also, this scene probably ground zero for Wonder Woman's current association with ice cream, so there's that.

That reminds me - what's with all this "heiress to the throne" stuff? The Queen's immortal like everyone else on the island, and she doesn't seem to have any health problems...

So Diana's not quite ready to go home yet, and she decides that she needs to convince Drusilla of how important the war effort is, so Drusilla can convince her mom of how important Wonder Woman's job is. It sounds solid, but this is still a family show, so it can't get too detailed on what makes the Nazis worse than, say, Genghis Khan or Napoleon or the zillion other tyrants who've popped up on Earth while the Amazons were blissfully unaware. Still, Debra Winger's cute enough to pull the sequence through, especially when Diana starts listing off what life in Man's World is like - it's refreshing to see them both a little condescending toward men, but not cruelly or angrily so.

Wait, Paradise Island literally has no word for teenager? Wow. Just wow.

Nighttime. Dinner with Steve and Peter Knight, the dude who built the jet. Standard material from a '70s sitcom - hacky but not unworkable. All that's missing is the laugh track.

Aw, sonuvabitch. So Peter's our Nazi turncoat. And for maximum cheap drama, Drusilla now has a crush on him. You were doing so well, episode!

Sadly, Diana doesn't seem to have realized that little sisters, much like cats, tend to wander off if you leave them alone too long. And wander Drusilla does, all the way to the soda shop. What better symbol of a good ol' 1940s childhood? I mean, I wasn't there, but Disney already did the heavy lifting for me.

Wait, they're turning her down for showing too much skin? What the hell kinda teen hangout is this? Aaaand now you've made her cry. Nice going, jackasses.

One shopping trip later, Dru's wardrobe is all 1940sified, and for extra fun, Diana assigns General Blankenship to be her babysitter. Cue awkward car ride. And kidnapping.

Captain Radl leaves Dru alone, apparently because her raising the alarm is all part of the plan. Sadly, they don't seem to realize that this isn't a time period when people are disposed to trust teenage girls making those kinds of claims. And you know what that means: it's Wonder Girlin' time.

I... guess it's commendable that they tried to address how the costume change needs more than just spinning, but it really comes off as more of an attempt at "See? See? Drusilla was there from the start! We totally didn't make her up as we went along!" Now, reports say that Debra Winger considered the Wonder Girl costume tacky, but I'm a guy with garbage taste anyhow, so I unabashedly love it.

What happens next, by the way, has already been immortalized by YouTube. For your convenience. Also, take a shot.

Diana and Steve track Dru down to the local ranger station, but they're too late. Nice of those Nazi spies to leave the General alive, too - I know he probably doesn't have any useful information to share anyways, but you'd think they'd either kill him or take him with them to cripple morale.

Over to the Nazis' other super-secret hideout, where the camera pans are hard at work kicking puberty into an entire generation. Captain Radl's boss wants absolute proof of this miracle bulletproof metal before he sends any more support, and the Captain's going to get it.

By shooting Drusilla.

It doesn't sound that scary on paper, but the tone in John Saxon's voice... brrr.

And that's where part one ends. Not really a patch on Batman's cliffhangers, but is anyone really expecting it to be? In my opinion, the real treat here is Saxon's performance as Radl, doubtless the most chilling Nazi we've seen so far in Season 1. That aside, the plot is about average, albeit brought up a notch by the adorableness that is Debra Winger - I can see why she was so popular with audiences back in 1976, and I'm already feeling sad that she'll only be in two episodes beyond this one.

Omega's Rating:

8-and-a-half Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Oh! Oh, gosh...!"
"Oh! Oh, gosh...!"
Wonder Woman 04.jpg (137.31 KiB) Viewed 23064 times
Next time: Will Wonder Girl survive? Will Diana and Steve get there in time? What other dastardly plans do the Nazis have up their sleeves? Tune in next time... same Wonder Time, Same Wonder Channel!
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Re: Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet: Yet Another Review Series

Post by SGWriter »

All good reviews OW, and quite funny. I like how you pointed out the fighting between Fausta and the Nazi Colonel. In real life actually the Nazis were that petty about certain things.
Yes Supergirl, that's right its a necklace for you....What's the matter you don't like Kryptonite?
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 5: The Feminum Mystique - Part II

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 1, Episode 5: The Feminum Mystique, Part II
Original Airdate: November 8, 1976
Director: Herb Wallerstein
Writers: Barbara Avedon, Barbara Corday, and Jimmy Sangster
Supporting Cast: Debra Winger as Drusilla/Wonder Girl, Caroyln Jones as Queen, Charles Frank as Peter Knight, and John Saxon as Captain Radl
When we last left our heroes, the lovely Wonder Girl was about to get drilled by the eeeevil Captain Radl, while Diana and Steve sit on the sidelines and eat nachos or something. Also, Wonder Woman's mother is actually her long-lost twin sister.

In all seriousness, the recap here is a lot... plainer than the ones in Batman. No breathless William Dozier here - just a few snippets of Lynda Carter's voice and a montage of clips from Part I. It's another sign of this show's maturity, I guess, but I'm not sure I like it.

While Diana and Steve still know fuck-all about where Drusilla is, the bad guys are busy experimenting on her bulletproof bracelets. Why they didn't just take them off and shoot at the bracelets alone is beyond me, but the whole gambit where they pretend Peter Knight is their captive and trick Drusilla into "protecting" him does end with another chloroforming, so I'll let it slide.

More plot-y stuff, and... well, I dunno why the Nazis expected a basement chemistry set to be any use for an unknown supermetal. Now, in Hitlerese, "dead end" just means "go torture some info out of our captive", but Peter Knight's confident enough in his "masculine charms" that he decides to seduce the bracelets' secrets out of Wonder Girl instead. I didn't really touch on this in the last recap, but Drusilla kinda got a crush on him at Diana's dinner party, and it looks like Peter's starting to put two and two together, which makes him undoubtedly the smartest bad guy so far this season.

Anyhoo, they paint a little blood on Peter and toss him in Drusilla's cell, and it works like a charm. Rather interesting that Wonder Girl doesn't really correct Peter when he calls her "Wonder Woman" - heck, I don't think she's ever called herself "Wonder Girl" so far.

First rule of Paradise Island: you do not talk about Paradise Island. Second rule: you do NOT talk about Paradise Island.

(Man, does the word "feminum" sound weird. It being the super-tough metal that Amazon bracelets are made out of, I wonder if it can stand up to Nilanium...)

Another point in the episode's favor - Wonder Girl doesn't directly tell them where Paradise Island is. Instead, Peter tricks her into a conversation about astronomy, and the other two Nazis use that to pinpoint the island's exact location in the Caribbean. I'm not sure this holds a lot of water in real life, but it's a startling display of competence from our villains.

One timeskip later, and the Nazis are all set to invade the shit out of Paradise Island. Good thing the Allies managed to pick up one of their radio conversations so that Diana knows.

(For anyone interested: Paradise Island's coordinates are apparently 32.22° N 64.47° W.)

Diana takes another well-deserved "vacation" back home, tearful mother/daughter reunion, blah blah blah... apparently Drusilla/the Nazis aren't here yet. Which means there's just enough time for the Amazons to set them up a welcoming party full of thunderstorms and sea monsters...

... oh, wait. This is still 1976, years before all the warrior society stuff (re)happened in the comics. While it is admirable that Diana won't just let the island roll over and surrender, the Queen is surprisingly blase about it all (even asking whether they can reason with the Nazis!). If anything, shouldn't she be the most militant about throwing them out?

And of course, Diana only takes a handful of other Amazons to protect the feminum mine, because the show doesn't have the budget for any more than that. At least WW's mom decides to join in after a moment's thought. Much to her daughter's dismay.

(Fighting the Nazis with your mom nagging you at every step could be comedy gold, but I doubt it'll reach its full potential here.)

This... is a pretty jarring commercial break (one minute Diana's patrolling the coast with her mom, the next she's in full WW regalia and scolding the other girls for not paying attention), but it does lead to the first scene where we get a sense of Diana's authority as Princess. Lynda Carter's quite the badass in this scene, even in the face of her Amazon sisters being as naive as a newborn.

Naive, but not weak. The second the stormtroopers show up, they're getting tossed around left and right. Heaven knows why they're not using their rifles (those bracelets won't do shit against the element of surprise), but the knockout gas (at least, I hope it's knockout gas) works well enough. Also, take another shot. A whole bunch of 'em, just to be safe.

Speaking of which, with Radl invading Paradise Island and Peter trying to steal the Allies' new jet down at the airfield (again), Wonder Girl's remaining captor guzzles down some Stupid Pills (TM) and walks into her cell with no weapon or backup whatsoever. Three seconds later, Dru's free and the guy's reproductive capabilities have been sent on permanent leave. Yay.

Huh. So saying that you're related to a military bigshot will instantly get MP's to take you into a big, important base. Makes sense.

The following scene between Steve and Drusilla is pretty nice - for once, Steve plays the reasonable authority figure instead of the buffoon or the damsel-in-distress. Drusilla concluding that Peter is a Nazi spy seems a little too quick for my liking, but the scene where Steve confronts Peter and Peter gives himself away feels natural enough to make up for it.

Afterward, Drusilla promptly flies home and waaaait a minute, didn't Diana just take the invisible plane home? Does every Amazon get her own invisible plane? If so, then Paradise Island confirmed for best monarchy ever.

Meanwhile, the Nazis have made short work of Paradise Island and shot all the inhabitants... no, wait, this is still a family show, so they make do by enslaving the Amazons instead. It seems a little strange that none of the soldiers seem even remotely excited by an island of hot women at their mercy, but seeing that would've been too creepy even for me, so point to the showrunners.

But enough about them - the Queen's speech to Diana about the nature of rulers and how her own life means nothing if her people aren't free is just that right balance of cheesy and touching. Brava to Ms. Carolyn Jones.

Captain Redl is still a creepy ass, in case anyone thinks that's changed - "Oh yeah, your other daughter's info was right on the money, so we killed her. Hope you don't mind." Oh, and after they've stripped the island of feminum, they plan to send the Amazons over to Berlin for "study and possible breeding". Jesus.

Good thing Wonder Girl shows up just in time to kick some Nazi ass and free her big sister. This whole scene is almost dialogue-less, which I appreciate, but I'd like it a lot more if Carter and Winger cut it out with those goofy faces. Anyways, Wonder Girl admits that this invasion is her fault, and Diana forgives her right after assigning her ten years' stable duty. Nah, I kid, I kid.

Also: there are literally only ten Nazis on the island. Back in Hitler's day, I think they sent more than that just to hold down a beer hall. And to add insult to injury, the Nazi guarding the mountain pass is so old/blind that he can't even tell the different between Diana and Drusilla.

So Diana gets her bracelets back, and Step 2 of Operation Get the Nazis Out turns out to be... a catfight. A catfight in the water, no less. The Nazi are gentlemanly enough to not get turned on by it, but they still have to go break it up, so it serves the same purpose. And while they're gone, Wonder Woman gets the rest of the bracelets back.

(There are so, so many lapses in tactics I could point out here, but if I listed them all here, this thing would be the length of a dictionary. Not even I like my writing that much.)

Wonder Woman re-bracelets the other Amazons, and they mop up the Nazis in a matter of seconds... but wait! They've forgotten about Captain Redl (aka the only one there who's actually got a brain), and he immediately makes them pay for that by holding the Queen hostage. Now this is a tense situation, which I'm sure will take the cleverest of solutions...

... or so we can dream, in a world where this episode had more runtime left. As things are, Diana just tosses her mother one of the feminum bracelets and now the Queen is suddenly insured against everything. Never mind that that thing isn't even big enough to cover her face, surely Captain Radl is close enough to punch or kick it out of her hands?

So... conclusion: the Queen forgives Dru for all her mistakes, and the Nazis get their minds wiped so they can be sold as slaves to Hephaestus for shiny new weapons and armor... oh wait, it's not the New 52 yet. No, they're just going to turn the mind-wiped Nazis over to the U.S. for internment. Buuut we've still got one more dangling plot thread: turns out Peter had another buddy at the airfield, and now he's going to steal the sooper-dooper top secret jet.

This looks like a job for the Wonder Duo, ladies and germs.

By the way, Steve's been left alone for too long again, so WHOMP and he's out like a light (take a shot). Oh, and someone really ought to look into a retirement plan for the General, if he can't even tell Steve apart from the Nazi who's taken his place (said Nazi's only "disguise" being a flight cap).

Remember how in the last recap, I mentioned a time when Wonder Woman managed to ground a plane just by holding on to it? Turns out it's this episode, so now the moment when she just let the plane take off in the last episode makes even less sense. Unless, I dunno, her mother gave her some newfangled super-strength potion while she was on Paradise Island?

I just love how no one gives a shit that the phony pilot jumps out and runs off after WW's stopped the plane. Sure, Diana knows that Wonder Girl's lying in wait, but you'd think the other army men would be more worried.

Man, I dunno why, but the part where the pilot runs into Wonder Girl feels like a horror movie. The cheesy grin on Debra Winger's face just makes it worse.

Actual conclusion: Drusilla comes back one more time to say goodbye, followed by a dance party ending worthy of DreamWorks. Good ol' Drusilla has cleaned out just about every flavor in the soda shop, and her "boyfriend's" pockets while she's at it. Diana looks almost as adorable, sharing ice cream with Steve.

This episode, once again, has got a lot of individual elements to recommend it, but I can't praise it wholeheartedly when I consider how weak the climax was. Debra Winger, though, is still adorable as Wonder Girl, John Saxon still plays the gold standard of Nazi villains, and I don't think Paradise Island ever appears in such a capacity from here on out, so if you're into that, definitely check this episode out sometime.

Omega's Rating:

7 Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
Wonder Woman 05.jpg (168.33 KiB) Viewed 23010 times
Next time: Hey, did you know that the U.S. used to produce two-dollar bills? Neither did I. Look out for double trouble as Wonder Woman confronts these dastardly dual dollars in a twice-told... erm... (searches thesaurus) tautology!
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 2 times in total.
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 6: The Last of the Two-Dollar Bills

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 1, Episode 6: The Last of the Two-Dollar Bills
Original Airdate: January 8, 1977
Director: Stuart Margolin
Writers: Paul Dubob and Gwen Bagni
Supporting Cast: James Olson as Wotan, David Cryer as Hank Miller (real & impostor), and Barbara Anderson as Maggie Robbins (real & impostor)
Before anyone asks: yes, two-dollar bills are absolutely real, and the stories of them not being accepted at businesses seem to be purely rumors.

We begin with some actual combat between the Allies and the Nazis, and you know what that means: lots and lots or archive footage. It's a damn sight prettier than the "battle" from the pilot movie, though, mainly because it's not intercut with footage of any actors.

Now for the real plot: the Nazis' top agent, a chap named Wotan, is headed for the United States. Diana sums the name up as a reference to "the German god of war", which isn't exactly accurate (my research says he's a Germanic counterpart to Odin from Norse myth), but whatever. Steve rather impressively figures out that the opening battle was just a decoy to smuggle Wotan ashore, but of course, Wonder Woman needs to take care of the parts that require punching.

(Steve, you're a barbarian for making Diana come out to the beach in secretary clothes. On the other hand, we do get to see Diana spinning her hair loose.)

Because you can't thwart stage one, Wotan gets away and commences his evil plan to... become a street photographer who charges 50 cents per picture. As fate would have it, Diana and Etta just happen to stop by.

You'd thinking that having piercing, unforgettable eyes would be a handicap for an agent whose greatest strength is anonymity, but I'm not in charge of a ruthless war machine, so what the hell do I know?

Okay, the real plan: Wotan's here to take pictures of Hank Miller (who works at a federal printinghouse) and his girlfriend Maggie so other Nazi spies can disguise themselves as those two. By the way, I find Wotan's riding crop in the following scene unspeakably creepy.

Now back to Washington, D.C. for a subplot worthy of the hackiest sitcoms: Diana trying to learn '40s slang. It's a cute enough scene, especially when Etta shows up and ties it back into the plot, but I could've really done without it. Anyways, Diana and Etta go down to the photography place because Wotan never gave them the prints (the fiend!), and several minutes later, Wonder Woman's found their next lead on Wotan.

(Badass WW feat of the day: bending a gun and then stopping a car with her bare hands.)

"You mean there's a place where they actually make money? Just make it?" Man, this "Diana is so sweet and naive" thing is coming back with a vengeance. Though I can't help but wonder if it's meant to be a piece of contemporary satire (Nixon turned U.S. money into fiat money for good in '71).

Awww. Steve and Wonder Woman's first date, and it's at a money printinghouse. I can't think of a more romantic place.

Meanwhile, Wotan's little disguised underlings are all ready to go. His plan's fairly impressive as Nazi plans on this show go - get his people inside the printinghouse, churn out billions of counterfeit two-dollar bills, and sink the Allied economy. The real-life Nazis actually tried this one, though it supposedly didn't get very far.

But never fear - the Allies have got a man of their own in Wotan's base. Actually, start fearing, because he gets busted shortly afterward and is presumably marched off to a gas chamber. More importantly, though, Washington now only has a three-word message to work with.

And now for some more of Diana playing Edward Cullen. And Diana waaackily misunderstanding American norms. Soon enough Steve runs off for the next plot point, leaving Diana alone to figure out what Wotan's up to. Such a clever girl.

Whoa. Never in my life have I wanted to be a two-dollar bill so badly.

Steve goes to see Wonder Woman (who's now wearing her cape and skirt for... some reason) at the printinghouse, and the date commences. This looks pretty elaborate for a set that's never going to be used again - wonder if the show got actual permission to go inside a mint or something.

A touch I really like - Hank and Maggie (the real ones) being huge fans of Wonder Woman. I've always liked these little moments that play up the "celebrity" side of superheroes. Also, I can barely imagine what an autograph from Wonder Woman would go for ten, twenty years down the line.

Once the tour's done, it only takes Diana three or four tries to get her idea through Steve's thick head. He runs off to tell the General, and soon they've started taking every precaution against a mass counterfeiting scheme...

But not quickly enough. The part where Hank and Maggie get swapped out with the disguised Nazi agents legitimately creeped me out - it's like a slightly cheaper version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and to be quite honest, Nazis might be more horrifying in the role than space aliens.

And for extra irony points, Hank's Secret Service bodyguards arrive right after the switch. Your tax dollars at work, folks.

Sadly for Wotan, his eyes betray him again when Diana just happens to go into the cafe he's currently undercovering at (for the record: Maggie is the owner, so her impostor is there too). And when he just hands her the menu that Wonder Woman had autographed for Maggie, our girl knows that something's up.

For a sec I thought that WW was going to pull a Clark Kent and go into the phone booth to Change, but I guess the writers wanted to be more original than that. This is followed by another disturbing-as-all-Hell voice imitation, and I'm not really sure why it's necessary - surely Steve would've come down and listened to anything Wonder Woman had to say?

But the next scene is a real delight: WW strides back into the cafe and toys with not-Maggie until the spy's told way too many lies to cover up. At this point, Wotan decides to stop fucking around - and the part where he just takes his mustache off is one of the funniest scenes in the episode. Good thing the cafe is empty now for some reason.

However, since we've still got 20 minutes to go, WW can't bring in the bad guys just yet. And there's a ready-made excuse, too - the real Hank and Maggie are still being held in the cafe's basement, and they'll be shot if she doesn't surrender (I just love how the guy guarding the cage doesn't hold his gun up until he sees her).

Thus stymied, WW reluctantly gives up her bracelets and gets in the cage too. She and Wotan exchange a few more words, and this would seriously make me consider Wotan for Most Badass Villain this season if it weren't for the fact that he's still dressed as a short-order cook. It's all about presentation, bud.

("I remember Genghis Khan and Napoleon"... geez, WW is old. And points to Hank, I guess, for trying to bargain his life so the two women can go free.)

Wonder Woman raises a good point, though: how is a guy disguised as a cook going to dispose of... oh God. Oh God no. You're not catering for the Donner Party, Wotan.

And then Steve shows up, and he's useless as usual. The Secret Service agent Washington sent to guard Hank Miller is doing a little better, though. Sure, the impostor's already got him tied up and stolen the $2 bill engraving plates, and dropped a bomb on his lap for good measure, but him tripping the spy up out of pure spite is awesome.

For a change, it looks like Steve's cluelessness is what's about to save the day, but Hank's double gets the engraving plates over to his buddies before Steve drags him off to a dental appointment (no, seriously). Plates in hand, Wotan then drives off, and the solo guy guarding WW's cage starts getting... interesting ideas.

In a show of truly astounding stupidity, the guy starts trying on Wonder Woman's bracelets and lets her help him fit them on. This goes as well as you'd expect, and - shouldn't all of Berlin's agents know by now that Wonder Woman's super-strong? Anyways, WW kicks his ass, and breaks his gun to boot.

Meanwhile, Hank's impostor's identity gets revealed by Steve... 's dentist. Apparently, it was a common stereotype during WWII that the Nazis used steel fillings for their teeth because gold & silver were so short. Long story short: Steve tricks the impostor into revealing the basement cage, fight ensues, Steve loses and gets his ass tossed inside. On the upside, he has learned about the Secret Service agent and the bomb.

So Steve can pick locks. Quick question: since Wonder Woman just broke that lock two scenes ago, why is it all a-okay now? Ah, whatever - for a change, we've got a split climax where Steve and WW face down separate challenges at places miles apart. Down at the beach, our four intrepid Nazis look to be on the cusp of escaping with those plates...

Quick! Only a never-before-seen action feature can save us now!

(Honestly, if this show hadn't been made back in the '70s, I would've bet anything that Wonder Woman's boomerang tiara was meant to be a cheesy accessory with her action figahahaha. Who am I kidding - toy executives these days would rather watch the world burn than put out a girl superhero.)

Meanwhile, Steve's busy fiddling with the bomb over at the printinghouse. Sadly, he's mere seconds too late to stop it exploding... no, no, of course he defuses it in time. I'd make a joke about how the bomb's time window doesn't seem consistent, but really, that's a thing with all bombs in movies and TV.

Conclusion: bad dudes in jail, the government's pulled the $2 bill from circulation, yadda yadda yadda lecture on how all women should be the best wonder women they can be. Roll credits.

Well, despite a rather inspired plot and genuinely threatening villain, this one kinda annoyed me. Both Steve and Etta seemed more annoying than usual, and I couldn't really cotton on to the story progression. The bits of Wonder Woman being a badass as usual are nice, though.

Omega's Rating:

7 Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
Whup... whup... whup...
Whup... whup... whup...
Wonder Woman 06.jpg (110.47 KiB) Viewed 22950 times
Next time: earthquakes, plagues, and atomic conspiracies - oh, my!
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet: Yet Another Review Series

Post by Visitor »

The $2 bill was discontinued and only brought back in 1976 for the Bicentennial. It's never really caught on because cash drawers don't have a slot for them.

However back before the 1987 stock market cash, Wall Street traders would go to the New York Federal Reserve cash windows and get bricks of $2 bills to spend over the weekend. I think it was mostly because it's fun to watch people when they get paid with them. Nobody really wants stacks of them, but they can't get refused as legal tender.
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 7: The Pluto File

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 1, Episode 7: The Pluto File
Original Airdate: December 25, 1976
Director: Herb Wallerstein
Writer: Herb Berman
Supporting Cast: Robert Reed as Sean "the Falcon" Fallon, Hayden Rork as Professor Warren, and Albert Stratton as Charles Benson
As far as the beginnings to episodes of a superhero show go, you can do a lot worse than just treat the audience to two minutes of explosions. The plot catches up quickly enough: Professor Warren and his assistant Charles are currently testing a newfangled earthquake-o-meter, which he swears up and down is meant to end earthquakes, not start them. Given that the War Department is funding the thing, I doubt that'll be the case, but let's humor the old man.

(There's a neat bit where the Professor taps into the powers of hindsight and rattles off a list of major future earthquakes. As far as I can tell, they're all accurate-ish.)

We then cut to an airport, where the Falcon, today's Irish baddie, gets detained by customs. Given that this show was produced smack in the middle of the Troubles, I can't imagine that was an accident, though it does match up with the show's setting fairly well. The Falcon manages to claim neutrality and slip away, but at least Washington knows he's in the country now.

The Falcon wastes no time infiltrating the research facility Professor Warren is working at, and worms his way into the professor's lab with that most reliable of tools: French fries and steak. Dammit, I got hungry just typing that.

... good thing the Professor's chalkboard is here to make my appetite hit rock bottom. Jesus, I'm getting Calc flashbacks already. I'M TOO YOUNG FOR THIS.

Some super-scary mercenary you are, Falcon. Can't even intimidate an old man into selling you his top-secret research when you've got a gun to his head. Ah, but I suppose it's how quickly they can pick themselves back up that truly makes a villain, and the Falcon does an admirable salvage job. Now with the almighty Pluto File in hand, Falcon's off to... presumably do some earthquake-related supervillainy. But since the professor survived his visit and he hates loose ends, he'll have to take care of the old guy first.

(This scene with Falcon sniping a bunch of fruit while his sidekick fanboys him is just a delight, and damn if I can figure out why.)

Now, this alone would make for a pretty effective plot, but the power that be decide to throw in another one: the Falcon's girlfriend has been found in a hospital with the Bubonic plague, and the list of people who could've infected her is very short indeed. Seriously, what the hell? I know that the plague's history doesn't begin or end with Medieval Europe, but by the 1940s it mostly happened in Asia if it happened at all. Wouldn't something like tuberculosis or polio have been more period-appropriate?

Oh, there's our explanation. The Falcon probably got it in India and spread it when he got to the states. Kudos for medical semi-accuracy.

For plot convenience, Diana volunteers to question the professor (unconscious since Falcon beat him up) alone. Since the old codger's still out, there's a weird little scene where Diana sweet-talks(?) him about the power to control earthquakes. If it's supposed to wake him up, then it's a miserable failure.

By the way, we've gone 15 minutes without any Wonder Woman action, which is probably a first. No need to fear - the Falcon and his sniper rifle are here!

After WW completely FUBAR's his assassination plan, the Falcon gets the hell out of there and promptly forgets about the whole thing to concentrate on his earthquake machine plan. Seriously, the scene right after this one is so disconnected that for a minute I thought it was another group of bad guys. No, not even Falcon's classy cigarette holder can really excuse it.

So, the plan: send a quake reeling through Washington, making sure it hits the White House, the Capitol, and a nuclear lab. Oh, and spoiler alert - the professor's assistant Charles is our Filthy Nazi Turncoat for the day.

(God, I kinda love how Falcon's little fanboy just lights up at the mention of dynamite.)

Meanwhile, the professor's been released from the hospital, and Diana and Steve swoop in for the inevitable interrogation. As is often the case with these things, they don't learn much from the professor (except that he has a man-crush on the Falcon too), but Charles seems to have an awful little cough...

Steve figures out Charles' real allegiances pretty quickly, but Stratton is sadly not up to the task of emoting any actual horror. Instead, he just runs like hell, at which point Wonder Woman lassos him in a hot second.

(Why Charles took the time to hide himself is beyond me, if he wasn't even going to try ambushing WW.)

Okay, now I'm starting to get why the plague element was necessary. So our heroes wouldn't learn Falcon's location too quickly. Doesn't mean I have to like it.

And now Falcon's spread the plague to his little helper, too. And... ew. Did people actually drink out of garage hoses back in the day? Looks like we've got another victim.

I'm not really feeling up to dissecting the "clever" references to America's atomic plans circa 1942, so MEANWHILE, IN AN UNSUSPECTING WASHINGTON, D.C. (the show's words, not mine), Steve and Diana get word about the kid at the garage falling to the plague. The two of them doctor up, and my I can't help but think that the kid's thinking "Go fuck yourself" when Steve asks how he feels. He looks like three different kinds of hell, Steve. How do you think he feels?

A short while later, Diana and Steve are off to the nuclear lab - the only thing in the garage's area that might be of interest to the Falcon - but tragically enough, the Falcon and his buddy have already planted explosives around the place and driven off. The set they use for the lab isn't a whole lot more convincing than the Bat-tomic reactor, but the deadly seriousness of all the actors present partly make up for that. Then Diana (and only Diana) goes outside and spins into Wonder Woman for... reasons.

Then the dynamite goes boom. The earth starts shaking. And we get the best nuclear meltdown effects that 1976 could buy. I have to admit - this little cliffhanger commercial break disturbed me more than the last six episodes combined.

Now, the lab doesn't explode immediately, but that's not of much comfort - the manmade quake has only started, and tremors are going to pop up for the next eight hours. Steve and the General (yes, he's here too for some reason) have to wrangle permission from FDR himself to try cooling down the core, while Wonder Woman runs off to get Professor Warren, the only man who might know how to stop the quake.

Small problem: the Falcon knows that too, and he's still aiming to kill the prof.

(For anyone who might be interested: Carter's take on Wonder Woman is enough of a TV genius to impress even experienced scientists.)

There's a bit of hoopla made about getting increased security around Professor Warren, but it's apparently still shitty enough for two guys with no support network to get through. Man, the part where the Falcon's rattling off the plan might be my favorite scene, just based off of how few shits he gives about how his partner looks dead on both feet. To the partner's credit (ah, to hell with it - his name is Frank), he doesn't complain once. You don't often see that much loyalty in a sidekick.

Frank runs across the yard and diverts the guards so the Falcon can get in, and does such a good job that even Wonder Woman (apparently the only security in the building) comes out. But sadly, his energy fails him right after, and he can't even lift his gun. The compassion and pity in Carter's voice as she goes to check his pulse is just incredible, by the by.

So all you have to do to get Lynda Carter standing around you 24/7 is be an accomplished seismologist. Welp, guessing who's changing his major to geology? Oh, and Falcon's in the building now.

Meanwhile, over at the nuclear lab, the core keeps throwing a tantrum and the coolant isn't doing a damn thing. Doomsday's looking imminent, and no-one's got the time to pack their bags.

Alright, there's only five minutes left, so it's time for the big showdown between Wonder Woman and the Falcon... which isn't really much of a showdown at all. The poor bugger finally succumbs to the plague himself, and just to make things worse, the quakes are getting bigger. Good sport she is, WW sits him down and gets him some water and oh are you kidding me...

Turns out all those advanced mathematics were for nothing. They just need to toss lots and lots of water onto the nuclear core to make it not go boom.

(Cheap as this resolution is, I do like how the Falcon's "professionalism" doesn't preclude some admiration for Wonder Woman and the professor. Nothing wrong with the occasional bad guy who's got a little depth.)

So there's no real climax to speak of - just a phone call to the boys at the nuclear lab and everything's a-okay (apparently, the quakes themselves aren't going to get that bad). All the plague victims are expected to recover, even the Falcon - and his allegiances are ultimately left up in the air. Cheesy platitude from Diana. Roll credits.

There are a lot of reasons why this episode shouldn't work (chief among them: the showrunners seem to be getting bored with WWII drama and have switched to doing a disaster B-movie instead - but really, everyone in the '70s had that on the brain). But when it does, it goes to heights none of the previous episodes really touched - the Falcon in particular is a classy, James Bond-like antagonist who I definitely would've liked to see more of, and Wonder Woman herself displays quite a few bits of heart-rending compassion. Even the Falcon's little helper seems somehow... deeper than the norm.

Omega's Rating:

6-and-a-half Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Is everything going to be all right, Professor?"
"Is everything going to be all right, Professor?"
Wonder Woman 07.jpg (134.24 KiB) Viewed 22797 times
Next time: killer gorillas. That is all. See ya there.
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 8: Wonder Woman vs. Gargantua

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 1, Episode 8: Wonder Woman vs. Gargantua
Original Airdate: December 18, 1976
Director: Charles R. Rondeau
Writers: David Ketchum and Tony DiMarco
Supporting Cast: Robert Loggia as Colonel Ackler, Gretchen Corbett as Erika Belgard, John Hillerman as Conrad Steigler, Tom Reese as Carl Mueller, and Mickey Morton as Gargantua
It's an old stereotype that comic books love their monkeys and apes, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before Wonder Woman included a killer ape of its own. Y'know, I can't help but wonder if it's an oblique reference to WW's comics foe Giganta, especially given how the ape is named "Gargantua" and has a hot female Nazi as a trainer, but maybe it's just a coincidence.

Anyways, the episode begins with Gargantua stalking WW through the best African jungle that ABC could afford, only it's not Wondie at all, but his trainer Erika. Seems the whole purpose of this was to train the gorilla into a lean, mean, Amazon-killin' machine. Last I checked, Wondie was strong enough to hold down a plane in the middle of takeoff, so unless that thing can also shoot lasers out of its eyes or something, I'm foreseeing her getting herself an ape-skin rug in the near future.

(I'm not going to rag on how hilarious the ape suit looks, since poor Mickey Morton had to wear the damn thing and didn't even get his name in the title sequence.)

Gargantua gets into the States fairly easily: circuses were all the rage back then, even during wartime. The jingle is pretty reminiscent of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, of all things, but I consider that a plus.

A reference to Pavlovian theory in a show like this? Never would've expected that.

Okay, so killing Wonder Woman with Gargantua is only part of the plan. Erika and her lackey Carl's main goal is to bust out Steigler, a Nazi agent who's defected to the Allies and is now singing like a bird. Given this setup, a reference to one of the show's previous baddies would've been nice, but I guess we can't have everything.

Meanwhile, Erika and Carl have met up with the third main baddie, Colonel Ackler. At least one person here is superfluous, but I guess it's just more people for Wonder Woman to beat up. They learn that Steigler is at a hotel with top-notch security, which of course means they'll crack it easy as an egg since this is still the first act.

I mean, there are MP's all around the hotel, but since they no doubt fear the wrath of PETA, they charge Gargantua instead of, y'know, shooting him. Our simian friend owns all of them in short order, gets into Steigler's room, and suddenly we're in a low-rent monster movie.

After a couple of "fight" scenes, Gargantua takes Steigler('s dummy) down the drainpipe. Mission accomplished, and the traitor's still alive. But Erika decides that this was too easy, so she wants to get Wonder Woman too before the U-boat arrives to take them back to Berlin. Why the two other Nazis (at least one of them ought to outrank her) go along with this is beyond me, but I guess they're just humoring her.

Wow, your pet ape beat up a cardboard cutout. Real impressive, kid.

Now, to the episode's credit, it doesn't really try making a "mystery" out of who kidnapped Steigler. Diana and Steve see the headline about Gargantua escaping from the circus, and even get an animal scientist over to confirm that it could be possible.

Man, I usually don't give a damn for heroes or villains rattling off PETA talking points, but the scientist making a monkey stop eating just by clapping is giving me serious flashbacks to real-life scientific shitheel Harry Harlow. Let's just move on, shall we?

After some quick detective work, our heroes determine that Steigler and his kidnappers are probably at an abandoned oil refinery. Diana and Etta rightly conclude that letting Steve go there alone is just asking for trouble, so Wonder Woman gets there before him. Just as the Nazis planned.

Now this is just getting silly. WW having bulletproof bracelets shouldn't mean she's immune to a sniper shot taken, say, at the back of her head. Buuut if you've got a killer gorilla, it seems a shame to not use it.

Okay, Diana? This is what you get for not taking out the Nazis as soon as they showed their faces. You had at least a minute before they held Steigler at gunpoint to force you into a deathmatch with the ape.

(Still, Diana's conversation with Erika on animal rights pretty much cements Erika as most Nazi-y Nazi on this show so far.)

To the villains' credit, they don't leave it all to Gargantua - one of them still has the rifle out, just in case. Still, the "deathmatch" is pretty disappointing when one guy can only present a threat because his opponent is more focused on calming him down than fighting. There's a couple scenes of Wonder Woman getting apehandled if you're into that sort of thing, but in a matter of minutes Steve crashes the party with two jeeps' worth of backup.

Erika's objects are overruled, and the Nazis bail. One of the MP's then shoots Gargantua (who's already outmatched against WW anyhow), pissing Wondie right off. We then get the obligatory scene where the good guys nurse Gargantua back to health, complete with handshake between WW and the ape, but what can I say - it sorta touched me.

Over to the Nazis, where Erika has become so psychotically obsessed with her pet project that she demands to recover Gargantua. But despite the sudden presence of a cigarette holder, she's still not classy enough to convince her buddies. They threaten to leave her behind... but then one of them goes with her anyways. Awww.

Sadly, they find that Gargantua's been deprogrammed of all his Nazi training, but Erika is one stubborn sadist, and drugs the poor fella before dragging him out. Boo! Hiss!

In other plot-convenient developments, the U-boats that's supposed to pick these three up has been delayed, giving Erika all the time in the world to sabotage their getaway ch... er, reprogram Gargantua to capture Wonder Woman again. Why she's so obsessed with this is understandable, but it's grating nonetheless, especially when it's a pretty shitty plan to begin with (see: woman who can stop a plane > killer gorilla).

The electro-torture with Gargantua is nowhere near as exciting as it sounds, though I did cheer a little when Gargantua broke free and smashed the whole machine before running off. Now our three Nazis are trapped in a vast, darkened warehouse with a killer ape on the loose. Fun!

Really, Steve? This one's too dangerous for Diana? Weren't you dragging her out to atomic testing sites last episode?

Anyways, Diana spins into Wonder Woman one last time, and what follows are some pleasantly sober homages to Batman, from the wall-climb to the window-smashing entry. The Nazis get their asses handed to them, and then Gargantua shows up... and pretty much gets the same thing. Not that he didn't give it the old college try, though.

(By the way - I haven't really gotten a chance to talk about him, but Steigler's shameless kissing up to both sides is one of the episode's highlights. His screaming to Wonder Woman that the Nazis are getting away is no exception, especially when he was swearing up and down that he didn't tell the Allies anything a few scenes ago.)

Cue a tender scene between woman and ape as the episode does its best to make us "awww". I can't speak for any of the kids in the audience, but I can't really stand stuff this cheesy without irony. And it just gets worse when Steve shows up with the backup.

Epilogue: Gargantua's been returned to the circus, and all seems well... except Wonder Woman decides that no, that's not good enough, so she's going to ape-nap him back to Africa. Back to freedom. Back to all those leopards and diseases and brutal Belgian colonizers (and what's to say a bunch of Nazis won't show up there again? The beginning of the episode even called the place "Nazi-occupied Africa"!).

Ah, what the hell. Gargantua doesn't seem to mind, and it is pretty hilarious to see WW commit what's indisputably a crime for the first time on the show. Not to mention her claiming Africa is "just like Paradise Island" when the only thing she can think of them having in common is the trees.

"It's just not like Diana to take time off," Steve? Looks like someone doesn't want to own up to the last couple episodes.

So. This episode has a lot of the weaknesses of the last one, with almost none of the redeeming traits. Erika is a rather poor successor to the Falcon, and the killer gorilla storyline simply had most of its potential murdered by the sentimentality. Despite all that, Mickey Morton does give a startlingly impressive job as Gargantua when all he's got to work with are the eyes. Just... try to pay no attention to the fact that no one in this episode really poses a threat to Wonder Woman, even for a moment.

Omega's Rating:

5-and-a-half Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"No! Don't shoot!"
"No! Don't shoot!"
Wonder Woman 08.jpg (133.12 KiB) Viewed 22686 times
Next time: What secrets lay within the fabled Formula 407? Find out tomorrow.
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Re: Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet: Yet Another Review Series

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Good old Dick Durock
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 9: Formula 407

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 1, Episode 9: Formula 407
Original Airdate: January 22, 1977
Director: Herb Wallerstein
Writers: Elroy Schwartz
Supporting Cast: Nehemiah Persoff as Professor Moreno, Marisa Pavan as Maria, and John Devlin as Major Keller
First impressions of this episode are that it's a semi-remake of "The Pluto File" - lots of explosions at the opening, a top-secret scientific experiment at the center of it all, etc. - but we'll see whether that bears out.

So the hook this time is that Diana and Steve are going off to Argentina (apparently Diana speaks fluent Spanish) to retrieve a special rubber formula from a quote-unquote neutral scientist. Of course, Argentina already having been stereotyped as Nazi paradise by the 1970s, I doubt this trip is going to be a smooth one.

(Personally, I'm wondering how it'll stack up to Disney's Saludos Amigos, but that's just me.)

To no one's surprise, the show didn't have the budget to actually film in Argentina, so all we've got is some archive footage and Latin-ish music to convince us.

"Where Nazis are concerned, how can one be neutral?" You go, Prof. Moreno. Oh, and he's got a lab assistant who smiles way too much for my liking, so I guess we've got our Filthy Nazi Turncoat for the day.

Etta, please lay off the 10-cent romance novels. You're scaring Diana.

This is how many throwaway Nazis they've named "Hans" now? Though he does get in one LOL-worthy line: "I bet if they were Nazi agents they'd arrive on time."

Our heroes get ambushed by a huge gang of Nazi... er, "Argentine peasants", but fortunately, Wonder Woman is there to chase them off. And then they just... let them go. Geez, even if there were too many to catch, you'd think they'd try to capture one so they could pump him for info.

So WW's literally never been to the movies in her life, and Steve vows to take her one day. Foreshadowing for the season finale? You be the judge.

After Diana changes back, our heroes arrive at Prof. Moreno's house for dinner, dressed like Cinderella and Prince Charming for some reason. By the way, this part is the only time Diana actually speaks Spanish, so enjoy all one-point-five seconds of it.

Extra sooper-dooper plot twist: the professor's assistant is actually engaged to today's main baddie, Major Keller. Also, the professor's got a young, vulnerable daughter. I can see the "FUTURE DAMSEL IN DISTRESS" stamped on her forehead already.

The dinner's a pretty dull scene, even with Major Keller spewing as much totally-not-a-Nazi dialogue as humanly possible. Though, I did chuckle a bit at one of the professor's other friends making the moves on Diana before she shuts him down like a boss. Oh, and Maria's made Keller promise that nobody's going to get hurt. Yeah, good luck with that.

Keller goes outside and does the best James Bond impression he can, which instantly deflates when he plays the "this Wonder Woman can't be THAT tough card" like a bunch of chumps we've known earlier. Dude, have you been living under a rock?

Okay, so this episode seems determined to play that old "Latin Lover" saw for all it's worth. Professor Moreno's daughter has the hots for Steve, and Diana's still getting pawed at by that other Latino. Just delightful.

Fortunately, the other Nazis are here to bring us back to the plot. They take Steve and the professor's daughter by surprise, and Wonder Woman does her best to help, but it seems these Nazis (unlike their leader) have read up on her one true weakness: chloroform!

Houston, I do believe I've found where the background image to Mr. X's story page came from. Yippee.

Morning comes, and Steve and Diana have been tossed in Professor Moreno's wine cellar. The old coot is absolutely clueless, not that it matters much - the Nazis were still too stupid to remove the belt, so all Wonder Woman needs to do is wake up to bust out.

Okay, I guess Steve's way is much funner than just punching through the door, but he still needs Wonder Woman to pull it off. Classic.

All sense of transition thrown out the window, the episode just cuts to Keller and Maria revealing their true colors and demanding the formula from Prof. Moreno. Even Keller saying "please" won't convince him, so Keller resorts to that classic cliche: do as I say or your daughter dies. Maria is shocked (SHOCKED!) that a Nazi would break his word, at which point Keller gives the professor one hour to come up with the formula. Or else.

(Nice of him to leave Maria unattended, though. Oh, by the way - the professor's daughter is in an old shack by the beach, if anyone cares.)

The scene between the professor and Maria is quite frankly painful to watch (the actors have the chemistry of moldy bread and the dialogue is even worse), but at least it's over quickly. Steve and Wonder Woman then contact the professor with bad news: they can't find his daughter anywhere in the house, and he's not strong enough to gamble her survival and not give the formula to the Nazis.

Wonder Woman goes off to have a slightly more successful heart-to-heart with Maria (come to think of it, I kinda dig Pavan's laughing-sad interpretation here), while Steve, bless him, keeps trying to convince the professor to not obey the Nazis. Fortunately, the professor agrees to cooperate right as the hour's up, and plans to give the Nazis a phony formula; Steve is to tail them when they leave.

In a twist that legitimately caught me off-guard, Keller immediately realizes that the formula is fake; seems that he was also a scientist in this field before being chosen for this mission, so he can tell what a genuine rubber formula looks like. Steve jumps in and tries to help, but he gets overpowered anyhow, so as usual, it's all up to Wonder Woman.

Since they haven't kicked enough dogs yet, the Nazis leave behind a guy to (presumably) burn the professor's whole house down. Maria then decides to be a total dumbass and sneak out of the house, necessitating WW to rescue her first. Let's just fast-forward to the other Nazis on the beach...

Well, this episode's turning out to be a weird little trove of source pics. For everyone's viewing pleasure.

So Steve largely takes care of Keller himself, but then Keller's backup - a bunch of frogmen armed with exploding flashlights (really) show up. The flashlights don't do much good against Wonder Woman (you're lucky she didn't throw them back, jackasses), but then they retreat back into the water and... Wonder Woman just lets them. What, did she just decide they're Aquaman's problem now?

Epilogue: a bunch of gossip and the episode's over. Thank God.

Well, it's no Saludos Amigos or even The Three Caballeros, and quite frankly I struggle to come up with anything to describe it. The whole episode just coasts along mediocrity, not really showing any genuinely fuck-yeah moments or laugh-out-loud campiness. Hell, aside from playing to a few tired old stereotypes for humor, the whole Latin American backdrop is largely superfluous. At least "The Pluto File" had a genuinely exciting piece of research at its center.

Omega's Rating:

5 Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
Wonder Woman 09.jpg (121.7 KiB) Viewed 22589 times
Next time: Wonder Woman meets The Day the Earth Stood Still. Kinda. See ya there.
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 10: Judgment From Outer Space - Part I

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 1, Episode 10: Judgment From Outer Space, Part I
Original Airdate: January 15, 1977
Director: Alan Crosland
Writer: Stephen Kandel
Supporting Cast: Tim O'Connor as Andros, Kurt Kaszner as General von Dreiberg, Janet MacLachlan as Sakri, and Scott Hylands as Paul Björnsen
Whoa. The title actually gets a narration box of its own? Now you know we've got a super-special-awesome episode on our hands.

Anyways, seems the showrunners wanted a taste of that sweet, sweet Star Trek fanbase, so a council of sufficiently-advanced aliens have gathered in the farthest reaches of outer space and decided that humans are too puny and sinful for their liking. The two most prominent ones are Andros, the Token Humanity Supporter, and Sakri, the one who's raring to sterilize 'em all.

(It's probably a matter of budget that none of these "aliens" have even Star Trek-level prosthetics, but I kinda like it. It adds a whole new layer of hypocrisy to their condemning humanity as inferior.)

Since Andros is so bent on sticking up for humanity, the other four send him down to Earth and give him the assignment of proving humanity's worth to the rest of them. The conditions are a bit... strange (he doesn't seem to have a time limit and he's supposed to render judgment anyways, but if he "refuses" they'll kill him too?), but they're the biggest stakes we've had this season, so I'm interested.

Andros' UFO touching down on Earth makes the weather go all screwy, for some reason, so the military is mobilized to see if the Nazis have perfected a new missile. All told, the UFO is way too puny to hold someone Andros' size (it's clearly a trapdoor on the set), but I'll play along with the implication that it's just some bigger-in-the-inside alien physics. And hey, at least they've got an excuse for Andros speaking English (and German): he's been monitoring them for about 3000 years now.

Unfortunately, Andros initially speaking in German gets him off on the wrong foot with our heroes, especially Steve's rather aggressive commander. Still, if all Andros wanted was to talk with FDR and Congress, what was stopping him from parking his UFO on Capitol Hill somewhere?

Of course, the asshole general doesn't believe Andros at first, but I'm fairly surprised by how little effort Andros puts into keeping his mission secret; you'd think his buddies back in space would complain that he's "tainting" the observation by directly telling humanity their survival rests on them not being assholes for five minutes. Then the army attacks, but Andros whips out his super-duper time-freezing powers and stops them dead.

(All the soldiers trying to stand really, really still when hit by Andros' powers is pretty hilarious. I'm usually not one for cheap special effects, but pausing the footage here would've highlighted how otherworldly Andros really is. Oh, and Diana goes and Spins into Wonder Woman for no goddamn reason, but she doesn't really do anything here, so no worries.)

So the soldiers are now convinced, but one asshole just has to throw a grenade at the mysterious stranger. Good thing for you all he did was let it blow up in his hands.

Now suitably scared out of his mind, the general arranges for a meeting with FDR tout suite.

But since this show still needs to have WWII trappings, the Nazis get wind of Andros through supposed reporter Paul Björnsen. His superior officer General von Dreiberg is probably what most people think of when they hear "Nazi general" - overweight, beady-eyed, and insanely optimistic about the Third Reich's chances, but that's not important right now. What is important is the Nazis think Andros is an alien scientist (the kind not from space) who's vital to the Allies' war effort, so he needs to be bagged right now.

And I do mean right now as in the very next scene. Now that's what I call German efficiency.

Steve and Wonder Woman fight off the attackers, while Paul jumps in and helps them, presumably so he can worm his way into their confidence. I'd make a remark on how Andros seems to be another of those absolute pacifists who hate all violence, but right now I'm too busy trying to figure out why WW once again lets the bad guys just run away.

Not long thereafter, Andros goes bleeding-heart liberal on everyone, and for good measure starts dropping anvil-sized hints that he knows Wonder Woman's secret ID. Oh, and he apparently met Lincoln once. Neat.

My God. His medallion can turn people into mimes. This sort of evil must be nipped in the bud.

So after Andros flies the coop, Steve and Diana are left trying to track him down. They're smart enough to tell Björnsen to hit the road even when they don't know his Nazi loyalties, not that that's going to do any good. The slimeball just starts buttering up General Blankenship instead.

Well, that was sweet of Steve. Giving Diana carte blanche on this case probably is the best idea.

It doesn't take Diana long to figure out where Andros went: the Lincoln Memorial. The bit where Andros discusses Lincoln with the other members of the council is top-notch in concept - he tries his best to avoid revealing how such a great man got assassinated, only admitting it when they press him. Good thing Wonder Woman shows up then and there.

Andros, obviously, has no intention of ending the war by giving his fabulous space-weaponry to either side, and Wonder Woman wisely says nothing about it. Prime Directive and all that, dontchaknow. He does, however, agree to take her as his guide to Earth.

(The special effects here are rather pathetic, since it keeps cutting to stock footage of Washington, D.C. every two seconds, but I suppose they get points for trying to have Andros bring on an eclipse.)

Poor, poor Etta. The only guy who wants to give her the time of day is a Nazi sleazebag who wants dirt on the Allies.

Cut to some time later, where Andros has gotten over his bitch-fit and is ready to demonstrate his powers again. Granted, whistling up a lightning storm to vaporize a shack is probably his most impressive trick so far, but was it really necessary? Oh wait no, he straight up tells them that if Earth doesn't cut out this world war thing he's going to kill them all (reluctantly), so I guess it had a point after all.

Now, this show doesn't bother with getting an actor for FDR, but as an artistic choice I kinda approve. Sure, the segued footage of the White House is as choppy as ever, but focusing solely on the other characters highlights the uncertainty and tension. Plus, I think that actually showing FDR interact with the first alien on Earth would be a little too much of a game-changer for a show as safe as this.

Since we've got an hour and a half of plot to go, things do not end up all sunshine and rainbows; instead, FDR acts realistically for a politician facing a guy who could vaporize him with a wiggle of the finger, and orders an anti-Andros squad to be formed immediately.

Wonder Woman then walks around with Andros and philosophizes a little more about his mission, and I gotta say, Carter and O'Connor have enough chemistry to carry what would otherwise be a very Mary-Sueish conversation. I was half-hoping that Paradise Island would show up again, but I guess there wasn't enough room in the budget.

Eventually, Diana returns to the War Department and realizes to her horror that Steve is supposed to lead the anti-Andros squad. What's this? Moral ambiguity? Genuine dissent? Steve acting like an actual military officer? Diana not smiling along and agreeing with him 100% of the time? My God, it's everything I've dreamt of...

... is what I want to say. But while it's an admirable concept, the military's plan to "deal with" Andros is a little too insubstantial for me to take seriously. That fellow there is almost a god - you're gonna need something stronger than a couple of jets to take him down before he takes you down.

We're getting close to the end, so the writers jack up the stakes even higher: Andros' buddies know that the government has soldiers tailing him, and if they kill him, the whole planet's going boom. I guess this is supposed to feel Andros putting his neck on the line as well (and it warmed my heart to see him still insist that humanity has hope), but nothing about Andros so far indicates he'd have any problem handling a bunch of soldiers.

Meanwhile, Björnsen's still stalking around trying to get the lowdown on Andros, but Diana keeps blowing him off like a boss. Sadly, all this hush-hush is for nothing, because Etta doesn't know how to keep a goddamn secret and now everyone knows that Andros is wandering around the Library of Congress.

Said Library, incidentally, looks to be roughly the size of my living room. I love how the government agent "tailing" Andros isn't even trying to hide himself.

Eventually, Björnsen and a couple other Nazis show up and try to kidnap Andros, but Wonder Woman gets there in time and beats them all senseless... but not before one of them rips off Andros' medallion. Okay, I can see where this is going.

(And Jesus, Diana! Did you have to smash four shelves' worth of priceless, probably-irreplaceable books? No wonder the space council wants to blow everyone up.)

It looks like Björnsen's done his homework, because he skips straight to the gas instead of wasting bullets on WW. Then the other aliens pop in, tell Andros that he was a moron for trusting humans, and take away his powers when he tries to play loopholes ("B-B-But they haven't killed me yet...").

Damn, Sakri. You are one cold mother.

I admit - I kind of choked up when I saw Wonder Woman being carted away on a stretcher, only to burst into laughter seconds later at General Blankenship's enormous CB. Seriously, did he borrow that thing from Andre the Giant? Anyways, WW's apparently in critical condition, so the rest of the army men have gone all-business - especially Steve.

Okay, it was probably too much to expect that Diana would stay down that long from the poison gas, and super-healing has been part of her powers in the comics for decades, but the tension really hit a fever pitch there and I wish it stayed a second longer. Still, next time we see WW, she's a-okay, and she's out in the woods a couple seconds later, searching for Andros' UFO so she can contact his "friends" and save Earth from going boom.

Thanks to the plot gods, Diana finds the UFO, and she manages to summon up enough Wonder Memory to realize that Andros opens it by whistling. But wait! Now the inner security system's gone off, and if she doesn't find the key to that, then Earth's going to go boom without the space council having to lift a finger...

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that this is the most ambitious story attempted this season, perhaps in the show's entire history. Planetary stakes, (good-faith efforts at) genuine moral conflict, and a fairly charismatic Character of the Day at the center of it all. Plus, Steve gets to be competent, which is never a minus. Sure, it gets preachy at parts, but this was the '70s. What'd you expect?

There's also the fact that it's got a legitimately thrilling cliffhanger that leaves anything Batman did in the dust. So there.

Omega's Rating:

8-and-a-half Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Careful. Careful!"
"Careful. Careful!"
Wonder Woman 10.jpg (170.92 KiB) Viewed 22514 times
Next time: Oh, dear. There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering kaboom. Let's see how it panned out, shall we?
Last edited by Disciple 6 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 11: Judgment From Outer Space - Part II

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 1, Episode 11: Judgment From Outer Space, Part II
Original Airdate: January 17, 1977
Director: Alan Crosland
Writer: Stephen Kandel
Supporting Cast: Tim O'Connor as Andros, Kurt Kaszner as General von Dreiberg, Janet MacLachlan as Sakri, Christopher Cary as Evan Mallory, and Scott Hylands as Paul Björnsen
I see that we're not going to spring for a better "last time on" sequence than the previous two-parter, but whatever. All I'm hoping for is something in the general vicinity of last episode's quality...

Okay, so Wonder Woman setting off the UFO's security system hasn't blown up Earth (yet). It's just trapped her in a force field. Carter miming her way around is very, very silly to watch, and I kinda wish they'd gotten a sheet of glass or at least put in a sound effect or two.

Meanwhile, Andros is getting taken aboard a U-boat by the Nazis, but the military men seem to have that well in hand. More importantly, how's Diana... oh, come on. That's the same solution you used last episode!

Well, lazy solutions notwithstanding, Wonder Woman finds Andros' video phone (conveniently one-way so she can't see Andros' buddies) and begs them to understand that not all humans are beyond redemption, and some are mobilizing to save Andros right now. The council decides to... change the stakes (I'm not sure whether it's strictly upping them): if Andros gets back to his UFO in one piece, they'll deem humanity worth sparing.

(Sakri continues to be a cold, cold mother, by the way.)

No worries. I'm sure the U.S. Army will find Andros in a matter of... Jesus Christ, they've come up empty for two weeks?! I'm surprised Andros' buddies decided to wait that long before frying Earth.

A stroke of luck - Churchill's people have determined that Andros is being taken to an interrogation chamber in Germany, so looks like it's back to Berlin for Steve and Diana. Steve's guide around Germany this time will be the English-hating Welshman Evan Mallory, who will hopefully be less traitor-y than the last one was. By the way, I swear all the establishing shots of London were stolen straight from Batman's Londinium episodes.

(The Nazis seem to be treating Andros much more civilly than the Americans did - I'm hoping that's just irony on the writers' part.)

Meanwhile, Steve gets a fake ID as a Nazi soldier, and the scene where he and Mallory wisecrack about how they're both dead if the real soldier comes back from the Eastern Front might be my favorite Steve moment of all time. No lie. Oh, and the dinner party that the Nazis hold for Andros is pretty dang creepy, even if none of them actually believe that he's an alien.

On the one hand, Andros' powers are still kaput, so he couldn't demonstrated anything if he wanted. On the others Andros' medallion is still in the hands of the Nazi scientists. I shudder to think of what would happen if they unlocked 1% of its power.

After Björnsen and von Dreiberg get nowhere, they decide to send a random girl to get Andros drunk (and presumably, into his pants). Gentleman he is, Andros shuts her down right quick and drives her out crying by... creeping in on her memories, apparently. At this point, his only friend on the council shows up and offers him a chance to escape before they kill all humans, but he refuses.

(This should seem cheesy enough to supply an entire chain of pizza parlors, but there's something gentle and grandfatherly about Tim O'Connor that just makes it work. For me, at least.)

Come the next morning (I think), Andros is getting to know the finer details of Nazi culture, but Wonder Woman crashes the party like a motherfucker. Seriously, that shot of her smashing down the door and the two huge thugs guarding it is my new favorite WW feat.

Wonder Woman tries to rescue Andros, but he refuses - he came to Earth to interact with all its leaders, not just America's. At this point, Björnsen jumps ahead roughly a hundred points in my book by de-belting Wonder Woman - the first to do so since Fausta, ten episodes ago. Geez, you'd think that if the Nazis knew that all along, more of them would've tried it in previous episodes.

(Just try to ignore the sound of Velcro as the belt comes loose, 'kay?)

The Nazis take both Andros and Wonder Woman away, and we come to another rather interesting sequence where Björnsen, General von Dreiberg, and a scientist debate what to do with them. It doesn't speak well of these guys that Björnsen turns out to be more open-minded and progressive than the scientist, and the general is the neutral party.

(I just love Hyland's laugh as he points at the broken doors.)

Meanwhile, down in WW and Andros' "special" suite... "Americans don't make arbitrary arrests." Ha. Ha. Ha ha ha.

It's a good change to see Carter be called on to exhibit something other than bland heroism or unconscious helplessness, but I'm not certain that a WWII setting is the best place to experiment with moral dilemmas. WWI might've made a better choice...

(Oh, and Steve and Mallory have made it into Berlin safe and sound. For now. Man, Steve looks creepy in an SS uniform like that.)

Eventually, the Nazis take both WW and Andros and demand to know the secret of their respective doohickeys. Björnsen's "scientist" buddy is still an ass, but given the chance, Andros launches into a standard atomic-weapons-are-bad speech (albeit with a bit more bite to it than was common at the '70s), concluding that if humans can't overcome their emotional primitivism, everyone's going to die in atomic hellfire.

(Either by chance or by design, he's conveniently left out the part that the council was actually worried about: humans gaining space travel in addition to atomic secrets. Intriguing.)

We're in the third act now, so it's time for something to go wrong. Steve and Mallory have gotten their IDs busted by a chain of events too convoluted to be worth recapping - the important thing is that all four of our heroes are now totally at the Nazis' mercy.

Perhaps tasting victory well at hand, Björnsen drops the nice act and demands that Andros give the Nazis something related to atomic weaponry - and no, he doesn't believe the whole space-alien story any more than his buddies did.

(Hylands going completely bugfuck crazy here might lack subtlety, but it's very reminiscent of Gorshin's Riddler, which is never a bad thing in my book.)

I'm... just gonna ignore Steve's line about having nightmares like this. Yuck.

"DO NOT CONFUSE HEROISM WITH STUPIDITY, MAJOR!" Heh. At this point Björnsen might well be my favorite bad guy on this show.

And again, the Nazi scientists try to make our heroes give up their secrets. When they run into another dead end, Björnsen resorts to making Andros watch while Wonder Woman gets tortured. This is what finally convinces Andros that the Allies are better than the Nazis and humanity is worth saving, and... well, things get a little weird at this point. Weirder than before, I mean.

Let's see if I can lay it out in a way that makes sense: Andros' buddies pop up, Andros panics like Hell, and... Wonder Woman just grabs her belt and puts it back on. Then she grabs Andros' thingy and... cuts off communication with the space council, I guess? Oh, and I guess the writers meant for all the Nazis to be frozen in place by the aliens' tech, but I find it much funnier to imagine that they're just stunned because none of this was in the episode's script.

So Wonder Woman and Andros escape, make a few googly eyes at each other, and WW promises she'll get Andros back to his ship alive (or everyone on Earth is gon' die). Meanwhile, Steve and Mallory make a slightly less dignified escape (the Nazis couldn't even remember which door leads to the prisoners' cell?), but it's all good. Now watch and be thrilled as as villains chase heroes through the same two or three sets over and over and over again.

That said, Wonder Woman bending two doors into an unbreakable wall is a pretty neat trick.

And to top it all off, that girl Andros sent crying last night? Now she's in love with him enough to help the heroes escape (at least she admits she doesn't really care if the rest of them die). And then our heroes struggle for a couple minutes with a single lock (damn that German craftsmanship), which Andros uses as an opportunity to beg for his powers back (and humanity's worth) from his friends. Since there's only a few minutes left in the episode, they agree.

Conclusion: everyone makes it back to the U.S. in one piece, and Earth is spared. For now (Andros explicitly says that humankind has been granted 50 years). I dunno what the hell "the disease of racial childhood" is supposed to be, but who cares? Now we can get back to punching Hitler's buddies.

Awww. Andros wants his new crush to come traveling the stars with him. Sorry, pal, but WW's schedule for the next three years is filled up with Hitler-punching. Like a real gentleman, he backs off and promises to renew the offer in 1992. And while that episode might be interesting, history has shown that outer space and Wonder Woman don't exactly mix well.

Jesus. I don't know why, but Diana's "loved and lost" look is creepy as fuck. Maybe it's the glasses, or maybe it's how she doesn't even react to Etta the first few times. Good thing she gets over it quickly enough.

... I don't know about you all, but I'm incredibly glad that the Andros/Steve/Wonder Woman love triangle wasn't hammered in as much as it could've been. I find love triangles as a whole rather obnoxious, especially when shoehorned into superhero stories.

So, in conclusion... it's not as strong as Part I and it's riddled with contrivances, but I honestly don't know if anything could've delivered on what Part I promised. It's still an above-average episode of Wonder Woman, though, and O'Connor and Hylands alone make it worth at least one watch.

Omega's Rating:

7-and-a-half Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Björnsen! You brought me here by force. But I will stay of my own will and necessity if you do not harm Wonder Woman."
"Björnsen! You brought me here by force. But I will stay of my own will and necessity if you do not harm Wonder Woman."
Wonder Woman 11.jpg (117.09 KiB) Viewed 22485 times
Next time: How do you follow up a two-part epic about aliens, moral dilemmas, and the destruction of the Earth? Why, with cowboy sing-a-longs, of course! Roy Rogers and friends are next!
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 12: The Bushwhackers

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 1, Episode 12: The Bushwhackers
Original Airdate: January 29, 1977
Director: Stuart Margolin
Writer: Skip Webster
Supporting Cast: Roy Rogers as J.P. Hadley, Henry Darrow as Walter Lampkin, Tony George as Emmett Dawson, and Lance Kerwin as Jeff Hadley
I suspect that this is the point where many first-time viewers of Wonder Woman began to suspect that the writers were well and truly running out of ideas. How the hell else do you shoehorn WWII drama, superheroes, cowboys, and interracial adoption into one episode? The sum of the angles of that sinister rectangle is just too monstrous, old chum!

Seriously - I don't really know much about Roy Rogers aside from the fact that he hosted the "Pecos Bill" segment in Disney's Melody Time, but he seems like an okay guy, and he was doing the international adoption angle way before Brad and Angelina. Yeah - additional warning, this episode's choked with kid actors, and if memory serves, they make Christian Juttner at his worst look like Brando.

We begin in Texas, where ranch owner J.P. Hadley is training the junior Planeteers in knot-tying. But not all is smiles and racial tolerance - his son Jeff soon reports that rustlers have struck again, leaving them another 100 heads of cattle short. Apparently, the local sheriffs have done fuck-all to stop these rustlers, so J.P. calls in an old buddy from Washington for help.

(I watched this episode a long time ago, so I don't remember if it was the sheriff or his deputy who was evil, but it's got to be one of the two.)

Said buddy is General Blankenship, and since J.P.'s ranch is supposed to provide beef for the military, he immediately sends Steve (who's now head of the Intelligence division, despite sorely lacking it) down to give them cowpokes a hand, pardner.

Ah, handing Yeoman Prince yet another chunk of vacation time for no goddamn reason. Classic Steve.

Uh... I know you're real eager to stalk your love all the way to Texas, Diana, but couldn't you wait to get home before changing into Wonder Woman? You'll avoid a lot of awkward questions that way.

As expected, Sheriff Bodie and his deputy Walter aren't real hot on outsiders barging in on their turf, but there's not much they can do about it. Enough about them - let's get back to Hadley's little model UN.

Okay, so these kids are supposed to represent Harlem, London, Paris, the Navajo Nation, and Shanghai (and they're all war orphans to boot). In case you're wondering - no, none of them can do accents for shit.

But wait! Looks like there's trouble in Paradise! J.P.'s son Jeff seems jealous of his pa's new family aaand you can probably guess where that's going.

It's been about ten minutes, so let's go meet our villains for the episode. They all hang out in a ghost town about five miles from the ranch, and oh would you look at that Deputy Walter's our Filthy Nazi Turncoat for the day.

... oh, my bad - this is the only Nazi-less episode in Season 1. Seems the rustlers are selling the stolen cattle to 100% homegrown American organized crime (the beef black market's big with all that government rationing). Emmett, the guy running the outfit, wants out when he hears Washington's getting involved, but Walter convinces him that they'll all hit the road after this One Last Job. Really, Walt - after a line like that, you guys deserve to get caught.

Now let's check back in with the Junior Planeteers. I can't be arsed to learn their names, so I'm just gonna call them British Kid, Chinese Kid, Black Kid, etc.

"Ain't" isn't a word, British Kid? My spellcheck says otherwise. Guess it is sweet of Black Kid to say an additional prayer for Steve to arrive safe, though.

Steve, you boob. You've been in Texas about five seconds and the bad guys already got the drop on you. Not to worry, though - Navajo Kid sees all this, because he's this episode's extra-super-special breakout character.

(It's hilarious to see our two baddies stand there and gloat when there's a witness standing five feet behind them, probably wondering how the fuck they've survived so long if they're this unobservant.)

Right about now, Wonder Woman's touched down in Texas too, and she goes right over to J.P.'s ranch. We then learn that, conveniently enough, Navajo Kid can't speak English.

(By the way, how sad is it that we've heard more Spanish from J.P.'s maid than the entirety of the Argentina episode had to offer?)

Goddamn, Navajo Kid's gonna have a hell of a story to tell his grandkids: "I took Wonder Woman's hand when I was your age!" Incidentally, I think that Lynda Carter did all her own riding stunts for this episode, which is fairly impressive.

"Since when is Texas part of your territory?" Her outfit's meant to represent all America, Steve, not just Washington.

Anyways, J.P. and the sheriffs get wind of Steve's little "welcoming committee", but since Sheriff Bodie still trusts Walter, they're not gonna be much help. We then get a little backstory on Navajo Kid: his dad got killed at Pearl Harbor, and his mom died in childbirth, so the commingled trauma left him unwilling to talk. That's... impressively dark for this show.

Steve, you dog. "Wonder Woman travels very light", indeed. This is a pretty slick way of setting up Wonder Woman's "Texas" outfit, invented because Roy Rogers was concerned about a lady in a bathing suit spending so much time around little kids. I'd complain about moral censorship, but really - I kinda dig the red blouse-and-tight pants look.

(Oh, and Henry Darrow is busy chewing the scenery at five mouthfuls a second, if you're into that sort of thing. I don't envy the guys who have to work for him.)

Well, if you're going to have someone lecture a bunch of children on living right, you could do a whole lot worse than Lynda Carter in her prime. But the kids scamper off soon enough, so the grownups can get back to the plot. According to J.P., Emmett is their top suspect for the rustlers' leader, and he grew up an orphan on the wrong side of the tracks - which is part of why J.P. started this whole adoption business. It's cheesy, but the writers did try.

And after that brief respite, it's back to the little booger-eaters. British Kid dares question the power of the lasso, so Wonder Woman gives him a taste of its utter mind-shattering power. Meanwhile, Jeff proves himself to be this episode's other big turncoat, being in league with Walter and everything.

Now, Lance Kerwin's acting hasn't exactly been top-notch this episode, but I think that his disaffected delivery highlights his reluctance in this scene that much better. He insists that Walter promised no one would get hurt (thus pretty much cementing his reformation later on), and Henry Darrow's sheer sliminess in this scene almost sells it. Except... what the hell is Jeff getting out of this arrangement? Walter doesn't seem to be paying him, and the line about Jeff's dad ignoring him implies that Jeff is doing this out of pure spite (I really doubt a duplicitous sheriff's deputy would somehow make a better father figure). If so... then fuck you, Jeff.

(By the way, Walter's line about "strangers" treads about as close to "don't trust them, they're not American like us" as you can get on a family show in the '70s - fairly groundbreaking, I suppose.)

These are some pretty ballsy (or stupid) cattle rustlers, if hearing Wonder Woman's name doesn't even faze 'em. And me, I'm just a sucker for an all-Western poker game.

Back to the ranch for some "heroes discuss the inside man (who's standing right behind them)" fun. To Steve's credit, he immediately starts suspecting Deputy Walter, though why he has to drive all the way out to a military base to run an FBI check on the guy is beyond me. For extra contrivance points, Wonder Woman decides to stay behind because Navajo Kid needs a buddy or something.

(Jeff gets word over to the rustlers in a hurry, but that goes without saying.)

WW, Jeff, and J.P. go out riding for... reasons, and Wonder Woman saves Jeff's worthless little neck when his horse gets spooked by a snake. Jeff's left with a broken ankle, so J.P. takes him back to the ranch, thus leaving Wonder Woman totally vulnerable to any bad dudes that might come a ridin' by.

I'm not really sure why WW immediately starts running when the cop car drives by - she shouldn't know that Deputy Walter is with the bad guys just yet - and the fight scene is rather pathetic. Come to think of it, how did Walter know about the belt weakness? Jeff doesn't seem to have told him anything, so... is he sharing notes with the Nazis?

And of course, they once again miss the Navajo kid spying on them from five feet away. Does no one in this gang have peripheral vision?

The baddies throw Wonder Woman in the ghost town's pokey, and then leave in true half-assed badguy manner (at least they took the key with them). But Navajo Kid's tailed them every step of the way! So how's he going to save her, episode? I bet's it's gonna be really-

Oh, are you fucking kidding me?

The bad guys just left Wonder Woman's belt and lasso on the ground?! What the hell, man? Not only would the Nazis probably pay top dollar for those, but you're leaving evidence behind. Do y'all like the idea of jail that much?

Meanwhile, Steve's gotten back from the background check, so the bad guys chase him down, too. At least Steve has an excuse for running at the sound of the siren - turns out that "Deputy Walter" is a scam artist who stole the real Walter Lampkin's identity (said real Walter being too dead to complain).

Since no one's paying attention to him, Navajo Kid goes back to the ranch and miraculously utters his first words in a year. It's blatant Emmy Bait, but there's something charming about how British Kid, Black Kid, and Chinese Kid all immediately believe him and go help Wonder Woman.

(Where French Kid's gone, I haven't the slightest. I guess this is a job for men.)

I'm gonna just guess that the kids throwing Wonder Woman's belt around that log gave it super-strength, letting them break down the door in one hit. The important thing is that she's free, and all the kids have made a new friend.

Back at the ranch, Jeff finally feels rotten enough to come clean, and the Texas Justice System immediately makes him pay via rope and tree... oh, my bad - his pa and Wonder Woman just give him a stern talking-to and everything's okay. Bah.

Alrighty, time for the big showdown with the rustlers. Not to be outdone by Batman in the child endangerment department, Wonder Woman takes four kids out to face the armed, bloodthirsty criminals. Granted, they're apparently just there to tie up the rustlers after WW's beat them half to death.

Oh, and Steve gets to free himself from confinement - that's a nice touch. It all culminates in a three-on-three: Wonder Woman, Steve, and J.P. versus Emmett, Walter, and... Other Guy, but we all know who's gonna win. Poor, poor Emmett - you shoulda listened to your instincts and left the second you heard Washington was on this.

Epilogue: Would ya look at that - Lynda Carter got to bare some skin around the kids after all. The goodbyes are cheesy as you'd expect, but Navajo Kid did make a neat Indian belt for her, which is awful sweet (pity that - spoilers - Wonder Woman will be taking about 30 years off not long after this adventure). And in return - before she goes, will she teach him how to lasso?


So... this episode had a lot for me to make fun of, but it's just plain fun in a way that a lot of Season 1's episode weren't. Sure, it's practically the Roy Roger and Friends Show (Guest-Starring Wonder Woman), but there's hardly a dull moment even when all logic goes out the window, and Henry Darrow makes a decently scenery-chewing villain. I kind of wonder what those five kids('s actors) are doing today, and I rather wish Wonder Woman had worn her Texas outfit a little more in the show...

Omega's Rating:

7-and-a-half Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Now, does anyone else have any questions to ask?"
"Now, does anyone else have any questions to ask?"
Wonder Woman 12.jpg (149.88 KiB) Viewed 22420 times
Next time: We close out Season 1 and say goodbye to half the regular cast in... where else? That land populated by folks who went to school for just one week and can't chew gum and also talk. Hollywoodtown is next!
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Wonder Woman (1975) Episode 13: Wonder Woman in Hollywood

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 1, Episode 13: Wonder Woman in Hollywood
Original Airdate: February 16, 1977
Director: Bruce Bilson
Writer: Jimmy Sangster
Supporting Cast: Debra Winger as Drusilla/Wonder Girl, Carolyn Jones as Queen, Harris Yulin as Mark Bremer, Robert Hayes as Corporal Ames, and Christopher Norris as Gloria Beverly
Ahh, Golden Age Hollywood. I don't actually know a lot about the era, but I've always been fond of the general feel - an endless carpet of glitz and glamour and booze comprising the world's biggest carnival and the funniest men and women in all America. The darker-minded, of course, might point out that under that glitz and glamour lay enough backstabbings, drug abuse, and "accidental" deaths to fill an entire line of HBO shows - to which I say, the more the merrier.

But who cares about all that? This is Wonder Girl's last appearance on the show, and that's what we're all really here to see. Now let us take a moment of silence for what could have been, had Debra Winger not discontinued her role to pursue more respectable, less spandex-y fare.

Okay, so we begin with the gang in a private preview of a war movie with producer Mark Bremer, who... "Maximum realism"? My God, someone stop him before he ruins the superhero genre!

Anyways, Steve's gotten drafted to star in the movie, much to the excitement of Etta and the General, and he decides to drag Diana along to Hollywood because he's just that swell of a guy (and needs someone to carry his luggage). And since someone's dropped the words "Paradise U.S.A.", it's time to check in on our old friends at Paradise Island.

So Paradise Island apparently has a Constitution, and this episode marks the 2,000th anniversary of the day the Amazons landed. I'm vaguely sure that's a continuity error with some episode, but I can't be bothered to go back and check. Also, do these guys ever do anything besides holding festivals?

Awww. Jones and Winger have really nailed that adorable mother/daughter chemistry by this episode. Just look at Drusilla's face when she goes skipping off to drag Diana back from America. Again.

By the way - you can really tell they're going all out on the season finale, since Hollywood gets about a dozen establishing shots. Yeah, they're about as clumsy as-is standard (and half of them were clearly cribbed from black-and-white movies), but I just can't bring myself to hate it. Even Disney's Silly Symphonies studio gets an appearance!

It's pretty sad that Steve's on-set "flying" is the best flying scene he's been in so far, but then, maybe that was the point. This whole episode does have a somewhat satirical feel to it - it's not exactly a behind-the-scenes look at the show, but it gets pretty close at times. We also get our first sign that things might not be kosher, when a light fixture almost crushes everyone on-set.

(I sorta like this Clark Kent-ish scenario, where Diana turns into Wonder Woman and saves everyone without drawing any attention, but I definitely think it should be used sparingly.)

Aaaand here we see that Drusilla hasn't learned a single damn thing from her first visit to the States. She's still wearing her Amazon nightie without a care in the world. But Hollywood being Hollywood, fewer people gawk at her.

(I suppose it's too much to hope that the starlet in the leopard-skin dress is some kind of shout-out to Priscilla Rich. Pity.)

And of course, Drusilla gets mistaken for an extra on a Greek historical epic they're filming. I do so hope this leads to a bunch of "clever" quips about how Wonder Woman should be in 'dem moving pictures.

"Just be yourself." The worst piece of advice for working in Hollywood ever. Of course, Steve's co-star Corporal Ames is way too green to know that.

Alright, time for some plot to start happening. Steve sends Diana out for some coffee (he's a natural at the Hollywood biz already), and wouldn't you know it - Drusilla finds her right behind the studio. Then a bunch of thugs jump out of a car and start chloroforming the hell out of Corporal Ames, who's also out back for some reason. Also, take a shot.

"Drusilla, look out!" I'm not exaggerating when I say that's the most emotional Lynda Carter ever gets in Season 1, and it's a much-welcomed change of pace. Once again, curse the fact that her little sis didn't show up more on this show. At least it provides a semi-legitimate reason for the baddies to get away.

Heh. Diana and Dru expositioning in front of a painted backdrop (which gets taken away mid-conversation) is a pretty cute little nod. And speaking of cute, Dru now has a crush on Corporal Ames. Awww.

(By the way, Diana's not as naive as I thought. She's got no trouble believing that another studio would kill a dozen people just to sabotage the competition, but then, that's really amateur hour for this era.)

Taking your teenage sister to a Hollywood party? Diana confirmed for best and worst adult guardian ever. And given how well the Amazons usually interact with American culture, I'm mildly disappointed that they didn't show up to the party wearing a pair of literal Slinkys.

Okay, I guess "Louie B." would be this guy, but who's "J.L." supposed to be? Anyone?

Ah, good ol' Army-Navy rivalry, and Steve playing them all like violins, as any Air Force sonuvabitch should. Oh, and it seems that Amazons are teetotalers by nature, though Drusilla certainly doesn't seem to mind making an exception...

Wuh-oh. One of Steve's co-stars has just gone into a room alone with some strange woman. You all know what's coming next: she's a Filthy Nazi Turncoat (TM) who hands him right to a bunch of kidnappers who need him for... something. Making propaganda films for the Third Reich, I guess?

"[These Hollywood starlets] all look the same to me." Harris Yulin nails the Hollywood exec, past or present, in one line. I love him.

Welp, the camera's still focused on Bremer after everyone else has left, which means only one thing: he's also a Filthy Nazi Turncoat. He's in cahoots with the aforementioned strange woman, a dame by the name of Gloria Beverly.

Man, Yulin suddenly switching to a German accent should be hilarious, but it's pretty chilling (especially when he starts talking about how he got Gloria to do his bidding). His master plan: to ship Steve and the other three soldiers in the movie off to Berlin to stand "trial" for their crimes against Der Fuehrer.

Huh. The episode sure isn't shy about how it all takes place at WB Studios. But - someone correct me if I'm wrong - didn't this episode predate DC Comics getting bought up by Time Warner? Anyways, Steve and company are still looking for the Navy man kidnapped last night, and Diana's apparently worried enough that she's considering letting Dru stick around as extra security.

(For anyone who cares: Drusilla is apparently supposed to be 15 years old as of this episode.)

Oh, that waaacky Dru. Still making every cute guy she finds buy her every ice cream in the shop. Don't you know that stuff goes straight to your hips?

And now this inexplicably turns into a rom-com, as two bullies in the soda parlor start ganging up on Corporal Ames. No, they're not Nazis (at least, I don't think). They just happen to share a family tree with that diner asshole from Superman II.

Dru, you little sociopath, you could at least try to sound worried that bad people are after your crush.

Anyways, since the bullies are now roughing up her meal tick... er, crush, Dru Spins into Wonder Girl and beats the shit out of them, like a good girlfriend should. The real crowning moment is when the counter boy casually slides one of the bullies off the counter and hands him his hat back, like this sort of crap happens every day.

Oh, and the Corporal runs off like a scared little bitch during all this. You guys, I'm starting to think his war hero credentials might not be legit.

After teaching the two punks a lesson, Dru changes back like it's nothing and gives them the most awesomely smug look I've ever seen from Winger. God, I love her. Sadly, this moment is ruined when our heroine learns that sometimes, men tend to be cowardly, lying pricks - in this case, the Corporal claiming that he kicked those punks around.

(In his defense, though, maybe he thought that Dru wouldn't believe him if he said that a girl in colored underwear came out of nowhere did the asskicking. At this point, Wonder Girl is still unknown to the world at large, I think.)

Dru and the Corporal go back to the set, where the director spits out a ton of lines that would be absolutely hilarious taken out of context ("Get ready, Nazis!"). And once again, this brief snippet of the shoot is one of the most exciting combat scenes of Season 1. Pity that its protagonist gets kidnapped halfway through.

Now the movie's "stars" are down to just Steve and Corporal Ames, and none of the good guys have clue number one. I love how casually Bremmer plays all of them even as he tries to "help". But never mind that, we've got a real crisis: Dru having her first boy problem!

Sadly, Diana's lecture on the male ego is cut short, as Steve finally decides to get his ass in gear and... make Diana do all the actual investigative work. You go, Mr. War Hero.

Back with Dru and Corporal Ames... well, Dru seems to have gotten over that existential crisis in a hurry. Food does make everything better. Especially when someone else is paying.

"I like hot dogs!" Must... resist... low... hanging... fruit...

Fair's fair, the part where Corporal Ames comes clean about everything gives him a lot of points in my book. Robert Hayes just sells him as a young man deeply ashamed of himself, and the story he tells about how he really "captured" a Nazi unit probably has a few parallels in real WWII anecdotes. War is, after all, often the story of scared kids being sent out to kill other scared kids.

Alright, enough philosophizing. Our heroes make up and make googly eyes at each other, but in comes a sudden phone call to take Corporal Ames out of the equation. By the next morning, both Steve and Ames are in the Enemy's hands.

(I guess the part where the Corporal holds Steve at gunpoint should be harrowing, but that doe-eyed look on Hayes' face just made me giggle. The man couldn't intimidate a kindergartner.)

So what drove the Corporal to betray Steve? The Nazis have his parents. I... guess the writers should be lauded for not undoing his character development, but at the same time, this piece of information comes the hell out of nowhere (no, I'm not counting the phone call because it didn't establish anything). Just one line establishing that his parents lived nearby would've been nice.

But let's move on to more pleasant thoughts, Harris Yulin is still playing the hell out of his role, and even when he's put on a Voldemort-worthy black robe (for whatever reason), he maintains just enough civility that I can almost believe he'd really let Ames' parents go if they cooperate. He's not, of course, but it's the air that counts.

Meanwhile, let's check in on The Adventures of Diana Holmes, Consulting Detective. Hours of photo-searching done in the blink of an eye with the magic of jump cuts, she finally connects Gloria to Bremer, leading to this exchange:

"He said he didn't know her!"

"They all say that, dear."

Ah, Hollywood in a nutshell.

Wonder Woman then barges into Gloria's dressing room for some more interrogatin', in a scene that just reeks of femslash. And in between all the boring exposition, we get this hidden gem:

"The only private place he showed me was his bedroom."

All the detective work is done, so... Wonder Sister Powers activate! Form of... a pair of smoking-hot babes jogging!

(Seriously, WW and WG have just the most delicious legs. It's just a shame that the aerobics video fad wasn't around then.)

We come to our big fight sequence, and the only real team-up between Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl we ever got on the show (I see all that "secret weapon" stuff from WG's debut has been dropped). As expected, it's an absolute delight to watch these two cuties kick all the ass- Jesus, did Wonder Girl just slam that guy's hand in a car door? Kids these days...

That was mighty sweet of Diana, faking getting shot so Ames would get angry enough to take down the remaining Nazis by himself. A little skeevy, yes, but sweet nonetheless.

For anyone who cares: Corporal Ames' line at the end is probably the first time on this show anyone called Drusilla "Wonder Girl". How... fitting.

Epilogue: the movie starring Steve and company turns out to be a big success - so big, in fact, that the episode deems us unworthy to see any of it. It's here that a lot of finale-y touches start popping up - Diana and Dru are going back to Paradise Island (oh, sure, they say it's just for a couple days...), Steve begins attributing more credit to Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl than ever before, and the episode wraps up with one more corny joke about how Dru just might grow up to be like the Amazing Amazon one day.

Dammit, why couldn't we have gotten that show?

So, yeah - watching the end of an era always makes me misty-eyed, and this one is no exception. Oh, I know there's still two more seasons to go, but suffice it to say that things will never be quite the same afterward. General Blankenship and Etta - bless both their hearts - are both quietly retired, Wonder Girl never appears again, and even Steve himself gets a few changes. More than that, though, it's time to say goodbye to the '40s-flavored decor that's carried this show through thick and thin - next stop: the 1970s.

The episode itself is a keeper in my book, with a surprisingly mature script that touches on Hollywood's dark side a few times, as well as one of the more likable supporting characters and a wonderfully despicable villain. And, in case anyone needs me to say it again: Wonder Woman + Wonder Girl teamup. These lovely ladies could kick Batman and Robin around any day.

Omega's Rating:

8 Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Wonder Womaaaaan...!"
"Wonder Womaaaaan...!"
Wonder Woman 13.jpg (113.88 KiB) Viewed 22343 times
Next time: Jump forward to the 1970s, into an era of big stakes and bigger hair... but not right now. I gotta take a break from all this reviewin', so here's a kickass music video someone made from this episode. Laters!
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Re: Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet: Yet Another Review Series

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 2, Episode 1: The Return of Wonder Woman
Original Airdate: September 16, 1977
Director: Alan Crosland
Writer: Stephen Kandel
Supporting Cast: Fritz Weaver as Dr. Solano, Jessica Walter as Gloria, and Beatrice Straight as the Queen
Because no-one demanded it, I'm continuing this little series. What can I say? It's been almost a year since I saw Lynda Carter in that wonderful costume, and absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

We now enter the CBS era of Wonder Woman, aka The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. I assume most of you know the basics - 35-year timeskip, went from period piece to contemporary spy show, pretty much everyone besides Carter and Waggoner got the boot. The opening credits have also been updated, both visually and tonally - I can't say I care much for the new visuals, but the new lyrics are just as catchy as the old ones ("And our courage to the teeeeeest...!")

The choice of writer is a good one, seeing as how Stephen Kandel provided what was probably Season 1's most ambitious story. That said, this episode begins with almost boilerplate '70s spy stuff: nuclear power, top scientists, hush-hush conferences, terrorist attacks, Third World locales, and of course - CIA... er, IADC agent Steve Trevor (Junior). But as our heroes go off to the small and probably revolution-choked nation of Samarra, little do they know that they're under observation by the eeeevil Dr. Solano, terrorist mastermind and wearer of enough hairspray to murder half the ozone layer.

Sure enough, our heroes' plane goes haywire... which was apparently not part of the bad doctor's plan. His plan involves a guy with a doofy gas mask and a knockout gas-dispensing remote(?), who immediately gets his ass kicked by Steve. You're showing up your old man already, bud. Keep it up.

Anyways, enough gas fills the plane cabin that everyone gets conked out anyways. But never fear, because our heroes just happen to be flying over the Bermuda Triangle. More importantly, over the one island that has an automatic plane-landing force field. And Lynda Carter in her pretty, pretty dress.

(By the way, all the plane footage is a lot less jarring than it was back in Season 1, but considering that it's no longer taken from decades-old newsreels, it almost has to be.)

As expected, Diana immediately runs inside the plane and discovers that the love of her life Steve... hasn't aged a day! Dun-dun-DUN! It's off to the infirmary for him, and...

Okay, not-so-brief tangent: there might be some comic book or other that explores the concept in full, but I find it endlessly fascinating how this show dances around the less savory aspects of immortality. The Amazons, Wonder Woman included, are immortal under all but a handful of writers - and when their society is kept confined to Paradise Island, this doesn't pose much of a problem. But when one of their number befriends, and falls in love with, a member of the puny, frail, aging race known as man... how could that ever work? I don't think Amazon immortality (at least in this show) can be bestowed, in which case... did Wonder Woman willingly return to Paradise Island and leave Steve behind, unwilling to enter a romance where the Grim Reaper would always be looming over his head and never hers?

Naturally, heavy questions like these are never going to be answered on a family show like this one, but one has to wonder...

On a lighter note, I had to smile at Diana's reaction Steve Sr.'s lack of imagination. Oh, and it seems that Diana never got "the talk" until this exact moment. Awkwaaaaard.

Upon learning that there's a whole new generation of Nazis out to menace the free world in 1977, Diana immediately begs her mother to return to Man's World as Wonder Woman (shame someone couldn't have crashed on Paradise Island when that Stalin chap was running wild). Her mother the Queen refuses... for all of five seconds, before the magic of democracy (and a Gilligan Cut) decrees that Diana should go back there after all. I know this is probably to show off sisterly solidarity or whatever, but it kind of looks like everyone else on the island hates Diana and can't wait to kick her out.

But wait! From out of absolutely nowhere, a challenger appears! None other than Wonder Woman's little sister Dru... er, no, wait. It's another family member we've never heard of until this episode: her cousin Evadne!

In a more modern series, this character would almost inevitably be set up as a recurring rival/future villain, but here... she really is just challenging Diana out of friendly competition, no ulterior motive needed. It's very keeping in-line with a society like Paradise Island, but I have to wonder what the narrative point of it is; if it's just to demonstrate how Wonder Woman's bracelets work, well... any actual fight scene could take care of that in a jiffy, couldn't it?

(On a slightly-related note: the spirit of Evadne eventually popped up in the comics, in the guises of Orana (pre-Crisis) and Artemis of Bana-Mighdall (post-Crisis. The latter especially fascinates me for a variety of reasons, and I kind of wish her tenure as Wonder Woman had gone on a bit longer, but that's neither here nor there.)

The Bullets and Bracelets Trial's been modified a bit, too - instead firing guns at the bracelet-wearers themselves, they're fired at statues instead, and the bracelet-wearers are expected to protect said statues. This was probably put in to prevent stupid kids from erasing themselves from the gene p... er, prevent needless tragedy from viewers imitating our beloved Amazons, but I actually like this version better. It certainly takes no less skill to maneuver those bracelets in front of a big-ass statue, and on a more thematic level it emphasizes how Wonder Woman's shiny toys are meant to protect the innocent first and foremost.

Big surprise - Diana wins the contest, tearful mother-daughter fluff ensues (again). Now let's get Steve back to Man's World so the plot can actually st... whoa-ho-ho. I don't remember this much creepy brainwashing when Steve's old man crashed on the island! Seriously, am I the only one who finds it kinda creepy how the Amazon doctor just subconsciously orders Steve (junior) to accept and like Diana?

Anyways, Diana puts on the Wonder Woman togs once more, does the classic spin, and we're all good to go. By the way, someone remind me - was being able to contact Paradise Island through the star in her tiara a power she had in Season 1?

(Speaking of which, it's good to see Diana's mom give her some money this time around. 'course, you could probably show up with a broken pot from Paradise Island and some Man's World museum would probably shell out millions for it.)

And two days after they "went down" in the Bermuda Triangle, our heroes' plane is back on course to Samarra, no one the wiser. Dr. Solano and his technician sidekick are naturally determined to get the bottom of this... for all of two seconds before they decide their original plan was more important after all.

Naturally, our heroes are baffled when the Samarran government tells them they've been MIA for two days, but never mind that, what I want to know is who's done that colonel's mustache. Oh, and Diana meets Steve for the first time (again only not really) and the brainwashing kicks in just fine.

(I could devote a whole series to cataloging Diana's '70s fashions, but for the sake of everyone's eyeballs, I'll refrain.)

The big nuclear conference (or whatever) starts and oh look, a female character who doesn't like Diana shows up. Meet our filthy Nazi... er, terrorist turncoat of the day, Gloria Vasquez of Guanaray. Aide to none other than the conference chair... Dr. Solano! Dun-dun-DUN.

(By the way, it seems that "Solano" is Spanish for "nightshade". I learned something today!)

"When do we get details of the airlift?" "Unfortunately, you don't." Spoken like a true American, Steve.

After the conference, our two baddies meet up, compare notes, and surmise that they've learned jack and shit about the nuclear plant Uncle Sam is bestowing on the Third World. I have to say, I was ready to write off Solano as another forgettable cookie-cutter villain, but how unhinged Weaver plays him here lifts him out of those annals. Wonder Woman's formula calls for bargain-bin Bond villains now, and by God, he's going to play the best one he can (seriously, anyone else see shades of Ra's al-Ghul in how he rants about kicking off a world war so he'll have a chance to take over as ruler of a new, peaceful society?).

Of course, Jessica Walter is a commendable straight (wo)man through all of Weaver's scenery-chewing, through all the screams and rants and begging. For no Cobra Commander could stand upright without a Baroness, and Gloria's filling out that role better by the second.

Ahh, Washington, D.C. - how I've missed you. After all these years, it's still the closest thing Wonder Woman has to a home base. And maybe it's just a post-9/11 thing, but I'm getting kinda uncomfortable at how easily Diana just cons her way into a job at a top-secret spy facility and easy reach of its lite-brite... er, supercomputer IRAC (which holds data on five other federal departments). By the way, get used to "Ira" there - back in '77, Star Wars was busy making all the money in the world, and every other show out there was clambering for an R2-D2 clone. Wonder Woman will be no exception.

That poor, poor professor. You can tell he's really trying to keep security top-notch, but alas, he's no match for the needs of the plot. Soon as his back's turned, Diana sneaks back into the IRAC room and reprograms the computer with a fake file on her "Diana Prince" identity. Man, it's lucky the Amazons aren't looking to make war on the U.S., though that would certainly make for an interesting story... wait, I take it back, I take it back!

... wow, Ira's taking being forcibly overridden with false data awful well. Guess not having silly human emotions is a good thing sometimes.

Diana, you poor, poor schmuck. I don't know what Paradise Island's drachmas would've fetched in 1977 in real life, but that fat bastard's face says they're worth a lot more than $25,000 apiece. Still, you try explaining inflation to someone who comes from a post-capitalist(?) society.

So Diana goes on a shopping spree, Gloria spies on her, and Solano concludes that she's working with some special IADC fund. Why he gives a crap when he's already got enough money to run a whole country is beyond me, but he orders Gloria to break into Diana's new house and bug the phone anyways. And I'm sorry, Gloria, but there are about three people on the planet who can pull off a ski mask without looking stupid, and you're not one of them.

And in a crowning moment of (un)fortunate timing, Diana comes home right as she finishes up, leading to this wonderful exchange:

"You're a woman. We shouldn't be enemies!"

"I don't know where your head is at, baby. Women are naturally enemies."

Maybe it's not terribly consistent with Season 1 Wonder Woman, but I love it. Anyways, Diana proceeds to lay a smackdown on Gloria, and one somewhat exciting catfight later, Gloria drops a knockout gas bomb and runs with tail between legs. Undaunted, Diana changes into Wonder Woman and... gives up the chase about three seconds later. Seriously, what the hell? At least go out the fucking building before you call it a night!

Well, what's done is done. Diana rings up Steve, who tells her to not call the cops until she's settled into the IADC tomorrow. And Solano's catching every word.

(Pointless trivia time: this episode takes place during and around May 14.)

Man, Diana's office looks bigger than my whole house. Also, it's now that we meet Etta and General Blankenship, 1970s edition: Steve's receptionist Beverly pretty much disappears after this episode, but Joe Atkinson (Norman Burton) will stay on as a regular for quite a while. He hasn't made much of an impression so far, and time will tell if that'll change.

So Steve and Diana hit the road, and Solano goes with a classic Evil Plan: run them off the road and send a bunch of thugs after them. The fight scene is standard for the series, though its ending with three of the thugs running away and WW just standing there and letting them is kinda stupid. Ah, well - at least they've got the fourth nice and caught.

The first meeting between Steve Junior and Wonder Woman is fairly unimpressive on the surface, though of course my nitpicky mind comes up with a bunch of not-terribly-pleasant implications. How come we never heard of Steve Senior having a wife or kid? Was Steve Junior born after Wonder Woman went back to Paradise Island? And how did poor Mrs. Trevor put up with her husband fantasizing about an incomparable Amazon angel every day?

Well, the one question that does get answered is the one no one was asking: Wonder Woman is about 2527 years old. Good freaking God.

Anyhoo, Gloria gets some great video footage of WW kicking ass, and Solano immediately makes this new threat to his plans a top priority. I would probably find that slightly more ominous if he hadn't inexplicably switched to a hideous yellow jogging suit.

(By the way, he also thinks that Wonder Woman is some kind of experimentally enhanced government agent. Wrong show, bud.)

I still find it odd that virtually no one in 1977 (except Steve Junior) is even vaguely familiar with Wonder Woman; sure, she was only active about three or four years prior to this, but those three or four years were during World War II. FDR's administration should've shoved a Nazi-smasher and morale booster that potent down the public's throat whether they liked it or not, especially given that WWII-era Wonder Woman had no problem with entering public events and charities.

Confusing things further, Gloria does turn up with a bunch of newspaper clippings (and Nazi documents) detailing Wonder Woman's WWII service - hell, FDR even honored her in person! Eh, whatever - I'll just go with it.

Dr. Solano scores a few more points with some notable quotables ("Impossible is only an admission of temporary ignorance"), before revealing that in addition to being a terrorist mastermind and the leader(?) of a third-world nation, he's also a genius roboteer. He then unveils his prize test subject and oh Jesus that thing was never meant to be someone get the holy water.

Seriously, my respect for Gloria just went up. I would've been reduced to tears and piss if I had to spend more than a few seconds in the company of that... thing. What's that, you say? Beauty is skin deep? Well, joke's on you, because there's a fucking atom bomb under this robot's skin. Oh, and it's also meant to capture Wonder Woman or something.

Gloria then pops by Steve's office to... I dunno, start a love triangle or something (how tedious). Oh, and Steve and Diana are going to the Guanarayan Embassy that night, where I'm sure nothing untoward will happen. Meanwhile, Dr. Solano and friends break out the last of the great '70s spy cliches (for this episode): plastic surgery to create Steve's evil double!

Five seconds into the embassy dinner, and Steve gets KO'ed by the bad guys so the impostor Steve can step in. And there go all the points you've racked up this episode, dude.

So "Steve" goes down to the Blandings Air Base and tells the airmen there that they're now shipping the nuclear plant to Guanaray (boo! Hiss!) rather than Samarra. All sci-fi and superhero silliness aside, this part of the episode probably comes the closest to the legitimate tension of "real" spy fiction, though of course even Roger Moore's Bond movies were heavier than this. After making extra-double sure that the airmen won't obey any counter-orders, the impostor... decides he wants to score with Diana. Seriously, you couldn't find a better way for Diana to realize Steve's been replaced? I am disappoint, Kandel.

Anyways, after some epic rejection and a little white lie to confirm he's an impostor, Diana changes into Wonder Woman and beats the crap out of "Steve", before running off to rescue the real Steve's ass. Unfortunately, they're too late to stop the planes from delivering the nuclear plant to Guanaray. The pilots won't stop for anything besides the failsafe that the impostor Steve gave them, and even then Steve knows that Solano will get away if the pilots are redirected. Fortunately, WW's invisible plane gets them to Guanaray in time anyways, so it's time to see her kick some more... wait, never mind, Steve gets taken hostage again.

(Seriously, why even bring Steve along? And if you had to, couldn't you have told him to stay while you mopped up all the baddies?)

At this point, Dr. Solano kicks the Ra's al-Ghul overtones up a notch and offers to let Steve go if Wonder Woman can beat him in a fencing match. But surprise - "Solano" is actually the robot with the atom bomb heart... and it actually does a great job disarming WW. But ah, who needs a sword when you've got indestructible bracelets? As soon as the real Solano sees his robot getting whipped, he arms the bomb... and about three seconds later, WW flings it into the very cave he and Gloria are hiding in.

Well, at least the bad doctor went out in style. That's more than most villains on this show can say.

Epilogue: the President wants to give Wonder Woman a medal, but big surprise - she's nowhere to be found. Still, Miss Diana Prince seems to think she'll be popping up a lot more from now on...

As a season opener as well as a soft reboot of the whole series, the production values on this little tele-movie are definitely lower than The New Original Wonder Woman, and I daresay the story is a lot more ramshackle as well as longer than it needs to be. Carter and Waggoner are about where they were during Season 1 - Carter having gotten perhaps a smidgen more charismatic (and her costume a smidgen more enticing), and the overall update to the 1970s is competent, though perhaps it does weaken the show's flavor overall. As for the villains, Solano and Gloria grew on me as the episode went on, which only makes me kind of regret that they were so decisively killed at the end - a true rarity for this show.

Final verdict? Pop it in if you've got an hour and a half to kill, but Season 2 ought to offer funner, more iconic surprises down the road.

Omega's Rating:

7 Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
En garde.
En garde.
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Next time: Hitler. Clones. That is all.
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Re: Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet: Yet Another Review Series

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 2, Episode 2: Anschluss '77
Original Airdate: September 23, 1977
Director: Alan Crosland
Writers: Dallas S. Barnes and Frank Telford
Supporting Cast: Mel Ferrer as Fritz Gerlich, Leon Charles as Dr. Von Klemper, and Barry Dennen as Clone Hitler
Now we're cooking. The Season 2 premiere was playing for some rather forgettable spy-story stakes, but this one features Hitler clones. There's literally no premise more comic book-y than that, and no goddamn way to mess it u-u-u-p...

Okay, I'm going in fingers crossed, just in case.

Well, would you look at that - the episode begins by trying to build some continuity with the last one. It doesn't last long before Joe Atkinson comes in to usher them off to the Plot of the Day, but it was a good try. On that note, as fine an actor as Burton is, I'm still not really sure what's the point of Atkinson - Diana and Steve aren't getting their orders from him, but from a bargain-bin Charlie Townsend.

Anyways, this week our heroes are off to another third-world Latin American shitho... er, paradise: Cordova, home to tons and tons of old Nazis. Well, that's believable enough, and I certainly can't blame the writers for trying to marry the WWII setting of Season 1 with the spy-show stylings of Season 2. There's one particular Nazi our heroes are interested in: Fritz Gerlich, head of the mysterious "Anschluss '77" project.

Fast-forward to Cordova's capital San Rafael, home of soothing Latin music and questionable Spanish and... welp, doesn't take long for Steve to get his ass kicked, does it? Good thing Wonder Woman "just happens to be" in the neighborhood. And knows how to give kickass shoulder massages, too!

Steve still doesn't believe WW is thousands of years old. Tsk tsk tsk.

While our heroes go off to visit local cop Captain Gaitan, Gerlich makes his big debut and... Ferrer's decent in the role. His accent isn't too over-the-top, and the scar is a neat (if cliched) way of giving him a memorable look.

Diana and Steve head over to their only lead so far: the home of the totally innocuous Dr. Stern. I'll admit I smiled at Diana's reaction to Steve's "ladies first" routine, but never mind that - seems the house is empty. But what's this? Looks like Dr. Stern has a certain fascination with cell repetition...

Inevitably, the baddies attack, only this time they run off with Diana instead of Steve. Which leaves the burning question: is Steve a bad enough dude to rescue his girl, like his old man did?

Gerlich has Diana brought to the Batcave (seriously - that's the cave they used for exterior shots of the Batcave on the '66 show), and Diana is introduced to the incomprehensible horror that is a 50+-year-old Nazi in shorts and sneakers. Oh, and Gerlich was supposed to have gotten a leg blown off back in the '40s, only it's good as new now. Hurray for Nazi mad science!

Now Gerlich and his pals get ready to put the screws on Diana, except since this is a family show, the darkest they can get is a bundle of dynamite with a giant fuse. Nevertheless, the way they tie Diana prevents her from spinning into Wonder Woman, so we get some nice peril out of it (as a bonus for you hose enthusiasts, Diana even kicks her shoes off!). And yes, Diana ultimately escapes by herself, so no, Steve is not a bad enough dude.

Diana changes into WW and flings the dynamite a healthy distance away before it goes BOOM, and Gerlich thinking she's dead, even compliments how Diana must've deduced he would've killed her whether or not she gave him any info. Now that that's over with, he and his buddies take off in their chopper... unaware they've picked up an Amazon hitchhiker. Okay, this is probably Lynda Carter's most badass moment on the show, all the moreso when you take into account that she supposedly went behind the execs' backs to do it without her stunt double. That helicopter goes pretty dang high, and she's hanging onto it with her bare hands every. Single. Step of the way.

Now that's a real Wonder Woman.

While this is going down, Steve and Captain Gaitan are sweating one of the thugs who kidnapped Diana. This is the most emotion that Lyle Waggoner has shown on the series so far, and the closest that Steve has come to actually being intimidating - and whaddya know, it works like a charm. Sadly, by the time they go over to the cave and conclude that Diana's ashes, this bit of actual acting has evaporated from Waggoner, but it was good while it lasted.

By now, Diana's hitched a ride over to the Nazis' secret base and had enough time to make it back to the cave. Hugs, reunions, expositions, yadda yadda yadda. And I love how she basically talks over Steve when he tries to ask how she escaped.

Over at said secret Nazi base, Dr. Stern (spoiler alert - he's evil and actually named Von Klemper) and Gerlich are just about ready to put the finishing touches on Operation: Anschluss '77. And can I just say it's a pleasant change of pace for them to be so... human for Nazis? Don't get me wrong - they're still scumbags by definition, but they're very distinct from the bland, largely interchangeable Nazis of Season 1. Von Klemper, in particular, is overjoyed to be visited by the kids of his old comrades, almost like a sweet old grandpa.

A sweet old grandpa who's violating literally every law of God and man to clone a second Hitler into being, but nobody's perfect.

The actual scene of Hitler's rebirth is never going to win points for originality (it's basically every Frankenstein lightning scene on a TV budget), but I have to admit it's kind of creepy to see the empty uniform slowly inflating itself until there's a person in there. The sudden storm of real-life Nazi footage, though, I could've done without.

So. About three-quarters of the way in, we've finally got the real star of the episode. Now tremble, mere mortals, as... we spend more valuable runtime on Steve and Diana putzing around the Nazi base and rallying the local cops and stuff. Okay, all of this makes a boring kind of sense, but can we just get to Wonder Woman punching Hitler's lights out already?

Also, summoning the cops apparently destroys all stealth and intelligence in Diana, because next thing you know she's blazing back to the Nazi base at top speed and almost gets her ass blown up by a tank. Of course, she changes into Wonder Woman to take care of it, but the fight's honestly kind of lame (at least throw the shell back at the tank, woman!). But for a change, Steve's actually doing pretty well infiltrating the Nazi base... though given how small it is (there's about thirty brownshirts tops), you'd think at least one of the Nazis would've called him out as a stranger.

Eh, who cares? Hitler('s clone) finally takes center stage, and Dennen's performance is wonderfully over-the-top while actually managing to be just a little scary. He even manages to sorta-address the laughably small Nazi "army" - after all, did the Beer Hall Putsch not begin with just a small band of supposedly powerless nobodies?

(Okay, so there's a million more reasons why this plan's objectively doomed to fail, but no one ever accused Hitler of being reasonable.)

Wonder Woman getting flashbacks to the real Hitler: subtle as a sledgehammer, but powerful nonetheless. Carter's expression is just aces.

Okay, this is just getting silly. Clone Hitler leading a rejuvenated Third Reich I can buy, but WW "whispering" to Steve from a crowd of Nazis and Steve is the only one who notices (or cares)? Not only is this illogical, but it leads into a fairly anticlimactic - and dare I say underhanded - final battle. No, not battle - assassination is more like it. Long story short: WW and Steve make it into Dr. Von Klemper's lab and, at gun/lassopoint, make him pretend they're lab assistants when Hitler comes in for a re-stabilizing session. As soon as Der Fuerher lies down on the lab table, our heroes proceed to disintegrate him.

Look, I'm not the kind of person who argues that Wonder Woman should never kill, and a clone of Hitler is literally the most acceptable target in the Universe, but the Inglorious Basterds-ness of this whole scene just rubs me the wrong way. Sure, you can argue it's the most pragmatic and least-likely-to-fail option, but it simply feels... cheap, especially for a superhero show. It's like Batman "beating" the Joker by strolling over to Arkham one night and just lobotomizing him.

(It doesn't help that when the two guards in the lab catch on, Steve immediately neutralizes them just by raising his gun. They just don't make Nazis like they used to.)

That said, I do appreciate the effort that Leon Charles is putting into Dr. Von Klemper. Wonder Woman's lasso is basically forcing him to destroy his personal hero, but by God he's not going down without a fight. There's a lot of places where he overacts, but the absolutely crushed look he gives when he hears the flatline and sees the body vanishing is perfect.

Well, at least the rest of the Nazi base might be able to give our heroes an actual fi... oh, no, wait. Gaitan and his men just stroll in and arrest everyone. And then Wonder Woman blows up the lab even though Von Klemper is supposed to have made advances the Americans and the Soviets won't catch up to for years. Way to go.

So... my feelings on this one are definitely mixed. Despite the premise promising lots of insane comic book fun, it starts out pretty damn slow, and while Dennen's Hitler is a joy to watch, he's in the episode far too little to matter much. I suppose I ought to give our heroes' victory points for originality, but again, it just makes it feel like they were never at risk in the last quarter or so, when things should be at their tensest.

But hey, at least it wasn't Superman: At Earth's End.

Omega's Rating:

5 Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
"Dr. Stern, I presume. Or are you?"
"Dr. Stern, I presume. Or are you?"
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Next time: the one Wonder Woman costume redesign that wasn't instantly reviled by tons and tons of angry nerds! Not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary story! Stay tuned.
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Re: Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet: Yet Another Review Series

Post by Disciple »

Wonder Woman (1976) Season 2, Episode 3: The Bermuda Triangle Crisis
Original Airdate: October 7, 1977
Director: Seymour Robbie
Writer: Calvin Clements, Jr.
Supporting Cast: Charles Cioffi as Manta and Beatrice Straight as the Queen
I've been told that if you tilt your head, squint, and huff a gallon of paint thinner, today's episode technically marks Black Manta's debut in live-action. Sure, "Manta" on this show is the guy's actual name, and said guy is white, pudgy, and running a SPECTRE knockoff called ICOPE (International Confederation Of the Power Elite), but that just goes to show the makers of Wonder Woman were way ahead of the curve on the gritty, realistic superhero front.

Also: "dangerous as the manta ray?", Steve? Either someone needs to watch more Animal Planet, or this show's Manta is even less of a villain than the Super Friends one.

Now that that's out of my system, this episode does start with a tremendously strong premise: Diana and Steve are being assigned to protect a nuclear test site being built right next door to Paradise Island. At this point in Wonder Woman's history, Paradise Island was usually treated as little more than a convenient backdrop for her origin, and this is one of the rate times in the show that tries to go beyond that. Again, not exactly original, but it certainly calls for more emoting from Carter than a standard WW script.

And in case you had any doubts: Carter acquits herself beautifully. Sure, we know everything's going to work out alright by the end, but her voice and expression as she tries to criticize the tests without giving away Paradise Island are simply heartbreaking, and in a more serious show this would've been excellent fuel for a multi-episode arc. And on a lighter note, Joe Atkinson actually manages to drop a bit of decent comic relief before disappearing. That's a good boy.

So Diana goes home and uses her tiara to ring up her mom for some advice. Like all good, wise fantasy mentors, the Queen mostly speaks in riddles that are probably code for "fucked if I know what to do", though I was honestly surprised that she's so quick to dissuade Diana from "betraying" a bunch of foreigners.

The next day, Diana and Steve are off to yet another made-up Latin American locale, only this one's so small and obscure it doesn't even have a name. Unlike Solano and Gerlich, Manta rules this place with an iron fist, and his security is good enough to spot our heroes' plane the second it gets into his airspace. And his one-liners aren't too bad, either:

"What are you waiting for? Add another mystery to the Bermuda Triangle."

Manta's lighthouse of doom (really) nails our heroes' plane with a laser thingy, which forces them to parachute down to his island. By the way, is it just me, or are the writers trying to make him Something Special in the rogues gallery, too? Not only are they giving him a pretty beefy resume (his taking down the plane warrants the President's attention!), but they're also trying to make things a little more personal between him and both Steve and Atkinson. It's probably not going to be played to a tenth of its potential, but it's the thought that counts.

Nothing, though, can justify the outfits Diana and Steve picked for this mission. You're going undercover on a supervillain-owned island as "swingers"? Really?

Anyways, our heroes' landing is a rocky one, though I'm not sure what the point of Diana pretending that Steve saved her i-homina homina homina. Shirtless Lyle Waggoner and Lynda Carter in makeshift daisy dukes? This episode must've been the easiest one to pitch to the execs.

(Pleasant bonus: the look on Diana's face when he talks about how the U.S. might give up on building the nuclear site if their mission fails.)

Sadly, before our heroes can chow down on some rubber lobster, some ICOPE thugs swing by to see if the intruders have gone splat as planned. They don't get Steve and Diana, but they do find the parachutes, so our heroes' #1 priority now is getting off the deathtrap as soon as humanly possible.

Man, I was way too hard on last episode's Nazis. At least they had the excuse that Steve was in uniform. Manta's guys can't even spot two people running around who like the '70s threw up on them.

... but they make up for that by torturing the crap out of Robert Mansfield, the last pilot who stumbled onto their little tropic paradise. Sure, it's a standard bloodless Wheel o' Pain, but it's still a lot more hardcore than what passed for torture last episode, especially with the pains they take to make Mansfield so wretched-looking. For once, the bad guys' evil has teeth.

Diana and Steve, white hats they are, decide that they have to rescue Mansfield above all else, so it's back to the old standby: dressing as the enemy. I have to say, Diana makes for one sexy soldier - though you'd think that'd be a problem, since I'm pretty sure Manta isn't in the business of recruiting women for his militias. Still, the scene where Steve cons one of the guards into giving him custody of Mansfield and a list of all of Manta's personnel is undeniably awesome, all without breaking the suspension of disbelief.

Shame that Manta comes out of his cabin right as they're driving off. One badly-edited chase scene later, our heroes are foiled by an empty gas tank. Yes, really.

And look at that - Joe Atkinson actually gets to do something! Sure, it's just organizing the cavalry to go rescue Steve and Diana, and not-Charlie even denies his request to lead the party, but at least it's actually important to the plot. And for such a minor role, Burton's really giving it his all to portray a weathered agent who just won't believe those crazy kids are really dead.

Back at Manta's hideout, Cioffi rattles off a speech that pretty much cements Manta as one of my favorite villains on this show, if not the favorite.

"The world is perfect for my needs just as it is. I couldn't improve it. Countries talk of international goodwill, then conspire against each other. Me, I am just a simple profiteer. I go to one country and I say: "Look, your neighbor's got a gun." And I sell him a cannon.
Then I go to the first country-"

"And you say, "Your neighbors have a cannon." And you sell them a bomb."

"Yes! Isn't it glorious? And then after they blow each other half out of existence, I sell them food. For famine always follows war.
And medicine, for disease always follows famine. War, pestilence, famine and disease. No, the world is perfect just as it is. I wouldn't change a hair."

It's got a definite Bond villain flair to it, but with a twist to make him an extra-suitable foe for Wonder Woman. See, the thing about Wonder Woman is that she's not just here to uphold the status quo from outside threats - like the theme song says, she's here to change the world. So a guy like Manta, who profits off all the darkest, nastiest parts of the world as it is and will do everything in his power to keep war and suffering a necessity, is her natural opposite in every way. And even if you don't care about the thematic stuff, Cioffi's performance is just a joy to listen to - half cheesy OTT Saturday morning supervillain, half all-too-plausible cold-blooded sociopath.

Manta gives our heroes the standard "join me or die" speech, and our heroes politely tell him to shove off. And wouldn't you know it - the U.S. Navy's sending in a destroyer right then and there. Unfortunately, it'll be no match for Manta's super-duper Sting Ray submarine, which is due to collide with it tomorrow morning. Unless our heroes can break out first.

And break out they do, mostly thanks to Diana putting on a "hysterical woman" act and also thanks to Manta putting his oldest, slowest guard on duty. Personally, I think it would've been quicker for Diana to just spin into Wonder Woman and use the lasso to make everyone forget her secret ID when everything's been wrapped up, but I suppose there is some novelty to seeing Lynda Carter scream and flail, even if it's pretend.

One game of hide-and-seek later, Wonder Woman finally steps back into the spotlight aaaaand now we're at the main thing people remember this episode for. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, behold: the Wonder Wetsuit. Forebear to the whole underwater sub-genre of super heroine fetish, and a damn sexy outfit in its own right. Who the fuck needs Aquaman when you've got Lynda Carter all wrapped up in this baby?

(Alright, so the underwater scenes are pretty much all swimming pools. I'd like to see you do better on a '70s TV budget.)

Manta's goons, understandably terrified after the pretty lady in star-spangled undies bitchslapped their bullets out of the air, run back to their boss with tails between legs. And here's another thing I like about Manta: he's understanding. When his men tell him what happened, he instantly connects the dots and admits that he wrongly thought Wonder Woman to be a myth. Not that it matters, because the Sting Ray's going to sink that destroyer... and... second...

... yeah, for all the praise I've heaped on him, Manta's got one big weakness as a villain: he's pretty much screwed no matter what he does at this point. As Diana herself pointed out earlier, even if he does sink the destroyer, that would just encourage America to send more troops after him until his little operation's wiped off the face of the Earth.

But ah, this is Wonder Woman's show, so let's just enjoy her fine, fine behind... er, her blowing up Manta's precious submarine with a stolen mine. Damn, this version of WW's got a higher body count than Keaton's Batman!

At this point, Manta completely loses it and hits the self-destruct button for the entire island, aiming to kill both his own men and the incoming U.S. troops. As for himself - why, he's skedaddling off somewhere else to rebuild, with Steve as his faithful hostage. And even here, Cioffi slips in seamless moments of politeness and dignity amidst all of Manta's screaming meltdowns. Good man.

Manta's reasoning for why Steve won't fight him and his gun: awesome. Steve proving him wrong for a split-second: also awesome. Manta pulling a backup gun without missing a beat: god damn I'm gonna miss this guy.

So, yeah - at this point things start going downhill. Manta gets taken out by Wonder Woman disappointingly quick, and despite his gloating that the bomb on the island is impossible to disarm, the Navy storms the island and beats his men and evacuates everyone off-screen. This, by the way, is a convenient out to that whole "oh noes Uncle Sam is experimenting around Amazon territory" dilemma raised at the beginning of the episode (and pretty much nowhere else). Turns out Manta's bomb screwed up the ocean floor or something so now the nuclear base can't be built in the Triangle.

In other words, it's literally thanks to the bad guy that plot thread was wrapped up. Baaah.

But even then, this episode easily blows away its two predecessors in terms of sheer entertainment value. For once, the stakes feel somewhat palpable, Steve and even Joe Atkinson get to be useful and badass, and Charles Cioffi makes for such a hypnotic villain that one barely notices (or cares) how little screentime Wonder Woman actually gets. But when she does... yowza. That wetsuit will be burned into my mind till the day I die.

Still, I think this episode would've been much, much better as a two-parter. I can only wonder if any episode after will brim with so much potential...

Failing that, couldn't they have at least brought Manta and ICOPE back as recurring villains?

Omega's Rating:

7-and-a-half Golden Lassos (out of 10).

Omega's Screencap Pick:
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