Monday, April 15, 2013

Back to the 70: The Original "She-ro"

Wonder Woman! Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman.
All the world's waiting for you,
and the power you possess…

Ah, yes, Wonder Woman. Those bulletproof bracelets. Those awesome gold boots. That low-cut outfit—well, perhaps that’s something I appreciate more now. Flashback to a 7-year old in feetie pajamas who couldn’t wait for the weekend. Not just because of no school, but because my Saturday morning started on Friday night: that’s when CBS would show the one-two punch of Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk (and who said Marvel and DC didn’t get along?). This was back when the dearth of children’s shows (compared with today), meant that we had to wait for those magical moments when we could watch. And Friday at 8:00 was one such moment. All was right with the world!

Wonder Woman certainly wasn’t the first TV show based on a comic book; let’s not forget the original Superman series from the 50s’s and campy Batman from the 60’s. But Wonder Woman, upon its premiere in 1975, certainly resurrected the genre, paving the way for the aforementioned Hulk as well as The Amazing Spider Man and the short-lived Captain America, all on CBS. It also stirred interest in the movies as well, certainly adding incentive to finish the already conceived Superman film. Woman wasn’t quite as campy as its Batman precursor, nor was it uber-serious, or as grim and dark as modern-day seuperhero incarnations tend to be. Played somewhere in the middle, it quickly became a ratings hit and lasted for three full seasons.

Actress Lynda Carter’s acting career was catapulted after landing the titular role. Cathy Lee Crosby first played the part in a 1974 TV-movie (see review of
pilot for details), but she looked nothing like the character and demonstrated no super-powers. (Not sure but isn’t that what an alter-ego is for?) Carter’s raven-hued tresses and statuesque built made her a perfect fit for both Wonder Woman and Diana Prince. And don’t forget – superhero dramas back then were probably only about 10% action, meaning the rest was drama – Carter’s solid acting chops certainly helped her carry the show sans cape and crown (correspondingly, The Incredible Hulk lasted 5 seasons due primarily to Billy Bixby’s empathic, highly underrated performance as Dr. David Banner).

And so, without further ado, I take you back 38 years (oh my God!) on a three-season journey of danger, diabolical plans, and disco theme songs. Behold, Wonder Woman – all the world’s still waiting for you!

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