Monday, April 22, 2013

Wonder Woman 1.3: Beauty on Parade

Airdate: 10/13/76

When a security breach and explosion at an army base prompts an investigation, Steve Trevor suspects an inside job, possibly coming from a touring beauty pageant. Diana dons a red wig and goes undercover as a contestant, despite raised eyebrows from a few competitors and especially the piano player, Monty Burns (Bobby Van). Steve soon discovers that the continuing attacks at the bases, until now believed to be acts of sabotage on a valued radar-jamming project, are actually part of a coordinated plan to assassinate General Eisenhower. Ultimately, Monty catches on that Diana is quite as she appears, but his plan to kill her by “accidentally” dropping a PA system on her is foiled by an avaricious co-contestant who steals her act at the last minute, and by, you guessed it, Wonder Woman – running to the rescue to defend Steve and a certain future President of the United States!

First official season premiere episode (after a pilot and two trial episodes the previous Spring) has it all – action, adventure, drama – and fair amount of bathing beauties to keep kids, and their fathers, entertained. The show’s budget appears to be a bit larger, given longer, more elaborate action scenes, and rough edges are smoothed over, such as the awkward Diana-to-WW transformation scenes, which now eliminate the slo-mo and use a light flash instead of a dissolve (although she still checks herself after transforming – still odd). Decision to have Diana go undercover allows her to do more sans the satin tights, and presages the superhero-less Charlies Angels (using the same Executive Producer), proving that girl power doesn’t need capes or crowns (but still a hair and makeup department).

The who’s who of the 70s also continues with guest stars Bobby Van and Dick Van Patten, the latter cast as the pageant’s emcee, a Bob Hope-styled radio star whose magic act sets the stage for the show’s climax. Of course, Patten would go on to star as the Bradford patriarch in Eight as Enough, and Van was one of those stars “famous for being famous’: something you could do if you made the 70s rounds of variety, game and talk shows, and The Love Boat.

Gotta love those synthesized sound effects! Most notable: the one used for WW’s jumps, which sound suspiciously like that used in The Bionic Woman. 

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