A dastardly Nazi doctor, Erica Belgard (Gretchrn Corbett), has found a way to control a huge, powerful ape named Gargantua, and uses it to secretly capture a turncoat defector (John Hillerman) from the Americans. She and her cohorts, including Hans Eichker (Robet Loggia), decide to use their quarry as bait so that can nab the real prize: Wonder Woman. Back at the War Department, Steve and Diana enlist the help of an expert on animal behavior to determine whom they’re up against – with this discovery WW tracks down the Nazis and gets thrown into a cage with the brown behemoth, but her feminine wiles calms the monster and winds up deprogramming him. The angry Nazis make one more attempt to go after their escaped prey, but their cruel electroshock reprogramming doesn’t work, allowing WW and the Americans to swoop in and destroy the culprits of crimes against humanity – and animality.
A fun entry, with shades of King Kong adding a compassionate element to both the show and its title character – who knew she was both a feminist and ahead-of-her-time animal rights activist? Gargantia is all too obviously a man in a monkey suit, but I was surprised at how quickly I accepted it and just went along for the ride. I think it owes, in part at least, to WW’s increasingly straightforward tone and heavy and fast plotting. There’s no time to mock its production values!
Sci-fi fans may be reminded of the Incredible Hulk episode “The Beast Within,” in which the climax of the show is also a faceoff with a behemoth gorilla. You can pretty much expect the same outcome, minus the setting free of he ape at the end.
Good supporting work here, from Robert Loggia, whom we’ve seen in so many films and shows from the 70s and 80s, and Gretchrn Corbett, whose face you may recognize, particularly from her work on Family, Cheers, and Magnum P.I., and her recurring role on The Rockford Files.
Love the “Invisible Plane Theme”! (Prick up your ears for it next time, and tell me you don’t love that sultry sax.)