Monday, May 13, 2013

Wonder Woman 2.1: The Return of Wonder Woman

Airdate: 9/16/77

It is now 1977, and a same-age Steve Trevor (explanation later), serving as a head government security official, is flying over Devil’s Triangle to Samarra, where he hopes to install a nuclear power facility. It’s also of interest to – the bad guys, including a suave British megalomaniac, Dr. Solano, and his delicious but devious cohort, Gloria. When one of their lackeys gas-bombs the plane it dives sharply down and looks headed for certain disaster, but on nearby Paradise Island, Diane steers the plane safely to landing courtesy her special magnetic field. On board, she immediately recognizes Steve, and later ascertains that it’s her old WWII boss’s lookalike son. Determining that the world is still in danger, she vows to return to the states as Wonder Woman, and hypnotizes Steve into believing he has an associate waiting for him – Diana Prince, WW’s eternally heartsick alter-ego. The plane lands in Samarra as if nothing has happened – the unaccounted-for time chalked up to the supernature of Devil’s Triangle.

The union of nations gathered to discuss the new South American nukes is headed by – you guessed it – Gloria and Dr. Solano, who believes by disrupting this part of the world, the “fulcrum on which geopolitical power is balanced,” he can begin several world wars and emerge the all-powerful victor (ah, who needs Hitler in 1977?). Neither a special prototypical robot adept at fencing nor special face-transplant surgery resulting in a Steve Trevor doppelganger can stymie WW’s race to the rescue – but Dr. Solano does escape, perhaps to serve as WW’s nemesis some other time.

A lot of work to bring the series up to the present day, but it all does seems to work, although in an odd way the show seems more dated, with all the unfortunate 70s fashions and primitive technology (gotta love the computer!). No longer must they rely on Nazis as villains every single time – here they can explore the wide, wonderful world of “modern” evil in all shapes and forms.

But despite the setting and title change (it’s now The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, and the opening now has Ms. Carter’s name above the titles), the producers clearly didn’t want to disrupt a proven formula too much – there’s still the comic-book style location panels, the transformations are intact, same basic score and sound effects. General Blankenship is now Joe Atkinson, a security higher-up, and Diana is now Steve’s “associate,” as a nod to the feminist movement now in full flower.

Special effects courtesy Reynolds Wrap
Fritz Weaver is good as Solano but even better is Jessica Walter as Gloria; remember her as the psychopathic jiltee in Play Misty For Me? A bit less unbalanced but no less fearsome here, and her daggery glances at Diane are just as much fun as the ruff-and-tumble catfight they have in Diana’s apartment.

This is also a feature length season premiere (well – almost – it’s a hour and a half), and this begins what would become my favorite night of television in all broadcast history. Starting at 8:00 now, by March of ’78 it would move to 9, with The Incredible Hulk airing at 8, a place it would keep for the next four years, with The Dukes of Hazzard ultimately replacing WW. Wow, it really didn’t get any better than this!

Oh, and for a change, WW does not succumb to being gassed!

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