Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wonder Woman (2011, 1967)

Wonder Woman
Directed by Jeffrey Reiner.
2011. Not Rated, 45 minutes.
Adrianne Palicki
Cary Elwes
Elizabeth Hurley
Edward Herrmann
Tracie Thoms
Justin Bruening
B.J. Britt

This is Christopher Nolan's fault.

Let me explain.

By 2011, Nolan had recreated Batman in Frank Miller's image with the first two installments of his trilogy based on the character, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. His finale, the highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises was on the way. The suits at DC and/or Warner Bros. decided since being a mopey vigilante who clearly suffers from depression works for The Caped Crusader, every superhero should go that route. They were probably buoyed by the fact that the relatively upbeat Green Lantern movie proved to be a critical and commercial flop. There was also some clamoring for a Wonder Woman vehicle on either the big or small screen. And so, we got this.

"This" is yet another TV pilot for the most famous female superhero in the world. This time around, we pick things up in the present and watch as a youngster who just received a college acceptance letter suffers an apparent seizure in the midst of celebrating and falls out. Luckily, he's not dead, but he is in critical condition. We next cut to Wonder Woman chasing down some dude in the streets. When she catches him...well, he also winds up in critical condition. Cue the debate all over the national TV on whether Wonder Woman needs to be stopped because she's a dangerous vigilante. As if that weren't enough Bat-influence, Wonder Woman, as Diana Themyscira, is now the head of Themyscira Industries and is a very wealthy woman. Sigh.

There actually is a plot. Turns out our youngster's issues were caused by some designer PEDs which Wonder Woman has linked to a half dozen deaths of young athletes, "all from the ghettos" she stresses. Yup, she uses the plural form of ghetto. More on that, later. Anyhoo, it seems the drugs were created by Veronica Cale (Hurley), who is obviously up to something nefarious. If only Wonder Woman could prove it.

The problems with this movie start mounting up early and just keep piling. First, and foremost, it insists on making Diana into a fusion of Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark (Iron Man), and a vagina. She's constantly whining about one thing or another. Here is where we talk about that "ghettos" comment. As the words are tumbling out of her mouth, it's clearly presented as some sort of social commentary about manufacturers of questionable, potentially dangerous products targeting people of lower income without caring how their product is affect it's client base. However, she quickly turns this into how difficult it is to be her. In true Stark fashion, she's very arrogant and makes not attempt to hide the fact that she is Wonder Woman. Through a TV news commentator we're told that it's common knowledge that Themyscira Industries funds her "crime fighting operation." She's so brazen, her company is in the midst of creating and marketing a Wonder Woman action figure. This brings about another opportunity for social commentary as the doll is overly endowed in the bust area. Our heroine starts off pretty good, talking about the message it sends to young girls, but of course, this devolves into her complaining about having to be perfect all the time because she's Wonder Woman, complete with an admonishment for her employees for "marketing my tits." Yup, she says that.

The one thing our heroine does hide about herself is her Diana Prince persona. I gather she calls herself this when referring to her life on the island of Themyscira. It's all rather half-baked. Similarly buried is Diana's relationship with Steve Trevor (Bruening). We see them break up two years before the events of the rest of the show, and see Steve when he turns up at the end. Diana gets all sad reminiscing over what they had, but not much else is done until the last minutes. Since this was supposed to be the first episode of a series, I can let it slide.

Another thing I can let slide is the action scenes. The problem is they aren't quite finished. Since the powers that be knew this wasn't going on the air before it was finished they never completed post-production on it. That means, we can clearly see ropes, pulleys, and the like when people are jumping or flying across the screen. If you can pretend you don't see them, the action looks pretty good. Unfortunately, we can.

Despite all I've said, it's not totally unwatchable. The story moves along well enough and Adrianne Palicki gives it her all. It just so happens she gives it to misguided material that removed everything we love about Wonder Woman. We're left with Diana doing a terrible Bruce Wayne impression. And the final straw? Her invisible jet is not invisible, at all.


As bad as this is, there was a much bigger failure in the Wonder Woman universe about 44 years earlier...

Wonder Woman: Who's Afraid of Diana Prince?
Directed by Leslie H. Martinson.
1967. Not Rated, 5 minutes.
Ellie Wood Walker
Maudie Prickett
Linda Harrison
William Dozier

For most of us, Lynda Carter is the definitive Wonder Woman. Lots of people think her version of the character is the original one. Smarter fans will point to Cathy Lee Crosby's 1974 outing as the original. They would be correct, if we're talking about what actually made it on the air. That means a select few of us, now including you, know that there was live-action version of the character even before Crosby's. That version was played by Ellie Wood Walker in 1967 in a TV short that never saw the light of day until someone dug it up and put it on YouTube nearly fifty years later.

This "pilot" is little more than a screen test for a potential series for Wonder Woman. The whole thing is only five minutes long, but it quickly undoes any goodwill the character may have had coming into it. The plot, if you can call it that, finds Diana arguing with her mother (Prickett) on a rather dark and stormy night in the small apartment they share. Diana intuits that Steve Trevor's plane must have went down (he's never shown), and that she must go and rescue him. Diana's mom, not Hippolyta as far as I can tell, wants Diana to stay home and take care of herself by eating her supper. It's all played for jokes. This is no surprise given it was put together by William Dozier, producer of the campy Batman TV series which starred Adam West. Batman: The Movie director Leslie H. Martinson helmed the project. It's painfully unfunny and overacted. Neither Walker nor the team of writers who crafted the script seem to have a grasp on the character. Yes, they were also members of Team Batman. Many of the people who have watched it put it into the so bad it's awesome category. I can't. Not only is it terrifyingly inept, it's not enjoyable. I would say it's totally unwatchable, but somehow I survived it.

Note to self: Making Wonder Woman anything like Batman is a bad idea. Period.


  1. I have seen bits of the 2011 Wonder Woman pilot and... oy.... it was horrendous. I can't see Wonder Woman in pants and that corset isn't very good. At least Lynda Carter's corset wasn't too revealing but still hot enough.

    I don't want to see that 1967 thing. I'm happy you decided to do this marathon of sorts to Wonder Woman in anticipation for the new film. I await your review as I've already posted mine as I'm eager to see it again on TV. I just got to try to convince my mom and sister to see it. It's something that women should see.

    1. Yes, both of these pilots are bad. I hope your mom and sister watch it. I think it's something everyone should see. We can all stand to see a female being heroic.

  2. Oh God, I remember that pilot. That was awful. I'm glad Palicki found her niche with Agents of SHIELD instead.

    1. It was bad, but I don't think she was to blame. She was pretty good, but working with bad material.

  3. That sounds incredibly awful. The backlash for that 2011 must have been pretty huge at the time, or at least I'm hoping it was

    1. People were excited when the 2011 version was announced, but every piece of news that came out of it was awful so it never actually aired.

  4. It's so sad. I remember waiting to see the 2011 Wonder Woman series and seeing some of the "behind the scenes" stunts. I was really looking forward to it...only to see it cancelled before even airing. Of course 2011 is pre-Arrow and before tv producers/writers (re-learned) how to to make comic book heroes for television. I feel like Arrow raised the bar for comic book tv series. I wish WW series could have come into production in a post-Arrow world. I think it would have been better for it.

    The last decent comic book series I remember before Arrow was Birds of Prey, which didn't last long for some reason. The Painkiller Jane series on SyFy was pretty terrible. Admittedly, the Witchblade series was pretty good. I don't remember why that was cancelled so quickly.

    1. It's pretty sad the way this whole WW series went. I'm far, far behind on most superhero shows of this century. I think I've seen a half an episode of Arrow and none of the other two shows you mention. I keep telling myself I'm going to catch up, but I keep falling further and further behind.