Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Discuss: Wonder Woman

Karen: We had some remarks about this 70s show starring Lynda Carter the other day. Now's your chance to really expand upon your comments and ideas - but let's keep it clean!


david_b said...

Again, brushing off the 'All We Had Back Then' files.., I watched the show intently in the first year. Placed back in WWII, I felt it really resonated in a fun, not-quite-campy fashion. It was set against a more innocent backdrop and both Carter and Waggoner really shined.

Once I saw the plans for the 2nd Year, grafting the concept to the present, I knew that would be lost. The show unfortunately strayed away from sophisticated humor towards a more conventional "family-safe" non-violent, action/adventure take, with all the contemporary trappings, those BIG glasses (hey, everyone had 'em back in the Bronze Age..), and a computer named IRAC for a boss.

"Sheesh..typical television producers.."

By the time the third year came, it was still nice to see Ms. Carter on-screen, even as an agent, but I missed the first year magic too much by then. It had frankly become as stale, left without much for residual personality, as say, the brief Spiderman series.

But alas, one can still cherish seeing Ms Carter on television, and to my mind, STILL perfectly cast as our Wonder Woman.

Anonymous said...

When I think of the WW show, I immediately think not of the look of it (or of Lynda Carter, surprisingly) but of the theme song, which indicates to me that they did a great job with it, but the lyrics have a familiar problem, and, apologies if the following sounds a bit Anti-American. It’s not, just anti – TV producers.

One thing that always disappoints with super hero adaptations is the attempt to insist that their virtuous qualities are uniquely American, which suddenly means they’re fighting for capitalism, and all that entails (good and bad). Capitalists are not actually famous for their love of social justice, nor necessarily of being truthful. Superman is Kryptonion, so why on Earth (!) would he fight for Truth, Justice and the AMERICAN way?

Another point: surely if Superman is interested in fighting for Truth and Justice, he would, of course, set up shop in the place on Earth that is most LACKING in these qualities, not in the place where they are most exemplified? You put the grease on the wheel that squeaks!

Likewise, Wonder Woman, according to the song is fighting for the Old Red White and Blue (costume to match). But she is an Amazonian, right? I realise these things are designed to sell primarily to the home market, but Wonder Woman has something in common with 96% of the rest of the world’s population: she ain’t American.

It also has a strange mix of times settings: ‘fighting for your rights, in your satin tights’. Pure genius. A nod to her 70’s feminist credentials, immediately shattered by ogling her legs...nice one. Then the rest of the song is about fighting Nazis. And, again, an Amazon would not be fighting for her the Amazon tribe; the women had all the power to start with.

Before anyone points it out, yes, I’m aware I’m presenting a straight-faced, serious critique of what amounts to a TV jingle, but, hey, if we’re not going to take this stuff seriously...who will?


Roygbiv666 said...

The fact that you felt compelled to say "keep it clean" may indicate some of the show's appeal ... ;-)

I was always annoyed by the lack of super-villains.

Superman fighting for "Truth, Justice and the AMERICAN way" - surely he is fighting for the ideals of America, that all men are created equal, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, power comes from the consent of the governed and all that, rather than necessarily whatever you or I think America _is_?

I'm going to have to dig out my DVDs of the fist two seasons and watch a couple to really have an opinion beyond "I love you Lynda Carter".

Anonymous said...

Superman was raised American. His ideals stem from that. He is Krptonian merely by virtue of genetics.

Everything David B & Anonymous said: I feel exactly the opposite.


Anonymous said...

Wonder Woman and Superman reflected American values because the characters were created by Americans, and published by an American company, and the adaptations were produced and broadcast by American companies. Just as James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and Bulldog Drummond reflected a British worldview, and Godzilla movies reflect a Japanese attitude. And "the American way" is not necessarily about capitalism. A socialist or communist candidate could legally run for office in the US, and could win if he/she garnered enough votes. I would say the American way is more general. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution speak of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, due process of law, and reasonable limits on government power (to prevent abuse of authority). Anyway, getting back to what was supposed to be the topic, the show was good campy fun, especially the first season with the WWII setting. I would have preferred more colorful villains, but WW never seemed to have an impressive rogues' gallery even in the comics. And Lynda Carter was the perfect choice to play the part.

Anonymous said...

Lynda Carter is just perfect.


Doug said...

A couple of comments on the WW costume:

How in the world did they squeeze Carter's waist into the corset/bustier? I always think that her waist is disproportionately thin compared to her hips.

And, isn't it refreshing, Miss Karen, to see a super-heroine clad in somewhat modest bun-huggers, as compared to the modern depiction of butt-floss?? Man, any chance you get to use the term "butt-floss", seize it!


david_b said...

Doug, I can honestly admit, I never thought I'd hear that term come out of your mouth...

Not disagreeing at all, just surprised, sir.

As for the impressive WW outfit, I felt it was in-and-of itself, one of the true stars of the show. It was very true to the actual outfit in comics (unlike the earlier unsuccessful Crosby outing..) and it remained a flashy, yet again 'family-friendly' selling point. Never gaudy, it reflected Amazonian heroism and when worn with the cape was sensational.

And yes, Ms. Carter wore it quite well. The issue of the costume being a main thread of conversation thus far (and 'keeping it clean'..) reveals the depth of interest in the actual stories themselves. Again, without the charm of the first year, the remaining years had little if any difference from the 70s action shows prevalent at the time (at least they gave Steve Austin a Bigfoot to fight...)

Doug said...

Actually, David, the term came out of my fingers... ;)

Present-day costuming has long been an object of ridicule among my partner and I, and I believe as a woman Karen takes some offense at the over-sexualizing of female characters. As a male, I'll agree that modern artists really bring women down to the state of "objects" in comics.

So yes -- crude term, but in my (our) opinion, not inappropriate to the visuals it references.

Unknown said...

The pilot film, as I recall, was one of the more faithful comic-to-film adaptations ever. And what do you know...staying true to the source material worked!

I thought the first season had a lot of charm to it. Moving the series to contemporary times was the moment the show jumped the shark, unfortunately. Every episode was like watching the worst episodes of the Six Million Dollar Man starring Lynda Carter.

We did get Baroness Paula Von Gunther, who was a WW II era comics villain. It's a shame we didn't get Giganta or the Cheetah. Either one of those could have been really interesting. We're probably better off without Egghead though, or most anything from the Kanigher era.

Lynda Carter was perfectly cast. The shadow she would cast on anyone trying to follow in her boots is immense. I think WW might be one case where it would be absolutely futile to try and recast it for another film or TV series. How do you even approach perfection a second time?

Anyone see her cameo in Super Troopers? Hilarious!

James Chatterton

Lemnoc said...

I also enjoyed the earlier WWII setting, and think a lot more could have been done with it. Nazis make hellishly excellent bad guys, and there is no end to them.

I don't think it would have been a budget buster, either. I think of Rat Patrol and how they were able to do the world-at-war thing on a pretty spartan budget.

Lack of awesomely villainous bad guys was a problem... and always has been for WW in whatever setting. This was always the problem with superhero television, going all the way back to George Reeves as Superman. All those powers and no one to match them.

The series really could have used a Red Skull.

Anonymous said...

I much prefer the modern era seasons. I felt the WW2 episodes were much goofier and pretty much the same week after week.

As for the modern setting making it "the same" as other action shows, nah. I guess Avengers is the same as X-Men as those movies are the same genre and modern setting.

Anonymous said...

Lynda Carter has the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen on television. Forget her body, the costume, it's the eyes!

Plus she did a fantastic job with her acting, struck a fine balance and showcased Wonder Woman's relentless pacifism and optimism.


Inkstained Wretch said...

This was another show that I watched with my older sister when it originally ran. It honestly never seemed like "jiggle show" to me like Charlie's Angels but a sweet-natured, if campy, attempt to translate the Amazon princess to screen. I have fond memories of it, even though I haven't watched an episode since its original run.

To get back to a topic that we discussed a bit with the Six Million Dollar Man, the show had a GREAT title sequence and theme song. Man, it was worth tuning in just to see that whole section.

They used the theme song to hilarious effect, I recall, in the film comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar.

Edo Bosnar said...

Well, I have to go along with the consensus and state that Lynda Carter was perfectly cast as Wonder Woman. And it went beyond the obvious, er, charms of her physique which all the little boys (and their dads and older brothers) found so mesmerizing. She had this wholesome beauty aspect about her and a kind of charisma that seemed to appeal to everyone, regardless of sex. I remember that both the boys AND girls in my school watched it regularly, and during recesses at school the girls would play Wonder Woman and fight over who got to be her (the same way us guys fought over who would be Spider-man or Batman). It was the same with my girl cousins, who thought I was really weird for reading comics, but just adored Wonder Woman...
As for the show itself, I tend to agree with those who prefer to initial WW2 season over the later, modern-day seasons.

Edo Bosnar said...

Otherwise, it's rather amusing to recall that Debra Winger got her start playing Wonder Girl...

William said...

"- but let's keep it clean!"

Oh, then I've got nuthin'.

William said...

Wait, I do have something.

I love when she jumps in the ocean, but when it shows her under water she's clearly in a swimming pool. They don't even try to disguise the fact in the least.

And isn't it ironic how a super heroine, who basically wears a bathing suit as a costume, changes into a full-body wet suit to go in the water.

Karen said...

I just threw in the 'keep it clean' comments because we've had a few lewd remarks from non-regulars lately. But everyone has been fine.

Now when I get around to the Isis post, well, I will need a really strong statement about keeping it clean!


Anonymous said...

Like many of the others here, I thought the series was best when it was set during WW II. I always figured they went to the modern setting because it was probably cheaper for them to do so. I was never as interested in it after that.

I always liked Lynda Carter though. She was not only pleasing to the eye, but she did a good job playing the part. However, I was never a big Lyle Waggoner fan and figured Ms. Carter got splinters whenever she had to do a kissing scene with him.


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