6.19.2007

TV NOSTALGIA #1: WONDER WOMAN

“In her satin tights / fighting for your rights / Wonder Woman!” Ms Woman, your title-track is gold. GOLD. They don’t write jingles like yours any more. And it’s gold because it’s also cheese. I love cheese, especially when melted all over my pseudo-feminist pop-culture nostalgia.

But Wonder Woman, what happened to the rest of your show?

Recently, a friend and I hired out Series 1 of Wonder Woman to relive our childhoods. It was a rainy Friday night. We had pizza (childhood), red wine (adulthood), blankies to keep warm (childhood), and apparently no social life calling us off the couch (sadly, adulthood). We clicked Play.

The jingle started, we cheered. The lovely Lynda Carter smiled seductively, we cheered again. Only one problem … I don’t remember my childhood being about fighting the Nazis.

Was Wonder Woman the show really about World War II? Not being a comic-book reader, I had no idea. Neither did I realise she was the Greek goddess Artemis (known as Diana to the Romans) of the Amazon tribes. Blimey! I just thought she was a chick with a great outfit, a lasso that stopped lies, some cool jewellery and an invisible aeroplane. How could I have missed all the serious stuff?

I mean, I know kids today miss some of the adult-intended jokes in movies like Shrek, and that’s kind of the point: it keeps all of us happy and Mike Myers in business, right? But seriously, I must have been a moron of a kid to not get Wonder Woman.

On that rainy Friday night, my friend and I didn’t even make it through the pilot episode of Wonder Woman before we turned it off, bored, and reverted to reruns of Angel.

The next day, I started my research, and to save you the same tragic disillusionment, here’s the drill:

Wonder Woman the character was the brain-child of a dude called William Marston who worked for DC Comics, his wife Sadie Marston, and apparently their threesome gal-pal Olive Byrne (ooh-er!). They developed her in 1940 as a female role model: an unconventional, liberated woman, the female counterpart to the heroes of the day, Superman, Batman and the Green Lantern.

So by the time Wonder Woman made it (successfully) to the small screen in 1975, faithful to the original comics, Diana, played by Carter, was not only an Amazon princess but also a “Yeoman First Class” for the allied war efforts, circa 1942. The pilot episode (the one we couldn’t finish) featured war hero Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) crashing in the Bermuda Triangle on Paradise Island, home of the Amazons. Diana returned to the US with Steve and hung around to help fight the Nazis, uncovered sabotage, and managed to stop numerous catastrophes.

But a year later, Diana entered the 1970s (not having aged a bit, of course). Now an Inter-Agency Defense Command (IADC) agent, she was able to fight crime with mime, disco and physics. Yeah baby! It’s all starting to come back …

Diana went home to Paradise Island after WWII, but – and what are the odds? – 30 years later, Steve Trevor’s son Steve Trevor Jnr (also played by Lyle Waggoner) miraculously crashed in the Bermuda Triangle and onto Paradise Island, of all places. So, faithful to the Trevor family, back the eternally-young and statuesque princess went to the US of A. And disco.

“Fans of the fantastic female need not dismay,” sci-fi magazine Starlog reassured us in 1977, “CBS has taken great pains to give Wonder Woman a facelift that neatly fits into character … WW producer Charles Fitzsimons, when queried about the revamped storyline, beams: ‘We want the show to come into the era of science fiction, to encounter all of the things that are popular with people today … We want a faster pace.’”

Now we’re finally at the Wonder Woman I remember. Lots of guys driving around in fast cars wearing turtle-neck sweaters, and the really beautiful, really clever Diana leaping across buildings while being really moral. Oh and she was also really tall. Apparently, Carter once said, “I’m 5’9 but most people think I’m about 6 feet. It’s because I have very long legs.” So there.

During the next two years, Wonder Woman had many adventures. She took on a mad scientist, fought alien outlaws, rescued a teen heartthrob, found top-secret microfilm hidden inside a Rolls Royce, stopped football players from throwing important games (very important), and even rescued government engineers from a disco, where their minds were being robbed of national secrets. (This has happened to me too).

Ah. I feel better now, not so jaded in my childhood memories. Cheese is still well and truly alive and flavouring my pop culture. Carter says it best, of course: “There’s a strong romantic element in the show along with the fantasy-type characters; a war hero and an Amazon Princess,” she told Starlog in ’77. “Doesn’t every girl still want to be a princess and every boy a hero?”

Hell yeah!

3 comments:

Garrett Faber! said...

Very cool.

Shaun said...

"“In her satin tights / fighting for your rights / Wonder Woman!” Ms Woman, your title-track is gold. GOLD."

>>right on, dude! oh Lynda.

matt alley said...

compelling. you should do like ...ummmm... a writing course, or something.

hehe

m