Gloria Steinem's favorite fictional feminist finally makes it to the digital age, and while I let my subscription to Ms. magazine run out years ago, I couldn't resist picking this 3 disc set up for simple nostalgia value. Being a long-standing comic book fanboy, as well as being a child of the late 1970s/early 1980s, it's needless to say that I had a boyhood crush on Lynda Carter as the leggy Amazon princess...
And, I'm not ashamed to admit that I still do.
Making its debut in late 1975, ABC's The New Original Wonder Woman pilot film blended camp sensibilities with good old fashioned Saturday matinee action (with a healthy dose of "subtle" sex appeal), and led to one of the most fondly remembered television shows of the disco era. This set collects what many fans, myself included, consider to be the best of the show's three seasons (ABC airred it during it's inaugrial 14 episodes, and CBS later picked it up for the latter two seasons), which firmly plants Princess Diana in a wartime 1940s setting, reflecting the character's time of conception in her parent medium, comic books.
The quality of the scripts vary during this run of shows, from good clean fun: The pilot and "Formula 407" (episode 11, 1/22/77) to wild, cliffhanger serial-esque hijinx: "Wonder Woman vs. Gargantua" (ep.6, 12/18/76), to downright goofy: "Judgement From Outer Space" (eps. 9 & 10), but likeable, deadpan performances by Carter and Lyle Waggoner as Steve Trevor (a character I used to jokingly refer to as the "male Lois Lane") and several of the celebrity guest-stars (Roy Rogers, Red Buttons, and Cloris Leachman being amongst the best of them) make up for anything lacking in the plot department. Plus, there's the pre-fame Debra Winger as Wonder Girl, a sight that has to be seen to be believed, unintentional humor included.
The show still looks fairly well, even after nearly 30 years and several syndication packages later. I'm sure Warner Bros. probably did some digital clean-up for the transfers, and the Dolby mono mix is surprisingly clean, free of the usual reverb that makes one feel that they're listening the track from a distance while at the bottom of a well.... heh.
Pilot Film Audio Commentary by Lynda Carter and Executive Producer Douglas S. Cramer - Too self complimentary and "cutesy" to be taken as a serious insight into the creation of the show, but it's fun to hear Carter's thoughts on her performance.
Beauty, Brawn and Bulletproof Bracelets: A Wonder Woman Retrospective - Nice documentary featuring interviews with Carter and several of the production team behind the conception of the show, as well as insights from comic book illustrator extraordinaire Alex Ross (the painter behind such works as Marvels, Kingdom Come, and the 2003 Oscars poster, to name a few) and author Les Daniels (who has penned several in-depth books on the history of various comic book publishing entities and their characters) about the history of the amazing Amazon herself in various media venues.
From the incredibly bad faux funk theme song (for some laughs, track down and read a copy of the lyrics to it) to Lynda Carter's patriotic adventures utilizing the "feminist mystique" and a good right hook, all the while dressed in what is essentially a bathing suit, "Wonder Woman- The Complete First Season" is more fun that you could wrangle with a Magic Lasso.
Did I mention the whole "boyhood crush" thing? Lynda Carter could tie me up anytime...hee hee!
Anthony Conn, aka The Hong Kong Cavalier, 7/7/2004