- Wonder Woman (TV series)
show_name = Wonder Woman
caption = Title card from season one
runtime = 60 minutes
William Moulton Marston(characters)
Douglas S. Cramer
Charles B. Fitzsimons Mark Rodgers Wilford Lloy Baumes
country = USA
network = ABC - Season 1
CBS- Seasons 2 and 3
November 7, 1975
September 11, 1979
num_seasons = 3
num_episodes = 59
imdb_id = 0074074 |
"Wonder Woman" is an American
television seriesbased on the DC Comicscomic book character Wonder Woman, created by William Moulton Marston. It starred Lynda Carteras Princess Diana/Diana Prince and Lyle Waggoneras Steve Trevor.
Following an abortive attempt in 1967 to create a series in the mold of the then-popular "Batman" television series and a pilot film in 1974 with Cathy Lee Crosby and Kaz Garas, "Wonder Woman" debuted in 1975 on ABC as a
television movieset during Wonder Woman's early days of World War II. The success of the film led ABC to order first two more special episodes then 11 additional episodes, which aired in 1976, with the roles recast.
Despite its success on ABC, the network was hesitant about picking up the show as a regular series. The producers took the show to
CBS, which did pick up the show as a regular series. "Wonder Woman", now set in the present day, would air for two seasons before being removed from the CBS schedule.
"Who's Afraid of Diana Prince?"
The first attempt to translate Wonder Woman to the small screen occurred in 1967. The success of the "Batman" television series led "Batman" producer
William Dozierto commission a pilot script by Stan Hartand Larry Siegel. A portion of the pilot, under five minutes in length, was filmed under the title "Who's Afraid of Diana Prince?" [cite book
last = Daniels
first = Les
coauthors = Chip Kidd
title = Wonder Woman: The Life and Times of the Amazon Princess
publisher = Chronicle Books
year = 2000
pages = 120
isbn = 0811842339 ] The piece starred Ellie Wood Walker (
Robert Walker Jr.'s wife) as Diana Prince, Linda Harrisonas Diana's Wonder Woman alter ego and Maudie Prickettas Diana's mother.
As with "Batman", the reel took a comic slant on the character, although while the Batman character himself was played straight, in the proposed series Diana Prince (not Wonder Woman) would have been the focus of the comedy. Diana, an awkward and rather plain young woman, lives with her mother close to a U.S. Air Force base. Much of the film consists of her mother berating Diana about not having a boyfriend. When her mother leaves the room, Diana changes into her Wonder Woman costume and admires her reflection in a mirror. What she sees is not Diana Prince, but rather a sexy super-heroic figure (played by Linda Harrison) who proceeds to preen and pose as the song "
Oh, You Beautiful Doll" plays on the soundtrack. The pilot ends with Diana climbing out a window and flying away, indicating that, despite her apparent delusions regarding her alter ego, she does have some super powers. This pilot episode was never broadcast and the project was taken no further. The pilot has been circulated on the Internet and is of interest to "Planet of the Apes" fans for the early appearance of Linda Harrison, who would later go on to play Nova in the first two films of that series.
Wonder Woman's first actual broadcast appearance was as a guest in an episode of "
The Brady Kids" cartoon series in 1972, entitled "It's All Greek to Me". The Brady kids meet Wonder Woman and together they find themselves accidentally transported back to the time of the Ancient Olympic Games. The kids plan to compete in the marathonand beat the Greek athletes to qualify for the race. Wonder Woman convinces the kids to disqualify themselves, explaining that if they win the race they will change the course of history. [cite web
title = The Brady Kids: It's All Greek to Me
publisher = TV.com
url = http://www.tv.com/the-brady-kids/its-all-greek-to-me/episode/57936/summary.html?tag=ep_list;title;12
accessdate = 2008-01-10]
Shortly thereafter Wonder Woman was included in the "
Super Friends" cartoon series, which eventually enjoyed a long and successful run.
Wonder Woman (1974)
Wonder Woman's first appearance in live-action television was a
television moviemade in 1974 for ABC. Written by John D. F. Black, the film, a pilot prepared for the 1974 television season, resembles the Wonder Woman of the "I Ching period." Wonder Woman ( Cathy Lee Crosby) did not wear the comic book costume, demonstrated no superhuman abilities and her "secret identity" of Diana Prince was not all that secret. The film follows Wonder Woman, assistant to government agent Steve Trevor ( Kaz Garas) as she pursues a villain named Abner Smith ( Ricardo Montalban) who has stolen a set of code books containing classified information about U.S. government field agents.cite book
last = Hofstede
first = David
coauthors = Tom Bergeron (contributor)
title = What Were They Thinking?: The 100 Dumbest Events in Television
publisher = Back Stage Books
year = 2004
pages = 31-3
isbn = 0823084418]
The pilot aired originally on March 12, 1974 [cite news
title = TV Staff Previews
work = Uniontown (PA) Morning Herald
date = 1974-03-12
accessdate = ] and was repeated on August 21 of that year. [cite news
title = TV Key Best Bets
work = Wisconsin State Journal
date = 1974-08-21
accessdate = ] Ratings were described as "respectable but not exactly wondrous."cite news
last = Shales
first = Tom
title = Wonder Woman Tries Comeback
work = Washington Post
date = 1975-11-07
accessdate = ] ABC did not pick up the pilot, although Crosby would later claim she was offered the series that was eventually given to Lynda Carter. [cite news
last = Joby
first = Tom
title = Cathy Crosby turns down 'Wonder Woman' offer
publisher = Associated Press
date = 1980-05-12
accessdate = ] An ABC spokesperson would later acknowledge that the decision to update the character was a mistake and the pilot itself has been labeled one of the "hundred dumbest events in television."
Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman
The New Original Wonder Woman
Though not successful at the first attempt, ABC still felt a "Wonder Woman" series had potential, and within a year another pilot was in production. Keen to make a distinction from the last pilot, the pilot was given the rather paradoxical title "The New Original Wonder Woman".
Scripting duties were given to
Stanley Ralph Ross, who was instructed to be more faithful to the comic book and to create a subtle "high comedy." Ross set the pilot in World War II, the era in which the original comic book began.
After an intensive talent search, a former beauty pageant winner and Bob Hope USO cast member from
Arizonanamed Lynda Carterwas chosen to play the lead role. For the role of Steve Trevor, the producers chose Lyle Waggoner, who at the time was better known as a comedic actor after several years co-starring in " The Carol Burnett Show". He was also known to Ross as having been one of the leading candidates to play "Batman" a decade earlier. Waggoner was also considered a pin-up hunk, having done a semi-nude pictorial in the first issue of " Playgirl".
Although the pilot followed the original
comic bookclosely, in particular the aspect of Wonder Woman joining the military under the assumed name of Diana Prince, a number of elements were dropped. While the comic Diana obtains the credentials of a look-a-like nurse, in the pilot Diana Prince appears as a Navy enlisted woman (First Class Petty Officer Yeoman) without explanation. The ancient myths and legends which formed many of the early Wonder Woman comic bookstories were lost too, in favour of more conventional stories involving Nazis. And, on a minor note, Steve Trevor was no longer blonde, but dark haired.
One change which was later to become synonymous with the show was the twirling transformation which dissolved Diana Prince into Wonder Woman. Lynda Carter claims to have suggested the move herself. [cite video
people = Carter, Lynda
title = The New Original Wonder Woman commentary
medium = DVD
date = ]
For television, Wonder Woman also had the ability to impersonate anyone's voice, which sometimes came in handy over the phone. This ability vanishes after the first few episodes.
Unlike the earlier pilot, the comic book origins of the character were emphasized not only by the retention of the character's traditional costume and original setting but through the use of comic book elements. The series' title sequence was animated in the form of a series of comic book panels featuring Wonder Woman performing a variety of heroic feats. Within the show, location and exposition were handled through comic book-style text panels. Transitions between scenes and commercial breaks were marked by animated starburst sequences.
During World War II, Major Steve Trevor bails out during an air battle over the
Bermuda Triangle, location of Paradise Island. The island is home to the Amazons, beautiful, ageless women with great strength, agility, and intelligence. Amazon princess Diana rescues Trevor and nurses him back to health. Her mother, the Amazon queen ( Cloris Leachman), decrees that games shall be held to select one Amazon to return Trevor to the United States, but she forbids Diana to participate. Diana enters the contest in disguise (a blond wig), and ties for first. The contest is decided through "Bullets and Bracelets," where each of the two take turns shooting at the other, who must try to deflect the bullets. Diana successfully deflects all the shots at her, but her opponent is injured by one of Diana's shots. Diana removes her wig and reveals her identity, and proclaims her loyalty and love to her people, her queen and mother. Her mother agrees to send her with her blessing.
Her costume is designed to feature American emblems in the hope that she will be accepted in her new home and her golden belt will be her source of strength and power. She retains her bracelets, which deflect bullets, and also receives a golden lasso which is indestructible and forces people to obey and tell the truth when bound. Diana is now known as "Wonder Woman," and flies to
Washington, D.C.in an invisible plane. After dropping Trevor off at a hospital, the heroine stumbles upon a bank robbery, which she stops. A theatrical agent who sees her in action invites her to take her Bullets and Bracelets act on the road as a theatrical attraction. Diana is hesitant, but she needs money in this society, so she agrees.
Meanwhile, Trevor's civilian secretary, Marcia (
Stella Stevens), is revealed as a double agent for the Nazis. She seeks to aid top spies in killing Trevor and opposing the new threat, Wonder Woman, although her first attempt — arranging for an audience member to fire a machine gun at Wonder Woman during her stage show act — backfires when the Amazon easily deflects the multiple bullets. Later, at the hospital, Diana disguises herself as a nurse in order to keep an eye on Steve. As spy activities increase, Trevor leaves the hospital and is captured, prompting his "nurse" to do a spin in the hall where she slowly peels off uniform parts and replaces them with her Wonder Woman costume, before heading off to rescue him. Wonder Woman defeats the villainess and the spies, breaking up the spy ring. The film closes as Steve meets his new secretary, Yeoman Diana Prince (Wonder Woman in disguise).
The pilot film, aired on
November 7, 1975, was a ratings success, and ABC quickly authorized the production of two one-hour specials which aired the following April. Technically speaking, these three productions were the show's first season.
These episodes scored strong enough ratings that ABC commissioned a further 11 episodes for the 1976-77 season, several of which were used to fill in for the "Bionic Woman" television show when production on that show had to be suspended while its star,
Lindsay Wagner, recovered from a car accident. Notably, two stories (one of them a two parter) introduced Debra Wingeras Wonder Girl, in one of her first on-screen roles.
Few changes were made between the pilot episode and specials and the series itself. The most memorable change, indeed what became the 'signature moment' of the show, was the introduction of an explosion effect to the twirling transformation, to change Diana Prince into her super-heroic counterpart. This magical sequence, which appeared at least once in most episodes, has been incorporated into both the comic book and animated versions of the character.
In the original pilot and specials this sequence was performed by fading between two synchronized shots, both filmed with an over-cranked camera to create a
slow motioneffect. A twirling Diana would gradually dissolve into Wonder Woman. But this sequence was too expensive, in time and money, to maintain. A camera would need to be 'locked off' (secured in place), and Carter's costume, make up and hair altered between shooting the two segments which made up the sequence. The "thunderclap" was added to mask the join between the two segments, allowing each segment to be shot independently, without need for a locked off camera, at more convenient points in the shooting schedule. Apparently, the sound effect is only audible to the audience and to Diana; she uses this change adjacent to a dormitory of sleeping women, in adjoining office spaces, backstage at a live show, in the woods behind a crowd of soldiers, and other locations where she would attract attention if the "boom" was heard. Additionally, there was a scene where she was explaining to Wonder Girl about her dual identity. During this scene, she started off in her "Wonder Woman" costume, then she started to spin. The camera cut to Wonder Girl for a moment, then cut back to Wonder Woman, who was now back in her Diana Prince military uniform. This transformation was not accompanied by any sound or light effects.
Another change involved the relationship between Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman. Although Carter and Waggoner had good chemistry, it was decided to play down the romantic aspects found in the comic, and, ultimately, the characters remained simply good friends. Executive producer Douglas S. Cramer noted the difficulties inherent in maintaining long-term romantic tension between leads, with the resolution of that tension often resulting in the cancellation of the series. [cite video
people = Cramer, Douglas S
title = The New Original Wonder Woman commentary
medium = DVD
date = ]
The series began at a time when violence on television was under intense scrutiny. As a result, Wonder Woman was less frequently shown punching or kicking people the way she did in the early episodes. The character would usually be shown pushing and throwing enemies, or using creativity to get them to somehow knock themselves out (jumping high into the air causing pursuers to collide). Despite the wartime circumstances, the character never resorted to deadly force (the only exception occurs in the pilot film when she sinks a Nazi submarine with an explosive plane, although the fate of the sailors aboard is never actually specified).
Wonder Woman herself was occasionally defeated by the Nazis, but she always came back in the second half of the show to save the day. Among the things the Nazis used on her were
chloroformand poison gas. Her enemies also occasionally stole away her belt (leaving her without her super strength), her lasso, and her bracelets (leaving her defenseless against gunfire), but Wonder Woman always recovered the respective stolen component by the end of the episode.
Warner Home Videohas released all 3 Seasons of "Wonder Woman" on DVD in Region 1.
Mego Corporationreleased a line of dolls in 1976 to correspond with the TV series. The boxes originally featured Lynda Carteras Wonder Woman on the front flap. However, in 1977, her image on the box was dropped and the line was revamped with only the Wonder Woman doll being featured and revised. DC Direct(which creates merchandise for DC Comics) released a Wonder Woman statue in 2007 which is based upon the image created by Lynda Carter.
* [http://www.wonderwoman-online.com/movies.html "Wonder Woman" video clips from the 1967 pilot, Lynda Carter series, and the animated incarnations.]
* [http://www.wonderland-site.com/html/series/wonder/60s/ww67-00-00.htm "Whose Afraid of Diana Prince" info and complete short film]
* [http://www.wonderland-site.com/html/series/wonder/cathylee/ww74-00-00.htm Information and 7 video clips from first Wonder Woman TV-movie]
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