Monday, December 12, 2016

Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman, and science fiction




If it wasn't for Super Sci-Fi Saturday Night on MeTV, 2016 would have driven me insane a long time ago.

It's also what got me to do that post on the Hulk a while back. This time, I will be focusing on Wonder Woman.

Yes, I mean the Lynda Carter series. I know, I know, Gal Gadot is hot and does a fine job in the role, but be honest...she's no Lynda Carter.

In re-watching the series on MeTV, I'm pleasantly surprised by how many science fiction elements the show had. My faded, youthful memories of the series had it being more of a "crimefighting" program, owing much more to the cop shows of its day than to comics. Not entirely so. With the help of a few online compendiums, I've selected a few of my favorite episodes that highlight these themes.

"Wonder Woman vs Gargantua"--This is from the first season, which was basically Wonder Woman fights World War II. "Gargantua" in this case is a giant gorilla that fights Wonder Woman. As a kid, I thought the name was a stand-in for Wonder Woman's enemy, Giganta. Instead it's a guy in a gorilla suit.  And John Hillerman...Higgins from Magnum PI...as a defecting Nazi agent.

"Judgment from Space"--this two-parter is essentially a riff on The Day the Earth Stood Still. An alien named Andros arrives on Earth with a message for humanity: World War II is a sure sign that humans are too warlike and are therefore a danger to the galaxy. If we don't change our ways, Andros will have no choice but to report to his alien council that Earth must be erased. Andros is played by Tim O'Connor, Dr. Huer of Buck Rogers fame. Also interesting is the fact that Andros brings up Japanese Internment as evidence that America isn't entirely on the side of the angels.

"Mind Stealers from Outer Space"---this was in the second season. By this point, the show was technically called The New Adventures of Wonder Woman and was set in the "present day" of 1977. Wonder Woman, in her secret identity of Diana Prince, worked in the U.S. intelligence service. There's a supercomputer named IRAC and its wheeled robot extension, Rover. They also ditched the lyrics to the show's theme song, so no more "in her satin tights, fighting for her rights, and the old red white and blue."
Anyway, this two-parter brings the son of Andros to Earth. This time there is an alien race named the Skrill that have infiltrated the Earth. They're here to steal the minds of humans and then sell them. They all seem to be covered in sparkly Nerf. These evil invaders do have a rather formidable weapon against Wonder Woman, a creature named Zardor...whom I can only describe as a cross between Darth Vader and Eddie, the Iron Maiden mascot. Yes, you can see the obvious Star Wars influence in the show, but it was 1977 after all.
But really. I can't get over how sparkly and "fabulous" the Skrill looked.

"Spaced Out"--Where else would you hide a stolen laser crystal? At a sci-fi con, of course. Guest starring Robby the Robot.

"Starships are Coming"--More aliens. Up to no good as usual. They also look very similar to the Skrill, but nowhere near as fabulous. Interestingly enough, Tim O'Connor guest stars once more. This time he's an eyepatch-wearing military officer who is an expert on UFOs.

I can't find the title for it, but I saw an episode last weekend where a Bond-esque criminal organization projects a hologram of a UFO to cause a Soviet fighter pilot to eject from his nuclear-armed plane. Borrowing from Thunderball, the bad guys recover the warhead and Wonder Woman must stop them.

Like most other superhero TV of the 1970s, Wonder Woman had her power levels taken down considerably. If she can't deflect a bullet with her bracelets, she could get shot and injured. She's susceptible to knock out gas and she isn't nearly as strong as her comic book rendition. Then again, a true adaptation would have been difficult if not impossible given the fx tech of the times.

Regardless, it's all enjoyable for sure. I look forward to more Saturday nights with Lynda Carter.

On the TV, I mean. Yeah. I'm that lame.



Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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