Review.

I needed a little bit of escapism tonight, so I decided to sit down and watch the Wonder Woman pilot that was not picked up by NBC. After watching the episode, I think with some hefty tweaking in some parts, this could have been a viable series for the network. I’m going to try to do my best to not spoil it for anyone, but if you want to be kept completely in the dark in regards to the content of the pilot, I suggest you stop reading right now.

Initial Impressions

I’m going to talk about this pilot and compare it to the Lynda Carter series of the 70s simply because I haven’t read a Wonder Woman comic in about a decade or so and I don’t know where she is in the whole scheme of things in print. I know that I really dislike the new costume in the comics and I didn’t really like the new TV costume as presented earlier this year. That being said, the release of the photos of the costume really did the whole attempt at rebooting the franchise a disservice because the new costume doesn’t weigh as heavily as you would expect. It gave a really bad first impression of the reboot, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

In this reboot, lots of folks know who Wonder Woman is. The world knows that Diana Themyscria, the head of Themyscria Enterprises, is Wonder Woman. People call her Wonder Woman when she’s in street clothes and a few call her “Di” when she’s in her Wonder Woman costume. To escape all of this, Diana has a THIRD identity. She is also Diana Prince, an employee of Themyscria Enterprises. So Diana Prince works for Diana Themyscria in a way. And that is not even a huge secret because her two closest friends/people (Henry, the CEO and Etta Candy, her personal assistant) at work know that she is also Diana Prince and they don’t get why she wants to be that. I found this confusing but I found myself really liking Diana Prince because she felt familiar in some ways. She’s definitely a 21st century spin on Lynda Carter’s Diana Prince.  By the way, it’s a shame that this Diana Prince doesn’t spin because she has the ponytail, glasses and everything.

Oh, and I liked Sylvester the cat.

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Plus! She uses a Mac, like everyone else on television.

One of the things that bugged me about NBC’s attempted reboot of “Bionic Woman” a few years ago was that there were no elements of the original series at all in the new show, aside from the name Jaime Somers. I know I’m a geek but I would have had a better time accepting the new Bionic Woman if she at least had some sort of resemblance to the original version when she was being bionic – we needed some version of the ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch sound. I found myself wanting the same thing here. When Wonder Woman jumped I really wanted a muted version of that squeal sound that the 70s series had, even if it was an updated version of the sound. It would make a connection for the generation that has the opportunity to see both series and when people feel connected, there’s that much more of a chance of the reboot being successful. At the very least, there are a few connections to the comics and the 70s series that I’ll mention below.

The Things I Really Liked

I really liked Adrianne Palicki and I didn’t expect to. I thought she pulled the script off well given what she had to work with. I really liked her as Diana Prince, I  semi-liked her as Wonder Woman and I fairly-liked her as Diana Themyscria.  She did a good job and I could accept her as Wonder Woman in the same way that I could accept Cathy Lee Crosby in the first movie before Lynda Carter had the role. She did well with what she had to work with and I think she should have been given a chance. The script had it’s flaws but I think Adrianne did good.

I liked the way Elizabeth Hurley carried on as the bad guy. She mugged it up a bit but it fit the role. I didn’t find her ridiculous, instead I found her somewhat campy. It felt familiar in a way. And I like the way the current political climate was brought into the show.

I liked Henry (forgot his last name) and Etta Candy. I especially liked Etta, played by Tracie Thoms.

I thought Steve Trevor was kind of hot and I liked the back story (given the context of the script) of why she wasn’t all around Steve this time around.

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More spoilers…

Diana Themyscria says “tits” and “ass” and Etta Candy reminds her that “Wonder Woman isn’t vulgar.”  I appreciated that.

I liked the surprise when Wonder Woman is first seen at the last fight scene. She was in a more familiar costume.

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It was obvious that the cinematography was building up to the more familiar costume after she suited up. I wish I knew why there were multiple costumes.

The Things I Didn’t Like

As I mentioned before, I didn’t like the three identities going on. I found it confusing and I found a disconnection with the character because of this.

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I didn’t like the fact that her plane wasn’t invisible and that it had been made by human technology (apparently). I didn’t like that so much was known about her background and her Amazonian roots.

I didn’t like when Wonder Woman returned from her mission and the staff at Themyscria Enterprises applauded her efforts. Wonder Woman always seemed more humble than that and while she shows some humble tendencies in this version, I still found the whole thing a little off for the familiarity of the character.

I don’t like the way Wonder Woman suits up. I knew the familiar ‘spin with a flash’ thing would be deemed too campy for today’s “sophisticated” audience, but just throwing the clothes on removes any mystical or magical element of the character. She’s Batman in more colorful clothing. Not my thing when it comes to Wonder Woman.

Adrianne seems to channel a rebooted Xena more than Wonder Woman at times and while I always love me some Xena, Wonder Woman seems meaner than Xena when she was a warlord before she found her way to good. When you watch the pilot, you’ll see some definitive Lucy Lawless glares and stares.

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The Things I Really Hated

It really bugged me that people called her “Di” instead of Diana. That’s tapping the geek in me, they did the same thing in the Cathy Lee Crosby movie but I don’t think anyone ever called Diana “Di” in the 70s series. As a strong woman, Diana Prince deserves more than a monosyllabic name.

I hated the fact that everyone knew that Wonder Woman and Diana Themyscria were the same person and I really didn’t like the fact that others also knew that Diana Prince was the other two. I think that many gay men and lesbians identified in part with the 70s Wonder Woman (and all the other superheroes of the time) because of the “secret identity” aspect. I know I did. No one knew that Bruce Wayne was Batman or that Clark Kent was Superman back then. And the secret life holds an appeal for anyone that has every dreamed of being someone else, just for a few moments, but has never shared that with anyone. Wonder Woman has a secret identity as Diana Prince and that’s her business and no one else’s. However, the way the script was written, it wouldn’t have worked any other way. Perhaps this was the biggest flaw of the script.

Now, the biggest flaw of the script is that Wonder Woman is a very vengeful woman in this incarnation. She’s angry and mean and vengeful and considers herself above the law. Whoa! That’s just not right. The first fight scene culminates in something that made me gasp, in the final fight scene Wonder Woman outright kills a guy, and not in a nice way at all, and that was just wrong. I think I might have yelled out when that happened. Wonder Woman does NOT kill unless it is an absolute last resort. She also roughs up Veronica Cale pretty wildly. So much for a lasso of truth and then forgetfulness. And she’s also known for her torture techniques. WHA??? I could not forgive the amount of anger and ruthlessness in this version and I suspect this is why the pilot may have not been picked up. Wonder Woman was just too damn mean at times. I get where they were going with the premise of the show and why she was the way she was, but it did not translate well at all for an introduction.

Things To Watch For

One of the cool things of the version of the pilot I saw is that you can see where the special effects weren’t apparently completed in time for the showing. It was kind of fun to spot the wires or the missing golden lasso. I also know how they smash a car into a person now. Though completely unintentional, it was kind of a geeky goodness to see the pilot without all the effects in place. There are a couple of places where they tell you the SFX are lax, “add police cars here”.

On the whole I think that the pilot could have worked after a major overhaul. I could forgive elements of the reboot if there were more familiar elements from the comics and the 70s series. I kind of liked the romantic story angle of it, it didn’t feel too overly girly. If they ever try again, I think Ms. Palicki should get another chance to redeem herself for the reboot. Unfortunately I had a once in a lifetime chance to see the pilot but I suppose if you searched around online you might be able to find it somewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

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