Wonder Woman – Season 1. Episode 4: “Beauty On Parade”

Whoo-hoo! This one is  … well, perhaps “Sexism On Parade” would be a better title. It’s as if someone from the network went in to the writer’s room and said, “What’s better than a star-spangled bathing suit? A whole bunch of 70s-style bathing suits pretending to be 1940s-appropriate!”

Her talent was lassoing people. With magic.

Buckle up those invisible seatbelts — here we go!

Ultimately, this extremely convoluted scheme revolves around making the rising star, General Eisenhower, take a different route to a secret meeting at a fort than the one he’s supposed to take. Which is why we open on a bunch a military police who let a cave tunnel get blown up.

Starts off with a bang …

Meanwhile, at the War Department, Not-General Blankenship (Okay, I get it. The old one’s not coming back. I hereby re-dub him General Blankenship … the Second) explains that secret radar scanner components that are being assembled for a secret test have had sabotage at three different secret facilities.

Really, security is tight?

The final assembly is tomorrow night, so Steve and Diana head out to Fort Russell to make sure the scanner gets final assembled. They meet with the head of security there, who brags smarmily about how everyone on his base is cleared.

Eight girls is NOT enough!

Cue Dick van Patten and two carloads of beauty queens driving up with dozens of horny soldiers trotting behind them. His explanation? “They’re boosting morale, major!”

It’s the Miss GI Dreamgirl contest, hosted by radio celeb Dick van Patten and the finals will be held (wait for it …) tomorrow night! What. Are. The. Odds.

Diana quickly figures out Dick and the girls have also been at the three other forts that were sabotaged. Is Dick van Patten a traitor? Say it isn’t so! Diane suggests to Steve that she infiltrate the beauty contest.

“You? In a beauty pageant??”

Steve mansplains how that would call for a really gorgeous girl … one that looks great in a bathing suit. He tells her she can go do some shopping instead. How nice of him.

Diana heads over to the theater in a red wig and a cherry-patterned dress with plastic cherries on the shoulders that Michael Kors would read for filth on Project Runway. Only ONE of the beauty queens doesn’t want Diana “Paradise” to waltz in and join the competition at the end.

Jazz hands!

This is perhaps the most UNREALISTIC thing in three seasons of this show and that includes the telepathic disco dancer in Season Three. Only one of these contestants thinks there’s a problem here?

Dick (who is playing a wonderfully dirty old man, but never crosses the line) wants to see some dancing. How Princess Diana learned this … bizarre half-slinky/half-jazz number on Paradise Island is beyond me. Maybe the Amazons have Jazzercise classes.

She’s in the competition now, but Rita, the EVIL contestant makes some vague threats to Diana. Could SHE be the traitor? The tough-but-fair former beauty pageant contestant Lola, who is running the show along with Monty, the not-so-nice pianist, tell Miss Paradise to be back at 3.

“Her name was Lola … she was a showgirl … but that was 20 years ago, when they’re used to be a show, now it’s a disco …” sorry, got caught up in the moment.

To kill time, Wonder Woman appears out of nowhere as Steve Trevor is run off the road by some thugs. She stops their car, gives them the golden lasso treatment and then pushes Steve’s car off the embankment so he can drive the crooks to jail.

“Your chariot, m’lord.”

Steve “compliments” her by asking if she can cook, too. I am facepalming so much this episode, my forehead has a hand-shaped dent in it.

Back at the War Department … who’s that foxy redhead walking with a book on her head under the guidance of Etta Candy, who is apparently an expert on posture? Steve walks in and is blown away by how gorgeous his yeoman is. As she leaves, he “compliments” her on looking like Joan Crawford … around the ankle.

Beauty IS hard.

Now. I know a teensy little bit about Miss Crawford and I don’t think Steve has the sensibility to suggest her ankles are thin like wire hangers. So what the eff does this mean? I don’t get it.

At the girl’s dorm, Rita is using up all the hot water in the shower. A confrontation between her and the girls ensues and Lola, in an amazingly dressy nightgown outfit, complete with opera gloves, shows up to calm everybody down.

That outfit!

Dick van Patten comes in to “tuck them in.” Diana is so straitlaced, that his jokes don’t land on her. Naturally,  he decides to use her as a straight man in tomorrow night’s magic skit … a skit RITA was supposed to be in. CONFLICT!

Steve (as his prearranged code name of “Uncle George” –  does that make him George Paradise?) calls Diana. She takes the call, but Lola warns no more calls, that’s in the rules. Uncle George tells her about planned sabotage at 1 am that night. Good thing he’s actually talking to Wonder Woman!

FINALLY!

That night, Diana sneaks out, leaving her red wig on the bed to make it appear she is asleep. We see the first true Transformation Twirl® with the thunderclap and light flash. She does a few Wonder Leaps and gets to the substation just as Steve is knocked out.

With bomb ticking and Steve unconscious, how can Wonder Woman save both Steve and the radar parts? Why, she … pulls a tailgate off a truck and blocks the explosion from Steve? That’s it? She explains there was little damage. Wow.

Because a tailgate can stop anything.

She bolts to get back to the girl’s dorm. But is it too late? Rita has found Diana Paradise’s wig! Lola can’t believe Diana is gone! Suddenly, the door marked “Shower” opens and Diana comes out in a towel. Rita pushes the issue that Diana wears a wig and one of the girls says that’s the only fake thing about Diana … unlike Rita. Mee-ouch!

I like that the shower is clearly marked.

At the War Department, General Blankenship finally comes clean to Steve and lets him know of the top-secret visit Eisenhower is making. He maps out Ike’s itinerary … and it goes through every previously-sabotaged place. Steve and Etta point that out and they all realize Ike’s being funneled to a certain route. The target isn’t the radar scanner … it’s Ike!

Steve and Blankenship head to the airfield to try and alert him, since the plane is on radio silence. Wouldn’t they have any other way of letting them know? Like calling the airfield? Okay, no. So, they head out as Etta tries to call the theater and alert Diana.

“Echo … echo … echo …”

However, Monty hangs up on her and a technician is lowering heavy speakers. In one of the greatest bits of on-the-nose TV production I have ever seen, the technician’s warning that “somebody could get killed” echoes in Monty’s head three times. Do you think this gives him any ideas?

I hate a crisis, too.

Ike’s plan lands, but Steve and the General are too late! They try to catch Ike’s jeep which can’t be too far ahead. Etta can’t get through to Diana and she calls and complains to the General. She says that while she’s knows it’s not a very military attitude, “I hate a crisis situation!” Blankenship says to pull herself together, which, you know, is all these hysterical women need to hear to do their jobs. I lack the words to even properly comment on this scene.

Where did all these people come from?

The Miss GI Dreamgirl pageant starts and the audience footage is lifted from some 1950s film. What’s odd is, all the soldiers are seated outdoors and the Dreamgirl pageant is indoors. CONTINUITY!

Monty reveals to Lola he’s going to drop the heavy speakers on Diana. Lola says she has to stop him and he says (and this is a direct quote) that she won’t stop him because she’s in this “up to her fast-wrinkling neck.”

WOW. I CAN’T WITH THIS EPISODE.

New Magician-Suit Dick van Patten® keeps the patter up as each of the girls show off their talents. One is a ukulele and one is a bendy yoga thing I couldn’t do if I practiced for 63 years.

COMPLETELY necessary to the plot.

Rita has stolen Diana’s magician assistant outfit, but Monty doesn’t know that. So, instead of killing Diana, he’s going to end up killing Rita. As he heads up to cut the rope holding up the heavy speaker (because that’s what theaters use, right?). Diana twirls into Wonder Woman and saves the nasty Rita. WW sees Etta and finds out that Steve is in danger.

“I’ve got to save Steve, which is not a personal conflict!”

Near the ambush point, Steve honks out some Morse code on his horn to alert Ike’s jeep driver that he’s a friend and he can slow down. They get shot at and huddle behind the cars. Steve says they’ll have to be smart or lucky to survive.

Suddenly, Wonder Woman appears. Steve is able to say “There’s our luck, General. And it never came in a more beautiful package.” You are lucky she doesn’t boot you to the moon, Steve.  She saves them by throwing a log at the bad guys and catching a rocket shot from a launcher.

Rockets and Bracelets is a thing?

We’re back at the beauty pageant and guess who wins? Why, it’s Wonder Woman! Oh, my. She gives a few of her roses to the other contestants to make them feel better. Etta, Steve and Blankenship watch from backstage and Etta wonders why Diana isn’t on stage. Steve says when she found out Wonder Woman was there, she must have “thrown in the sponge.” What woman wouldn’t? OMG, STEVE I USED TO LIKE YOU.  

Awww …

Next day, Diana gets back to work and Etta thinks that’s boring after the all the excitement they’ve had. Steve says one day, Diana will get into the action and he wants to be there for it. Diana smiles knowingly and says he will.

3.5 out of five magic lassos for fun cheese, but -200 for rampant sexism. WOW. Anyway … don’t miss next week … it’s the two-part special that introduces one of my favorite characters of all time … Wonder Girl! See you on Paradise Island!

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