SQUEE! It’s time to recap the best Wonder Woman episode of the first season … and the TV introduction of one of my fave heroines ever, Wonder Girl!
I came a little late to Wonder Girl. I was devouring Justice League of America comics and never knew about the Teen Titans until a back-up story in a 100-Page Giant of Superboy. From then on, like many kids, I was obsessed. The early 70s saw the Titans flirting with drab gray jumpsuits trying to be relevant, and then gothic stories like a retelling of Romeo and Juliet.
Wonder Girl’s sleek red costume (and Kid Flash’s) are my faves to this day. So while I was thrilled that Wonder Girl was appearing, the outfit was only half of what it could be. Still … with Debra Winger’s first big acting gig, darkly sexy John Saxon as a Nazi, and Lynda Carter’s joyful turn welcoming her younger sister to America, this is an episode not to be missed! Let’s dive right in!
It’s off the coast of Virginia and John Saxon (who SO rocked it in Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee) is looking out at the sea with binoculars. I’m not happy about him being a bad guy! An obvious Nazi spy rows up in a rubber boat. He claims to have gotten out of a sub, but the physics of that boggle my mind.
Steve and Diana are at Aldrich Field and Steve reveals he’s been taking some secret training courses as we see an experimental plane, the XPJ123456 revealed as the 2001: A Space Odyssey music plays. Will this, too, change the course of human history?
Evil John Saxon and his buddy spy on them and Saxon unwittingly praises the American military, saying he knows his enemy and if they say something will happen at 0700, it happens at 0700. ‘Merica!
Steve introduces Diana to Peter Knight, who designed the plane. Just as Steve is getting ready to fly the plane, saboteurs (who are NOT Evil John Saxon and his buddy) drive by and throw some Molotov cocktails into some conveniently stored drums of flammable stuff.
Diana hastens out of sight to Twirl into Wonder Woman. She takes so long to get to a hidden spot, the jet gets stolen as she does a Bullets and Bracelets® Steve. There’s an interesting cut … first she deflects some to save Steve and then she’s in a studio with a blue wall … because we won’t notice she’s no longer in front of a building?
Evil John Saxon’s pal gets the plane, so Steve calls General Blankenship and says Code Z is in effect.
WHAT IS THIS CODE Z?
I’ll tell you … Blankenship activates a remote self-destruct on the XPJ987654. Luckily for the spy, the flashing EMERGENCY light goes off in the cockpit, giving him time to parachute to safety.
Wonder Woman tells Steve Diana’s fine, since he’s worried. Back at the War Department, Diana laments that the plane wasn’t saved and that Peter was almost in tears. Steve tells her they were expecting it and she reasons if they were expecting it A) they must have new plans and B) Steve and Blankenship are total dicks. Why not tell her?
Their big plan is that the explosion of the plane will make the Nazis think it’s a failure. So the spy who parachutes out will assume THAT’S why the EMERGENCY light was on? Ri-i-i-i-ght.
In nearby Hibbsville, VA, a Nazi forest ranger picks up Evil John Saxon, who must contact Berlin, so they drive to the ranger station. He makes his report and says it’s Berlin’s problem now. Is it? Isn’t it still your problem, too? Or is the abdication of personal responsibility why you’re evil?
He thinks the bullet reflecting metal Wonder Woman uses will be invaluable in making an indestructible army.
WHY has no one thought of this before? I feel like in all the years of Wonder Woman comics, and while I haven’t read them all, I read a lot, did no one think … I should see how those bullets are getting deflected and make some bulletproof stuff myself.
We cut to … Paradise Island! Yay! The scenery-chewing Chloris Leachman is no longer in charge and now, Carolyn Jones, who played Morticia Addams in the old Addams Family show, is the new Queen of the Amazons. She’s a little ethereal, but brings some of the Morticia bite to the role and I love her.
The Amazons are having some games, but they pale in comparison to the ones in the pilot. There’s no stone throwing, for one! As Queen Morticia summons Princess Drusilla, who A) is excelling in the games like her sister and b) has a horrible name, I’m pretty sure you can see a production trailer in the background. Or perhaps Amazons live in double-wides.
Queen Morticia is pleased with Drusilla’s studies, but pulls a “we are not amused: at Dru’s prank of putting a snake down Magda’s back. Poor Magda! The queen wants to discuss something and Dru pulls a “I’m the spare, not the heir.”
Actually, Queen Morticia has a mission … she misses Diana and wants Dru to go get her. The timing is incredible. The new XPJ32Q54X is coming from London and there will be a test flight in five days. Steve comes out during Diana and Etta’s coffee break (super heroes – they’re just like us!) and wants her to set up dinner for him and Peter Knight. She suggests her place as she’s a terrific cook.
Were they social distancing in the 40s and there were no restaurants available? Or Diana thinks she’s Samantha from Bewitched and has to have Larry Tate over for dinner every third day? In any event, she’s off to the supermarket – after an exchange with Etta about how she can’t come, it’s a business dinner, not Etta-trying-to-land-a-man dinner.
Diana heads home with groceries and the stock footage looks SUSPICIOUSLY like Carrie Bradshaw’s townhouse in New York. When she gets ot her apartment, the door’s been opened so she steps and Transformation Twirls® into Wonder Woman and finds the intruder is … Drusilla!
Dru eats ice cream as Diana explains the good and evil causes of America and the Nazis. It’s pretty simplistic, yet Diana seems not to catch the irony of saying the Nazis would enslave the world and Dru is stunned her big sister works for a man and does whatever he says. OUCH!
Winger is great as Dru/Wonder Girl. At the time, I think I was less impressed, feeling surley Diana reported home about things like money, ice cream and sexism, but I guess she didn’t. She agrees Dru can stay (even for business dinner!) if she can learn the justness of the American cause and explain it to mom. She also goes on about how great and awful men are and Dru wants to meet some men and have more ice cream.
She is a teenager after my own heart, even though apparently the Amazons have no concept of “teenager,” which feels weird.
At dinner that night, Dru talks about shooting a 12-point deer and Steve and Peter don’t know how to deal with this. Peter flirts with her, which is creepy. After dinner, Evil John Saxon says some code words into a townhouse intercom and then comes upstairs to a mysterious spy’s apartment. The spy opens the door and … it’s plane engineer/Drusilla flirt Peter Knight!
They discuss the new XPllidocious jet and Evil John Saxon wants those bracelets. He has a plan to capture Wonder Woman by kidnapping General Blankenship.
While Dru goes out to explore D.C., she gets clothes shamed and meets some boys. She is determined to get some ugly 40s clothes to blend in. Odd that she knew about buying things when Diana didn’t in the pilot. Dru won’t go to work with Diana until she has some clothes.
Were clothes stores open before work in the 1940’s?
Late to work but with a now-suitably attired Drusilla, General Blankenship says he’ll take Dru with him while Steve and Diana go plot device somewhere else. Hilarity ensues as Dru questions Blankenship about the war and then suddenly, Evil John Saxon and his Evil Forest Ranger cut them off and kidnap General Blankenship, loudly announcing they’re heading to the “ranger station.”
Dru wonders WWDD (What Would Diana Do) and tries to call the War Department. Of course, no one thinks she should be able to be transferred to the “Head of the War Department.” Frustrated, she takes off running to where a gas station attendant says the ranger station is.
Once Dru arrives, tries her own Transformation Twirl®, but is unsuccessful. She has a flashback that was NOT in the pilot episode. In the flashback, Queen Morticia teaches Diana how to spin into her costume. Dru tries again and suddenly … she’s Wonder Girl!
She stalks in, tries to save the General, but Evil Saxon uses chloroform on her. When she passes out, I notice her costume has red sequin starts on one side. I never noticed that in 40 years!
They fight and Saxon chloroforms and when she passes out, I see she has red sequin stars on one side of her spandex top! Never noticed that before!
Diana and Steve look for Dru and the gas station guy is all about the ranger station. Steve and Diana bust in and find the General. He didn’t hear Dru, but Steve is sure she’s back at Diana’s. Steve … you just rescued your kidnapped boss … why does it seem she’s gonna be fine?
Steve takes Diana back home, but doesn’t bother to come in and check to see if Dru is okay. Immediately, she calls Steve at work, so how did he get there so quick?
A creepy pan shot lingers on the passed-out Wonder Girl’s leg and we see she’s held captive in a deserted industrial area that’s a refuge for Nazi spies (thanks, captions). The faux forest ranger is wearing some unfortunate neckwear and Evil Saxon thought she was older … and then he gestures, bigger. Gross, Evil Saxon!
But of course, there can’t be TWO Wonder Women. Berlin tells him to test it out by shooting her … so he goes in and the now-awake Wonder Girl is defiant as he prepares to shoot her.
TO BE CONTINUED!
OMG, the scene of her remembering how her mom taught Diana the Transformation Twirl® is still one of my fave 70s scenes of all time. I wish they’d brought Wonder Girl back in the 70s, but alas, after next week, we only see her one more time.
4.5 out of 5 magic lassos! Join me next week for Part II of “The Feminum Mystique!