This week: Diana Prince infiltrates a beauty pageant run by…Nazi spies!

Title In: Security Entrance – Fort Russell, Maryland, May 1942 – Dawn. A saboteur blows up a truck at the most secure base in America.

At the War Department in Washington D.C., General Blankenship (Richard Eastham) puzzles over how saboteurs keep blowing up key places in the radar assembly supply chain.

There must be…a spy.

Yeoman Diana Prince (Lynda Carter) and Major Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) go to at Fort Russell to investigate.

To the best of my knowledge, there wasn’t a Fort Russell in Maryland during World War II, so that saves us a lot of thinking about whether they could drive back and forth from the War Department so quickly.

The Miss G.I. Dreamgirl Beauty Contest finalists arrive. The pageant is the next night in the officers club and its being hosted by America’s favorite radio comic, Jack Wood (Dick Van Patton).

Suspiciously, every incident of sabotage has occurred on a base the day is hosted a pageant. What could it mean? It’s so suspicious that even Steve Trevor has noticed the connection, calling it “the sabotage circuit.”

Base commander Colonel Flint assures Steve and Diana that everything is cool with the pageant, because Jack Wood is an National institution, like Bob Hope.

Diana wants to infiltrate the pageant but she’s an ugly glasses-wearing girl so Steve sends her home. Diana tells him she’s going to do some shopping and take the bus back to D.C. Luckily, Diana apparently finds a terrible strawberry blond wig at the Fort Russell PX.

Disguised as “Diana Paradise” she tells pageant managers Lola (Anne Francis) and Monty (Bobby Van) she works on the base.

Diana shows off her dance moves.

Jack Wood takes one pervy look at “Diana Paradise” and lets her into the pageant. The girls are there for the G.I.’s to ogle, after all!

After he leaves Fort Russell, Steve is attacked by the saboteurs. Wonder Woman just happens to be in the neighborhood to save his bacon.

She captures and questions the bad guys in a lasso two-fer.

When Wonder Woman uses her super-strength to lift Steve’s ditched car back onto the road, he exclaims “I wonder if you can cook!” while she beams at him and/or swallows her rage.

Meanwhile, Lola and Monty discover there’s no Diana Paradise working at Fort Russell, but since Lola is old and washed up, she understands why a hot babe like Diana would lie her way into a beauty pageant.

Monty isn’t so sure.

Back at the War Department in Washington, D.C. Diana models her new look for Etta Candy (Beatrice Colon) as she practices walking with a book on her head, which is something we did a lot in the 1970s.

Steve and Etta marvel at how beautiful she is with that wig on, because of course her real mane is hideous and unattractive.

In the pageant barracks at Fort Russell, Creeper Jack Wood barges in to “tuck the girls in” and decides Diana should replace Rita as his assistant in his magic act.

Rita is furious. I can’t remember what she said because I was too busy being furious remembering Donald Trump’s whole thing about being a beauty pageant owner and barging into the dressing rooms while contestants were naked.

Luckily, Diana has more important things to do after lights-out than sleep. At Steve’s behest, she sneaks out to help Steve guard the electrical substation, which they believe is the next target. Wisely, she does so as Wonder Woman, leaving her wig tucked into her bed so her absence won’t be noticed.

FINALLY, THE WONDER WOMAN SPIN WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR!

Diana spins around and transforms into Wonder Woman in a flash of red, white and blue light, accompanied by a dramatic explosion sound.

Wonder Woman gets to the electrical substation in time to shield it from a bomb. She uses the tailgate of a truck to contain the explosion, which probably doesn’t make sense if you’re reading this and trying to picture it. Trust me, it doesn’t make any more sense if you watch it.

The important part is: the explosion knocks Steve Trevor out.

The explosion wakes the girls! Rita (Christa Helm) finds Diana’s wig in her empty bed and raises a fuss about Diana sneaking out.

Luckily, Wonder Woman scaled the side of the building and snuck in the bathroom window, so Diana can emerge from the shower and alleviates suspicion about where she was. But without her wig, everyone sees her terrible hideous hair! Lola cuts her some slack and doesn’t disqualify her from competing because ugh, who can blame her!

Last year I ran into Lynda Carter at a coffee shop. She walked up to me and told me I have great hair. That has nothing to do with this post, but I just like to mention it every now and again.

Monty tells Lola that Wonder Woman stopped the sabotage. Darn her! But then Monty tells Lola the sabotage is a cover for their real mission: to assassinate General Eisenhower!

The stakes have been raised! Why doesn’t Monty like Ike? Could it be…that Monty is a Nazi spy?

Randolph Field, Texas – 1400 hours – the following day: Eisenhower is preparing to make a surprise visit to Fort Russell to unveil the new radar installation.

At the War Department, Steve is suspicious. Once he hears Ike is headed to Fort Russell, Steve worries about Ike’s safety.

The road past Point Lobo is the only way into Fort Russell right now due to a series of unfortunate events that have closed all the other roads. This sabotage thing might be even more wide-spread than they thought? And crazier still: it looks like Steve is the one who’s gonna bust this thing wide open!

Then, Steve utters Point Lobo’s least successful tourism slogan: “Point Lobo: a perfect place for an ambush!”

While Etta tries to call Fort Russell to warn Diana, Steve dashes off to save Ike.

Monty intercepts her call. Etta is not easily deterred. She dashes to Fort Russell in person.

Monty is even more suspicious of Diana, and decides to sabotage the dangerously heavy PA hanging over the stage so it will fall on Diana during the magic act.

Monty tells Lola that she’s got a fat wrinkly neck. Lola does not have a fat wrinkly neck. Now I want that PA to fall on Monty’s head.

Meanwhile, at Point Lobo, the saboteurs lie in wait for Ike.

Meanwhile, at Fort Russell, the Miss G.I. Dreamgirl show begins with the bathing suit competition, followed by the talent competition.

Interestingly, the G.I.’s in the center of the stock footage audience are rather conspicuously women. This is either an unintentionally strange choice of stock footage, or a brilliantly subversive one.

Etta’s efforts to get backstage fail.

Diana discovers that her costume for the magic act is missing! Rita, who was Jack’s assistant before Diana horned in, has reclaimed her role.

Diana ducks behind the curtains, spins into Wonder Woman, and saves Rita from Monty’s deviously dropping PA trap. Which isn’t so much a trap as it is Monty cutting the ropes that hold up the PA, but let’s not get bogged down in details.

Etta tells Wonder Woman about the plot against Ike!

Wonder Woman races to Point Lobo to assist Steve and the General, who are racing to intercept Ike.

Steve is smart enough to beep out his name in Morse code to signal to Ike’s driver that he’s a friendly! Alas, while they all stand in the middle of the road and chat the saboteurs attack. Pinned down by gunfire, the four men are trapped! Only a stroke of luck will save the day!

“There’s our luck, General!” Steve proclaims as Wonder Woman saves the four mansels in distress. “And it never came in a more beautiful package.”

Oh, but Steve isn’t done being weird. Next he tells Wonder Woman: “If they gave merit badges for being fantastic, you’d be an Eagle Scout.”

Before things can get too hilarious, Monty launches another attack, firing a rocket from a handheld rocket launcher. Luckily, Wonder Woman catches the rocket and throws it into a canyon.

Returning to the base, Wonder Woman wins the pageant and gracefully shares her bouquet of roses with all the other girls.

Steve tells Etta that Diana probably dropped out because who’d want to share a stage with Wonder Woman? Then Etta punches him in the balls and tells him Diana is beautiful.

No she doesn’t. But I’d like to think she wanted to.

Back at the War Department, Steve tells Diana that the General nominated Wonder Woman for a special commendation, so that’s nice.

Lola will probably be treated with leniency because Jack Wood is lobbying for a light sentence and everyone knows that radio comics are the best people to make decisions involving national security.

You know, that kind of decision-making could explain why Washington, D.C. is filthy with Nazi spies. Jack Wood vouching for Monty and Lola and the girls is what got Fort Russell into this mess in the first place.

The pageant girls don’t get many lines, but some of them stand out for historical reasons:

The unsolved murder of Christa Helm, who played bitchy Rita, continues to be a sources of salacious gossip and intrigue.

In addition to being an actual Playboy Playmate, Linda Carpenter was one of the iconic Playmates from the film Apocalypse Now.

Ann-Marie Martin co-wrote Twister. Her former husband, Michael Crichton, usually gets all the credit for that one, so I just wanted to mention that here because I can.

    This episode contains:

  • Ageism
  • Bickering Beauty Pageant Contestant
  • Devious Traps
  • Dancing
  • Disguises
  • Eisenhower
  • Explosions
  • Golden Lasso
  • Impersonation
  • Mansel(s) in Distress
  • Nazi Spies
  • Rockets
  • Sabotage
  • Spinning
  • Unconscious Steve Trevor
Fausta Grables

Fausta Grables

“Fausta, The Nazi Wonder Woman” aired on April 28, 1976. Fausta is the second (and last) villain pulled straight out of the pages of Wonder Woman comic books, although things seem to turn out a bit differently for TV Fausta than they did for TV Baroness. This is Fausta’s only appearance on the show, which is too bad because Lynda Day George was an accomplished actress who could really dig her teeth into this kind of wacky material. Her husband, Christopher George is also in this episode, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

We open on a mysterious German castle. Title in: Top Secret Nazi Intelligence Headquarters, Somewhere in Germany – 1942.

Wait…Somewhere in Germany?

It’s Berlin. The top-secret headquarters are in Berlin. Even Steve Trevor knows that, so this seems a little insulting to the viewer.

OK, fine, most of the original broadcast viewers for this show were probably either 5 (like me) or stoned (like my babysitter), so I’m willing to let it slide.

Inside the Top Secret Nazi Headquarters: Nazis!

Apparently, Nazis spend a lot of time discussing their career hopes and dreams with one another. Colonel Kesselman (Bo Brundlin) is paranoid that Fausta Grables is after his promotion. Brundlin is Swedish, and his German accent is the least offensive in the episode, so he does have that going for him.

Fausta is icy blond and beautiful, with neatly braided Disney Princess hair. Despite her keen intelligence, strength, and impressive record as an Olympic champion, the Colonel doesn’t respect Fausta, reinforcing Wonder Woman’s dialogue in previous episodes about the sexist nature of Nazi culture.

Fausta shows the Colonel footage from the pilot episode (an admirable bit of meta fictional footage recycling) but the Colonel dismisses this Wonder Woman as Hollywood propaganda. Nevertheless, on Hitler’s orders, they launch Operation Fraulein. The objective: capture Wonder Woman and take her to Berlin so the Nazis can study her.

Fausta’s plan: bait her trap with Major Steve Trevor. Which isn’t a figure of speech. She actually has a trap.

Fausta and her henchmen head to Washington, D.C. and easily infiltrate the War Department disguised as a cleaning crew. She gases Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) and takes him to a warehouse.

faustagas

The next day, Yeoman Diana Prince (Lynda Carter) is concerned because Steve isn’t at work. Corporal Etta Candy (Beatrice Colen) smirks and reminds Diana that Steve is a manslut. Ok, that’s not exactly what she says, but there’s a lot of smirking and innuendo about why Steve is AWOL.

Etta, in her role as plump, non-threatening gal-pal, is frequently shown shoving food in her mouth or offering Diana food, which Diana always refuses.

Etta offers Diana a donut, which Diana refuses.

Fausta places an anonymous call to the War Department, telling Diana she found a letter on the sidewalk from a Major Steve Trevor directing whoever finds the letter to call the War Department and summon Wonder Woman to a warehouse to rescue him.

The trap is set!

Wonder Woman does her slow-motion spin transformation and hides her clothes.

At the Warehouse Wonder Woman barges in and kicks henchman ass. Fausta is unimpressed. She, too, can kick ass. But then…she sees Wonder Woman use her golden lasso of truth on a henchmen, easily locating where they’ve stashed mansel in distress Steve.

Fausta totally wants that lasso.

Wonder Woman is polite and thanks people after they tell her the truth. I think that’s nice.

Fausta lures Wonder Woman into a new trap by “appealing to her sense of competition.” She impersonates Wonder Woman at a federal war bonds rally outside the War Department. It works! While Steve and Etta watch, Wonder Woman and her impersonator do Feats of Strength to inspire people to buy war bonds.

Steve and Etta exchange a bit of awkward dialogue about what a shame it is that Diana is off giving blood and hence missing yet another chance to see Wonder Woman.

I’m pretty sure that was hilarious to me when I was a kid.

Onstage, Wonder Woman falls through a trap door in the stage. A henchman chloroforms her, uses her own lasso on her, and learns her belt is the key to her strength.

Fausta and the henchmen take her belt and shove Wonder Woman in a cab. Fausta, as Wonder Woman, fails to flirt with Steve before they make their getaway.

Steve smells a rat!

Steve and Etta commandeer a cab and take off in pursuit of the phony Wonder Woman. Steve nearly crashes into a fallen tree he should have been able to see from half a mile away and which he could easily have driven around, so don’t get your hopes up that he’s suddenly gotten smarter.

Then Steve runs out of gas, foiling any further attempts to rescue Wonder Woman as the Nazis disappear into the distance.

The Nazis load Wonder Woman into a plane. Before the plane takes off, they peel away a decal, revealing the swastika on the plane, which seems like something you shouldn’t do until you’re well clear of U.S. airspace…

naziplane

Back at the War Department, General Blankenship (Richard Eastham) won’t let Steve go to Germany to rescue Wonder Woman, instead sending him on a furlough to rest for a few days.

Steve sneaks away and uses his furlough to hitch a ride to England.

In Berlin the Colonel continues his paranoid monologue about his impending promotion and Fausta’s career ambitions.

Oh, and they also unload Wonder Woman, who is still powerless without her belt or lasso.

In England, Steve tracks down his old buddy Charlie (Jeff Cooper). They exchange some lines about their days as football heroes and about how Steve threw Charlie the winning touchdown pass in the Rose Bowl. Charlie just happens to be flying a mission over Berlin that night! And Steve needs to get to Berlin that night!

Steve parachutes into Berlin and meets his contact, Resistance fighter Rojak, who is played by Fausta’s real-life husband, Christopher George.

It may surprise you to learn that Rojak is a Nazi spy!

It takes a while for Steve to catch on that Rojak is a Nazi spy, despite the fact that Rojak leads him around in circles instead of taking him to Nazi HQ. Apparently, the first 3 times they pass that same piece of scenery, Steve just thinks they’re in a Scooby Doo episode.

Luckily, a fraulein with the Resistance knocks Rojak out with a shovel and rescues our mansel in distress. For now, Steve stays conscious.

Meanwhile, the Colonel and Fausta use the lasso to question Wonder Woman, even though he doesn’t believe it actually works.

Wonder Woman explains that the women on Paradise Island are super strong and super smart because they aren’t hindered by an environment of toxic masculinity. Fausta seems to dig that idea. The Colonel thinks it’s poppycock.

While the Colonel is mwahahaha-ing, Wonder Woman gets her accessories back, frees herself, fights Fausta, deflects some bullets with the Bracelets of Submission, and saves herself.

Wonder Woman appeals to Fausta’s womanly intelligence and womanhood. It doesn’t work…or does it?

Wonder Woman steals a plane and flies back to Washington, D.C.

As Diana Prince, she arrives at the War Department the next morning to learn that Steve is being held prisoner at Gestapo Headquarters.

I remember watching Wonder Woman with my friends. I think we all assumed it was canon that the General knew Diana was also Wonder Woman. Maybe she didn’t know he knew, but he knew. Much like in this scene, he often steps into the foreground, stares into the distance, and intones something along the lines of: “I sure hope that Wonder Woman knows this thing only you and I and Etta know, Diana! And I hope she can get there and back in the next 2 days of storytime because that’s all the furlough time I can give you.”

Fine. Ok. We were 5 so we didn’t know words like “canon.” We just believed. In retrospect, I now believe those scenes were just campy writing, directing, and acting. General Blankenship seems to be as clueless as Steve, reinforcing the message that the women are the brains behind any operation, be they American or Nazi.

In her office, Diana spins into Wonder Woman and uses her creepy voice mimicry skills to make a few calls as General Blankenship. Then it’s back to Berlin and into another devious trap.

This time, Steve is chained up in a dungeon. When Wonder Woman breaks into his cell, the walls begin to close in! These sorts of death traps were a common and little-appreciated danger to television heroes for decades. Even if you don’t remember them, you surely know George Lucas’s homage to the trope in Star Wars.

They escape before the walls crush them, racing into the hallway and…falling through a trap door, because Gestapo HQ is apparently basically a human-sized version of the game mousetrap (Mausefalle?).

The Colonel has them now! Steve and Wonder Woman land in a water trap reinforced with an electrical contraption which the Colonel will use to electrocute them if Wonder Woman doesn’t spill her secrets.

Of course, Wonder Woman already spilled her secrets, but the Colonel didn’t believe her.

Wonder Woman refuses to speak to anyone other than Fausta.

Wonder Woman raises Fausta’s consciousness about male oppression, and Fausta in turn enables Steve and Wonder Woman to escape.

Fausta decides that she will become a leader in the Resistance. Wonder Woman proclaims her “An example to women all over the world who want to be free!”

When Steve and Diana return to work at the War Department in Washington, D.C., Steve won’t divulge any details about his time with Wonder Woman, telling Etta and Diana that he doesn’t kiss and tell.

Diana punches Steve in his pretty face.

No, not really. Diana smiles brightly in the face of Steve’s innuendo, accepts his compliment on her typing skills, and swallows her feminist rage.

Etta admires Steve’s bravery and courage, which will no doubt bring the war to a close 6 months sooner!

Pretending to hear about Fausta’s change of allegiance for the first time, Diana remarks: “Maybe all women can do wonders if put to the test!” This leads Steve to marvel: “That’s exactly what Wonder Woman said!”

Oh, Steve!

This episode contains:

  • Bullet-deflection
  • Bracelets of Submission
  • Chloroform
  • Consciousness Raising
  • Devious Traps
  • Feats of Strength
  • Golden Lasso (Lasso of Truth)
  • Henchmen
  • Impersonation
  • Knockout Gas
  • Nazi Spies
  • Mansel in Distress
  • Spinning
  • Unconscious Steve Trevor
  • Voice Mimicry
  • Womanly Badassery
  • Wonder Woman in Bondage
  • One of my favorite things about the 1st season of Wonder Woman are the accents: everyone sounds like they’re working on their audition reel for Mel Brooks. The variety of regional and foreign accents that get the mouth-full-of-marbles treatment on Wonder Woman is pretty broad, but I think it’s safe to say that German fares the worst.

    Husband says the actors all sound like they studied at the Harvey Korman School of Accent Approximation.

    I was looking for an appropriate clip of Korman and found the most amazing thing: a skit from a 1974 episode of The Carol Burnett Show (7.21) called “The Interrogator.” Korman and guest star Tim Conway play Nazis holding co-star Lyle Waggoner prisoner! It’s kind of long, but you ought to stick with it at least until the Hitler hand puppet starts singing, if only to watch Lyle Waggoner desperately struggling not to laugh.

    See also: TV Tropes: Those Wacky Nazis for a little background on the proliferation of Nazis as foils in American comedy.

    If you wish to dig deeper, there’s some interesting scholarship on the ways that television creators in the 1970s used depictions of Nazis to critique the Vietnam War and militarism without running afoul of conservative network executives and skittish advertisers. One book which colleagues have recommended to me (but which I’ve yet to actually read) is Hogan’s Heroes by Robert R. Shandley:

    Hogan’s Heroes originally aired between 1965 and 1971 on CBS, corresponding to the most uncertain years of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. In an era when attitudes about the military, patriotism, and authority were undergoing a sea change, Hogan’s Heroes did not offer direct commentary on the conflict, but instead explored incompetent military leaders, draft dodging, and perpetual war in an absurd storyline about Allied saboteurs inside a World War II German prisoner of war camp. In Hogan’s Heroes, author Robert Shandley argues that the series reveals much about the parameters of comedy on militarism and war before the popularity of comedic social realism that would define later programs, like the more critically acclaimed M*A*S*H.

    As always, if you have thoughts, comments, or questions, leave them on my facebook page or find me on twitter (@meanlouise).

    Tune in tomorrow for “Fausta, the Nazi Wonder Woman!”

    thefour

    Five months after they aired the (re)pilot, ABC added Wonder Woman to their primetime lineup. Lynda Carter returned as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and Lyle Waggoner carried on as Major Steve Trevor, War Hero. The role of General Blankenship, Steve’s boss at the War Department, is now played by Richard Eastham. The General’s secretary, Etta Candy (Beatrice Colen), rounds out the cast. These four characters anchor the rest of first season, which is set in 1942. 1942 is also the number of times it seems like Steve Trevor is knocked unconscious in the 1st season.

    “Wonder Woman Meets Baroness Von Gunther” (1.2) was written by Washington, D.C, native Margaret Armen, whose previous writing credits include Star Trek, Land of the Lost, The Bionic Woman, the Six Million Dollar Man, and Fantasy Island. Armen was a worthy cheesemonger for the first regular episode of the fledgling series, which gives viewers their first (and last) look at Wonder Woman’s comic book frenemy Baroness Paula Von Gunther.

    In the comics, Wonder Woman helps the Baroness see the error of her ways. In return the Baroness attains Amazon powers and a place in the sisterhood as the Amazon’s chief scientist. If by “sees the error of her ways” you mean “was possibly brainwashed depending on which storyline you’re reading.” It doesn’t really matter, since the nefarious TV Baroness is not a recurring character and we don’t see her again in the series.

    When I saw the Wonder Woman (2017) movie, I realized I’d conflated Dr. Poison and the Baroness, whose face was also scarred during one storyline in the comics, although not on the TV show.

    The episode begins at the War Department, where General Blankenship tells Diana Prince he thinks a busted-up Nazi spy ring is trying to get the band back together to frame Steve Trevor for espionage.

    Nazi spies! In D.C.!

    Aghast, Diana dashes into her office, spins into Wonder Woman, stashes her clothes, and races out to find Steve Trevor, who is out on a canyon road near Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia. The Washington, D.C. area is hilly, but it is not mountainous, and we certainly don’t have any canyons. I showed scenes from this episode to a friend who works at the base. She enjoyed it a lot. The Los Angeles-area shooting locations are pretty obvious in this episode.

    Out in the canyon, Steve has one job: protect a truck delivering weapons to Fort Myer. Steve fails, although Wonder Woman arrives just in time to save his sorry hide.

    Was it an act of sabotage? Is someone trying to frame Great American War Hero Steve Trevor as a Nazi Spy?

    This isn’t the first suspicious accident Steve has been connected with and rumors are flying. Probably also rumors about why this guy has a reputation as such a great hero and spy, because seriously?

    To make matters worse, the files Steve Trevor needs to prove his innocence are all missing! Considering the number of times Diana Prince types something and then shoves the papers randomly into a file cabinet drawer without looking, this shouldn’t be a mystery. Diana may have the wisdom of Athena and the speed of Mercury, but she seems to have the office skills of Chaos.

    At the War Department General tells Steve that the President has called upon Super-Patriotic Steel Magnate Arthur Deal III (Bradford Dillman) to investigate. Deal will get to the bottom of these accusations about Steve Bannon, er, Trevor, and Nazis in Washington once and for all!

    Steve follows an anonymous tip to a munitions depot at an old stable near Fort Myer. Alone, one presumes, because he realizes he hasn’t been rendered unconscious yet today. The anonymous caller is a Nazi spy! He knocks Steve out, sets the barn ablaze, and calls the IADC with an anonymous tip that Steve is at the barn trying to destroy the munitions.

    Luckily, Wonder Woman is on the scene and whisks Steve away in a jeep. It’s unclear whether Diana/Wonder Woman learned how to drive on Paradise Island or if that’s a skill she’s acquired since arriving in D.C. She’s been here long enough to get an apartment, so let’s not think to much about her mad driving skills or how uncomfortable it must be to drive an army jeep through a dusty canyon wearing Wonder Woman garb.

    Steve awakens in Diana’s apartment. Diana tells him Wonder Woman rescued his dumb ass from the fire and left him on her doorstep. It doesn’t occur to Steve to ask Diana how she got him into the apartment after she found him out there with a note. No, really, there’s a note. Does he really think Wonder Woman wrote a note, rang the bell, and ran away? I’d like to think Diana actually left his unconscious carcass out on the steps with her note pinned to his shirt all night.

    Steve is at least smart enough to suspect incarcerated ex-Nazi spy Baroness Von Gunther (Christine Belford) may know something about his predicament. She was, after all, the ringleader of the Nazi spy ring that the General suspects is framing Steve for espionage. Plus, Steve arrested her and she’s probably out for revenge.

    Clues!

    Steve and Diana head to the Federal Women’s Penitentiary at Fort Myer. I didn’t find any historical evidence that there was ever a women’s penitentiary at Fort Myer.

    Fort McNair, which is only a few miles away, was the first Federal Penitentiary in the U.S. – it was also where Mary Surat and the other co-conspirators in Lincoln’s assassination were held, so now you know that.

    At Fort Myer, Steve and Diana chat with the Warden, a widower raising a young son in a prison, which is super-weird, and only gets weirder later in the episode when we see young Tommy (Christian Juttner) casually hanging out in the yard with the adult inmates. The Warden wishes there were more kids in the Pen for Tommy to play with, which seems like a pretty messed up thing to wish for, although Husband and I couldn’t decide if that was more or less weird than letting him play with America’s most dangerous enemies.

    Seriously, people of 1970s Hollywood, had you never met any children?

    Steve meets with the Baroness, admiring the giant metal key she’s allowed to wear around her neck. Steve is a terrible spy and I have questions about the Warden. Many many questions.

    IMG_5520

    IMG_5519

    Steve remarks that the Baroness’s pendant looks just like the Medieval Austrian keys he saw in Europe. The Baroness tells him it’s just an heirloom necklace. Oh, Steve, you’re not very bright.

    Steve and the Baroness bond over their shared opinion that poor Diana is an ugly duckling with a complexion the color of “wet Bisquick.” That hair! Those glasses!

    Meanwhile, Diana dashes away, spins into Wonder Woman, hides her clothes, and runs out to save Tommy from falling off of a building. Since she has to run back inside and change back into her clothes before Steve notices she’s missing, Wonder Woman doesn’t have time to retrieve her golden lasso. She asks Tommy to untie it and hold onto it for her. What could possibly go wrong with entrusting a powerful magical object to a small child? (Hint: the Nazis trick Tommy into giving up the lasso).

    Tommy likes to play Sherlock Holmes, taking notes on the activities at the prison. Tommy even has one of the special keys, which he picked up after the Baroness’s henchman dropped it. (spoiler alert: The Baroness has henchmen).

    IMG_5517

    The key is exactly like the key the Baroness wears around her neck.
    Tommy tries to warn his father about the tunnel and the hooded figure being snuck in and out of the prison under cover of night. That Tommy is a scamp!

    IMG_5518

    The Warden thinks Tommy has an over-active imagination, but we know better, because we’ve seen the Baroness sneaking out to meet with a mysterious Nazi collaborator who goes by the name Thor, which is much sexier than Arthur Deal III.

    The night before Steve’s Congressional hearing, he’s summoned to Arthur Deal’s estate for a preliminary interview. When Steve arrives at Deal’s estate he discovers that Deal is a Nazi spy!

    While steel was a powerful industry in the 1940s, the show is a product of the late 1970s, when the U.S. was in the throes of a steel crisis. Making a steel magnate a Nazi spy was perhaps a little on-the-nose, but (spoiler alert) this show is not known for nuance.

    The Baroness is there! She and Deal/Thor take Steve hostage.

    Luckily, Tommy is a better Spy than Steve Trevor. When Tommy saw the Baroness sneaking out of the prison, he took down the license plate of the car that picked her up. Tommy has the good sense to give it to Wonder Woman instead of his dad. Wonder Woman uses her Terminator voice imitation skill to impersonate General Blankenship, tricking the DMV into running the plate.

    The car belongs to Arthur Deal III!

    At last, the Warden believes his weird lonely son about the secret tunnel that allows the Baroness to come and go as she pleases. Too bad it’s after the Baroness leaves for the night. And also after one of her Nazi spy/prison guards apparently whisks Tommy away during a commercial break.

    As my friend Beth remarked: “That’s not so much a tunnel as it is a door.”

    IMG_5523

    Indeed. And it’s not just a door, it’s a gigantic door that has escaped detection since the prison was built years earlier by Austrian stonemasons who apparently had a well-known tradition of creating large artistic keys and secret doors in prison walls. It’s so well-known that even Steve Trevor knew about it!

    So who hired these dudes to build a super-max penitentiary for America’s most dangerous war criminals?

    Wonder Woman dashes off to Arthur Deal III’s estate, where the Baroness has some knock-out gas at the ready. Is this the end of Tommy, Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman? It sure looks like it, since they’re all loosely tied to ornate chairs in the house where Steve Trevor went for his pre-trial hearing.

    Who’d ever think to look there? Whatever will happen? It looks like you’ve won this one, Baroness…

    Ha-ha, Baroness! It was a trick! Wonder Woman is stronger than your Nazi super-strong elephant chains!

    After Wonder Woman breaks free and rescues Steve and Tommy, she and the Baroness have an epic fight, in that they crash into a bunch of furniture before taking their fisticuffs out on the lawn, where they roll down a hill together.

    IMG_5521

    Wonder Woman captures the Baroness with her golden lasso and shames her with a lecture about her “unwomanly mistakes.”

    No. Really.

    Wonder Woman never gives up on another woman, assuring Steve: “Where I was raised we were taught that good must triumph over evil” and that “women and men can learn!” Well, except for the Baroness, I guess, because Wonder Woman gives up on her pretty easily.

    Although I’m not wild about this video compilation title (“Wonder Woman chick fights”), it does include the full fight scene with the Baroness, addition to a few other stellar moments of 70s TV combat:

    Wonder Woman comic readers may remember that the Baroness was one of Wonder Woman’s original enemies. Thanks to the Amazon’s re-education skills, the Baroness changes her evil ways, gets Amazonian powers, and is (usually) an ally in Wonder Woman’s fight against evil. In this episode, she just goes back to jail. In what may be a nod to the comics, she tells Tommy she’s one of Wonder Woman’s best friends in order to trick him into giving up the lasso, so that’s amusing.

    This episode contains:

  • Bullet Deflecting Bracelets
  • Captive kids
  • Chloroform
  • Creative Geography
  • Henchmen
  • Lasso of Truth (Golden Lasso)
  • Mansel in Distress
  • Nazi Spies
  • Spinning
  • Unconscious Steve Trevor
  • Voice Mimicry
  • Weird Childhoods
  • Womanly Badassery
  • Wonder Woman in Bondage
  • Note: I’m using the names of military installations as they’re used on the show and as they would have been known in Washington, D.C. in the 1940s.

    6e9fac6d33f567bef52da7a4b4badac3

    The posts in this series contain copious spoilers for a TV series that ran from 1976-1979. If that’s a problem, this is definitely not the blog for you.

    Also: The original version of this essay stated that the Queen told Diana she can use her tiara to phone home whenever she wants. This is incorrect. The Queen tells Diana this in the Season 2 premier, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. My apologies for the confusion (edited June 11, 2017).

    “The New Original Wonder Woman” (1.1) aired on November 7, 1975. Written by Stanley Ralph Ross and directed by Leonard Horn, this was technically the 2nd pilot episode ABC produced before greenlighting the show in 1976. (The 1974 pilot starred Cathy Lee Crosby as Wonder Woman). Ross had written twenty-five percent of the episodes of Adam West’s Batman TV series (1966-1968). When the network rejected the first pilot, they chose camp-meister Ross to create and develop the series, starting with a newly adapted storyworld and cast.

    The episode opens with a World War II stock footage montage. At the end of the sequence, an FDR impersonator gravely intones: “The only hope for freedom and democracy…” as we cut to the Wonder Woman theme song and a comicbook-style title sequence.

    After Lynda Carter (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman) and Lyle Waggoner (Steve Trevor) pop out of their frames and smile their thousand watt smiles, we get straight to the campy action.

    maxresdefault-1
    ww-2

    By the way, Lyle Waggoner was Playgirl magazine’s first centerfold, tastefully concealing his junk from the camera in the pages of the April 1973 inaugural issue. (This link is going to return way more than I think you want to see on a Friday afternoon and is 100% NOT SAFE FOR WORK. I know you’re going to click it anyway but you can’t say I didn’t warn you. Go on. You know you want to. I’ll wait here).

    You done? OK. Moving on…

    After the title sequence, we see a Top Secret Nazi Base in Germany, wherein a Nazi Commander (Kenneth Mars) summons an ace Nazi Pilot (Eric Braeden) for a secret mission. The media Trope of the Sissy Villain is in full play here: the Nazi Commander is an effeminate diva.

    Awkward exposition explaining the secret mission ensues.

    “Blahblahblah. Nazi. Nazi. Nazi. Blow up the Brooklyn Navy Yard. If you don’t do it right I’ll do it myself.”

    While the Nazi Commander gives the Nazi Pilot his orders, the Third Nazi in the room sneaks off, because he’s a spy!

    Meanwhile in Washington D.C., devilishly handsome war hero Steve Trevor reads the Nazi spy’s intel. In keeping with the 1970s obsession with the Bermuda Triangle, Steve Trevor heads off to intercept the Nazi pilot in the Bermuda Triangle because planes disappear there all the time so the Nazis won’t suspect the Americans. Obviously.

    Too bad Steve and General Blankenship (John Randolph) have this conversation in front of Steve’s sexy secretary, Marcia (Playboy Playmate Stella Stevens) because she’s not really running off to a doctor’s appointment before her date with Steve that night. She’s a Nazi spy! He’s a pig! But it’s the 1970s as the 1940s, so only one of those things is bad!

    Soon, Steve is in a dog-fight over the Bermuda Triangle. He and the Nazi Pilot have to eject from their planes. They drift down in their parachutes, mere feet from each other, while having a hilariously inept shoot-out. The Nazi is eaten by sharks; Steve Trevor washes up on the beach.

    Luckily…It’s Paradise Island!

    Princess Diana and her gal-pal Rena (Inga Neilson) are cavorting down the beach in their chiffon shortie-nighties when they come upon…an unconscious man! This is the first time Steve Trevor is rendered unconscious, but it won’t be the last – not even the last time this episode.

    Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, wonders why, after 1000 years, a man has found their island. As the Queen, Chloris Leachman chews: an apple, her knuckles, the scenery. It’s pretty amazing. I can’t even imagine what kind of direction she was getting from director Leonard Horn. The result was fantastic, whatever it was. Amazingly, Leachman doesn’t even play the kookiest iteration of Hippolyta in the series. That title goes to Carolyn Jones, perhaps best known as television’s Morticia Addams, who takes over the role later in the season.

    Under the influence of truth serum, which was also big in the ’70s, Steve confesses he’s a spy and tells the Queen about the Nazis.

    In Washington D.C., General Blankenship tells Stella that Steve is dead.

    In Germany, the Nazi Commander minces off to complete the mission himself. (Oh yes, we’ll be talking about masculinity, gender, and stereotypes in a later post, as well as the changing portrayal of the Nazis over the course of the first season).

    On Paradise Island, the Queen just wants the Amazons to be able to live in peace and sisterhood! She holds a tournament to decide who will accompany the unconscious man home.

    The Queen forbids Diana from competing. Conveniently, the customs of Paradise Island include the custom of wearing awkward and not-really-identity-concealing masks while competing in a competition of speed and agility, so Diana gets a blonde wig and a mask and defies her mother.

    A weird competition ensues. There’s running! Jumping! Horseback riding! Stone throwing! Arm wrestling! All edited in arty soft focus and slow motion, with lots of dissolves from one event to another to either keep the story moving or prevent the audience from dwelling on how silly the competition actually is. Seriously. Here’s a screenshot of stone throwing:

    FullSizeRender (1)

    Finally, it’s time for Bullets and Bracelets! In this episode, the competing Amazons shoot to kill – firing at each other’s faces. (In the second season, Bullets and Bracelets will involve each contestant standing to the side of the target and trying to keep her opponent from hitting her target).

    Diana wins! The Queen presents her with a shiny new outfit, made of indestructible fabric. It has a removable skirt, the Queen says as Diana removes the skirt and discards it, never to be seen again.

    wwgarb1.1

    “The colors were chosen because they represent freedom and democracy.” Sure, Why not?

    The Queen explains Wonder Woman’s accessories. Her belt enables her to use her Amazon powers even when she’s off the island.

    Wonder Woman loads up once-again unconscious Steve Trevor and flies to Washington D.C. in her Invisible Jet, an object which inspires previously unimaginable levels of scorn from Husband, although I’m not entirely sure why.

    invisiblejet

    Wonder Woman delivers unconscious Steve Trevor to the Armed Forces Hospital, later returning disguised as a nurse to keep tabs on him.

    Wonder Woman realizes she needs money to buy some clothes to cover up her star-spangled butt. She does the only logical thing, agreeing to be in a daredevil show. Promoter Ashley Norman (Red Buttons) hires her, running an ad inviting the audience to bring any weapon they want to shoot at the Wonder Woman, who will stand on stage deflecting bullets back at the audience. With a metal wall behind her.

    The writers didn’t seem to understand guns or physics or logic, but that’s all part of the charm. Right? Right.

    Also, Ashley Norman’s agency is called “Dogs, Dwarfs, Daredevils.” Also, Ashley Norman is actually Karl the Nazi Spy and he’s working with Marcia the Nazi Spy to try to kill this Wonder Woman.

    Bet you’ll never guess that the little old lady who shows up at the daredevil show with a machine guy is a Nazi Spy. She is! But Wonder Woman is amazing and deflects every single bullet! Wonder Woman doesn’t know Ashley/Karl is a Nazi. Yet.

    After the show, she puts on her nurse’s uniform and checks on Steve, but she finds that he’s checked himself out of the hospital so that he can go be rendered unconscious somewhere else.

    WONDER WOMAN DOES HER FIRST SPINNING COSTUME CHANGE. The effects hadn’t quite been worked out yet, so the editor cuts back and forth between Lynda Carter spinning in her nurse’s uniform and in her Wonder Woman getup. Eventually she stops spinning around and her transformation into Wonder Woman is complete. In the first few episodes, she still has her clothing in her hand when she stops spinning and must hide the items while she is Wonder Woman, which means she also has to return to her original spin site to resume her identity as Diana again. It’s strange and results in some supremely silly and awkward situations before the writers wise up and just make her clothes vanish in later episodes.

    Sexy Marcia, Nazi Spy, gives Spy of Questionable Competence Steve Trevor a dose of truth serum. He makes kissy faces at her and divulges the combination to his Top Secret Office Safe, because he is a terrible spy but a stellar manslut.

    Marcia dashes off to steal things from Steve’s Top Secret Office Safe, but Wonder Woman catches her red-handed. Marcia was the Nuremberg Judo Champ, so she and Wonder Woman have a pratfall-filled fight, which I found on youtube, much to my delight:


    Wonder Woman Fights Marcia

    Then, Wonder Woman uses the Lasso of Truth on Marcia before telling her that the Nazis will fail because they don’t respect their women and the future is sisterhood.

    Then, Wonder Woman uses an unexplained creepy Terminator ability to mimic voices, impersonating Marcia on the phone to lure the other Nazi spies into her trap.

    Then, Wonder Woman captures the Nazi Commander and lectures him for not respecting womanhood.

    Then, Wonder Woman punches him in his Nazi face.

    Then, Wonder Woman delivers the Commander to the DCPD, rounds up the other Nazi spies, and rescues Steve Trevor.

    Steve thinks Wonder Woman is super vavavavoom. Hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    A few days later, Steve recovers enough to return to his job as a terrible spy, vowing to only hire ugly ducklings from now on. Oh pretty girls, you’re such a problem to our national security! Luckily, General Blankenship has already hired Steve a new secretary, hideously ugly but highly competent Yeoman Diana Prince.

    Holy cats! It’s Princess Diana! With her hair pulled back! And wearing glasses! Oh Diana, you’re so ugly now!

    Steve and the General laugh and laugh at the ugly girl. Diana flashes her thousand watt smile at the camera and the credits roll.

    This isn’t the best episode. It’s not the nuttiest episode. It’s not the most psychedelic episode. It doesn’t have the wackiest guest stars. It doesn’t have the most absurd examples of Los Angeles as Washington D.C. It doesn’t have some of the iconic imagery, such as the lightning flash spinning transformation or Wonder Woman jumping over a fountain it would be faster to walk around, but that’s okay. It’s a delightful and goofy examplar of the series so if you’re only ever planning to watch one episode, make it this one.

      This episode contains:

      Bullets and Bracelets
      Spinning
      Invisible Jet
      Lasso of Truth
      Voice Mimicry
      Womanly Badassery
      Nazi Spies
      Mansel in Distress Steve Trevor
      Unconscious Steve Trevor
      The Bermuda Triangle

    LyndaCarterWWCape Once upon a time I bought Husband the complete TV series Wonder Woman (1975-1979) for his birthday.

    In an episode of questionable decision-making, I recently decided to blog my way through all 3 seasons of this glorious show.

    OK. Look. Lynda Carter is awesome. Wonder Woman is awesome. This show? Not always awesome. Does it matter? A show can be glorious even when it isn’t always awesome, right? Absolutely!

    Moving on…

    What can you expect from this epic series of insightful posts? I’m not just recapping the shows for you – you’ll get cultural and historical context! Steve Trevor wardrobe snark! DC Geography lessons! And so much more!

    Here’s a brief overview of the three seasons to set the stage, in case you’ve repressed or forgotten this magical moment in our cultural history:

    In Season 1, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter) rescues Steve Trevor Sr. (Lyle Waggoner), one of the worst spies in the history of American spies, and returns to the U.S.A to help him battle Nazis. We’ll battle a lot of Nazis. A lot of Nazis. You won’t believe how many Nazis we’ll fight. We’ll also meet Wonder Woman’s younger sister, Drusilla/Wonder Girl (Debra Winger) and a host of other earnest Nazi-fighting characters, because Nazis.

    In Season Two, we’ll follow The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, as the show was retitled when it hopped from ABC to CBS. Our story skips ahead to the groovy present-day 1970s, where we join the Cold War, already in progress. Diana Prince/Wonder Woman journeys from Paradise Island to assist Steve Trevor, JR, who not only looks exactly like his father, but is also one of the worst spies in American history.

    Season Two has it’s finger on the pulse of the alien invasion zietgeist of the late 1970s.

    Together, Steve and Diana also fight terrorists, jewel thieves, a Hitler clone, an evil toymaker, and psychic children.

    You know, the usual scourges of the 1970s.

    Changing the setting to the present day saved CBS buckets of money, but they clearly didn’t pour that money back into the show.

    With the assistance of their polite super-computer, IRAC, Steve and Diana keep America safe from pretty much everything except Steve Trevor’s terrible, terrible wardrobe.

    In Season Three we’ll groove to a disco-fied theme song while we plod through increasingly nutty plots involving (more) alien invasions, time traveling venture capitalists, skateboarders, trained dolphins, computer dating, teen idol kidnappers, leprechauns, and a villainous brain in a jar. Fortunately, Steve Trevor, Jr, Terrible Spy, is still here to grin his dopey grin while Wonder Woman saves the day over and over and over again.

    Steve, Diana, and IRAC don’t have to battle the bad guys alone. They’re joined by Rover the robot dog, a chimpanzee, and a super-annoying kid!

    Seriously.

    It was the 70s. There were a lot of robot dogs, super-annoying kids, and chimpanzees on network television. It was a deeply confusing time to be a child.

    *Related post: In the Future We Will All Have Robot Dogs

    You can follow me on twitter (@meanlouise), and/or like my facebook page to get updates when I add new posts.

    And now, we return you to our continuing series, “Xmen: I Have Questions,” already in progress.

    16729179_10154146149826402_4212387214620824431_n

    What sort of nuclear war was Charles Xavier’s stepfather preparing for exactly with that bunker full of department store mannequins?

    Okay. Fine. Technically this series only existed in my head until now, but it was already in progress, as far as I’m concerned, whether you knew it or not.

    Washington Post Magazine Ad, March 11, 2017

    When we first spotted this ad in the Washington Post Magazine, we debated whether the secret weapon is an army of lethal girl assassins or symbiotic fungal zombie child husks. Husband concluded its something boring, like sofa beds – which are probably as painful & dangerous as highly-trained murderous children but not as useful.

    Siesta Key - 2017

    We kicked off the new year doing as little as possible for a few days on Siesta Key, in preparation for a whirlwind bout of Family Fun that we had to schedule for the 1st week in January because…well, just because.

    Despite the delay, we did indeed have a fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. One could go so far as to say it was the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye.*

    Seriously, does anyone ever actually get through the holidays without someone shouting “Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?” at least once a day?

    Today’s the last day of our visit, so Mom and I made it as challenging as possible for Husband. Mostly, this involved taking both cats to the vet. Mom makes separate appointments because it’s too difficult to manage both cats at the same time.

    In the morning, Tom T. Cat struggled a bit while we inserted his ponderous bulk into the cat carrier, but then he settled down and spent the car-ride singing the song of his people. Tom may be of mysterious parentage, but that voice is all Siamese.

    Getting Count Scratchula into the carrier later in the afternoon wasn’t quite as easy. It involved 3 adults running around the house after a cat acting as though her hindquarters were being licked by the very flames of perdition. Did I mention the screaming? There was a lot of screaming. And, at one point, mom and I collapsed in a heap on the kitchen floor and laughed until we nearly passed out. Husband didn’t find this terribly helpful, for some reason.

    I believe this day will go down in family legend as a spit-drenched fiasco of feline proportions. No video exists of this incident. All witnesses are currently resting comfortably and expected to make a full recovery. After we staunch the bleeding.

    *I’m appalled how many of you don’t get that Christmas Vacation reference, so here’s the whole NSFW clip, for your post-holiday enjoyment:

    embedded clip: Christmas Vacation