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.

“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

If anyone is looking for me, I’m busy working on my newest performance art piece: a 6 hour PowerPoint presentation titled “The Many Mudras of Michael Fassbender.” (Alternate title: “Jazz Hands, With Michael Fassbender!”)

XMen: First Class

Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs

15673026_10153992428191402_5887402882443916571_n

1. No, I’m not really doing this, I’m just bored standing in line at the post office.

2. Yes, this dude has been in some delightfully awful movies.

3. Yes, I’m fully aware this post isn’t nearly as hilarious as Husband & I think it is.

4. Yes, we’ve really been calling our Michael Fassbender film festival the Fassbender Bender.

4a. Wouldn’t you?

4b. See footnote 2.

5. I may not be doing a performance art piece, but I do plan to blog about some of these under-appreciated gems – Just wait til I blog about the one with the bear!

15589864_10153992428231402_8300543291814684826_n

If you’re looking for a fun read for the Halloween season, Sam & Dean & I Colin Dickey’s brand new book, Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places.

Husband and I were lucky enough to hear Dickey talk about this work in progress last year at Death Salon Mutter in Philadelphia. I’ve been waiting impatiently to finally get to read the book not just because it sounds cool, but because I’ve been working on revisions to an article on the socio-cultural and social justice implications of ghost tourism and historical ghost narratives. (One of the many reasons I’ve been neglecting you, my devoted readers).

Now I’m going to neglect you further so I can go finish reading this book!

Sorry for the long absence, I didn’t mean to neglect you so.

My sanity wasn’t devoured by bad SyFy movies, but I was quite ill for most of the Spring and early Summer and it’s taken me much longer to get life back to something even close to resembling normality.

Wouldn’t want things to get too normal, though, so while I continue to sort things out, here’s a hypnotic re-edit of the ending of The Wicker Man.

The brilliant 1973 version, not the abominable 2006 remake starring Nicholas Cage. Not even the powerful ancient magic of the Teletubbies could make that thing watchable.


Randy Cordova’s review in the Arizona Republic sums Archaeological horror flick As Above, So Below up nicely:

As soon as I opened wordpress to post Liam Neeson: The Musical, our furnace made a terrible shrieking sound. An additional dose of oil seems to have placated it (for now) but it’s 12 degrees and I’m a little nervous.

This wouldn’t be the first time Liam Neeson has menaced our furnace on a cold night in February. See also: Wrath of the Titans (Or, this movie sucks so much it will break your furnace).

I’ve been trying to update my theme and redesign the site, but it hasn’t been going terribly well. If my blog breaks over the next few days, I plan to blame Neeson. Or call him to rescue me. One of those.

Alone in the Dark is a 1982 horror movie starring Jack Palance, Donald Pleasence and Martin Landau.
51HWw+Euc1L
Unfortunately, that’s not the movie we’re watching.

We’re watching Alone in the Dark, a 2005 supernatural/archaeological horror movie starring Tara Reid, Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff.

If that doesn’t give you a sufficient idea of how terrible this movie is, perhaps because you’re drunk or otherwise incapacitated, allow me up the ante: this movie was directed by Uwe Boll.

Uwe. Boll.

And it’s based on a video game. It’s one of Boll’s video game movies. The only movies on earth more awful than Boll’s “original” movies are Boll’s movies based on video games.

Allow Wired’s Chris Baker to sum up Boll’s abilities:

Like a modern-day Ed Wood, or a poor man’s Michael Bay, Boll appears competent in every aspect of filmmaking except the actual making of the film. His movies are haphazardly scripted, sloppily edited, badly acted and, most crucially, brutally received.

There are mild spoilers in this post, but with a movie like this, it’s better to be forewarned.

The movie begins with a crawl. Narrated by Slater, who sounds as though he’s drunk or otherwise incapacitated, this crawl is a prodigious display of word-vomit that provides a video-game-esque amount of backstory that leaves you fervently wishing that the poor man’s Nicholson would just shut up already.

Blahblahblah. 10,000 years ago a tribe known as the Abkani opened a gate between the worlds of Light and Dark. Blahblahblah. Something evil slipped through the gate, possibly Uwe Boll. Blahblahblah. In 1967, a bunch of miners found dangerous artifacts left behind when the Abkani disappeared.Blahblahblah. Something about the government’s Bureau 713, a paranormal research agency run by an archaeologist named Lionel Hudgens. Hudgens has a secret lab. Blahblahblah.

“There, he conducted savage experiments on orphaned children in an attempt to merge man with creature.”

Wait, what? What kind of archaeology is that? What creatures?

Me: Isn’t that also the plot of that Kevin Smith movie we just saw a trailer for? Tusk? The one where the guy tries to turn the other guy into a walrus?
Husband: No. This is different. That guy was a podcaster, not an archaeologist!

Thankfully, while we were bickering about Tusk, the crawl ended. Unfortunately, that meant the movie began.

Edward Carnby (Christian Slater), one of the 20 surviving experimental child-creature subjects, has grown up to be a paranormal investigator. He also knows kung fu. Or maybe the artifact he keeps in his leather jacket pocket gives him super-powers. Who can really say? Actually, Lowrent Nicholson will probably say eventually, because it appears he’s also going to be narrating this steaming pile of cinematic stupidity.

Seriously, what kind of science was Ludgens supposed to be doing? You understand that creating human-demonmonster hybrids is not archaeology, right? Right?

Ludgens is still a working archaeologist. Not a respectable archaeologist, obviously, because he works for the same museum that hired Aline (Tara Reid) as an assistant-curator. Let’s be clear here: I’m not mocking the idea of Reid as a scholar because she’s young and dewy and pretty. I’m mocking the idea of Reid as a scholar because she can’t deliver a convincing line to save her life. She can’t even walk convincingly.

Archaeology movie trope alert: Aline is under pressure to finish the blockbuster exhibit about the Abkani for the major museum at which she is the assistant curator.

A bunch of stuff happens.

Sample dialogue:

Edward: Every culture’s got a story about the end of the world, doesn’t it?
Aline: But not every story starts by coming true.

Oh, hey! Sex scene in an exotically appointed artifact-laden warehouse. I guess Edward and Aline live in this warehouse? Oh no! Now Edward and Aline are being attacked by a monster, who chases them around the warehouse.

Luckily, Bureau 713 arrives with an entire platoon of soldiers and they all open fire on the monster in the dark warehouse while heavy metal music throbs and lights strobe and everyone grunts a lot.

No, really:

Now there are zombies.

Where did the zombies come from? I have no idea. I wasn’t paying attention because I was reading about the 7th Alone in the Dark game (Illuminations), which is scheduled for release this year. Husband, who was paying attention, also has no idea.

We both agree that the games are way, way better that this movie.

We also agree that they should dub Reid’s dialogue. Even if it wasn’t dubbed well her performance would be more convincing. Maybe they could spare Reid the effort of memorizing all of those words. Her dialogue coach could just smear peanut butter on the roof of her mouth like they do when they want to film animals moving their mouth in a way that approximates human speech.

Sweet cheezits! I was just searching my archives for a post I wrote about Boll’s epic vampire hunter flick Bloodrayne (“not as bad as getting your eyelid caught on a nail”) and discovered that we’ve already watched this movie.

Husband: Well, I believe we should commend ourselves for doing such an excellent job of repressing it!

He makes a good point.

Hang on…the braintrust of Aline, Edward, and Bureau 713 Commander Burke (Dorff) seem to have lead Bureau 713’s special forces to the ancient Abkani temple those miners found in 1967.

No sign of zombies. Lots of monsters, though. And a big battle.

Damn, while I wasn’t paying attention the three stooges opened the door between the worlds of Light and Dark and went into whichever one they weren’t already in. Dark, I guess. Or Light. Who knows?

Some “dramatic” things happen and the movie ends.

I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, so I haven’t described the B story, in which we learn the consequences of the child-creature experiments. You should be grateful I decided not to describe it. Grateful on oh so many levels, the least of which is that you’re avoiding spoilers.

In summary: archaeology plus secret experiments involving human-creature hybrids never end well, not when you’re on deadline to open a blockbuster museum exhibit!

Someone edited Alone in the Dark down to 2 minutes, complete with director’s commentary and a guest appearance by Howard Dean!


I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to watch Alone in the Dark II!

Alone in the Dark 2 Trailer:


Escape from the Planet of the Apes


image: Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

We spent Christmas quality family time with the 5 original Planet of the Apes movies. (Seven months later, I found this post in my drafts folder).

You’d think we’d have these movies memorized by now, but when you’re dealing with such a sprawling franchise things get a bit hazy, even for Highly Trained Professionals such as ourselves.

After all, we’re not dealing with a mere trilogy. The first film, Planet of the Apes (1968), was adapted from a French novel, Pierre Boulle’s La Planete des Singes (1963) and was followed by 4 sequels in 4 years: Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).

Plus, there were 2 TV series (1 live-action and 1 animated), 1 execrable reboot (2001), 2 prequels – (Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) – and a whole bunch of comic books.

Plus, there’s time travel. Time travel that contradicts the time line established in the narrative – a narrative that’s already a bit nonsensical to begin with, to boot.

The 3rd film, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, may be a terrible movie, but it’s also terribly entertaining. And it’s got Ricardo Montalban and Eric Braeden giving the scenery a pretty thorough chew, so there’s that.

There’s a delightfully nutty scene in which Presidential Science Advisor Dr. Otto Hasslein (Braeden) goes on the nightly news and explains time travel. I couldn’t find the full scene on youtube, but I did find a remix called “A Lesson in Regression” that does it justice:

You really should watch Escape from the Planet of the Apes, if only to be thankful that the new prequels forego time travel in favor of something slightly more science-y and slightly less what-the-fuck-y.

Still the old films have something the new ones never will: 70s fashion. And, of course, Ricardo Montalban.


jaws-3d-image

Orlando Weekly: “They deleted the subplot where Dennis Quaid searches for an antiperspirant that works.”

I hate myself for wanting to drag the the Jungle Pete family to Sea World next week because Blackfish was deeply disturbing. Plus,The tickets to the park are shockingly expensive. At the same time, we just watched Jaws 3 as part of a 4th of July marathon and now I feel like we HAVE to go.

Still…Jaws 3D. The movie where Orlando is RIGHT ON the ocean. The movie that sucked so bad that entirely different actors were cast as the Brody sons in the next movie. And their professions were changed so we could 3 never happened. That movie that makes Jaws 3 seem like ART because it really ups the ante on its badness but acknowledges that we’re all in this together so we might as well bring Michael Caine along for the ride.

Don’t worry, in a few days I’ll have lost all interest in going to Sea World.

I hope.

[another post that’s been hanging around in the drafts files for a few months]

It was nice of Santa to bring me a boxed set of all 4 Indiana Jones movies on BluRay, since I need them for thesis research.

When we watch movies in La Florida, we tend to turn the volume up very loud to compensate for the weird acoustics in mom’s house and the fact that mom tends to wander in and out of the room a lot and then ask a lot of questions because she has no idea what’s happening in the movie.

This results in all of us yelling, “WHAT???” at one another until someone pauses and/or runs back the movie.

We watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom on New Year’s Eve. Mom had a LOT of questions.

This didn’t lead to me questioning my commitment to archaeology but did result in me renewing my commitment to bourbon.

There was one thing we could all agree on: Well of Souls and Snakes would make the worst restaurant concept ever.