Welcome back to “Oh shit I had no idea you actually meant it when you said you rewatched every episode of the Wonder Woman TV series with Lynda Carter & Lyle Waggoner that aired from 1975-1979 and now you’re going to blog about it.”
Next up: “The Feminum Mystique (1.5 & 1.6), which was advertised as a “special” because it was two parts. I guess that was why. Honestly, they said it was special so I took it on faith because I was a small child.
I remember watching this episode with my friends. It was advertised as a two-part special. I remember this blowing our little minds. Two parts! Are they even allowed to do that?
Rewatching these two episodes, my mind still reels, but for entirely different reasons.
Holy cats. I don’t even know where to begin, so let’s just begin at the beginning, with Part 1 (1.5).
Title In: Off the Coast of Virginia – 1942 – Dawn. A man (John Saxon) watches from the shore. A submarine surfaces and a man rows to shore. Radl, the man on the beach, greets his Nazi pal Wertz (Paul Shenar).
Terrible German accents ensue.
These guys are spies. Couldn’t the writers just tell us they’re German but they’re really good spies so they don’t have discernible accents? Wouldn’t that have been easier for everyone?
The average depth of the Chesapeake Bay is 21 feet, right? A submarine couldn’t cruise in and drop someone off, right? That said, submarines did deliver Nazi spies to the coasts of Jacksonville, Florida and New York in 1942, so I’m going to allow this bit of creative license to go relatively un-mocked.
Major Steve Trevor and Yeoman Prince arrive at Aldrich Field, Virginia – One Hour Later . In case you don’t understand that this is a military installation, the soundtrack is snappy snare drumming and lots of it.
Brilliant engineer Peter Knight (Charles Frank) unveils his revolutionary new plane: the XPJ1. The XPJ1 is powered by jet propulsion. The XPJ1 doesn’t have propellers. The XPJ1 is going to change the course of the war.
Diana acts amazed at the wondrous XPJ1, but we know she’s got a supersonic jazzy-jazz playing invisible plane that can fly circles around this contraption so let’s choose to read her performance as barely-concealed contempt and condescension.
XPJ1. XPJ1. They say it so often you might at first think “hey that’s a promising-sounding drinking game.” It’s not, unless you want to be as unconscious as Steve Trevor.
That wasn’t fair. Steve isn’t gassed or drugged or knocked unconscious one single time in this episode, but you get my drift.
The soundtrack swells with an anemic rendition of the fanfare from Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra. (Most know that as “the 2001 music”). The little plane they wheel out of the hanger does not live up to that hype.
Steve has been taking secret flying lessons so he can be the XPJ1 test pilot…but Nazi spies Radl and Wertz have been studying an ill-gotten set of XPJ1 plans so Wertz also knows how to fly the XPJ1!
While the XPJ1 is being wheeled onto the runway, Wertz and Radl blow up a nearby fuel depot to create a distraction. Other spies, disguised as MPs, provide cover so Wertz can steal the XPJ1.
Diana runs away and spins. Her newly acquired flash of light, which starts blue, glows white-hot, and then shrinks and turns red to reveal Wonder Woman, is on-point.
Wonder Woman deflects some bullets with her bracelets and catches the phony MPs, but Wertz gets away with the XPJ1…or does he?
While Wonder Woman is being a badass, Steve saunters to his jeep phone and puts in a call to General Blankenship (Richard Eastham) at the War Department asking him to put Code Z into effect.
The General blows up the XPJ1 with the most hilarious remote detonator ever – it’s a pair of doorbell buttons housed in a locked case hardwired into the wall at the War Department which detonate a bomb in the XPJ1. This seems a little pessimistic if you ask me.
Wertz parachutes to safety.
At the War Department in Washington D.C. Steve tells Diana a secret: Code Z is a trick to fool the Nazis into thinking that the XPJ1 isn’t ready for prime time.
Now safely back at Nazi Intelligence Headquarters in Germany Wertz isn’t buying the “XPJ1 is a failure” ruse.
The Nazis still want the XPJ1 plans, but they also want to get their hands on this Wonder Woman and her bullet deflecting bracelets. Bullet deflecting metal sounds even more useful to the war effort than the XPJ1. What is that metal? (Spoiler alert: it’s called “feminum”).
The Nazis have heard rumors about a Wonder Woman, presumably from two episodes ago (1.3) WHEN THEY HELD WONDER WOMAN PRISONER IN THIS VERY BUILDING. Sure, yes, at the end of that episode it’s implied that Wonder Woman probably erased a few Nazi memories, but Operation Fraulein – the plan to capture Wonder Woman and study her – came from Hitler himself, so surely there are at least a few Nazis who remember this thing that just happened a month or so ago.
In the pilot (1.1), Wonder Woman was billed as the star attraction in a daredevil show where she deflected bullets with her bracelets.
Two episodes later she appeared at public War Bond rallies to raise money because she’s a well-known superhero.
In the last episode (1.4), Wonder Woman won a super-big-time beauty pageant and was crowned Miss G.I. Dreamgirl 1942.
In this episode, Hippolyta is surprised that Wonder Woman became super famous all over the world.
How are the Nazis the only ones who don’t know about Wonder Woman?
Isn’t she their arch-nemesis?
Meanwhile, Radl takes refuge in Hibbsville, Virginia with a Nazi collaborator in the U.S. Forestry Service.
Geography note: There is no Hibbsville, Virginia. On the show, it seems to be somewhere between downtown D.C. and Fort Belvoir. Trust me when I tell you that submarines have never surfaced in that area. It’s not even on the Bay, that’s the Potomac River.
I haven’t posted any screenshots of the titles yet, so here’s one. The comic book style is as awesome now as it was then. It’s the only visual effect that has aged well, although the flashing Wonder Woman morph is still a delight, but it’s not a delight because it’s retro-cool.
Title In: Paradise Island – An Uncharted Body of Land with in the Bermuda Triangle.
Amazons in flouncy sheer white outfits do jumping jacks as the Queen (Carolyn Jones) swans about. She announces that the games may begin and we’re treated to a bizarre montage of footraces, archery, staff fighting, and balletic lifts.
The Queen’s daughter Drusilla (Debra Winger) is the best at everything: athletics, agility, scholarship, and cruelty! Seriously, she put a snake down a classmate’s back even though Drusilla knew she was terrified of snakes.
The Queen misses her eldest daughter and wants Diana to eschew her fame in the world and return to Paradise Island. She sends Drusilla to fetch her.
At the War Department: Steve tells Diana that they’ll be having dinner with Peter Knight because they have sensitive intelligence to discuss. Discussing sensitive information in a restaurant is a stupid thing to do, so Diana suggests they have dinner at her place.
Etta Candy (Beatrice Colen) is sad that no one takes her out to dinner. Diana promises to take her out to dinner, but that’s not what Etta wants. Etta wants a man. Sexy saxophone music plays as Diana assures her that she has never wanted to be a man.
Diana arrives at her apartment to cook dinner and immediately senses the presence of an intruder.
Spinning into Wonder Woman, she creeps into the kitchen to find…her kid sister Drusilla eating ice cream!
How large is the Paradise Island Invisible Jet Fleet?
Diana shows Dru her “dowdy” alter-ego, Diana Prince.
Oh, Diana, STFU.
Diana explains to Dru why she can’t return to Paradise Island right now: she has to stay and fight the Nazis so they don’t enslave the world. Sounds legit, but Dru isn’t ready to leave just yet. She wants to know more about men.
Diana explains that men are children, gods, geniuses and fools. That’s really what she says. Diana tells Dru she can stay for dinner so she can see some men.
Dru can’t show up at the dinner table in that yellow chiffon mini-dress, so Diana gussies her up and puts ribbons in her pigtails. This makes me question how old Dru is supposed to be and who thought it appropriate to dress her so young but then spin her into a weirdly revealing Wonder Girl get-up later.
At dinner Dru is awkward and strange, saying things like, “I like men!”
Peter Knight, designer of the XPJ1, thinks she’s adorbs. Peter Knight, designer of the XPJ1, is obviously a Nazi spy.
Nevertheless, Steve and Peter discuss Top Secret sensitive information relating to the XPJ1 at the dinner table in front of this strange teenager, a total stranger attending their secret XPJ1 dinner.
This post was begging for a TEDXpj1 joke but I never came up with a good one.
Later, Drusilla puts on her yellow dress again for some reason and takes an unsupervised wander around Diana’s ‘hood, paying a visit to the maltshop where she meets normal teenagers who do not wander around in chiffon mini-dresses and bullet-deflecting bracelets.
Diana gets Dru new clothes and takes her to the War Department the following day. Take your sister to work day takes a peculiar twist when Dru goes on an supervised fieldtrip with General Blankenship to Fort Belvoir so he can explain Nazis to her and point out Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon is, in fact, on the way to Fort Belvoir if you take the GW Parkway. I was going to call bullshit on this but the segment of the Parkway between Mount Vernon and Memorial Bridge was completed in 1932 and the show takes place in 1942. It’s the Northern segments of the Parkway that weren’t completed until the 1950s, so this is entirely plausible. Well, the part about driving from D.C. to Fort Belvoir by way of the George Washington Parkway is plausible. The General who runs the War Department taking a teenager he’s known for all of 30 seconds on an extensive tour of sensitive military locations? Not so much.
Unless this is further proof that he knows that Diana is Wonder Woman and that this girl must also be an Amazon.
Nope. Not buying that either.
The GW Parkway is scenic, but it’s also a great place to be ambushed by Nazis! The General is taken prisoner. The trap for Wonder Woman has been set!
The kidnappers leave Drusilla in the abandoned car since they think she’s just a random annoying teenager who happens to be riding around with the head of the War Department. Dru runs to a gas-station where the mechanic doesn’t believe her that the General was kidnapped so she asks for directions to the nearest Ranger Station and then runs away.
Dru doesn’t know anything about America or pretty much anything unrelated to Paradise Island, so why would her panicky reaction be to ask directions to something as specific as a Ranger Station?
The Ranger Station is, of course, a Nazi hideout.
After a few false-spin-starts, Dru has a flashback to the day the Queen taught Diana how to spin into Wonder Woman, and then Dru successfully spins herself into Wonder Girl. Here, now you don’t have to imagine what this looks like:
Then, of course, she walks right into the trap and is chloroformed by Nazis.
Meanwhile, at the gas station, Steve and Diana question the mechanic. He sends them to the Ranger Station, where they find the General trussed up. Since he was locked up in a closet, the General doesn’t know who showed up or why the Nazis left.
Steve is probably delighted not to be the mansel in distress for a change.
No one has said XPJ1 in at least one minute.
Diana goes back to her apartment. Dru isn’t there! Diana calls Steve, who brushes aside her concerns and assures her that Dru is probably just out having fun.
This sneak preview of Steve’s parenting skills explains a lot about the events in seasons 2 and 3.
A Deserted Industrial Area – a Refuge for Nazi Spies . Seriously, that’s the title card.
The real question is: what isn’t a refuge for Nazi spies on this show?
Wonder Girl is in a holding cell. The Nazis believe they’ve captured Wonder Woman, although they’re confused because she seems smaller than they expected.
Her costume is totally different and so is her hair and also her age but sure whatever, why not: that’s definitely Wonder Woman you’ve got in that cage.
From Nazi Intelligence Headquarters orders are sent to the Deserted Industrial Area to test Wonder Woman’s bracelets.
TO BE CONTINUED….