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television wonder woman

The return of the Nazis

In Anschluss ’77, the 2nd episode of the 2nd season, the all-new all-70s adventures of Wonder Woman backslide into old habits: Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor Junior must stop a nefarious group of Nazis. Before they can clone Hitler in South America.

It’s a ridiculously silly episode, of course, but it seemed wrong to laugh about so soon after the White Supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Then, I was sidelined with some health issues and it’s taken me a few weeks to get caught up on everything, so the episode post had to wait just a little longer.

My introduction to the Anschluss ’77 post was a little bit of the cultural and historical context of American Neo-Nazism in 1970s, so I’ve decided to break that out into this post. Otherwise, it’s a chilling lead-in to a recap full of fluff and nonsense and jokes about Steve Trevor Junior’s wardrobe.

As we’re reminded over and over, White Supremacy doesn’t ever die out in the United States. It regroups. It adapts. It gathers resources. It finds new and innovative ways to appeal to new constituencies by mobilizing outrage and imbricating itself everyday life. Did you ever hear anyone sputter “all lives matter!” until Black Lives Matter became a movement?

Wonder Woman clearly drew on contemporary issues in its own wacky awkward way. This is an enormous topic, so here are just a few examples from the news of the day that put Anschluss ’77 into context.

In the late 1970s, international pressure was increasing to prosecute Nazis who fled Germany at the end of World War II and settled in South America.

Neo-Nazis were not an abstraction in the United States, either, and they were asserting their presence to intimidate minorities, sometimes flagrantly marching in the streets in the United States, as this footage from Chicago in 1978 shows.

Here’s an excerpt from the SPLC’s history of one highly influential group, the National Alliance (NA), which was consolidating money and power in the 1970s after branching out of the American Nazi Party and George Wallace’s failed Presidential campaign. The Southern Poverty Law Center writes:

Explicitly genocidal in its ideology, NA materials call for the eradication of the Jews and other races — what a principal foundational document describes as “a temporary unpleasantness” — and the creation of an all-white homeland. Founded by William Pierce in 1970, the group produced assassins, bombers and bank robbers, among other things. Pierce’s novel, The Turner Diaries, was the inspiration for Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City and many other acts of terror.

It’s worth reading the entire article, as it outlines the influence this particular group had into the 21st Century.

The most obvious and direct influence on the episode was, of course, Ira Levin’s bestselling novel, The Boys from Brazil, which was published in 1976. The feature film, which co-starred Gregory Peck and Sir Laurence Olivier, was already in production in 1977. Additionally, the opening of the Simon Weisenthal Center in L.A. in 1977 probably influenced the writers.

When you consider how often Nazis were in the news in the 1970s, it’s actually amazing that Wonder Woman didn’t spend more time chasing them in the 1970s than she had in the 1940s.

We’ll resume our (sort of) regular Wonder Woman posting schedule after Labor Day.

On a sidenote. I guess I’ve never actually seen the Boys from Brazil, because I had no idea that young Steve Guttenberg plays Olivier’s Nazi-hunting character as a young man.

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television wonder woman

“The Return of Wonder Woman” (2.1) – 100% Nazi free!

Steve and Diana in the invisible plane

In my last post I described some of the changes Wonder Woman underwent when the show switched networks between Seasons 1 and 2. In September 1977, CBS debuted the 2nd season with a contemporary setting and relatively new cast. With prolific television writer Stephen Kandel behind the typewriter and veteran camp/sci-fi/procedural director Alan Crosland calling the shots, the revamped series got off to a Nazi-free start with the 73 minute episode “The Return of Wonder Woman.”

Somewhere Over the Caribbean – 1977

U.S. Government Security Agent Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) and some nuclear scientists are aboard a top secret government plane en route to a top secret conference.

Steve says their objective at the conference is to announce that they’ll be building a secret nuclear power plant in the fictional Latin American nation of Samarra.

The nuclear scientists find this idea dubious. Building an American nuclear plant on foreign soil where the U.S. may not be able to fully protect it will thwart terrorists who’ve been blowing up U.S. nuclear facilities…how, exactly?

Steve Trevor has apparently neither aged nor learned anything in the 35 years since we saw him last, because this sounds like a terrible plan.

Within Dr. Solano’s Headquarters – Secluded in Washington, D.C.

Doctor Solano (Fritz Weaver) watches surveillance footage of the secret plane because the cabin steward is one of his henchmen. He hears Steve explaining the secret plan.

Guess the high security plane isn’t so secure, after all.

The plane enters the mysterious Devil’s Triangle! AKA the Bermuda Triangle! I hope nothing bad happens!

Solano’s inflight henchman gases everyone on the plane.

He also gases the pilot and co-pilot, which may or may not have been part of the plan.

Before the henchman can get his gas-mask on, Steve knocks him out.

The henchmen released some kind of knockout gas from a canister, he doesn’t have critical flatulence. Just so we’re clear.

If you’re keeping score at home, Steve Trevor has already been rendered unconscious and we’re only at the 00:05:50 mark.

Everyone is unconscious!

The plane is going to crash!

Or is it?

Lucky for Steve and his band of nuclear scientists, the plane breaches the magnetic field which protects Paradise Island from the prying eyes of the outside world.

Paradise Island – An Uncharted Body of Land in the Bermuda Triangle

The Paradise Island Science Council takes control of the plane and lands it safely. They’ve had invisible jet technology for at least 35 years so I’m willing to buy this.

Diana (Lynda Carter) and her cousin are cavorting on the beach in chiffon mini dresses, like one does.

Diana runs to the plane to offer assistance.

Run, Diana, Run!

Diana enters the plane and finds her old pal Steve Trevor lying unconscious. How can this be? He hasn’t aged a bit! Does he age slowly, like an Amazon? It must be Steve Trevor, because he looks just like Steve Trevor.

And look: he’s unconscious! That confirms it, don’t you think?

Queen Hippolyta (now played by Beatrice Straight) explains to Diana that ordinary humans breed and this big handsome sack of meat is Steve Trevor Junior, son of Steve Trevor Senior.

Steve Junior is just like Steve Senior! He’s patriotic! He’s the greatest living spy! He’s an idiot! He is, indeed, essentially a clone!

The Amazons question all of the outsiders under hypnosis, although thankfully that all happens off camera or this episode would be 6 hours long.

The terrorist henchman confesses that he’s working for terrorists.

Terrorists sound as terrible as Nazis, so the Amazons vote to send Wonder Woman back out into the world of men.

Wonder Woman is always yakking about how Paradise Island is full of peace and love and equality, but the Amazons seem awfully passive-aggressive. Before Diana gets the Queen’s final approval to go do her thing, Evadne (Dorrie Thomson) says: “In the spirit of sisterly competition and in keeping with the traditions of Paradise Island I challenge my cousin the Princess Diana to the supreme test: Bullets and Bracelets.”

She doesn’t so much say it as woodenly recite it like she’s reading off a cue-card, but who am I to judge? Besides, the Amazons were renowned for their bravery and fighting skills, we don’t know about their reputation as actors.

Turns out, you can’t be hurt at all while wearing Feminum bracelets so Bullets and Bracelets isn’t nearly as scary as we used to think it was. Whew.

Bullets and Bracelets!

By the by, rules of Bullets and Bracelets have retroactively changed. The goal is now to protect a target by deflecting bullets, which is way less dangerous than before when they shot at each other’s faces.

Diana & her cousin engage in a friendly game of Bullets and Bracelets

Diana wins, of course.

The Paradise Island Doctor hypnotizes Steve. She brainwashes him into accepting Diana as his new assistant “on an unconscious level” and a thousand jokes write themselves.

Hippolyta retrieves Diana’s accessories from a storage area that seems to be a premonition of what would happen if Martha Stewart and Marie Kondo did a team-up. Oh gods and goddesses, the 70s were a time when brass ruled the roost, weren’t they?

The Queen takes the magical accessories out of storage

To be fair, I did recently snag my mom’s retro-art deco 70s brass lamps for my living room, so maybe I shouldn’t make fun of Paradise Island’s interior decorators anymore.

Where were we? Right. Diana is powerful, brilliant, and gorgeous and if she can’t protect the world of men from terrorists than no one can.

Hippolyta reminds Diana what each of her accessories do in case we, er, she forgot, summarizing: “The magic bracelets, your tiara, the costume with the secret belt of strength, the golden lasso of truth and then forgetfulness: the Garb of Justice.”

Then the Queen reminds Diana that she’s nothing without this star-spangled spandex get-up.

Like I said, Amazons can be pretty passive-aggressive.

Diana apparently doesn’t want to pack all that stuff in her carry-on, so she spins into Wonder Woman. In a bit of retroactive continuity, Hippolyta reminds Wonder Woman that the ruby in her tiara enables her to call home whenever she wants.

The Queen also gives Diana some valuable ancient coins to sell for living expenses so she doesn’t have to hustle as a carnie this time around.

The Amazons hypnotize the outsiders to awaken only in response to a tune on a pan flute and then dump them onto the plane exactly how they found them.

With her invisible jet following on auto-pilot, Wonder Woman flies the government plane out of the magnetic field. She plays the flute to start the countdown to consciousness and then leaps into her invisible plane before anyone sees her.

Steve and the gang wake up none the wiser to the fact that they’ve been missing for several days.

In Washington, D.C.: Solano is amazed to see the plane reappear on his surveillance feed as though no time at all has passed.

At the Airport in Samarra, Latin America

A Samarran army guy tells Steve they’ve been searching for the plane for 2 days and that his assistant has the full report.

His assistant?

Steve’s brainwashing kicks in and he recognizes Diana.

Dr. Solano is the Chair of the secret nuclear conference! He and his co-delegate from Guanaray, Gloria (the glorious Jessica Walter), are up to no good.

In the meeting hall: Steve promises all of the delegates that the U.S. will share all the power they’ll generate from the new power plant. Latin America is saved by the benevolence of the Americans!

Diana tells Steve that Solano is an unlucky name, because it means “nightshade.” Diana is full of dubious-sounding folklore.

During the meeting scene, it drives Husband crazy that none of the microphones are actually plugged in. I manage to ignore that because I’m busy admiring Diana’s wrap dress.

Steve and Diana at the secret nuclear meeting

When I was a kid, Diana’s wardrobe blew my mind.

In a hotel suite: Solano and Gloria mwahaha over Solano’s terror goal, which is to bring down all of the governments of the world and build a new world of paradise. Hey, it’s a nice change of pace from Nazis.

Solano is obviously a bad guy because he wears a big velour bathrobe over his dress shirt.

Washington, D.C. – Several Days Later

For reasons that are, thankfully, not explained to us, IADC management accepts that Diana is Steve’s new assistant. On her IADC orientation tour, Diana meets IRAC (aka IRA) – the Informational Retrieval Associative Computer.

Later, Diana sneaks back in and gains access to IRAC (aka IRA) and creates a personnel record for herself.

Then, she goes to a coin dealer and sells her coins for $25,000 apiece (in 2017 dollars that’s approximately $103,708 each).

Next, she gets herself a groovy apartment to sleep in and store her wardrobe of swank wrap dresses.

Seriously, those dresses.

gollum: "wrap dresses, we wants them"

Where were we? Oh, right. Diana snags a huge furnished apartment in Washington, D.C. for $500 a month. Actually, that’s about $2,000 adjusted for inflation, which in 2017 gets you a small unfurnished efficiency, so even in 1977 TV apartments were setting unrealistic expectations about adult life.

Thanks a lot, television.

While Diana is out, Gloria breaks in and bugs the apartment. When Diana returns, she’s shocked to discover a masked lady-burglar wrecking her place.

Diana gasps: “You’re a woman! We shouldn’t be enemies!”
Gloria responds: “I don’t know where your head is at, baby. Women are naturally enemies. Just keep the exit clear.”

Diana does not keep the exit clear.

Instead, she fights Gloria. In the melee, the sleeve of Diana’s awesome new yellow wrap dress gets torn off, which is super-sad. Gloria uses knockout gas on Diana.

Gloria is long gone by the time Diana spins into Wonder Woman.

Diana/Wonder Woman calls Steve. He proves he’s not any smarter than his dad when he advises her not to call the police.

Thanks to the bug Gloria planted, Solano is eavesdropping on the whole conversation, because that seems to be his thing.

On her first day of work at the IADC, Diana meets Steve’s boss, Joe Atkinson (Normann Burton).

Joes’s secretary shows Diana to her new office. She apologizes for how drab and empty it is as the two women awkwardly try to ignore the fact that the office is fully furnished and decorated with plants and pottery. Somebody really needed to share script revisions with the art department on this show.

Diana's Office at the IADC

Steve and Diana leave quickly to go somewhere or another, leaving Joe’s secretary to fret over the fact that she’s already ordered breakfast for everyone, including Diana! Already, we have the dynamic of nurturing non-threatening food-bestowing secretary and never-eating Diana in play.

Remember girls, you have to skip a lot of meals to fit into star-spangled satin undies.

Solano’s thugs follow Steve and Diana, ambushing them somewhere, maybe a park. Diana manages to slip away and spin into Wonder Woman. She saves the day with some truck lifting, gun bending, and tiara-boomerang action.

Wonder Woman stops both a car and a truck from driving away by lifting them off the ground.

While Steve lies there unconscious because Steve, she uses her golden lasso to learn that the henchmen were trying to plant a bug on Steve.

Steve regains consciousness and sees…Wonder Woman!

Wonder Woman saves Steve's Bacon. Again

Wonder Woman and Steve talk about how awesome Steve Senior was, moving swiftly past her extremely intimate knowledge of dear old dad’s scars. Steve Junior thinks Wonder Woman is hot, even if she is 2,526 years old.

In Solano’s D.C. lair: Solano and Gloria watch improbably edited multi-camera footage of Wonder Woman defeating his henchmen in the park 10 minutes ago.

Solano thinks Wonder Woman is an “experimentally enhanced agent.” To be fair, that’s not any wackier than the explanation that she’s a 2526 year old Amazon with magical undergarments.

Gloria has an extensive clippings file of Wonder Woman’s World War II exploits. Could it be the same woman? Is she a robot?

Solano shows Gloria his experimental fencing robot, which is powered by a miniature nuclear reactor source that gives it unlimited strength and creepiness.

Solano's fencing robot is a silver man with a sculptural face.

Later, at the IADC: Gloria visits Steve to coax him into attending a reception at the Guanarayan embassy. It seems to be a reception to celebrate the new nuclear reactor, which is confusing because I thought the reactor was a secret. I guess not. Fictional Samarra’s fictional neighbor Guanaraya can’t wait to have access to all that cheap nuclear power.

Gloria smooches with Steve and then slinks away. Seriously, Jessica Walters is super-slinky. Also, this episode could pretty much be her audition reel for Archer.

At Solano’s lair : one of the henchmen is now a Steve Trevor impersonator. I think Solano has a face/off machine.

That Night at Embassy Row in Washington, D.C.

There’s a big party at the embassy.

Gloria lures Steve away from Diana, chloroforming him into unconsciousness. Fake Steve then leaves the party, pretending to be Real Steve.

At Blanding Air Force Base: Fake Steve briefs the pilots who are delivering the pre-fab sections of the nuclear reactor to Samarra. Apparently, the U.S. government is using pre-fab housing technology to build this nuclear reactor.

Fake Steve claims there’s been a change in plans and they’re going to deliver the nuclear reactor to Guanaray instead of Samarra.

At Diana’s Apartment: Diana rebuffs Fake Steve’s handsy advances after he drives her home from the party. She tricks him into revealing he’s a fake. The trick involves intimate knowledge of Steve Senior’s anatomy, which is a bit of innuendo I definitely didn’t understand when I was 7.

Diana eludes Fake Steve and spins into Wonder Woman. She captures Fake Steve and uses the golden lasso to question him.

At Solano’s secret lair: Wonder Woman breaks down the door and saves Real Steve.

At the Air Force Base: Real Steve radios the pilot, but he won’t turn around because Fake Steve told them not to stop for anyone, including himself. There’s this whole complicated thing about failsafe words that I’m not going to bother to explain because I’m sure you’re just as devoted as I am and are watching right along with me.

Wonder Woman and Steve hop in her invisible jet and hightail it to Guanaray.

Solano’s Secret Air Field on Guanaray

Solano challenges Wonder Woman to a fencing match – saber dueling being the preferred fighting style of refined evil international terrorists.

Robot wackiness ensues as Wonder Woman discovers she’s dueling with the nuclear fencing robot in an easily removed rubber Solano mask. What. Ever.

Solano's Fencing Robot (2.1)

Blah blah blah, Wonder Woman saves the day.

I wonder what happened to the Fake Steve?

Before you go on about your life, here’s a highlights clip of Jessica Walter as Malory Archer:

Stay tuned for the next episode, “Anschluss ’77,” in which Steve and Diana must defeat…Nazis. Goddamnit. Why won’t these guys just go away?

(Sadly, a question we’re still actually asking in 2017).

This episode contains

Artificial Intelligence
Bermuda Triangle
Boomerang Tiara
Brainwashing
Bullets and Bracelets
Deadly Doubles (see also: impersonators)
Dubious Folklore
Dueling
Evil Plots
Fencing
Fictional Countries
Foreign Languages
Golden Lasso
Gun Bending
Hypnosis
Knockout Gas
Magnetic Forcefields
Plastic Surgery
Robots, Nuclear
Spies, Non-Nazi
Spinning
Wrap Dresses

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television wonder woman

The New Adventures of Wonder Woman: Season 2

Image: Lynda Carter in her updated Season 2 Wonder Woman Garb

Welcome back to our Wonder Woman rewatch. Husband and I re-watched every episode of one of our favorite childhood shows and now we’re blogging about it, episode by episode. Well, I’m blogging about it, he’s more bartender, innocent bystander, and copy-editor.

Before we launch into the Season 2 episode posts, I thought I’d share the updated title sequence and theme song, which should have taken all of 17 words and an embed code, but you know how it goes…

In the seven months between the Season 1 finale on ABC and the season 2 debut on CBS, Wonder Woman underwent some changes, notably the updated current-day (1977) setting. We know it’s the ’70s because there’s a lot of jazz flute now and Steve Trevor’s lapels are frequently wider than his head.

The Saturday night debut and subsequent move to a regular Friday night time slot were undoubtedly cause for many a slumber-party celebration.

Maybe the television critics back then should have tried having slumber parties, because a tip-toe through some old TV review columns in major newspapers reveals a lot of cranky dudes gnashing their teeth & rending their garments in soul-crushing agony over the Fall 1977 season. The sub-title of John O’Conner’s column got straight to the point: “A Season of Trash.” (“TV Weekend: A Season of Trash,” October 2, 1977, New York Times).

In another column, O’Connor points out the absurdity of a CBS executive openly mocking ABC’s silly super-hero shows, since CBS had not only just acquired Wonder Woman but was also about to debut the live-action The Incredible Hulk in primetime. (“TV Weekend.” November 4, 1977, New York Times).

James Brown (not that one) called Wonder Woman’s Season 2 premier ponderous, because he was clearly not a 7 year old girl and also clearly didn’t know awesome when he saw it. (James Brown, “The New Adventures of Wonder Woman.” September 16, 1977, Los Angeles Times).

Yes, the 2nd season can be a bit ponderous if don’t fully embrace the wacky camp. But if you do, it’s pretty good. Not great, but good. Goodly. Good-esque. Medium-good. Definitely good-adjacent at all times. (Hang in there with Season 2, because it all builds up to the madcap 3rd season, when the writers ran out of fucks to give about logic and coherence).

Along with the new setting and cast, Season 2 gets an updated theme song with some updated lyrics and of course updates to the looks the characters sport in their live-action jump-outs.

[update: I had to remove the youtube clip I originally embedded because it had been edited and didn’t accurately reflect the 2nd season title sequence. Here’s an accurate version]

I got a little distracted while writing this because I kept running across interviews where Carter talks about how she believes in pyramid power and uses “pyramid-treated, or energized, water” to keep her cut flowers fresh longer. (Lydia Lane. “Beauty.” December 19, 1976, Los Angeles Times).

See you Monday for The New Adventures of Wonder Woman: “The Return of Wonder Woman” (2.1)!

Steve and Diana in the invisible plane

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television wonder woman

And now, the exciting conclusion of Wonder Woman’s 1st season: “Wonder Woman in Hollywood” (1.14)

At last, we come to the season one finale, “Wonder Woman in Hollywood” (1.14), which aired on ABC on February 16, 1977.

At last, we say goodbye to Nazis, but we must also say farewell to Etta, the General, and Steve. But first, we welcome back Diana’s kid sister, Drusilla (Debra Winger); we discover that Paradise Island is a constitutional monarchy; and, at long last, we learn why the hell Steve Trevor is considered America’s Greatest War Hero.

Before we plunge into the episode, you should take a few minutes to watch Debra Winger’s 1993 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. Even though she’s there to promote a movie, she gamely talks about Wonder Woman, the costumes, and how hard it has been to live down a role like Wonder Girl. Then Dave plays a clip that helpfully gives you a sneak peak at “Wonder Woman in Hollywood.” Be sure to watch to the end, because Winger is a really good sport about the whole thing.

Now, on with the show!

After the title sequence: the episode opens with some stock war footage before revealing that Major Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner), Yeoman Diana Prince (Lynda Carter), General Blankenship (Richard Eastman), and Private Etta Candy (Beatrice Colen) are sitting in a screening room with Hollywood producer Mark Bremer (Harris Yulin).

Bremer pitches them a new project to raise money for War Bonds, which the General summarizes for us so we only have to suffer through a bare minimum of expository dialogue: “Four top American heroes recreating their acts of bravery on the screen.”

Which definitely sounds like a great thing to do to traumatized veterans, doesn’t it?

Diana convinces Steve to be in the movie, since he is a huge Hero for safely landing his flaming plane and saving his crew.

The writers have had 14 episodes to concoct a heroic backstory for Steve that would plausibly make him a war hero so famous he’s a household name around the world, and that’s the best they could come up with? Don’t get me wrong, it sounds heroic. But the most heroic? The thing that leaves Nazis quaking in their boots and gets 10 year old orphans out of bed every morning? In that context, it seems a little thin.

The General tells Steve to leave for Hollywood immediately, because it’s not like there’s a war on and Steve is the head of the Intelligence Division of the War Department or anything.

There aren’t any dates mentioned in this episode, but I think we can safely assume it’s September 1942.

Steve orders Diana to accompany him to Hollywood.

Diana doesn’t understand what’s so special about this small suburb of Los Angeles. Silly Diana! Hollywood is the center of the Universe! Hollywood is every beautiful girl’s dream! Hollywood is the greatest!

As the gang waxes rhapsodic about Hollywood, Etta calls it “Paradise U.S.A.”

Paradise! Diana loves Paradise! She is S.O.L.D!

Paradise Island – An Uncharted Body of Land Within the Bermuda Triangle

Kooky Queen Hippolyta (played by the divine Carolyn Jones) hangs out with Drusilla in someone’s grandmother’s living room.

Hippolyta and Drusilla on Paradise Island

The Queen is in the midst of giving Drusilla the details about a 3 day festival of some sort. The festival needs a queen, as described in the Paradise Island Constitution, but the reigning Queen of the Amazons can’t serve as festival queen, a detail that’s also stipulated in the Constitution.

Wait. What? Paradise Island is a constitutional monarchy? How long and specific is their constitution? Does it spell out the details of other festivals, or just this one? Why does the reigning Queen get to name the festival queen? How much power does a festival queen have, exactly, that it is legally verboten for the reigning queen to also be the festival queen? This all begs the question: why is it then okay for Hippolyta to appoint her Princess daughter – the heir to the throne – to be festival queen?

Apparently, I have a lot of questions about Amazonian festival governance.

To be fair, this Bi-Millenial Festival, which celebrates 2000 years on Paradise Island, seems like a pretty big deal. I can see why the Queen wants her daughter Diana there, but I’m still calling bullshit on Diana being named the festival queen.

Drusilla volunteers to hop into her invisible jet to go remind her older sister Diana about the festival.

Hippolyta reminds Drusilla that Diana is in a place called Hollywood.

Why the hell does Drusilla need to burn all of that invisible jet fuel delivering a message in person, when the Queen has clearly been in very recent communication with Diana?

Before we can think to much about that, Hippolyta reminds Dru that things didn’t go so great last time she went to America. Oh, you mean that time 9 episodes ago back in September 1942 when Dru accidentally told the Nazis how to find Paradise Island and they invaded, enslaved the Amazons to mine Feminum, and planned to pack them all off to Berlin for breeding and experimentation? You forgot about that?

Ah, well. No harm done, so…Drusilla skips out the door and now it’s Title Card Time:

Drusilla Wings Her Way Toward...

Drusilla Wings Her Way Toward...

Hollywood!

By the way: my screenshots are from remastered HD streaming episodes, hence the strange aspect ration compared to the original broadcast format.

I’m not going to make fun of these title cards, because I’m pretty sure kid-me thought transitions like this were ah-mazing. To be honest, adult-me still likes them.

A jaunty instrumental arrangement of “Hooray for Hollywood” accompanies a stock footage montage of 1940s Hollywood. It’s a little jarring since it’s a mixture of black and white and color footage, but it sets the scene well enough, quickly focusing in on the Warner Brother’s studio lots and, finally, to the Four War Heroes ReEnact Their Heroism, Heroically soundstage.

Fine. I don’t really know what the movie is called, but let’s go with that.

On the soundstage: it’s the first day of shooting!

(Again I ask: how does the Queen already know Diana is in Hollywood?)

It’s time for Hero Steve’s dramatic re-enactment of the time he landed his airplane without killing his crew, making him America’s Greatest War Hero.

As the camera rolls Diana spots a dangerous situation! She ducks away, spins into Wonder Woman, fixes a light rig that’s about to collapse, and changes back in to Diana before anyone is the wiser. Unfortunately, the light wobbled a little, but no one on the set saw Wonder Woman save everyone’s lives and the director blames Diana for ruining his shot.

Diana endures the humiliating verbal wrath of the director, smiling valiantly as the crew stares scornfully at her.

I feel like this scene is a metaphor for the invisibility and devaluation of women’s labor.

Outside the Warner Brothers Studio : Drusilla arrives in her Paradise Island slip dress, having forgetten that 1942 has a dress code. Luckily, it’s Hollywood. The guard assumes she’s in a Greek costume drama and shoos her onto the lot.

Back on the set: Diana meets War Hero Corporal Jim. Hero Jim is played by Robert Hays who is basically warming up for his role as Ted Striker in Airplane (1980).

Hays on Wonder Woman

Hays in Airplane

(Top: Robert Hayes in Wonder Woman. Bottom: Robert Hayes in Airplane).

Hero Steve sends Diana to fetch him coffee.

Dru finds Diana – just in time for the two of them to see Hero Jim get chloroformed by some guys. Diana spins into Wonder Woman, jumps over a car it would have been easier to run around, and saves Hero Jim. While she saves Drusilla from getting run over, the bad guys get away.

Wonder Woman spins back into Diana before she helps Hero Jim off the pavement. Dru thinks hero Jim is cute.

Diana assures Dru that she knows the once in a lifetime big deal Amazonian Bi-Millenial Festival is coming up, but she can’t leave because she’s worried someone is trying to sabotage the film set.

Diana has no sense of proportionality. That’s okay, neither does Hollywood.

This scene contains the requisite “we’re on a hollywood movie set” sight-gag wherein the scenery behind two characters begins to move, revealing an illusion within the illusion, as crew-members carry or wheel away the backdrop.

The whole episode is, of course, firmly in the genre TV Tropes calls “Who Would Want to Watch Us?”

“The most common gag that leans on the fourth wall is when the characters are associated with a movie or TV production of their own adventures. If the idea is not just laughed off, the adventurous group have Hollywood types wanting to make an adaptation of their exploits. Further fourth wall fun can be had if the production crew within the show are made to resemble the production crew of the show itself, or parodies of them.”

That TV Tropes page has an extensive list of shows, movies and other media that employ this trope, but if you go down that rabbit hole right now you’ll never come back. So, don’t.

That night, Diana takes Dru to a fancy Hollywood party at Bremer’s house and/or office. I’m not clear on whether his office is at his estate or if he has two houses or what.

slink dresses all around

At the party: glam movie star Gloria (Christopher Norris) lures Hero Rand (Ross Bickell) to a private room. It’s a trap! Those men show up again and abduct Hero Rand.

After the party: Kurt (Charles Cypher), a Nazi, drops by to speak to Bremer. Whoa. It turns out Bremer is a Nazi! Nazis! Who saw that coming? Bremer and Kurt scheme. They plan to take the Four War Heroes of the Apocalypse back to Berlin to be tried for their war crimes.

Bremer is an even bigger fiend than you can imagine! His endgame is to control the entire American film industry!

The Following Morning at WB Studios

Bremer tells Hero Steve and Diana that Hero Rand is missing so they’ll be striking the Navy Heroism set and preparing the Escape from the Nazi Town Heroism set.

Meanwhile, Dru and Hero Jim are at a coffee shop so Dru can indulge her love of ice cream.

Some creeps harass Hero Jim while Dru is in the powder room, but she’s watching out for him. Dru spins into Wonder Girl and kicks some butt, but later Hero Jim tells Drusilla he kicked those butts himself. Drusilla is disillusioned. Hero Jim is a liar!

On the movie set: Hero Willard (David Himes) prepares to re-enact his heroic run through a Nazi town.

Diana and Hero Steve think the flurry of faux Nazi talk is hilarious. We think Lyle and Lynda are actually laughing so they don’t cry about what they’ve endured throughout this entire season.

Hero Willard re-enacts his heroic run, emerging from the back of the set into the waiting arms of…Nazi spies disguised as actors in Nazi costumes.

So, we have actors playing Nazis playing actors playing Nazis. Got it.

On a Submarine: Nazis hold Hero Willard and Hero Rand captive. It’s a short scene and I kinda spaced out, but I don’t think much happened.

At Bremer’s office: Bremer instructs Kurt to speed things along by abducting Steve and Hero Jim at the same time.

At a diner, Dru tells Hero Jim that she thinks hot dogs are even better than ice cream.

Hero Jim has to decide whether to tell her that’s some bullshit about hot dogs or confess his dark secret. Hero Jim chooses to confess:

That’s not really what he confesses, that’s a gag from Airplane. What he actually confesses is that he’s not really a hero. He didn’t capture any Nazis in Europe: he tried to surrender to them but they surrendered to him first. He also fesses up about Wonder Girl beating up the bullies.

Then he takes a phone call, freaks out, and leaves.

The Next Day at the Studio

Hero Jim and Hero Steve are late! More Hollywood magic sight gags ensue as the crew nonchalantly constructs mountain scenery in the background using rubber boulders.

On the road: Hero Jim and Hero Steve are captured. Hero Jim cooperates with the Nazis because they’re holding his parents hostage.

On the Nazi submarine: the Nazis tell Hero Steve and Hero Jim they’re leaving for Berlin.

When the Nazis close the door, we see that it’s not a real submarine at all! It’s a film set! Nazi trickery disguised as Hollywood trickery! Or is it the other way around?

If only the Nazis knew that Steve is an idiot and they don’t really need a ruse this elaborate to keep Steve from finding out Bremer is involved.

Later that Afternoon Diana Plays Detective

Apparently they thought viewers needed a title card to make sure we understand what we see in the next few scenes, which is Diana playing detective later that afternoon to find Gloria.

Diana spins into Wonder Woman and uses her Golden Lasso to question Gloria about where Bremer goes when he’s not in his office: his estate and Studio 12!

At Bremer’s office: Bremer and Kurt hold Hero Jim’s parents hostage. Or maybe the office is at his estate? Maybe the party was at his estate? I don’t really know or care.

Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl break into Studio 12 and find a fake submarine, but no prisoners.

Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl run down the road towards Bremer’s estate. They have an invisible jet and Diana knows how to drive, but they just start running. They run down the road and out into the country. And then they run some more.

At the estate: Hero Jim sees his parents.

Out on the road: Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl are still running.

I don’t know what Debra Winger and Lynda Carter got paid, but I’m pretty confident it wasn’t enough.

Miles Away at Bremer's Estate

When they reach Bremer’s estate: Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl tackle the Nazis. (You can see some of this great running and tackling and golden lassoing in that Letterman clip at the top of the post).

Wonder Woman busts in to the house! Wonder Woman gets shot!

Hero Jim charges at Bremer, who shoots at Hero Jim. Wonder Girl deflects the bullets and saves Hero Jim. Hero Jim captures Bremer.

Wonder Woman isn’t hurt at all! She tricked everyone into thinking she was hurt so that Jim could have chance to prove himself. (I guess J. Walter Weatherman wasn’t available).

We’re all so proud of Hero Jim! He sure learned his lesson about being a Nazi collaborator! And got his self-esteem back in the bargain!

Hero Steve compliments Hero Jim for his heroism. Hero Jim appreciates the fatherly validation Hero Steve bestows upon him. Hero Jim wishes he could spend more time with Wonder Girl, which makes Hero Steve laugh and say “…and Wonder Woman” in an innuendo-drenched way.

Seriously, we’re expected to believe that Hero Jim and Hero Steve are 2/4 of America’s Four Greatest War Heroes? These guys, who don’t think it’s weird at all that Wonder Woman has a kid sister and that Wonder Woman and her kid sister just happen to be on the set of Great Heroes of Heroism, which is also the movie set Diana and her kid sister are hanging around?

Fine. Let’s just move along and not think about that, because it’s almost time to kick all this Nazi stuff to the curb.

Sometime Later in Washington, D.C.

Etta, the General, Steve, Diana, and Dru are back in the theater watching Four Great Heroes of American Heroism Re-enact Their Heroic Heroism.

It’s the greatest movie of all time!

The episode ends with Steve, Drusilla, and Diana leaving to eat some hot dogs and ice cream. Dru wants to eat all of the hot dogs she can before she returns to the women-only land of Paradise Island. If I can let ignore that, so can you, so let’s just keep going. After dinner, Diana and Dru plan to head back to Paradise Island for “a family celebration.”

Good-bye, Nazis! Good-bye, boring military wardrobes! When Wonder Woman returned to the airwaves for the second season, the show jumped networks (from ABC to CBS) and jumped ahead to the 1970s. Alas, that means we also bid farewell to Etta Candy, General Blankenship, and Steve Trevor.

Richard Eastham

Beatrice Colen, Richard Eastham, Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner

Steve Trevor Senior, that is. It turns out that Steve Trevor is so obtuse because he’s not entirely human. He’s a humanoid-starfish-type organism that can generate an exact replica of itself at any age of its choosing at any time in its lifespan so 35 years later he generates a young version of himself, Steve Trevor, Junior, who is also an idiot who constantly ends up in need of rescue. OK, fine, I made the part about starfish-parentage up, but as the writers blend increasing amounts of science fiction to the fantasy elements, you’ll start to believe it’s possible. And certainly not that much more ridiculous than the actual premise, which is that Steve’s son is essentially his identical twin.

This episode contains:

Amazons
Bullets and Bracelets
Chloroform
Consciousness Raising
Fake Submarines
Golden Lassos
Heros
Hollywood
Hotdogs
Ice Cream
Invisible Jets
Jumping
Mansel in Distress
Nazis
Nazis disguised as Nazis
Paradise Island
Spinning
Wonder Girl

Categories
television wonder woman

Don’t get excited, it’s not porn: “The Bushwackers” (1.13)

wonder woman breaks out of jail

From plucky war orphans to plucky mute war orphans, “The Bushwackers” has everything.

Everything except…Nazis.

I know, right? I couldn’t believe it either. I thought for sure my notes were wrong, but on re-review it turns out this episode is 100% Nazi-free.

Enjoy, because the place is just lousy with Nazis again in the next episode, but it’s the season 1 finale so it will all be worth it. But for now, let’s get back to The Bushwhackers:

Texas - September, 1942 - Diamond H Ranch

Let’s not dwell on the fact that it’s September 1942.
Again.
Still.
Still again.

The map of Texas dissolves into cattle-drive stock footage, which dissolves to a teenager on a galloping horse.

That’s Jeff, tween-age son of Diamond H ranch owner J.P. Jeff busts in on some J.P. – orphan bonding time to tell his dad that 100 head of his cattle have been rustled.

In a bit of cheesy 1970s stunt-casting, J.P. is played by the legendary Roy Rogers.

J.P. isn’t going to stand for his cattle being rustled! Those cows are earmarked for the military! J.P. calls the Sheriff (David Clarke).

At the sheriff’s office: The Sheriff finishes chatting with J.P. and then tells Deputy Walt (Henry Darrow) that J.P. plans to call his old pal General Blankenship (Richard Eastman). Deputy Walt freaks out and talks the Sheriff into going out to the Diamond H to talk some sense into J.P.

Meanwhile, at the Diamond H, J.P. is already on the phone with General Blankenship at the War Department.

The General promises to send the War Department’s Intelligence Team leader, Major Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner), because obviously Steve doesn’t have anything more important to do in the middle of a World War than deal with cattle rustlers and blackmarket beef.

After J.P. hangs up the phone, he tells Jeff that the War Department is sending Steve Trevor to investigate. Even Jeff knows who Steve Trevor is: he’s a famous War Hero!

Jeff seems to think it’s weird to send a War Hero to investigate a cattle rustling ring. Jeff doesn’t understand that the regular cast was getting pretty bored with the endless Nazi plots and were allegedly threatening to mutiny.

Back at the War Department, the General tells Yeoman Diana Prince (Lynda Carter) and Private Etta Candy (Beatrice Colen) that Steve is going on a mission to investigate cattle rustlers.

Etta chirps that steak is better for morale than two Betty Grable movies. When Etta isn’t eating onscreen, she’s talking about food. Because she’s the unsexy non-threatening plump gal pal in the office, don’t ya know.

Diana says something vague about the importance of food to the war effort.

Because Steve thinks Diana doesn’t have enough fun in her life, he gives her a 3 day furlough.

We don’t see it onscreen, but we can assume that 3 seconds after Steve is wheels-up, Diana spins into Wonder Woman and heads to Texas in her Invisible Jet.

That Afternoon at the Diamond H Ranch House

J.P. tells the Sheriff and Deputy Walt that Steve Trevor, War Hero, is on his way to deal with the rustlers.

Late That Evening Steve Flies Toward Texas

Steve flies to TX

…In her Invisible Plane Wonder Woman Follows Steve

Wonder Woman flies to Texas

At the ranch, J.P. teaches his plucky war orphans campfire safety.

Charlie (David Yanez), the Navajo orphan, hasn’t said a word since his father died at Pearl Harbor. His father was J.P.’s ranch foreman.

French orphan Babette (Christelle Gaspart) doesn’t know fire safety. Or acting. She will never work in television again.

British orphan Freddie (Justin Randi) is a fire know-it-all. Or maybe a budding arsonist, it’s hard to say. According to IMDB, Justin won’t last much longer in Hollywood than Christelle.

Carey Wong, who plays Sen the Hong Kong war orphan, doesn’t get much farther.

Kristoff St. John, who plays Linc the Harlem orphan, goes on to a very successful television career, appearing in 1,563 episodes of the soap opera the Young and the Restless among other things.

Meanwhile, at the Ghost Town:

Daybreak - a Ghost Town 5 Miles from the Diamond H Ranch...

...Which Also Serves as the Hideout for the Rustlers

The title writers were really digging the drama of the ellipse in this episode.

Deputy Walt is part of the cattle rustling ring. Consequently, Deputy Walt doesn’t want this War Hero messing around in Mob business.

Later that Same Morning at the Diamond H

The orphans can’t wait to meet a big War Hero like Steve Trevor. Hey, maybe the orphans can find out why the hell Steve is considered such a big War Hero!

Jeff is jealous of J.P.’s new family.

Jeff is played by Lance Kerwin, who goes on to play the role of young Mark Petrie in Tobe Hooper’s made-for-tv adaptation of Salem’s Lot in 1979. We weren’t “allowed” to watch Salem’s Lost when it originally aired but most of my friends had older siblings who used vague allusions to rampant childhood vampirism to inflict terror on us anyway. To this day I retain the compulsion to make small crosses out of popsicle sticks. Kim said we had to make them or we’d be sorry and Kim was much older so she clearly knew what she was talking about.

Here’s a photo of David Soul with a popsicle stick cross, from Salem’s Lot (1979).

Salem's Lot ushered in the vogue in popsicle cross vampire protection

Still at the ranch: Spunky Black orphan Linc says grace before breakfast: “Thank you for making Texas a better place than Harlem.”

Steve & Wonder Woman are still flying

Steve & Wonder Woman are still flying

Are you kidding me? Why are they still flying? Why aren’t they there yet? Did it really take this long to fly from D.C. to Texas in 1942? I’d look it up, but I don’t care enough. Let’s just assume that time moves differently in September 1942 and leave it at that.

At long last, Steve lands at the military base in Texas!

He borrows a jeep and drives straight into a trap.

Who could have seen that coming?

Steve turns into a stunt double who looks nothing like Lyle Waggoner, steps on a trap door, and falls into a pit.

Good job, Steve!

The rustlers cover the pit with a boulder and wipe their hands of this whole war hero situation.

Wonder Woman Arrives That Afternoon at the Diamond H Ranch

Wonder Woman is concerned because Steve Trevor hasn’t arrived yet. Maria the Diamond H’s maid doesn’t know why he hasn’t arrived yet, but Charlie the mute Navajo orphan leads her to the Trevor-Trap.

Wonder Woman lifts the boulder and saves Steve’s bacon. Again.

Steve believes Wonder Woman when she tells him she just happened to be in Texas investigating reports of cattle rustling, even though she uses the same vague explanation about the importance of food to the war effort that Diana used yesterday.

Also, who does Steve think Wonder Woman gets her orders from? If she’s a free agent and not, oh, say, someone who works in his office, who would be calling her to look into something like cattle rustling?

Oh Steve, you are such an idiot.

At the Diamond H Ranch

Wonder Woman is wearing her cape! Wonder Woman and Steve learn that orphan Charlie’s father was J.P.’s former foreman.

J.P. asks Marie the maid to loan Wonder Woman some clothes. Maria isn’t even remotely the same size or height as Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman borrows some loungewear in Texas.

The Following Morning at the Ghost Town

The cattle rustlers unload the cattle.

In the 1970s, Hollywood loved old west ghost towns. Every Hollywood studio had a Old West set on the back lot, so a Western town location was an economical choice. Know what’s even more cost-effective than shooting on an existing set? Making it a ghost town so you don’t have to hire extras!

In the 1970s, Hollywood really loved old west ghost town jails. Do you think someone is going to find themselves locked up in a ghost town jail before the end of the episode?

Hey, remember that time the Brady Bunch went to an Old West ghost town and got locked up in the jail? Now what was the name of that episode, again? Oh right: it was Ghost Town U.S.A.

At the Diamond H Ranch

Wonder Woman tells the plucky war orphans they can be anything they want if they eat right and exercise. (Seriously. That’s exactly what she says).

Being childlike and trusting, Wonder Woman tells the children about all of her vulnerabilities. The belt. The lasso. The bracelets. Her faith in Steve Trevor’s abilities as a War Hero. All of it.

Then, Wonder Woman demonstrates her Golden Lasso by forcing 10 year old orphans to confess their dark secrets to her.

I wish I was kidding.

At the Sheriff’s Department

Jeff is colluding with the cattle rustlers! He tells Deputy Walt about Wonder Woman! Deputy Walt manipulates Jeff by preying on his insecurity and unstable sense of identity in a ruptured family configuration which has de-centered his relationship with his father.

Deputy Walt sends Jeff home to find out the secret of Wonder Woman’s strength.

Later that Day

Wait…what? We finally cut back to the ranch and they’re just now finishing up breakfast? Well, yes, I suppose that means it’s technically later, just not that much later. It’s also September 1942. Who cares? Let’s just move on.

Steve drives out to the military base to use their scrambler phone to report to the General. Every now and again, Steve does something sensible.

Sort of. Despite being ambushed on that very same road just hours before, he hits the road alone.

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman goes for a horseback ride with J.P. and Jeff. A rattle snake spooks Jeff’s horse and it runs away with him. Wonder Woman rides to the rescue.

J.P. helps the now-injured Jeff back to the ranch.

Deputy Walt and a henchman chase down Wonder Woman, jump out of the car, tackle her horse, and capture her. Okay, fine, they don’t actually tackle her horse, but there’s definitely a gratuitous horse-fall stunt in the scene. Here’s the clip (en español):

Deputy Walt uses the intel about Wonder Woman’s weaknesses to disarm her, but he just chucks all her powerful magical accessories in a pasture.

Luckily, little orphan Charlie was watching the whole time and retrieves the items.

At the base, Steve asks for a background check on Deputy Walt. Even Steve thinks that guy is suspicious.

Next up: a car chase! The rustlers chase Steve, although I’m not sure why and I’m not motivated to find out. I’m guessing it’s because he didn’t stay in the first Trevor-Trap and is still on their trail, but maybe it’s because they know Steve knows that Deputy Walt is an identity-thieving imposter who lied his way into the Deputy job so he could keep the Sheriff from solving the case.

I don’t really care because I’m too busy admiring Steve’s wardrobe. He is dressed to kill in his Western duds.

Back at the Ranch, Charlie breaks his silence, telling the other orphans that Wonder Woman is a prisoner in the ghost town jail.

The orphans sneak into the to the ghost town jail and return her accessories. With her belt back, she now has the strength to bend the bars of the cell and escape.

Mike Brady does not have Amazonian strength belt

Oh wait, that’s Mike Brady. He can’t bend the bars of his ghost town jail cell. That’s what happens when you get your accessories from J.C. Penney’s instead of Paradise Island, Bradys!

When Wonder Woman and the orphans return to the Diamond H Ranch, Jeff confesses that he’s been helping the rustlers because “Deputy Walt took an interest” in him, unlike his own father.

Wonder Woman lays a huge guilt-trip on Jeff for being jealous of the war orphans.

Consciousness raised, Jeff vows to learn how to swallow his rage and become a productive member of society.

Back at the ghost town, the rustlers have Steve Trevor locked up.

Wonder Woman goes back to the ghost town, orphans in tow. Wonder Woman lets the orphans help capture the cattle rustlers, because apparently you’re never too young to learn how to take on the Mob.

From shot to shot there’s no wardrobe continuity at all in this episode – even less than usual. I get why Lynda Carter and/or her stunt woman wore boots without high heels sometimes, but it apparently never occurred to the camera operator or director to frame the shots so the boots aren’t visible or obvious. Sorry for the blurry screencaps, but I think you’ll get the idea:

boot continuity

At the end of the episode, Charlie gives Wonder Woman a beaded belt. Charlie isn’t a stereotypical magical native, and his (deceased) father was a character with responsibility and authority if he was J.P.’s foreman, so that’s pretty progressive for the 1970s, although the actor who plays Charlie is Latino, not Navajo. Alas, this bit of pandering at the end edges into White Savior territory: Wonder Woman teaches Charlie how to lasso so he can quit being ashamed of being a Navajo who doesn’t have rope skills.

This episode contains:
Abandoned Jail
Accessories
Bar Bending
Boulder Lifting
Cattle Rustlers
Celebrity Guest
Consciousness Raising
Ethnic Pride
Ethnic Shame
Ethnic Parade of Orphans
Feats of Strength
Ghost Town
Ghost Town Jail
Golden Lasso
Horses
Invisible Jet
Mansel in Distress
Mobsters
Orphans
Spinning


This episode does not contain:

Nazis!