Warner Bros. // 1979 // 1080 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // August 3rd, 2005
"You're not gonna believe this, but there's some broad on a skateboard coming after us."
"...And she's gaining."
Not meant to be humorous, the episode "Skateboard Wiz" has a scene that had me laughing my head off from its sheer ridiculousness. Picture this...
A young skateboarding wizard knows too much, and the bad guys have just kidnapped her from a parking lot after a skating competition. She's dragged into a waiting car, leaving her skateboard behind. A few seconds later, Wonder Woman shows up, sees the skateboard, and realizes she's too late. Knowing exactly what to do, she does her trademark twirl, and now she's wearing elbow pads, kneepads, and a helmet along with her glorious bodysuit, lasso, and tiara. She picks up the skateboard, throws it ahead of her, and jumps on to give chase to the getaway car. The car zooms by and Wonder Woman, on the skateboard, zips by even faster. "You're not gonna believe this, but there's this broad on a skateboard coming after us..."
Honestly, it's such a ridiculous, stupid scene that I'll never be able to forget it. It's one thing for Wonder Woman to twirl and change into her bodysuit ensemble, but to change into a helmet and pads is preposterous. Topped off with the sped-up tape of a woman chasing a car on a skateboard, some bad blue-screen work with Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman), and the thug calling Wonder Woman a "broad," it's a classic moment of television -- a horrid moment of television, but still a classic.
The sad part is that this awful scene is the best part of Season Three, a horrible, boring conglomeration of lame stories and bad acting. Not even the glorious beauty of Lynda Carter in that all-American bodysuit can save this show from mediocrity.
The third and final season of the adventures of Wonder Woman comes at you in 24 episodes:
* "My Teenage Idol Is Missing"
* "Hot Wheels"
* "The Deadly Sting"
* "The Fine Art of Crime"
* "Disco Devil"
* "Time Bomb"
* "Skateboard Wiz"
* "The Deadly Dolphin"
* "Stolen Faces"
* "Pot of Gold"
* "Gault's Brain"
* "Going, Going, Gone"
* "Spaced Out"
* "The Starships Are Coming"
* "Amazon Hot Wax"
* "The Richest Man in the World"
* "A Date with Doomsday"
* "The Girl with a Gift for Disaster"
* "The Boy Who Knew Her Secret, Part I"
* "The Boy Who Knew Her Secret, Part II"
* "The Man Who Could Not Die"
* "Phantom of the Roller Coaster, Part I"
* "Phantom of the Roller Coaster, Part II"
Tune in to watch Diana Prince and Wonder Woman be in the right place at the right time to save the world from the lamest villainy known to mankind!
I'm going to start with an overview of the discs, which will allow me to segue into my thoughts on the series itself. First, the four-DVD set is comprised of flipper discs. I don't know why, but I despise flippers. Something about the thought of flipping a disc doesn't sit well with me; perhaps it's my inherent fear that since there's data on both sides, neither allows me a safety zone to put the disc down. Of course, it's all folly, as there's really no difference in using a flipper or regular discs; you still have to get up and change the DVD at some point. Still, I know they could have fit more than three episodes per side. All that aside, the technical quality of the material is perfectly average. Each episode is presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio with its original Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track. As is to be expected from something from over 25 years ago, you should not expect reference-quality material: The video is sprinkled with lines, dirt, flecks, and an overall soft image. It's not horrid, but it certainly does betray its age. The same goes for the audio; while it's not bad, you will find it a touch uneven, with fluctuating levels in the dialogue and the music. There's also some light hiss, but that's it for any problems or distortion.
The set contains only two bonus items: an audio commentary and a featurette. "The Ultimate Feminist Icon" (13.5 minutes) is the featurette, and it discusses the lack of powerful female role models and how Wonder Woman came to fill that niche. It's an interesting and informative piece, but you'll never watch it again. Lynda Carter provides a commentary track for the season premiere episode, "My Teenage Idol is Missing." I thought it was going to be a loss, as she starts off very slowly, but she soon warms up and shares a good deal of casual information about the show, the character, and other technical details. It's not the best commentary, but it's the best bonus item on the set. Also included with my set was a bonus disc containing an episode of the television show Shazam!. I vaguely recall this show, with young Billy Batson being able to transform into Captain Marvel. This episode was quite awful, and if it's an indication of the entire show, it's all awful.
I'm taking the reverse order in this section because the bonus features helped me reshape my thoughts on what I had just viewed. Watching this season, I found it boring, campy, and just a hair shy of awful. After recent great superhero films, I keep expecting more from them on television; but that's not what we get. Over the course of this season, Wonder Woman faced the silliest of problems, most of which never rose to the necessity of resolution via superhero. "Oh, my cat is stuck in a tree. Help me, Wonder Woman!" Well, maybe not that lame, but the season felt weak, flat, and lifeless. By the end, the episodes had made me feel bitter. The show didn't bring me much joy at all -- aside from that goofy skateboarding scene -- and I was ready to go off and tear the show a new one.
Then I listened to Lynda Carter talk on the commentary, and she made me realize that I had the completely wrong set of expectations for her show. I realized that what I had just watched was good, clean, wholesome fun meant to empower women. With that dawning upon me, I can see that the show succeeded despite its campiness in having fun and teaching young women that you could be strong in those masculine times. Wonder Woman wasn't necessarily about saving the world; it was about making a difference, be it to man or woman. As Lynda Carter said, and I concur, let's hope this release of the series on DVD will help young women find a positive, strong female role model. And, I'll add, one that can look very hot but not slutty in a bodysuit.
With that aside, let's embark on a few random thoughts about this season:
* Bad Acting: I mentioned this earlier, but it bears some quick elaboration. Aside from Carter, who appears effortlessly comfortable in her role, and Lyle Waggoner (Steve Trevor, in a reduced role), every guest star looks awkward and out of place. Their performances are stilted, unnatural, and weak. Any aura of believability evaporates when any of them opens their mouth.
* Guest Stars: It must have been all the rage to star in Wonder Woman, for there is quite the bevy of supporting "talent" in these episodes. From Leif Garret (pronounced "life," not "leaf" -- thanks, Lynda Carter!) to Ed Begley Jr. to Wolfman Jack to Roddy McDowall, you never know who will pop up in the next episode.
* Ira and Rover: The first season of Wonder Woman was set in the 1940s, but Seasons Two and Three were moved to the "present" (late 1970s). In an effort to show how powerful and important the IADC was, computers were given a starring role this year in the form of Ira and Rover. Ira was an intelligent supercomputer that was used to provide insight into the problems vexing Diana Prince. Rover was a mobile robot that resembled a mutated puppy. Both were meant to show cutting-edge technology, but now they are extremely campy, outdated relics of yesteryear...and just a plum bad idea.
* The Power Twirl: Wonder Woman's power comes from years of training on Paradise Island. Why is it, then, that Diana must always twirl into the bodysuit before using any of her "powers"? Why couldn't she just jump over that building in her everyday wear? Why go and sneak behind a shack and twirl when you could have done the same thing without the bodysuit? I did like the scene where she was forced off the roof of a building and twirled in midair so she could land as Wonder Woman...but, again, did she have to twirl?
* Ends with a Smile: It took me a few episodes to realize that they all end on a freeze-frame of Diana smiling. It's not a big deal, just another indicator of its inherent cheesiness.
* Lynda Carter: And speaking of that smile, we have Lynda Carter. The utmost reason to want to watch this show is for Lynda, an exquisitely beautiful woman. Those eyes, that face, that skin, that body...wow! Never overtly sexual, never slutty, but always immensely attractive in her bodysuit, Lynda Carter knew how to display her assets and make men melt. Even until a few years ago, I still found Carter very attractive; she's lost her exotic beauty lately, but she still looks quite good.
The sixth episode of the season deserves special mention for being one of the dumbest ideas of all time for a "mad villain." In this episode, a mild-mannered female scientist develops an evil alter-ego persona with the name of Formicida. The meek and mousy woman becomes "sultry" and bug-eyed (think of the "runaway bride") and endowed with the power to control ants! She uses them to wreak havoc on the city, and it's up to Wonder Woman to stop this madwoman. Ants. "Oh no, not ants!" Yep; it really is that dumb.
Flip flop. Flip flop. I'm bitter about the show, but then Lynda Carter calms me. But how do I really feel? I still feel that slight bitter taste of disappointment from watching twenty-plus lackluster episodes, but I then realize what the underlying goal is. Watch the scales tip back and forth; which way will they ultimately fall? Right now, I have a hard time recommending this set. It wasn't all that much fun; it has many weak stories and lots of bad acting; the transfers are mediocre; and the bonus items are lacking. The price isn't all that high, but I'm going to suggest you keep your money. With the deluge of television on DVD, you have many far superior choices at your fingertips. Though the idea of female empowerment is a noble one, and though Lynda Carter is simply scrumptious in a bodysuit, they don't quite outweigh the burden of having to watch this middling programming.
Wonder Woman: The Complete Third Season is hereby found guilty a fashion faux pas. One woman cannot twirl into a bodysuit, or a bodysuit and a cape, or a motorcycle outfit, or a full-body swimsuit, or skateboarding gear. Unless she has an invisible bat-belt, it's just not possible to hide all those options!
Review content copyright © 2005 Eric Profancik; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 1080 Minutes
Release Year: 1979
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Audio Commentary by Actress Lynda Carter on "My Teenage Idol Is Missing"
* "The Ultimate Feminist Icon" Featurette
* Bonus Disc with Episode of Shazam!
* National Organization for Women
* IMDb: Shazam!