Air Date: April 21, 1978


The Show: The New Adventures of Wonder Woman

Back
in the 1970s, actress and former beauty queen, Lynda Carter, embodied
the storied comic book Amazon in a weekly television series that ran
for three seasons.  In the first season, Wonder Woman’s
heroics were on behalf of the U.S. Government against the Nazis during
World War II.  However, the series was updated to modern times
for Seasons 2 and 3, where Wonder Woman faced a variety of new threats
from a telekinetic to a man who could start earthquakes, aliens, time
travelers, devious disco villains, killer robots and even garden
variety street thugs.  With a secret identity as government
agent, Diana Prince, and armed with great strength, bulletproof
bracelets, and a magic lasso, Wonder Woman fought for truth, justice
and the Amazonian way.

The Stars:

- Lynda Carter as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman
- Lyle Waggoner as Steve Trevor

The Episode: “The Murderous Missile”

On
her way to oversee the launch of a new thought-controlled missile,
Diana is detoured to a small town in the middle of nowhere, first by a
would-be carjacker and later the local sheriff.  When her
repeated attempts to make her appointment or contact the missile base
are suspiciously derailed by the minimal townsfolk, Diana begins to
suspect that there’s more going on in the sleepy little town than meets
the eye.  And it has something to do with the new missile
prototype.

The Lowdown:

This
was the last episode of Season 2 and was pretty par for the course in
terms of quality for the show, which could alternate at times from
pretty good to downright campy at times.  Wonder Woman was part of a series of heroic shows of the time such as Shazam!, The Secrets of Isis, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman and The Incredible Hulk
This particular show would fall in the middle of that pack in some ways
and near the top in others.  In terms of episodic adventure,
Wonder Woman would face a variety of challenges and any given episode
could be counted on for a rather unique villain, although not always
for the better. 



There
are some images that fade from your childhood memory…and then there
are some that remain to comfort you years afterward on those lonely
nights…


Diana Prince / Wonder Woman was memorably embodied by star Lynda
Carter, who was easily one of the most stunningly beautiful women ever
to headline her own adventure show.  The fact that she was also garbed
in a technicolor bikini made for a rather obvious appeal. That, coupled with
Wonder Woman’s female empowerment, high moral standards and compassion
made her an ideal role model for young girls at the time.  But in terms
of a fully-explored character, Diana / Wonder Woman wasn’t much deeper
than the pages of one of her comic books. 

This was
mainly due by a conscious decision by producers to virtually eliminate any
romantic tension between Diana and initial partner Steve Trevor,
portrayed by Lyle Waggoner.  As the series progressed, Trevor was
constantly marginalized and then eliminated all together as Diana
Prince became an agent on solo missions.  The occasional love interest
would occasionally emerge, but was usually done away with by episode’s
end and was never explored.  Wonder Woman
was strictly about the serial adventures of the heroine and thus any
emotional connection to the character began and ended with her physical
beauty and anxiety at how Diana Prince might get out of a various
endangering situation in which her missions put her.  This ultimately
relegated the show to little more than a real-life comic book, and the show was frequently written as such.

In comparison to its heroic contemporaries, Wonder Woman was easily better than either Shazam! or Isis
(which, let’s face it, wasn’t overly hard if you’ve ever seen an
episode of either of those shows).  However, emotionally-speaking, it
was downright shallow when compared to the exploits of Steve Austin,
Jaime Sommers or David Banner.   Those three characters were much more
explored as rounded individuals.  They loved, they had emotional
distress, even depression at times.  They lost friends and people they
loved, had to at times kill and frequently struggled with their roles
as
agents or a tormented soul bearing a curse.  Hell, Steve
Austin was borderline suicidal in his pilot film after his bionic
transformation.  Rarely if ever did
Diana have much more concern than saving the life of an innocent or
apprehending the evildoer, which was ultimately a major detriment to
the show’s emotional resonance.  This incarnation of Wonder Woman also suffered from the
same issues as Superman in finding worthy challenges to her power. 



Sure, I could think of far worse things than 1970s Lynda Carter in a lycra bodysuit appearing on Sons of Anarchy



Considering
the production value of the show, its ambition was frequently hampered
by the technology and/or the budget.  Instances where Wonder Woman was
swimming underwater were comically depicted by Carter in a swimming
pool.  In this particular episode, the aforementioned Athena missile,
which was guided by a helmeted brain control device (in reality a pilot helmet with
some blinking lights) was a toy missile with some smoke coming out the
end and suspended by wires.  However, the show frequently had some good
second unit work to counteract these deficiencies.  In that regard, Wonder Woman could be noted for frequently getting its actors off of obvious backlots, something Lois & Clark, a show produced some 15 years later, never seemed to manage.



“The Murderous
Missile” featured two stunt sequences, one where Wonder Woman (or rather
Carter’s stunt double) was dodging two jeeps on a hillside driven by
henchmen looking to do her in.  The other sequence was an extended,
climactic motorcycle chase in the countryside featuring Wonder Woman after the main bad
guy. 
Lynda Carter would do the close up shoving of henchmen (there was
little punching or kicking in the show and never any death…except for
that Hitler clone of course) combat
work, but all too often the fact that she had a stunt double who was
getting some major screen time from a master shot was all too
apparent.

Considering
that Wonder Woman had roots in some bondage themes and alternating
submissiveness / domination issues instilled by her creator, Charles
Moulton (courtesy Wikipedia: “The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and
unbound force to enjoy being bound … Only when the control of self by
others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of self in human
relationships can we hope for a stable, peaceful human society. …
Giving to others, being controlled by them, submitting to other people
cannot possibly be enjoyable without a strong erotic element”.
),
Season 2 largely did away with what Season 1 seemed to have in
abundance: having Wonder Woman herself tied up, although Diana
frequently found herself in such a situation.  Although in
this particular episode, Wonder Woman does awaken from a gas attack to
find herself in some Chained Heat situation, from which she quickly extricates herself by simply snapping the chains.

“The
Murderous Missile,” like the show itself, is a nostalgic diversion
that’s good for some obviously period-specific superhero action and
little else…except for Lynda Carter filling out her costume very,
very nicely.

6.0 out of 10


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