Retro Review: Wonder Woman 1×01 – “The New Original Wonder Woman” (Pilot TV Film)

Review: Wonder Woman 1×01 -“The New Original Wonder Woman” 


[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers]

Director: Leonard Horn

Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross

Starring: Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner & John Randolph

 

Reviewed by: Sean Blumenshine

 

 

Summary

Wonder Woman 1×01: After a dogfight with a Nazi plane, U.S. Air Force Steve Trevor crashlands on an uncharted island in the Bermuda Triangle. Paradise Island is inhabited only by women, and their existence has been kept a secret for thousands of years. Learning of the Nazi threat to humanity, the Amazon princess, Diana, is chosen to accompany Trevor back to the United States to battle the Third Reich. Garbed in a skimpy red, white & blue costume and armed with a magic lasso that forces anyone within its grasp to tell the truth, Diana uses her powers as Wonder Woman to battle the forces of evil.

Positives

The HD remaster of the show that can be exclusively seen on DC Universe is stunning. I hope there’s a blu-ray set coming soon. The colors are crisp and the contrast is great. The team behind the remaster did incredible work; the show looks amazing.

Lynda Carter is perfect for this role. It’s a performance that seems effortless for her. There’s a grace and a calm to her combined with a fierceness that works well. She also adds just the right touch of humor that defines the show’s tone.

The late Lyle Waggoner is equally good as Steve Trevor. Both actors take the material seriously but they don’t play it too straight. The performances are genuine; there isn’t an ounce of cynicism.

It is fun to see Diana beat up Nazis. While I think it may have been cool to see some comic book villains in the show, it is very satisfying to watch Wonder Woman effortlessly defeat the Nazis.

Negatives

One of my main issues has to do with structure and point of view. The episode starts from Steve’s point of view and doesn’t change until he reaches Paradise Island and then it switches to Diana’s point of view. That’s not entirely effective especially since Steve spends much of the episode unconscious after reaching Paradise Island. He ends up feeling like a plot device. The 2017 movie constructed the origin much more effectively.

While the two leads are fantastic, a lot of the guest stars are pretty bad. They’re all way too over the top and it contrasts heavily with what Carter and Waggoner were doing. The worst was Clois Leachman as Queen Hippolyta; I found her to be insufferable in this. She clearly thought she was in something much cheesier and every line delivery of hers hurts the episode.

Verdict

This is a solid pilot. It’s not perfect; the performances of the guest stars are questionable and give the episode some tonal whiplash. But Carter and Waggoner more than make up for it. Their sincerity makes this pilot endlessly endearing.

 

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Sean Blumenshine

I am currently a senior at Wichita State University studying communications. I started reading comics in 2013 because of how much I loved Man of Steel and season one of Arrow. My favorite hero is the Green Arrow and my favorite villain is the Joker.