WONDER WOMAN NO. 15: THE RETURN OF WONDER WOMAN
By Ray Caspio
With Clint Stanley
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
32 years after her return to Paradise Island, Princess Diana reenters the outside world as Diana Prince and Wonder Woman, to combat a terrorist threat (yes, terrorism existed before 2001).
This is the first episode aired on the CBS network, retitled “The New Adventures of Wonder Woman” after ABC canceled the “Wonder Woman” series.
The theme song has new lyrics!
The new, superior costume debuts with no explanation for the change.
The tiara now has a ruby in it, which enables Diana to call her mother whenever she’s needed. A Mental Radio for 1977.
Lynda Carter done got a nice tan!
Steve Trevor, Jr. (Lyle Waggoner): Son of Major Steve Trevor, who was Diana Prince’s boss and Wonder Woman’s supposed *ahem* paramour during the 1940s. When the plane carrying Steve, Jr. lands on Paradise Island, Princess Diana is baffled as to why it looks just like Steve, Sr. Her mother must explain to her that “ordinary humans marry and breed” because, apparently, after living in the outside world, Diana didn’t know this! Par for the course for Wonder Woman, I guess. Diana kind of has a crush on Steve, Jr., but not really. It was never fully explored and honestly, the chemistry between Lynda and Lyle wasn’t there, especially in the CBS series.
Joe Atkinson (Normann Burton): Diana and Steve’s superior at the Inter-Agency Defense Command (IADC).
Beverly (Brooke Bundy): Steve’s dumbstruck-by-Diana-Prince secretary, who was certainly no replacement for Private Etta Candy. This will be her only appearance.
Academy Award® winner Beatrice Straight as The Queen, who was never referred to as Hippolyte on the series. I go between Carolyn Jones and Beatrice Straight as my favorite Queens.
Fritz Weaver as Dr. Solano
Jessica Walter as Gloria Marquez
Hi, Wonder Fans (if you’re not, you should be)! I’m Ray. Actor. Illustrator. Noted (not really) Wonder Woman fan since the age of three, who has seen every single episode at least 67 times. Lynda Carter’s interpretation of Wonder Woman ranks above all others for me. Why am I here? I’m here to take you on an episode-by-episode journey through the series, based on my Wonder Woman Cover Series illustrations.
“The Return of Wonder Woman” is Episode 15 of the series. The first time I saw this episode was in 1994 on the old fX Network (in its heyday, it was the best cable network ever and featured my network television debut on the show “Breakfast Time,” as a Mail Bag call-in guest who was home from school with the flu). Growing up, watching the show in syndication on Channels 43 and 55 in Cleveland, they never aired the ABC or CBS pilots. So, the first fX viewing carried with it much giddiness and stern warnings to my family to leave me alone while it was on.
My good friend, Clint Stanley, and I watched this episode together via AOL IM, and below, we present our commentary.
Please check out raycaspio.com or my RedBubble site, where you can find many of my illustrations for sale as prints or t-shirts.
RAY: Are you ready to watch THE RETURN OF WONDER WOMAN?!
CLINT: Loading up the red white and blue sow now.
R: haha. She’s waiting for me. I’m staring at the Third Season costume on the episode index. It’s irritating me. Third Season Lyle Waggoner photo, too. We have to press play at the same time to make it all scientific and stuff. Ready?
C: OK…all keyed up. My mannequin has her drink and popcorn…let’s do this.(*Note: Clint has a life-sized Wonder Woman mannequin.)
R: Here we go. Hit PLAY on THE RETURN OF WONDER WOMAN!
C: I love the updated opening. Lynda Carter’s smile could power a small city for a week.
R: Well, first off, didn’t this episode have a bumper that was cut on the DVD?
C: Um…I have no idea. lol. What did the bumper contain?
R: I’m pretty sure it did. The early CBS episodes all had them (eps with the animated opening). 30 second preview of what was going to be in the episode. This episode also had a gunshot, like ABC, to start off the theme song. Deleted from the DVD, but on the Columbia House VHS tapes.
C: Jessica Walter!
R: Lucille from Arrested Development!
C: It’s a shame that the Warner DVDs aren’t COMPLETE and UNCUT…but this is the best the episodes have ever looked.
R: Stephen Kandel, who wrote some of the best WW eps: JUDGMENT FROM OUTER SPACE, this episode, MIND STEALERS FROM OUTER SPACE (mmm…Dack Rambo).
C: Stanley Ralph Ross, creator, who wrote all the great Catwoman episodes of the 60s “Batman” show…
R: Yes, he did!
C: Lyle Waggoner looked much hotter on ABC, but I’d still consider leaving the Island for him.
R: He looked really good in The Man Who Could Move the World, though. Out of his suit and in street clothes.
C: LOL or in Cosmo…out of everything!
R: This airplane is such a ramshackle set.
C: Dr. Solano’s secret base…the clever viewer will notice this set reused time and again throughout WW’s CBS years.
R: “Within Dr. Solano’s headquarters…” I love the comic book boxes.
C: I miss the comic book boxes when they go.
R: When Solano says, “Where are they now,” and then the woman on the plane asks, I always assumed she had an earpiece and was part of the plan. It’s just too coincidental that his question would be immediately answered.
C: That would have been interesting: Dr. Solano having a spy…
R: I wonder if she was intended to be a spy but they cut something out of the script.
C: Roll left…roll right.
R: Don’t let the bar stool/plane chair topple over! Tilt camera to show plane’s descent to…Paradise Island!
C: I love how hidden cameras in 70s shows ALWAYS have the same view as the TV crew’s camera. lol
R: Lynda looks gorgeous. Love the violet on her. Her acting improved greatly in these episodes.
R: She seemed so much more comfortable, which she said in interviews.
C: Outside of the pilot movie, where Lynda was the sole person playing it straight among a group of trained comedic actors, the early CBS episodes showcased not just how beautiful she was, but how good a dramatic actress she could also be.
R: The scripts for early CBS were great up until The Pied Piper. Things changed after that.
C: Ah yes…but Pied Piper had Jan Brady, finally free of Marsha’s shadow.
R: haha! I love that they have a Scientific Council on Paradise Island. These are Amazons of intelligence and peace.
C: I missed the Amazons when they were dropped from the show. ABC had so much more of them.
R: Diana spends extra time making sure the woman’s alright.
C: Now…this is just creepy?
R: What is?
C: Diana thinking of Steve Trevor’s son in a not quite right way. lol
R: She didn’t know yet!
C: I knew! Love how realistic her carrying of Steve comes across.
R: I miss Fannie Flagg as the doctor. Fannie and Cloris Leachman were great together.
C: Fannie Flagg was awesome. I want the name of Paradise Island’s decorator.
R: I’ll take the chaise lounge Steve’s on. Steve can stay on it.
C: Look at Lynda’s cute freckles!
R: Beatrice Straight. I can hear her dentures clicking already.
C: Hippolyta, the Amazon Queen, has been a blonde and brunette in the comics, but never a red head.
R: I like her in the role.
C: She seemed the most regal. Carolyn Jones was the most “mom” like.
R: And Cloris Leachman was the most horny. “Praisze Athena.”
C: “…emissary to the outside world to investigate this threat.” Riiight.
R: What a great word: emissary. Wonder Woman is an educational show that teaches us new vocabulary words!
C: Now, how exactly did we get to the point where a council votes on her leaving? We go from “NEVER!” to “So be it.” Wuss.
R: Democracy! Oh, no. It’s Evadne.
C: Porn acting at its finest. Cousin…makes me wonder about the Island’s family tree.
R: I’m looking up Evadne, Dorrie Thompson’s, credits. She doesn’t look like a Dorrie. MARCUS WELBY, BARETTA, COLUMBO.
C: Who was SHE sleeping with?
R: POINT OF SEDUCTION: BODY CHEMISTRY III in 1994, after not working in film/TV since 1978.
C: She needed the money for plastic surgery.
R: She also played Tina Marlowe in CHESTY ANDERSON: U.S. NAVY.
C: Chesty…hmmm. Telling.
R: “The Contesht” is about to begin.
C: When will Walmart have Feminum Bracelets? Or cookwear, for that matter? Non-stick…food bounces right off! I REALLY prefer this Bullets and Bracelets contest to the one in the ABC pilot. Shooting at a target, rather than the Amazon makes so much more sense.
R: And, it’s a star target! Random Amazon voiceover…
C: She’s won the contest!
R: Now, the Queen’s all happy.
C: Bipolar Queen.
R: That crown sure poofed up Lynda’s sprayed hair.
C: 70s and 80s hair for TV: the reason for the Hole in the Ozone.
R: Ooh. Amazon brainwashing! They don’t need the leaf from the Hibernium Tree in CBS continuity.
C: I wish I could do this: You will bow before Clint! All hail his…um…I’ll be PG here. lol
R: No, no censoring!
C: I can censor myself! lol. So…she has a lasso that can command you to do whatever she wants. And the Amazons can control your mind through suggestion…hmmmm.
R: Lynda slips into that ABC voice here that I hate. The new costume debuts! They never addressed the difference in costumes between ABC and CBS, which they should have done in THE MAN WHO COULD MOVE THE WORLD if they didn’t do it here.
C: THE SPIN!!!
R: Here it comes!
C: I need a tissue. I just Gaygasmed.
R: And she looks fab. Yes, I just used the word “fab.” Then they cut away and her hair’s stiff when they come back.
C: Who wants to be an “ordinary woman”? Not me!
R: The “Secret Belt of Strength” was only removed once in CBS, and by her own choice.
C: Why is Evadne the only Amazon in a short skirt? I want to see Beatrice Straight’s gams.
R: It sounded like she said “Tittledrachma.”
C: I’m loving the arm flap during the hug.
R: WW’s diaper fits well in this episode.
C: Puts mine to shame.
R: I never noticed how PRETTY she is during this plane scene.
C: She just pushed her teeth back in. Beatrice Straight, that is.
R: Had Polident been invented at this time?
C: Not sure…the Amazons have everything. Even invisible transport tech, soon to debut in its new design for CBS.
R: hahaha! The Invisible Plane toy!
C: The doll used in the miniature looks like a Tuesday Taylor doll. Also used in THE MAN WHO COULD MOVE THE WORLD.
R: Then it would disappear forever.
C:Into some lucky Queen’s collection (not on Paradise Island). NO FUMAR!
R: These delegates are so clean for being missing for two days!
C: Notice how no one is standing too close to HER though. And more NO FUMAR! They really don’t want you to smoke.
R: The delegate in the big black glasses bugs me. He probably smells like cigars. Steve’s new associate! Wonder who it’ll be.
C: Now…WHY was he about to walk out and only directed to Diana Prince at the last minute?
R: The big reveal. Diana’s crushing on Steve.
C: Sicko. She is going to have both the father and the son.
R: Didn’t realize THIS Diana was that kinky, did you?
C: And, btw…anyone out there that is a hot father/son duo, call me!
R: Especially if they look exactly alike.
C: They sure did the Marriott up nice for this meeting.
R: I want to touch the gold chairs. How is “The Prince Girl” not Solano’s type?
C: I think Solano’s type needs to be middle aged and frustrated.
R: This room Solano and Marquez are in is so ugly! So many combating prints.
C: Not to mention her outfit.
R: Gloria’s getting horny over how powerful Solano is.
C: He spiked her drink.
R: She drank martinis the same way in ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.
C: She’s a trained drinker. I’m taking notes as we watch.
R: “I have to use terror.” WAIT! Terrorism existed before 2001? UNHEARD OF!
C: And white people committed it? NO! Here comes the Lite Brite. Turn on the magic of colored lights.
R: I used to pretend my Lite Brite was Ira.
C: IRAC is never again seen in a computer room like this. He gets his own special room.
R: I wish IRAC would have stayed away permanently. Diana memorized the tones of the buttons! I caught her listening!
C: And a little jiggle. CHARLIE’S ANGELS got NOTHING on Lynda Carter.
R: Well, Lynda has boobs, for one thing. Identity: Diana Prince. Female. Age: 25.
C: Lynda was actually 26 in 1977.
R: Not if they filmed it before July 24.
C: As they most assuredly did.
R: See how easy it is for Diana to set up her own identity, Allan Heinberg!? She doesn’t need Batman.
C: MUST you mention that hack.
R: AHHHH! Giant coin dealer eye.
C: “You’re a woman…I’m going to take advantage and rip you off!”
R: She doesn’t beat this coin dealer up like she does in the comics nowadays. She wins him over with her charm and intelligence.
C: And those big blue eyes! And her low cut dress!
R: And no fists.
C: “Park in Rear!” My life’s slogan. Nearly 40 minutes in and still no Wondy action.
R: But it’s not boring, oddly.
C: Speak for yourself.
R: Why do you dislike the CBS pilot?
C: I just find it REALLY drags. Too much exposition. 40 minutes in and no Wondy action. Lynda was the only reason to watch it. And the Paradise Island bits. CAT FIGHT!
R: Male stunt doubles?
C: Not yet, anyway.
R: No, not in this episode. In MIND STEALERS, yes. I wish I knew how to flip people like that! I’d go around doing it all day. Good spin. The color is so vibrant in this episode. The costume looks great.
C: That it does. Still, the colors could be more vibrant…where’s my vodka?
R: According to Bev’s desk, it’s Thursday, May 14.
C: What have I seen this secretary in? Oh, yes…she was Christine’s mother in NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3 and 4. Or Kristin’s…not sure on the spelling.
R: Bev likes Steve. She’s disappointed Steve won’t eat her steak and eggs. She has to settle for Joe eating her stuff.
C: Some women NEVER get their stuff eaten. She should be pleased.
R: I can’t watch the Nightmare movies. Childhood traumatization.
C: This show didn’t traumatize you as well? I can see you in the ER over and over again for spin related accidents.
R: I used to spin in the pine tree in our front yard. It had a section cut out and I used it like a secret fort. Here comes the first big Wondy action!
C: FINALLY! RUN! So pretty. Love this bit with her holding both cars.
C: Though the truck should have moved a bit. They shook the car but not the truck. BOOMERANG!
R: I had a Nerf boomerang that I’d stick in my back pocket when I was playing WW. When I removed my cardboard tiara, I’d pretend to bend it and fling my boomerang.
C: That took imagination and a few beatings from your father, I’m sure. lol
R: haha! I used rope out of his truck as my Magic Lasso. My mom made me the tiaras.
C: I never went anywhere without a lasso. I can still throw and capture a bad man.
R: WW’s so tender in this scene.
C: And no Botox!
R: She’s 2560 this year. Oh, look! Solano has edited footage of WW in action even though one camera was filming her. After this scene is where fX cut the episode when they aired it. fX was the first place I saw both pilots. I remember it was a big deal when they aired the ABC one. They made a big to-do over it. I don’t think it was in syndication before that.
C: My friend in California, Cesar, would send me VHS tapes recorded off fX. He sent me part one of THE RETURN… but didn’t send me part two. It wasn’t til years later on Sci Fi that I saw the second half.
R: I was so excited to find fX was airing the show. I caught it on June 3, 1994, a Friday, while I was flipping channels after school. The episode was Beauty on Parade.
C: The first episode I ever saw, at three years of age. (Beauty on Parade)
R: Me, too! Same age.
C: This robot has a nuclear power source but Solano wants to STEAL the nuke plant America is giving Samara…interesting.
R: And he’s wearing Andros’ costume.
C: How ever did Gloria and Steve manage to keep their hands off each other? I mean…the chemistry between them is so palpable. *cough cough*
R: Yeah, I’m hard.
R: Prince. Diana Prince.
C: “I’ll be there, Bitch! Stop looking at my man’s son, whom I also plan to bed!”
R: Lynda and Lyle never really had a romantic chemistry.
C: She had more romance with IRAC. Or Rover. At least he got to be up near the Wonder Twins.
R: Yes, Lyle did say Lynda had the biggest boobs in Hollywood. I’m sure she was thrilled for the compliment. I never believed Steve and Diana had a thing for each other except for maybe that brief cheek kiss in LIGHT-FINGERED LADY.
C: The evil twin! A device used OVER and OVER and…
R: I like that Diana is taking all of Gloria’s digs with humor.
C: Yeah…Diana in the later CBS episodes would have met her insult for insult.
R: I did like the Diana who was a bit aggravated with “Man’s World” in later CBS. I thought it was a natural character development. That extra who was talking to Diana was used in several episodes. Never got a line.
C: I know her stunt doubles appear onscreen…at least the one who did her gymnastics work.
R: OK, this episode does start to bore me around this point. After that first big action scene, it goes downhill.
C: You have a higher bore threshold than me. Any scene that Lynda isn’t in costume I find hard to sit through. Thankfully the episodes pick up right after this opening.
R: They must have filmed this scene in someone’s basement rumpus room.
C: SECRET…in a plywood room. “Steve” is trying to get Diana drunk now. He needs a decent date rape drug.
R: Lynda has a long neck.
C: Swan like…graceful and beautiful…Oh…Lynda…how do I love thee.
R: LOVE this spin! Best of the episode.
C: It was a nice one, for one who notices such.
R: “LEAVE THE GIRL ALONE!”
C: KICK HIS ASS! Aww…just a flip.
R: Flips and throws. I didn’t care for this Magic Lasso sound effect.
C: For some reason, I always wanted to see WW beat the crap out of Lyle’s Steve.
C: Something about the way he plays the character just annoys me.
R: Is Steve cuffed to a home gym?
C: LOL Bowflex.
R: I could do without Steve.
C: So could Lynda…he was phased out by the end of Season 3.
R: I wish Ted…what’s his name?!…would have played Steve. SHACKELFORD!
C: Yummy. Yummy.
C: He appeared in two episodes, but the best was the one with him in skin tight silver: TIME BOMB.
R: One of my favorite episodes. Gorgeous lighting on her closeup here. They used the same lighting in ANSCHLUSS ’77, my favorite episode. They even shoot some of it at this very cave we’re looking at now.
C: Poor Lynda…to look that awesome, she had to be up and to the studio by 5am each day, six days a week, working out til 7am, and then shooting the rest of the day.
R: Tough schedule, but she was being compensated well and the role gave her immortality.
C: It says something for her that Hollywood hasn’t been able to recast the role since.
R: I don’t want Hollywood to put anyone else in the role. This is hers.
C: This bit is cool. The sword fight.
R: I do like the sword fight, yes. Boned shorts, which we learned from Lynne the seamstress!
C: Yes…Lynne the seamstress and her AWESOME WW replica costume. Never seen a better one.
R: I wonder if this is all Lynda in the sword fight.
C: It appears to be. As a trained dancer, Lynda would have excelled at the fight choreography.
R: Nope, definitely Jeannie in the wide shots. The sword fight was filmed really well. Luckily, they had the train track right there for the dolly to film it!
C: Coincidence? I think not! I want to go on vacation to Samara.
R: You like the Samaran henchmen, don’t you?
C: Swarthy. They look like they would use you and toss you away. Just like I like my men.
R: Solano never comes back, even though they leave it open. Villains never came back.
C: Her smile!
R: Smile, because it’s over! haha!
C: I can’t stop smiling.
R: The apartment manager was called “Manageress.” Never noticed that before.
C: The subplot featuring her was cut. She took the money from the rent payment and went on a drug and prostitute filled binge.
R: Male or female prostitutes?
C: Why limit yourself? You’re high and horny! Why not have both? Well, Ray, I’d like to thank you for sitting and sharing this episode of Wonder Woman with me…but you shared this episode of Wonder Woman with me. I hope you get horrible hemorrhoids!