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Wonder Woman 1974 title card
Wonder Woman
Directed by Vincent McEveety
Written by John D. F. Black
Released March 12, 1974
Duration 75 mins
WW-CathyLeeCrosby
Crosby print ad

"The Amazing Amazon Princess Comes to Television!"

Wonder Woman is a 1974 television film loosely based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It was Wonder Woman's first live-action television appearance. The TV movie event aired as a pilot for an intended television series, being considered by ABC.

Plot

The film follows Wonder Woman, assistant to government agent Steve Trevor (Kaz Garas) as she pursues a villain named Abner Smith (Ricardo Montalban) who has stolen a set of code books containing classified information about U.S. government field agents.[1]

Cast

  • Cathy Lee Crosby as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
  • Kaz Garas as Steve Trevor
  • Charlene Holt as Hippolyta
  • Ricardo Montalban as Abner Smith
  • Richard X. Slattery as Colonel Henkins
  • Andrew Prine as George Calvin
  • Anitra Ford as Ahnjayla
  • Beverly Gill as Dia
  • Sandy Gaviola as Ting
  • Robert Porter as Joe
  • Jordan Rhodes as Bob
  • Donna Garrett as Cass
  • Roberta Brahm as Zoe
  • Thom Carney as Fred
  • Ed McCready as Wesley

Production and Reception

The pilot aired originally on March 12, 1974[2] and was repeated on August 21 of that year.[3] Ratings were described as "respectable but not exactly wondrous."[4] ABC did not pick up the pilot, although Crosby would later claim she was offered the series that was eventually given to Lynda Carter.[5] An ABC spokesperson would later acknowledge that the decision to update the character was a mistake[4] and the pilot itself has been labeled one of the "hundred dumbest events in television."[1]

Notes

  • This version of Wonder Woman, who owes more to characters such as Modesty Blaise, Emma Peel and Honey West than the original superhero, was introduced soon after the so-called "I Ching" era of the comic book in which Diana lost her powers and become an Emma Peel-like adventurer who was trained by a man named I Ching. By the time the movie aired, however, the comic book Wonder Woman had returned to her superhero origins.
  • Very little of the comic book is reflected in the film beyond a sequence on her unnamed island home and a dialogue reference to her invisible plane (which she is never shown flying in the film). The only aspect of Diana's classic costume retained for the film is her bracelets, which are depicted as James Bond-style gadgets. In the film they: are magnetic, contain a tracking device, can be used as a grappling hook, and contain a small explosive (it is also implied that tapping bracelets together is a form of greeting for the Amazons). Diana also wears a Batman-esque utility belt that contains a hidden rope for climbing (the closest the film gets to the lasso).
  • Although the later Lynda Carter series was considered a complete do-over, the basic concept of the 1974 film is actually similar to later episodes of the Carter series in which Diana was again depicted as a secret government agent who at one point reports to Steve Trevor. The conceit of Steve going into the field and playing a background role also conforms to the later TV series.
  • Diana's secret identity is treated inconsistently in the film, as she eschews any sort of disguise, yet it is implied only Steve is aware of it in his agency; nonetheless, the villains recognize her as Wonder Woman on sight and refer to her by this name. Interestingly, later episodes of the Carter series also have her abandon any pretense of disguise (though her identity as Wonder Woman still remains secret).
  • As a pilot, a number of plot elements are left unexplained (presumably intended to have been fleshed out in a series). This includes how Diana came to become part of Steve's agency, and trusted to the degree that he sends her on missions without the knowledge of the rest of his team. It is also strongly implied that the characters of Abner Smith and Ahnjaya would have been recurring (or at least return) villains.
  • In the teaser sequence there is a continuity error suggesting a possible cut scene. After George's minions shoot the team of thieves and George goes to leave, the door he exits through shows signs of having had liquid thrown at it - such as a glass - yet no such action occurs in the scene (and the angle makes it unlikely to have been blood from the dead men, something that would not have been allowed in 1974 anyway).
  • Had the Crosby version of Wonder Woman gone to series in the fall of 1974, it would have predated Secrets of Isis, The Bionic Woman and Lynda Carter's New Original Wonder Woman as the first female-led superhero TV series.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 What Were They Thinking?: The 100 Dumbest Events in Television by David Hofstede and Tom Bergeron (contributor), Back Stage Books, 2004, pages 31-33
  2. TV Staff Previews, Uniontown (PA) Morning Herlad, March 12, 1974,
  3. TV Key Best Bets, Wisconsin State Journal, August, 21, 1974.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Wonder Woman Tries Comeback, Tom Shales, Washington Pose, November 7, 1975.
  5. Cathy Crosby turns down 'Wonder Woman' offer, Tom Joby, Associated Press, May 12, 1980.
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