Last night Lena and I watched the unaired pilot episode for the forth proposed Wonder Woman series, with Adrianne Palicki in the titular spot. (Pun intended, and no, I don’t have a copy. Sorry.) I was extremely prepared to hate this show, though not so much as Lena, who’s tirades about the new costume (who picked those fucking boots! what’s WRONG with those people?) I had endured since the first stills emerged. Personally, I pretty much expected it to be Smallville with a different outfit. Familiar characters, cute actors, lousy writing.
I am sad to say I was very, very wrong.
Sad of course, because the network was so nervous over test screen reactions that they bailed on the show before even the pilot reached our screens. And sad too, because by the end, I had found myself won over by the show’s charms.
Palicki’s Wonder Woman differs in many… many significant ways from the iconic camp-stamp left behind by the Lynda Carter portrayal. Carter’s Diana was whiney and entitled, while as Wonder Woman Palicki is driven, sometimes frustrated, but always forceful. There was zero difference in tone between Cater as Wonder Woman or Diana Prince, while Palicki seems to be transformed by the alter ego, slipping out of her corporate bigwig crime fighter personae and into a shy, cat-and-popcorn style single lady.
Did I not mention the corporation? Okay, maybe I dug this because I had done it myself in a game of Villains and Vigilantes back in high school, but I still thought it was a clever idea. Also reminiscent of the “I hope they fucking DIE!” scene from the Specials, Diana has forged herself a small but wealthy corporate empire dedicated to catching all the bad guys the po po can’t reach. Now because crime fighting isn’t all that lucrative if no one is paying you for it, the company is financed by… wait for it… Wonder Woman merchandise! There is a particularly amusing exchange in the boardroom as the look of the new doll is discussed. Diana is miffed because here latest nemesis, (well portrayed by Elizabeth Hurley) called her an “action figure” on the local news. Expressing her pique to the board, she complains the doll (dressed in the comic book version of the costume) is unrealistically endowed, though she does admit that her own figure is more or less perfect. Etta Candy (her assistant) points out that Diana specifically created her present costume to look good as an action figure, in order to better serve the company’s financial interests. Ticked off, Diana shouts, “We are not marketing my tits!”
This from the woman fighting crime in a demi cup.
Another welcome change was the way that Palicki’s Diana viewed the law and her role in the world alongside it. The Handsome Police Detective warns Diana against going against Elizabeth Hurley (really, I could just sit and watch that woman read the phone book) without any evidence. The cops know that Hurley is up to no good and that if they could just get into her detention/infirmary facility they would have her dead to rights, but the elusive villainess is politically well connected and a financial powerhouse, and they know if they don’t do everything by the book she’ll slip away in the courtroom. Eventually Hurley’s misdeeds cause the death of a pal of Diana’s, and the gloves come off. As she’s flying her tiny jet (very cool) to Hurley’s evil lair, Handsome Detective is trying to talk her out of it. The cops have no warrant, he reasons, Diana will be on her own with no idea what to expect. She counters that once she illegally breaks in and begins beating the hell out of everyone she finds within, the place’ll be a crime scene and the cops can just walk right on in.
Once inside, (dressed in the familiar star-spangled one-piece) WW battles Hurley’s steroidally enhanced monster-men, matching them blow for blow. She gets a little more serious however with a guard who ups the ante with a pistol, turning the “friendly” dust-up into a more deadly contest. WW whips out with the bracelets, sending bullets flying every which-a-way, and then throws a freaking pipe through the dude’s throat, pinning him like a butterfly to the wall behind him. A dead butterfly. I know a lot of people had a big problem with this scene, people don’t seem to like costumed heroes who respond appropriately to deadly force. I thought it was both kinda awesome, and that it rang true. Diana is a real warrior trained by a real military culture, (allowing for a certain degree of flexibility regarding use of the word real) with super strength and speed. You just should not fuck with someone like that. If you shoot them and don’t kill them, what the hell would you expect to happen?
Wonder Woman is dead, long live Wonder Woman. At least we can be sure that Elizabeth Hurley’s career will survive.