The Wonder Woman pilot is all over the internets if you know where to look for it (on any torrent site, really… not that I condone that sort of behaviour, of course), and I watched it last night. It was kind of a mess. Now, pilots are rarely very polished… there was some incomplete CGI, a lot of uneven sound, and what I have to assume was a filler score. But apart from all of that, it was still a pretty bad show.
As a pilot, it was poorly constructed. It wasn’t really an introduction to Wonder Woman, apart from a few clunky exposition scenes. Her Amazon heritage wasn’t really explained, and we never saw Paradise Island/Themyscira or learned how she got to America. On top of having little to no background on the character, Wonder Woman herself was really confusing. She’s Wonder Woman, the superhero, and Diana Themyscira, the head of the company that funds her superheroic adventures. The Diana Themyscira identity isn’t a secret… everyone knows she’s Wonder Woman. BUT she’s also Diana Prince, a normal girl with an apartment and a cat named Sylvester, a third, secret identity so she can get away from it all. All these identities seemed rather unnecessary.
Apart from the confusing main character, the storyline of the show was pretty weak and unexciting. An evil pharmaceutical company, headed by Veronica Cale, is selling supplements that are killing its users. Wonder Woman already knows who’s behind it (there’s no investigation action at all) so she calls out Veronica Cale publicly and beats the location of Cale’s secret lab out of a dude. Then she swoops into the facility, takes down a bunch of goons, Cale gets arrested, and that’s it. There’s some stuff about a possible Justice Department investigation of Wonder Woman, but that doesn’t turn into anything but an appearance by Steve Trevor. It was hardly a compelling villain or a particularly interesting evil plot.
The execution was also lacking. The story stumbled along, hampered by silly tangents and explanatory scenes that felt shoehorned in. The dialogue was weak, and poorly delivered by most of the cast. Nearly all of the characters were one-note… Cary Elwes was the exasperated CEO, Tracie Thoms was the calm and efficient Etta (I actually liked her), and Elizabeth Hurley was the blatantly evil villain. I didn’t much care for Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman (and her other two identities… from now on, unless I specify one of the other two identities, let’s assume that by “Wonder Woman” I mean all three identities), but I think it’s less because of Palicki herself and more because the character was so severe. And therein lies my biggest problem with the pilot:
I didn’t like Wonder Woman. At all. She was kind of a jerk and a terrible person.
If I had a nickel for every time Wonder Woman smiled in the pilot, I wouldn’t have enough change to use a payphone. Wonder Woman was perpetually displeased with everything. She was either angry or frustrated or annoyed or bothered or depressed or some combination therein. She just wasn’t a pleasant character. I LOVE Wonder Woman, but I very quickly lost my sympathy for the character. Everything felt like a battle… she was super combative with everyone, even her allies. Plus, she was obviously engaging in criminal activity.
In the course of the pilot, Wonder Woman tortured a guy for information (instead of just using her lasso… wouldn’t that have been easier??!!), references were made to her using illegal wiretaps, and then she KILLED a guy by throwing a pipe through his throat. First off, Wonder Woman doesn’t do stuff like that. And second, that’s SUPER illegal. Throughout the show, there were several supposedly villainous characters who were trying to investigate Wonder Woman and Themyscira Industries for various crimes, and I found myself on their side. They were totally right… you can’t go around torturing and killing people!! And Wonder Woman was completely blasé about it. She expressed no regrets whatsoever for her torturing or killing. That’s not how superheroes roll.
Apart from the murdering, Wonder Woman just wasn’t a happy person. In a comicly bad scene about a buxom Wonder Woman doll, she expresses that the expectation of being perfect all the time weighs on her heavily. Then, at home as Diana Prince, she is clearly depressed as she watches The Notebook and misses Steve Trevor. The pilot ends with Diana watching a news program where the anchorwoman is saying that if she could be Wonder Woman just for a day then she’d be happy, but Diana just stares forlornly at the screen, sad and alone. Apparently, being Wonder Woman isn’t as awesome as you might think. It’s not a particularly heroic or inspiring note to end the program on… it was a real downer.
Of course, the source of all this angst and loneliness is Steve Trevor. When he shows up later in the episode and Wonder Woman learns that he is now married, her disappointment is palpable. Through flashbacks, we learn that she left Steve to become a superhero, but she still pines for him like crazy and spends her nights alone thinking about him. In the scene where she gets upset at her CEO about the top-heavy doll, he basically says “So this is really about Steve, isn’t it?”. And it is. It was like 1950s Wonder Woman all over again.
So overall, it was definitely a structurally bad pilot, but the real problem was the unlikeability of Wonder Woman. She is an angry, violent, mopey character, and not at all the Wonder Woman we’re used to from the comics and other shows. Her methods are terrible, her character is poorly defined, and in the end you either are upset with or feel bad for her. Or both (I was 80-20 for upset/feeling bad). I really don’t think they could have salvaged this into a decent series without an epic overhaul.
Here are some quick, closing thoughts… first the bad:
- You named the black character Willis? Really?
- Then you didn’t even say “What you talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”!!!
- Also, no one says “ghettoes” anymore, David E. Kelley.
- Willis is one of the people affected by Cale’s evil pharmaceuticals, and Diana promises his mother vengeance. Not justice… vengeance.
- I don’t get why Wonder Woman needs a corporation (that seems to get its money just from dolls) to fund her superheroing… are the Amazons not chipping in anything?
- The jet wasn’t invisible… come on!!
- Wonder Woman wouldn’t name her cat Sylvester.
- There were some amusing guest star talking heads… Nancy Grace and Jeffrey Toobin were pro-Wonder Woman, but Dr. Phil had some concerns.
- Does Jeffrey Toobin get a lot of these gigs? He seems like a random choice.
- The goons she beats up looked totally silly. It was like they all just came from the gym or something.
- The fight with Elizabeth Hurley wasn’t even a fight.
- Parts of the costume worked, others didn’t. The pants/shorts and boots were fine, and the bracelets looked decent. The tiara looked pretty bad most of the time, and the top was just sort of ridiculous… there was a hilarious scene shortly after Wonder Woman rails against how the doll objectifies her where her top is BARELY holding her in. It’s so bad.
- The show seemed a lot different than what I’d heard about the pilot script… a lot of scenes I expected weren’t there, and wasn’t it supposed to be two hours?
- OH MAN people need to stop using the “I can’t be with you because you’d be targeted by my enemies” excuse for not dating people. It’s played out.
And now the good… there actually is some!!
- I liked how they used the lasso. Most of the CGI wasn’t finished, but Wonder Woman was really swift and efficient with it and it looked kind of cool.
- There was one scene where the lasso was just a yellow line… it was a really darkly lit scene, and reminded me of Sin City.
- She deflected bullets!! And it looked pretty good. She then impaled a dude with a pipe, but the bullet deflecting before that was fun.
- The fight scenes in general were decent, apart from the murdering.
- Richard Gilmore!!! Edward Herrmann played a senator who was fixing to investigate Wonder Woman. I was jazzed not because of this senator character, but because The Gilmore Girls is an awesome show.
- I still like the show’s logo.
- There must be something else I liked…
- Nope. That’s all I got.