Wonder Woman 2011
When this was being made, there was a lot of negative buzz about David E. Kelley’s pilot for a new “Wonder Woman” TV series. Much of the controversy came from absurd things like Kelley (of “Ally McBeal” and “Harry’s Law” fame, among others) calling it an ‘office romance and drama,’ not words usually associated with the Amazon Princess. And then there was the costume controversy – she was wearing long pants instead of her decades traditional star-spangled hot pants. I don’t like any of the new variations on Diana’s costume personally, but let’s face it, that’s not that much of a big deal.
As things turned out, NBC (or any of the other networks either) did not pick up the pilot and there won’t be a “Wonder Woman” TV series, at least not this year, and not by David E. Kelley. But I did get the chance to take a look at this notorious pilot recently, and I have to tell you – it wasn’t half bad, and what was wrong with it, really really wrong with it – had nothing to do with costumes or office romance drama. It was just stupid.
The things that I thought I would have a problem with – the office setting, actress Adrienne Palicki as Wonder Woman, and yes, to an extent, the costume(s) – were all very good. She was terrific, and she, and writer Kelley, actually do get the character. I didn’t mind the office stuff, it’s actually quite good and mirrors the Wonder Woman Foundation from the George Perez era of the comics. In fact, one scene, in which Diana says the T word which probably put off the networks who wanted to run this in the family hour as a kids show, is one of the best written in the pilot.
The costumes, and there are more than a few, look good, and that’s all on Adrienne Palicki who looks darn good as the Amazon Princess, and unlike many recent superhero film incarnations, the colors are bright primary colors that stand out, the way superhero colors are supposed to. I like the costumes, I like the variations, and I like Palicki. She did, and would have made a terrific Wonder Woman.
The special effects, while incomplete in the pilot copy I saw, were very good. I like the jets, even though they were not invisible. I like the action scenes, Palicki can kick serious ass! And the thing I liked most, effects-wise, was the way Diana would whip out her lasso at super speed. It almost seems to fly from her wrists a la Spider-Man, and it looks great. And the bullets and bracelets trick is the best I’ve seen live action.
And there are many things to like here. Cary Elwes is as good as he’s been in years, this could have been his comeback. Elizabeth Hurley works well with what she has to work with in cardboard villain Veronica Cale, too bad they didn’t use the VC from the comics who has a bit more personality. The Dr. Phil and Nancy Grace cameos are fun too. Even the parts I had heard about like frumpy Diana Prince, old maid and cat lady, were nowhere near as bad as I thought they would be. That actually works.
The stupid that ruins this pilot is in the writing. David E. Kelley is a veteran of legal TV series, with stuff like “Boston Legal,” “L.A. Law,” “The Practice” and the film From the Hip, as well as the aforementioned “Ally McBeal” and “Harry’s Law” under his belt, I am astounded how he can produce a script with so many holes in it when it comes to simple procedure.
Sure, Veronica is a super-villain and an evil drug dealer, but she could have easily had Wonder Woman up as many charges if not more that she herself was arrested for. Wonder Woman violated civil rights, committed slander, and even murdered one or two people. She’d better have some good lawyers, because if there are any other superheroes in this world, they’re coming after her.
It’s even worse because Diana is surrounded by people who are paid to counsel her on such matters, and none of them seem to have any problems with her behavior. For example, you do not call a press conference and call someone a drug dealer with no evidence whatsoever. That’s just one of the stupidities that ruined this for me. I wanted to like it, I really did, but the script made it impossible.
Above, a fan made opening for the pilot, using actual footage and the 1970s theme, from YouTube.