Seeing as how I’m a huge fan of superhero projects (both in film and television), I decided that NBC’s 2011 Wonder Woman pilot would be an interesting production to watch and review. The episode itself actually never saw the light of day (you can download an unfinished version online), and with good reason, it’s pretty darn awful.
Brought to life by David E.Kelley, the man responsible for a ton of influential TV shows over the past two decades, Wonder Woman is an unmitigated disaster on practically every level. Now I don’t know much about the character’s history (she never struck me as a particularly intriguing superhero as opposed to Batman, or Elektra if we’re talking superheroines), but I’m sure those who originally brought her to life would not be happy with this incarnation. This pilot tries to position itself as a feminist venture, but it’s ironically quite exploitative and 1950s-esque as it depicts Wonder Woman as a lovesick vigilante in a super cleavage-y outfit. The fact that our heroine cries over The Notebook and the pilot ends with her sitting on her couch watching TV and heartbroken, speaks volumes over how pathetic Kelley’s take on the character actually is. It’s insulting to women and I doubt that’s the message Kelley should have been going for while tackling one of the most famous superheroines of all time. Moreover, the dialogue is horrid and the little tidbits of political intrigue (the justice department is not happy with Wonder Woman’s tactics) fail to make much of an impact in just one episode.
A lot of the pilot’s cheesiness stems from Wonder Woman’s (or should I say Diana’s) cringe-worthy jet which she uses to fly around LA, and of course her hooker costume. The outfit is beyond embarrassing and I literally couldn’t keep a straight face every time it made an appearance. It’s just impossible to take the show seriously when Diana’s running around in red and blue leather with her ginormous bosom hanging out. It’s beyond laughable and while the script tries to poke fun at Wonder Woman’s look (via the action figure scene), it all comes off as forced and stupid.
The pilot’s only successful elements are the action (there’s a well-produced fight where Wonder Woman uses her lasso against Cale’s army of super-soldiers) and Adrianne Palicki whose reputation exits the pilot pretty much unfazed. Palicki does a great job with the atrocious material she’s given and still manages to make Diana somewhat likable considering she has three identities in the pilot, and does a whole lot of heinous stuff (like impale one of her opponents with a pipe straight through the neck). If anything, I would have liked to see Palicki further grow into the role as it probably could have been a star-making turn for her had it been better executed.
I almost forgot to mention Elizabeth Hurly’s turn as the villainous Veronica Cale. I don’t know if she was supposed to be the season’s big bad or just a one-shot guest star but she’s pretty useless. Hurley’s obviously vamping it up and she looks downright gorgeous, but she doesn’t really do anything besides threaten Diana and get beat up. Diana’s assistant and CEO fare a bit better but they don’t leave much of an impression. The less said about her love interest who returns at the end (and married no less) the better.
While I wasn’t exactly bored, the Wonder Woman pilot is still an embarrassing attempt at bringing the iconic character to life. Here’s hoping a movie will rectify the heroine’s legacy at some point in the future.