Wonder Woman: Pilot

"Trust me, if the law doesn't get you, I will."

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 Hurley'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.

2 out of 5 golden lassos.

Previously posted on Nad's Reviews.

10 comments:

CrazyCris said...

Thanks! I've been curious about the Pilot ever since I heard about it, but never read any details on why it was supposedly so bad!

Pity about Adrienne Palicki, I'd really like to see her get another good role one of these days...

As for WW, want I'd really love to see is Joss Whedon's take on the character! I still can't believe the suits passed on his movie proposal. This is the man who made a blonde cheerleader into a believable slayer of vampires! Wonder Woman would have been perfectly safe in his hands! *sigh*
Can he sneak her into S.H.I.E.L.D. I wonder? :p

Josie Kafka said...

Thanks for reviewing this, Nadim!

It sounds terrible, and not at all what a 21st-century reboot of Wonder Woman should be.

CrazyCris, I like your idea. :-)

Gregzilla said...

As good as that idea is, it's, sadly, not possible. Wonder Woman = DC, while SHIELD is Marvel

J.D. Balthazar said...

I could tell from the first released image that this show was never going to series. From everything I've read, this was an abyssmal pilot that deserved not to get picked up. It is good to hear it wasn't her fault though. I liked her in Supernatural, even though she's only been in two episodes.

CW is currently working on a pilot for a show called Amazon, which is loosely based on Wonder Woman. I imagine it'll be a companion series for Arrow. Here's to hoping that one is a lot better.

Nadim said...

I heard about Amazon and I do hope it's well executed.
And by the way I've always been intrigued by Joss Whedon's take on Wonder Woman and it would have been undoubtedly fantastic. But that was back when film execs didn't take Whedon seriously which is a pity!

J.D. Balthazar said...

This was an interview Joss's did about his vision of Wonder Woman;

“[Wonder Woman] was a little bit like Angelina Jolie [laughs]. She sort of traveled the world. She was very powerful and very na├»ve about people, and the fact that she was a goddess was how I eventually found my in to her humanity and vulnerability, because she would look at us and the way we kill each other and the way we let people starve and the way the world is run and she’d just be like, ‘None of this makes sense to me. I can’t cope with it, I can’t understand, people are insane.’ And ultimately her romance with [classic Wonder Woman love interest Steve Trevor] was about him getting her to see what it’s like not to be a goddess, what it’s like when you are weak, when you do have all these forces controlling you and there’s nothing you can do about it. That was the sort of central concept of the thing. Him teaching her humanity and her saying, OK, great, but we can still do better.”

Sounds like we missed something good.

Nadim said...

Indeed. How sad.

Mark said...

There was another interview much, much later, where Joss mentioned that the WB execs didn't like the script, but couldn't say what they didn't like, and didn't know what they did want.

That partly explains why he liked The Avengers, despite the long and stressful work schedule. Marvel gave him some required points, but then trusted him to fill in the blanks. They gave him the restrictions & the freedom to be creative.

CrazyCris said...

Let's start a movement now to transfer WW from DC to Marvel just so Joss can bring her to S.H.I.E.L.D.!

hey, if a bunch of people could get a semi-serious reply from the White House about building a Death Star... this should be a piece of cake! :p

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of Kelley's legal dramas..mostly Boston Legal but yikes was this bad..Diana is not needy and insecure like Ally McBeal..
Sigh what a lost opportunity. Kelley made fun of it in Harrys Law by having Erica Durance(Smallville's Lois)be a vigilante dressed up as WW and then be arrested for it. He loves his meta that one. Let's hope Amazon is better.
Anna