I managed to get a hold of the David E. Kelley-written, NBC-ordered-and-then-cast-aside-in-shame Wonder Woman pilot over the holiday weekend. After I watched it, I became horribly ill. Was the Wonder Woman pilot to blame? Yes. Absolutely it was. There is no doubt in my mind that Wonder Woman was so terrible it attacked my auto-immune system, and caused flu-like symptoms that I'm experiencing even now.
Many of you have had questions about the pilot. You've asked these questions so frequently, in fact, that I felt I needed to do something about it. Something special. I've been compelled to break out something I only rarely feel up to doing — an Official Topless Robot FAQ. This is, I believe, everything you need to know about the Wonder Woman TV show pilot. Hope it helps!
What's Wonder Woman's origin in the series?
It appears to be that she's an Amazon who has come to the world of men and is using her powers to make a difference. She says as much to Steve Trevor at one point, and someone else makes a mention that she's not actually human later, alluding to her "made-of-clay" origin. Also, there's a ton of ancient Greek shit all over Themyscira Industries, in case you forget that she's technically an Amazon. But other than that, nothing is specifically stated. It's a bit awkward.
What's been carried over from the comics?
Not much. She has her bullet-deflecting bracelets. She has her lasso, which a newscaster calls her "Lasso of Truth," but she doesn't make anyone tell the truth with it. She has a tiny jet that she uses to fly around a little bit, but it's not invisible. Steve Trevor is the guy she's left to go be Wonder Woman in Los Angeles, who shows back up at the end of the episode to be a long-running "will they ever get together?" love interest.
Does she really have three Wonder Woman outfits?
Yes, but there's no particular reason for them. They don't do anything different. No one talks about the differences. She just has three different outfits. It should be noted she does do the final fight scene in the bikini bottom outfit, though.
Does she really play three roles — Wonder Woman, Diane Themyscira, and Diana Prince?
Yes and no. See, the world knows that Diana Themyscira, CEO of Themyscira Industries, is Wonder Woman. There's no secret identity there whatsoever. Diana Prince, as far as I can tell, is not actually Diana Themyscira's fictional assistant, but is actually just a fake name Diana uses to rent a mediocre apartment "so she can live like a normal person" with a cat and watch chick flicks and eat ice cream at night.
Ugh. Sounds like David E. Kelley at his worst.
Actually, I refuse to believe David E. Kelley actually had any part in this. I've actually liked David E. Kelley shows before. I enjoyed much of Boston Legal and when my wife made me watch some Ally McBeal, I thought it was pretty good too. David Kelley shows may be insanely liberal, but they're rarely dumb, and at the very least, there's usually some wonderfully clever dialogue. Wonder Woman has neither intelligence nor wit.
So what's the plot of the pilot?
Veronica Cale is somehow selling evil performance-enhancing drugs which sometimes turns people into horrible mutants, and sometimes makes them bleed from their eyeballs and then makes their heart explode. Presumably it also works just fine, sometimes, too, because otherwise no one would take it. Oh, also Cale is selling these drugs to "poor kids" "in the ghetto" just in case you weren't 100% sure she was evil. Wonder Woman is determined to stop this evilness.
How does she do this?
Well, first she chases down the bald-headed thug from this picture, who both sells the drugs and takes the drugs, as evidenced by the fact he can run through the streets of L.A. at a speed Wonder Woman has trouble matching. Eventually she uses her lasso, catches him, takes some of his blood, and passes him off to the cops.
What? His blood?
Yeah, apparently, Wonder Woman needs proof that Cale's drugs are doing all this evilness, and this thug's blood should do it.
Wait, so how does Wonder Woman know Cale's drugs are evil in the first place if she has no proof?
That's an excellent question that's never addressed. Even though in the very next scene, WONDER WOMAN HOLDS A PRESS CONFERENCE TO SAY THAT VERONICA CALE AND HER DRUGS ARE EVIL EVEN THOUGH SHE HAS NO PROOF.
Man, I don't even know. Apparently Themyscira Industries has all this crime-fighting and lab equipment, and they're actually checking the blood of the dude Wonder Woman caught. But instead of waiting for the results, Wonder Woman has a full-on press conference just to say she knows Cale is evil, and she'll get the proof later.
Is... is this one of those "Wonder Woman does not know the ways of men"-type thing?
No. No one points out that holding a press conference to declare someone evil, without any proof whtsoever— especially when proof is theoretically coming in a few hours — is tremendously stupid.
The best part is that when the blood tests come back later, the thug's blood is clean! No Cale drugs! Although how he was running so damn fast is never explained and totally ignored.
Hey. Wait a second. So Wonder Woman "has come to the world of men and is using her powers to make a difference"?
And she has a major corporation bankrolling her crime-fighting endeavors?
That's just Superman combined with Batman.
How is any of this unique to Wonder Woman?
Well, she has breasts. Superman and Batman don't.
Oh, Christ. Well, speaking of breasts, is that scenes where she talks about her action figure's breasts actually in the pilot?
Yes it is. There are three things to note: 1) Apparently, the Wonder Woman dolls make up most of Themyscira Industries' sales, and thus they specifically fund all WW's crime-fighting activities. This is really weird. 2) The dolls do, in fact, have hilariously large tits. 3) Wonder Woman actually yells "TITS" at the end of the scene when she's arguing that they're too big. It's also really, really weird.
Oh my god. Please tell me she at least kicks ass at some point.
That she does. After the chase scene — which is just running about, admittedly — she goes to the hospital where the thug is, asks the policeman guarding the thug to give her five minutes with the thug, the cop points out this is ridiculously illegal, decides to let her anyways, and then Wonder Woman tortures the shit out of the dude to get the location of Elizabeth's secret base.
Now, this is technically what Batman does all the time, and everyone is cool with; plus, there's certainly a precedent for WW to be a hard-nosed ass-kicker in the comics. But nothing in the show prepares you for this. Up to this point, new TV Wonder Woman is totally a modern version of the '70s TV Wonder Woman, silly outfit, cracking a few jokes, a bit of comedy with doll breasts — and then you hear the thug screaming in total anguish while the cop just twiddles his fingers outside.
Doesn't... doesn't Batman generally only do the torture thing when there's like a bomb or something, and people are going to die in a very brief matter of time?
Indeed. Cale's evil drugs aren't really going anywhere; Wonder Woman's just pissed. And the cop just let's her do it, because... he's fine with it, I guess.
Actually, you have no idea. So WW tortures the warehouse location of Cale's secret base — which contains some of the folks who took the drugs and became freaks, who will prove that Cale's drugs are bad (Cale kept the mutants on hand for sentimental reasons, I guess) — out of the thug, and tells the cop. The cop very specifically tells Wonder Woman she can't go into warehouse location without a warrant, because then they won't be able to legally prosecute. I don't what's more ridiculous — that this comes immediately after WW tortures a dude for info — or that Wonder Woman actually decides to suddenly play by the U.S. legal system.
But it gets better! Because later, while Wonder Woman is angrily flying around in her tiny jet, the cop calls her and tells her if she breaks into Cale's warehouse, it'll be a crime scene, and then they won't need a warrant! Go for it, WW!
HOLY SHIT THAT'S DUMB.
I know! The place will be a crime scene because Wonder Woman broke in, thus making her the criminal. The problem with this plan occurs to neither the cop, nor Wonder Woman. Even more astoundingly, even if somehow this plan was tenable, why didn't they just do it as soon as had the location? No one bothers to ask.
I need a drink.
Well, get one now, because the big fight scene is about to start. It's between Wonder Woman and about a dozen roided-up male bodybuilders, because that's who Wonder Woman fights in Basic Wonder Woman Symbology 101. That aside, the fight scene is actually pretty fun, and there's a nice but subtle amount of crane-work and WW actually kicks some decent ass. And then she throws a metal pipe through someone's throat.
Yeah. She straight-up murders a dude. In a warehouse that, the show has gone out of its way to present, Wonder Woman is illegally breaking into. The dude is presumably a paid employee of Cale's pharmaceuticals company, and Wonder Woman breaks in, kills him in cold blood, beats up everybody else, but somehow because the cops find the mutants when they show up to pick up the pieces, Cale is arrested and Wonder Woman walks away scot-free.
Now, I understand this is more or less what Batman does all the time, but there are a few important differences. First, Batman comics don't go out of there way to keep bringing up the legality — and, more importantly, the illegality — of Batman's actions. Batman mostly stops crimes in progress, and leaves criminals with their evidence so the police can pick it up and prosecute. What Batman does not do is go up to Commissioner Gordon and ask if he can have a warrant to enter the abandoned fun house to fight the Joker, or sulk when Gordon says no.
Look, I know no superhero makes sense with the legal system, but that's why people don't bring it up. You ignore it, because they can't possibly exist side-by-side. But instead, Wonder Woman brings it up constantly, and brings it up wrong — so wrong anyone who's ever caught an episode of Law & Order would say, "What the fuck?!" In fact, Veronica Cale's last words to Wonder Woman, right after the breaking and entering and murder thing, are "You're about to face your toughest foe — the American legal system!" But then Cale is arrested and Wonder Woman walks off a hero. Somehow. It's just rubbing our faces in the nonsense. This, by the way is another reason I refuse to believe Kelley had anything to do with this, because the man wrote lawyer shows for a damned decade — there's no way he didn't know how insanely stupid this was.
Also, and I can't stress this enough, Batman doesn't kill people. Again, I know we can look to the Max Lord-head snappin' Wonder Woman for a comics precedent, but you can't have WW kill people — let alone unarmed, legitimate employees — and still have her work alongside the Los Angeles police! That's insane. And more importantly, there is absolutely nothing in this TV show that indicates that this Wonder Woman can and will torture and kill folks to "save the day." It's incredibly disconcerting.
Is there anything good about the Wonder Woman pilot?
Adrianne Palicki. People might not have liked the way WW was portrayed, but Palicki did the best job she could with it. She was tough, funny, charming, and appropriately badass, all when she needed to be. As a successor to Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman, I'd say she filled the corset admirably.
Oh! And they made Wonder Woman look tall. She stands over everybody in every scene. It's a nice touch.
Anything else to add?
Yes. Right before the warehouse fight, they do one of those "putting on the outfit" montages. The outfit, particularly the tiara, look like a crappy Halloween costume. Seriously, the star on the tiara looks painted on, and not very well at that. The Cape's outfit had better production values. It's insane.
Sigh. Can you sum up the Wonder Woman pilot in one word?
Yes I can: Lazy. It was tremendously lazy writing, and I'm not just talking about the insane shit like the press conference to announce she had no proof. Want to make sure the audience knows Veronica Cale is evil? Have her sell her drugs to a young, bright-eyed high school football star from a noble, improved black family in the ghetto, with a single mother and lots of sister, and have his eyeballs bleed the moment he gets his college acceptance letter with the whole family excited because he's obviously the first person in the family to go. Want to make sure the audience knows Wonder Woman is good? Have all the employees of Themyscira Industries waiting for her when she returns from her assault on Cale's warehouse so they can applaud her — even though it's probably midnight and no employee would ever stay that late to make the CEO feel good about herself and never mind the fact that illegally broke into a building a murdered a man who was technically doing his job. Want to make sure the audience knows Wonder Woman is lonely and tortured? Have the show end with her updating her Diana Prince Facebook page, and LISTING HER CAT AND ONLY HER CAT UNDER THE FRIENDS SECTION.
Will we ever get a live-action Wonder Woman that isn't totally awful?
One can only wonder.
This post originally appeared on the site Topless Robot. Republished with permission.