EPISODE REVIEW: Wonder Woman (unsold pilot, 2011)

Wil Avitt
Wil Avitt's picture

Greetings, everyone! How was your week? Mine was awesome because I lucked into a copy of the failed Wonder Woman pilot rejected by NBC. I can't reveal my source here, but I didn't download it (although I understand it to be widely available via the internet).

A few things before we begin: first of all, the pilot is in an unfinished state. While it is complete and tells a full story, there are shots where wires are still clearly visible, the CGI WW jet looks a bit rough and the long pants of her costume go back and forth from shiny to just regular spandex. Usually when she doing physical stuff they're spandex and when she's just standing around they're shiny. I'm assuming they would have done some digital enhancement to make the "stunt" pants match the "hero" pants. There is also a quick helicopter shot of the street below where there is a direction to "add police cars". I'm not going to hold any of these things against the show because they would have been fixed before it aired, however I did feel it necessary to mention that because of the pilot's unfinished state I don't think we will every see it as a giveaway disc, a special feature or an iTunes release (all of which happened to the WB/CW's failed Aquaman pilot. Because I don't believe we will ever get to see this even semi-officially, I am not going to adhere to my usual "little to no spoilers" rule I usually employ in my movie reviews. Be forewarned HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!

The pilot tells the story of Diana Themyscira, the President of Themyscira Enterprises, who fights crime as a star-spangled avenger called Wonder Woman. Diana's identity as WW is publicly known, however she has yet a third identity as Diana Prince, a normal mid-twenties girl who lives in an apartment. The physical differences between Diana T and WW are merely what clothes she's wearing, however as Diana P she adopts a simple disguise ala Clark Kent by wearing her hair in a pony tail and donning a pair of Sara Palin glasses. The only people who know of Diana T's relationship as Diana P are her personal assistant and Henry Johns (Carey Elwes), CEO of Themyscira Enterprises and Diana T's right-hand man. And neither of them approve of her hiding away as this fictional person, though she sees it as her only way of having a life outside of superheroing and wealthy playgirling.


The show opens with a black teenager from the ghetto running home excited, having receiving a letter from his college of choice. He opens the letter and reads that he'd been accepted and then immediately begins bleeding from the eyes and ears and goes into some sort of fit.

We jump to Wonder Woman, who is chasing down a street thug. Using her golden lasso as a bullwhip (which she does often) she pulls the thug to the ground, hard, and puts him in a Kung-Fu hold. Soon, the police arrive and order WW to turn the punk over to them. She's reluctant because she doesn't want him to just lawyer up, but she relents and not-so-gently turns the punk over (after covertly taking a sample of his blood).

Soon, the mother of the boy from the beginning comes to Themyscira Enterprises to speak with WW about the thug she captured the night before, who was a known drug dealer, and his possible connection to what happened to her son, which we learn was some sort of a drug overdose. Diana T informs the woman that she does believe that he was the pusher who sold her kid the drugs that hospitalized him, but that she believes he was just a pawn and she assured the worried mother that she is planning on going public with who she believes to be the mastermind behind this new drug.

The mastermind is Veronica Cale (Elizabeth Hurley), a wealthy CEO of her own company. It's during this press conference that we learn that there have been other victims of this drug, all of whom are athletically gifted black kids from the ghetto. Wonder Woman vows to bring in Veronica Cale to answer for the poison she has unleashed on the innercity youths.

Wonder Woman goes to the hospital to interrogate the thug she roughed up the night before, and he is less than willing to impart any info. WW informs the thug that if he doesn't spill his beans, she will break his arm. He calls her bluff and the camera cuts to the hospital corridor. The thug's pain-filled scream seems to indicate that WW's bluff was nothing of the sort.

WW soon learns that the kid from the beginning has died, and she decides that Cale's time has come. She storms Cale's stronghold, kicks the crap out of her steroid-induced henchmen, killing at least one of them, battles Cale and sends her off to prison.

The final scenes serve to both wrap up the episode and set up the series. She discovers her ex-boyfriend Steve Trevor, a G-Man, is married and now lives in her city. It is hinted at that she is from Paradise Island and that Steve once crashed there and brought her to "Man's World", but this isn't really developed in the pilot. Obviously, we would have learned a little bit more of WW and her character would have been further developed as the series went on, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.

Oh, I almost forgot: somewhere in there was a rather delightful boardroom scene where WW is unhappy with her current action figure and argues with Carey Elwes about it, finally declaring, "I never authorized you to market my tits!" Great scene, didn't want to leave that out.

My thoughts: the pilot was good. Not great, but definitely had promise. I wish they had gone for the 2 hour pilot instead of just a single episode, mostly for 2 reasons. 1. It would have allowed them more time to really flush out the story and tell a more engaging tale and 2. Even if NBC had still rejected it, I'm sure WB would have been more inclined to package it as a TV movie, like what they did with the failed Lone Ranger pilot way back in 2003. As it is, there isn't much you can do with a 41 minute "movie."

I believe NBC when they say that Wonder Woman just wasn't the right fit for them. It wasn't an NBC show. It seemed taylored for the CW, but also would have fit nicely on the Fox network. It was fairly similar in tone to the Human Target series starring Mark Valley, also based on a DC property. This pilot is still fresh and may yet find new life on another network, if WB chooses to shop it around. Why they don't just stick it on the CW, which they own, I'll never know. As I said, it's a perfect fit for that network and would be a fine replacement for Smallville.

A few words about the costume. I like the long pants. She does wear the traditional WW bathing suit outfit in the climax, but I like the long pants costume she wears through most of the pilot, and which was seen in early press pictures for the show. Like Robin, short pants are a thing of the past and just are functional as a crimefighting outfit. Robin's had long pants since Tim Drake took over, I think it is time for WW to adopt the same.

All in all, I was thoroughly entertained, greatful for having gotten the opportunity to see it, and wish a series was still on the horizon. If you get the opportunity to see it, I highly recommend it. It was a delightful 41 minutes.

Will Conservatives Like This Episode?

It was brought to my attention that I neglected to include this section. My bad. So, will they? Yeah. I found it mostly apolitical. I mean, a big corporate head is the villain, but a big corporate head is the heroine too, so it can't be said it attacks big business. It wasn't especially liberal, which is actually pretty surprising coming from David E. Kelly, who has a history of shoehorning his liberal politics into every show he's done. I'm sure the show would have gotten more liberal as it went along, but the pilot was pretty safe.