TV That Never Was – Wonder Woman (2011)

DC Comics have what they call the Trinity. The Big Three. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Even today it’s arguable that the best version of Superman was the 1978 Christopher Reeves starring movie, the best version of Batman according to The Analyst is Adam West from 1966, and up until last years Batman v Superman the only version of Wonder Woman was Linda Carter’s campy 1970s show.

That wasn’t the start of Wonder Woman’s TV story however. In 1967 a short five minute film called “Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince?” was commissioned by William Dozer, the producer of Batman ’66, as a possible tie in or spin off to that show. Needless to say it didn’t get off the ground but it’s very interesting to wonder just what might have been…

Wonder Woman first actual small screen appearance was in 1974 TV movie on ABC where she was played by Cathy Lee Crosby. This version is pretty much Wonder Woman in name only. British readers who fondly remember Mrs Peel, played by Diana Rigg, might however notice something as this Wonder Woman was designed and played as a Mrs Peel clone. Only instead of sexy leather catsuits this version had a tracksuit. The network admitted that the choice to try and update the character from her roots was a bit of a mistake so the next year they decided to go back to basics.

Cathy Lee Crosby as Wonder Woman. You’ve got to love that flannel tracksuit…

1975 saw the first series of the Wonder Woman TV Series. Set during World War 2 the show saw Wonder Woman, assisted by Steve Trevor (played by Lyle Waggoner) fighting Nazi spies and the like and was a hell of a lot of kitschy fun. It also has one of the best theme tunes to any show ever. One that you’ll be humming all day long if you were to look it up…

Series 1 was 13 episodes long, plus a 90 minute pilot, and was an instant smash ratings wise. However it was also a very expensive show to film so ABC decided to pull the plug. CBS quickly stepped in and saved the show producing two more seasons. It’s a bit like how, in America, Supergirl moved from CBS to the CW.

Linda Carter’s iconic take on Wonder Woman

Series 2 and 3, however, saw an almost instant drop in quality. One problem was that hiring all those 1940s cars and costumes was really expensive so they just updated it to the present day and poor old Lyle Waggoner went from playing Steve Trevor to playing Steve Trevor Jr…

Then come 1978 Wonder Woman was in the wilderness outside of comics and cartoons. It was a place she’d stay there for pretty much the next 40odd years…

Fast forward to 2010 and rumours surfaced that Warner Brothers were working on a new Wonder Woman pilot. They were quickly confirmed as was the news that David E Kelley would be the man writing the script. He was the guy behind LA Law, Ally McBeal, Chicago Hope, Boston Legal, and many more shows. He also was the first guy to manage to get characters from his different shows, on different networks, to crossover.

Adrianne Palicki was cast as Wonder Woman (she’s now best known as Agent Bobby Morse or Agents of SHIELD) and that Liz Hurley would be playing the pilots villain. based on the people involved it should have been a sure fire hit. Then we got our first look at the costume… Hmm… Okay. It wasn’t great as you can see for yourself below.

Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman

Next we got a plot synopsis. Apparently this would see Palicki play Diana Themiscara, CEO of a major make up company, Wonder Woman, and her own body guard… Hmm… Okay. Bit of a departure from the source material here. It was originally scheduled to air in late 2011 but the screenings to advance audience went down so badly it was never aired. A few scenes were put out to try and build up a buzz but they were BAD. Really, truly, shockingly bad. One scene saw Wonder Woman utter her infamous catchphrase “I never said to merchandise my tits!” That’s not a joke either. That line was in there.

NBC passed on the pilot, as did every other network in America, and then the world collectively decided to pretend that the whole thing never happened. The pilot has leaked and is used in certain parts of the world as a form of sensory torture.

TV Networks do have a habit of leaking pilots to try and build up a buzz for a show that a lot of people are on the fence over. Both Supergirl and The Flash had their pilots leaked 6 months before their air dates and both were really strong shows and the leaks encouraged fan buzz.

With this version of Wonder Woman all the leak did was make fans realise how close to disaster they came. It also mind blowing that several million dollars were spent making this. Money that was ultimately wasted and it really does make you wonder did anyone at the network read the script first?

Wonder Woman’s next live action outing was in 2016 played by Gal Gadot where she was the best thing about Batman v Superman. That version of the character also has an upcoming prequel to be set in World War I so we shall see if that’s any good. The costume, whilst looking right, was definitely missing something. Namely those iconic bright colours…

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman

So far only one live action take on Wonder Woman has gotten the costume anywhere near right. Take a look at the picture below of actress Kimberly Kane. She certainly looks the part doesn’t she? It’s incredibly depressing to think that it’s taken from a porn parody… Come on DC. You’ve got one of the strongest female characters in comics. Is it really to much to ask that you give her some live action justice?

Adult Actress Kimberly Kane as Wonder Woman. If the costume designers of a porn parody, on a minuscule budget, can get it right why can’t the studios and the networks? The mind boggles.