I Wonder

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In the post- Xena: Warrior Princess (1995) and Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997) TV age, how hard can it be to create an entertaining Wonder Woman TV show?

I am not a screenwriter or (perhaps more importantly) a TV producer so can’t offer any real practical strategies. I’m also not a big Wonder Woman fan so I lack the deep content knowledge of the character’s different generations. However, I am a child of the 70’s. I watched – with a nation of other maturing 12 year old boys — Lynda Carter twirl out of her conservative ankle-length skirts and pant suits into star spangled short shorts and a bustier. 

More recently, I’ve seen Wonder Woman as a part of the Justice League cartoons. I haven’t watched the direct-to-DVD movie yet but IGN gave the movie a good review.

But of course my deficiencies don’t stop me from thinking I could do it better.

After reading about David E. Kelley’s plans for Wonder Woman on Airlock Alpha, I was glad NBC turned him down. Don’t get me wrong. I like David E. Kelley. Netflix is streaming episodes of Ally McBeal right now. Watching that first episode reminded me how insightful his writing can be.

As Vonda Shepard sings, “There’s a photo I’ve been looking for… It’s a picture of the boy next door…” Calista Flockhart begins her monologue: “I’m not sure how it all started. (Frustrated sigh) It’s because I smelled his bottom. It wasn’t that stupid! We saw dogs do it! – That’s how they knew for sure so…”

I like the idea of a “Wonder Woman in love” (see DH Lawrence) but the description of Kelley’s script sounded overly – and unnecessarily – “complicated.” I think David E. Kelley expresses the trials and tribulations of love (and not so much in love) relationships well but it doesn’t sound like he has any experience in the superhero realm (even as a fan).

Joss Whedon on the other hand is very familiar with the superhero genre. I think that if things hadn’t soured between him and Warner Brothers, I would be writing about what a great follow up to Buffy, Joss’s new WB Wonder Woman TV show is. Like David E. Kelley, Joss Whedon expresses relationships well within the challenges of an ongoing TV series. But it wasn’t just the Buffy-Angel dynamic that made the show fun to watch. It was also the right amount of witty banter and the thoughtful development of supporting characters.

If you are interested in reliving the Vampire Slayer heyday or watching the banter firsthand, both Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel TV series are also streaming on Netflix.

IGN offers some helpful advice on creating a successful Wonder Woman TV series. I agree with their plea to not  Smallville-ify a Wonder Woman show but would augment their suggestion with that doesn’t mean Wonder Woman can’t be a teenager with issues of identity and social awkwardness.

From what I read about her portrayal in the Justice League cartoon series and the clips I found on YouTube, it is her struggle to fit in as the only woman in an all boys club and as someone who grew up in a “foreign” land wanting to assimilate into her “new country” (while still retaining the “customs” of her homeland) that make her interesting and watchable.

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