Liz Tells Frank What Happened In NBC’s Unaired “Wonder Woman” Pilot

Dear Frank,

Fan poster by ALilZeker on DeviantArt.

We gather together today to mock the pretty much dead pilot for David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman, but let me be honest with you — I feel a little guilty about doing so. And not because I acquired it from “a friend” (ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies), but because making fun of something that has ultimately failed and will never officially see the light of day feels unfair. Nothing I will say in this post could possibly sting as much as the fact that NBC declined to pick this show up. Except, perhaps, for this observation: GOOD PLAN, NETWORK.

We open on a nice young black man discovering that he’s going to college — and then abruptly collapsing from a whole bleeding-out-his-eyes-and-ears thing. Yikes! And then we get down to business; specifically, Wonder Woman chasing a bad guy down Hollywood Boulevard. Action action action running! The guy is “superhuman,” a news reporter V.O. tells us, but so is Wonder Woman, and she also has a magic lasso to nab him with.

The cops come just as she’s plunged a syringe into Running Guy’s neck to draw some blood, and while she gets pissy about how Running Guy will lawyer up, she lets them take him into custody and then flies off in her flying jet. Like you do. Points so far for Tyra Colette Adrianne Palicki’s portrayal — while a bit pouty, she sure isn’t afraid of pushing the bad-ass angle.

Once Wonder Woman returns to the headquarters of Themyscira Industries (her own personal multi-national organization), we get the full scoop on The Many Lives of Wonder Woman. See, Wonder Woman has a public alter ego known as Diana Themyscira, who is the CEO or something of this corporation. BUT! Because Diana’s really at heart just a regular gal, she has created ANOTHER alter ego, Diana Prince, who lives in an ordinary Los Angeles apartment and is trying to have an ordinary superhero-free life — which she interprets as wearing glasses, watching The Notebook and living alone with a cat.

HOMELY.

For the record, when I first tried to watch this, I got to the part where she started watching The Notebook and I had to stop. Which means I missed how The Notebook triggers a flashback to Diana breaking up with her boyfriend so that she can move to Los Angeles and “do some good.” Blargh.

Diana shows up for work the next morning, and the mom of that kid from the first scene is there! And Diana says she thinks that the guy she was chasing in the second scene of this episode is the same guy who sold the kid drugs? There’s some talk about how “I wish you had killed him” and Diana agreeing with the mom and ooooh very edgy stuff for a show that THREE MINUTES AGO was about a single woman moping over The Notebook with her cat. I’m just saying.

And now it’s time for Diana to give a press conference about how Elizabeth Hurley is a pharmaceutical business lady whose company’s drugs have been killing young sports stars from the ghetto. (And may have been helping Running Guy from the beginning run super-fast.) Sure. Normal stuff to do when you are also a business lady (of all the elements I find confusing about this so far, the fact that Diana is also a business lady is at the top of the list).

She is very good at being evil. She should do it more often.

Elizabeth Hurley, by the way? Looks GREAT and is being SASSY. Way to go, Elizabeth! I liked you in Bedazzled. She calls Diana “an action figure” in her own press conference denying all these pesky accusations, which pisses Diana off — even when her assistant reminds her that not only is Themyscira Industries in the business of manufacturing Wonder Woman action figures, but that the costume Diana wears as Wonder Woman was designed to increase sales of action figures, which would then generate profits. For the good of mankind? Who knows.

Seriously, of all the stupid things about this pilot, Themyscira Industries and its many industries might be the stupidest. It’s making me dislike Cary Elwes and THIS IS A HARD THING TO DO. Maybe Cary Elwes is actually the CEO? He’s certainly in charge of her business interests, which means that he pushes back against Diana in a board meeting when she demands that her action figure be redesigned with smaller boobs. “I never said to merchandise my tits!” she shouts. “Wonder Woman isn’t vulgar,” her faithful assistant reminds her. And then Diana rants about how everyone expects her to be perfect and not human (um, isn’t she SUPERHUMAN?) and storms off.

Seriously, this is a plot point. Or is that points? Oh, yikes. I apologize.

This then leads to a conversation between her and Cary Elwes about her last relationship (because, of course, the fact she’s unhappy is because of a MAN look sorry I try to keep it in as best I can but sometimes it just comes out). Turns out, that flashback from earlier ends with her breaking up with her old boyfriend for bullshit Spider-man reasons (“the people I love will get hurt because of my superheroics — DUMPED!”). And then Elizabeth Hurley shows up at the office! Wow, she’s actually really working the evil charm here. Blah blah blah vague threats and insults that inspire Diana into ACTION!

By this, I mean Diana goes to the hospital to first say hi to the kid who nearly died in the opening scene, then try and speak with the guy she beat up on Hollywood Boulevard. Oh, and hey, remember two paragraphs ago when Diana was complaining about being objectified? Well, the guy she beat up is being guarded by a security guard, and Diana tries to put the MOVES on him. “Do you like my outfit?” she asks. “This outfit opens doors for me.” Let’s just take a step back, admire that. Goddamn how I wish this had been written by a woman. Or at the very least, NOT David E. Kelley.

Feminism!

It’s not the security guard, but a cute LAPD detective who lets Diana into the guy’s room for a quick spot o’ interrogation, though the detective gives her a warning that if anyone interprets her actions as being LAPD-sanctioned, tons of past cases will get overturned. That warning becomes even more apt when Diana fucking tortures the Running Guy for information. Did I mention that Diana Prince’s cat’s name is Sylvester? What a cute name for a cat!

By the way, torture works! Turns out Elizabeth Hurley is making super-soldiers in a warehouse. But before Diana can do something about it, she has to go to dinner with a senator who could potentially screw things up for the company — and is also Elizabeth Hurley’s bitch. Blah blah blah more vague threats and so forth about how Wonder Woman could get in trouble for Wonder Woman-ing. To be fair, she’s already tortured one guy, so I understand his concern.

When she finds out that the nice kid from the beginning has died, she gives up on waiting for a warrant to check out the warehouse, and flies off in her jet to take on the dudes guarding the infirmary where all of Elizabeth Hurley’s really evil shit is hidden. The place is guarded by guys with giant muscles, and while she has very small muscles, she also has superhuman strength, so she pretty easily beats the shit out of them. One guy gets a pipe through the throat and, y’know, dies. I think Diana Prince lives in West Hollywood! Just a normal girl in the big city.

Also easy to beat the shit out of? Elizabeth Hurley! This gives Diana access to the infirmary, where a bunch of mutated folks were looking very very sad until the lady in the shiny bustier showed up. Now Elizabeth Hurley is going to jail. And Wonder Woman gets a standing ovation! Hooray!

Totally normal way to greet the boss. Totally. (To be fair, their boss did just walk in wearing spandex panties.)

But eh oh! There’s a lawyer from the Justice Department there! And it’s Diana’s ex! And she didn’t know that he worked for the Justice Department? Okay. Sure. They get super-flirty and he’s going to be overseeing everything she does going forward oh and he’s also MARRIED. GOOD CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT, THERE. Fun times.

(Wow, imagine if this show had gotten picked up? And we would have had to deal with like half a season of “but you’re maaaaaaaaaaaaarried” and adultery and betrayal and DRAMA? UGH. Humanity was SPARED.)

And then Diana goes home and drinks a glass of wine and sets up her Facebook profile, listing her only friend (because this is an alternate universe Facebook where you just type in the names of your friends instead of searching for their profiles) as her cat.

Nothing attracts the fellas like this, believe me.

And then she watches TV and drinks a beer. HEY, AMAZON, NEVER MIX, NEVER WORRY. And… the end? The end.

Frank, I was never a huge fan of Wonder Woman as a lass — just never connected with the character the same way I connected with other strong female characters. I think the issue was that she seemed a little too perfect; I identified more with ladies who had flaws, like Major Kira or Ivanova or Det. Elisa Maza. However, what David E. Kelley tried to do here, turning her into Ally McBeal with superpowers, was NOT the solution. (Oh, man, if only J.J. Abrams had been available… Well. It would at least be watchable.)

Like I said, we dodged a bullet here. For probably the best filmic treatment of Wonder Woman I’ve ever seen, you might check out the animated Justice League. For Adrianne Palicki being awesome, delve into Friday Night Lights. As for me? Well, I’ll be on my couch, watching TV with my cat. Like us ladies do.

Love,
Liz

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About Liz Shannon Miller

Liz Shannon Miller, based in Los Angeles, is a writer for the screen and the web, her work including G4's Attack of the Show and the tech blog GigaOM. She also co-hosts the podcast Timey Wimey TV, contributes to the video curation site Here's Some Awesome, and tells her friend Frank about stuff at Liz Tells Frank.

Posted on August 30, 2011, in All the Spoilers, TV and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. As much as I love Wonder Woman as a female superhero, I think her concept is extremely hard to make into a legitimate TV series for the modern viewer. It’s probably good riddance that this newer series got nipped in the bud before it could get going. It looked bad in all of the footage I saw, so it probably would have been canceled at some point anyway.

    The older Wonder Woman series with Lynda Carter was successful back in a time where comic book heroes were naturally campy, and so they could get away with cheesy elements and laughable plots. These days, people want “more” from their series. But what exactly is “more” in this case? I don’t know.

  1. Pingback: Liz Tells Frank What Happened In NBC’s Unaired “Wonder Woman” Pilot | nerd puddle

  2. Pingback: Liz Tells Frank What Happened In the “Arrow” Pilot | Liz Tells Frank What Happened In...

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