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In Her Satin Tights, Fighting For Her Rights


 

So, Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights) has been cast in NBC’s Wonder Woman pilot, putting us in an awkward position. Palicki is good casting: not only tall and attractive enough, but also someone who has proven that she can act, on a critically-beloved show yet. It’s hard not to root for such a project, whether you’re an FNL fan, a comics fan or a fan of Palicki in the costume. And then there’s the fact that the show itself is still, last we heard, working from a truly absurd script by David E. Kelley. How can anyone root for that, no matter how good the star is?

Now, there’s no guarantee that if the show makes it to air it’ll still be using that script, or even that producer. Kelley was also hired to write and produce the U.S. remake of Life On Mars and was fired before the show aired. How much this show changes before it airs (if it does) depends on what NBC’s new boss, Robert Greenblatt, wants from the project — which was turned down by everybody before he decided to pick it up at the last minute. Does he want Kelley’s idea of Wonder Woman? Or does Greenblatt just want a Wonder Woman show, because it’s one of the most venerable combinations of guy appeal with girl power? The answer to that question may determine how much the show gets retooled from Kelley’s script.

Wonder Woman is a tough property to adapt, anyway. Maybe she shouldn’t be — on paper she hardly seems more problematic for adaptation than Superman, who is even more ridiculously invincible and requires more complicated special effects — but she is. Joss Whedon’s attempt to do a Wonder Woman feature fell apart, and she’s been absent from the superhero movie revival of the last few years. Warner Brothers could never launch a Wonder Woman animated series to go with their Batman and Superman ones, though the idea was in the planning stages a couple of times. The Lynda Carter version is probably the most successful, and it only made it to air after a completely different pilot (starring Cathy Lee Crosby) was rejected by the network.

Why Wonder Woman is so hard to adapt successfully, I can’t quite say, but I think there’s something about her that doesn’t quite mesh well with the modern era, whatever “modern” happens to be. The best-liked version is the one from the first season of the Carter series, which simply dropped the idea of trying to modernize her and set the show in the time when she was created, the 1940s. Her innocence and occasional cluelessness somehow worked better in a period-piece context, and the need for her to maintain a secret identity — a secret identity non-threatening to men — became clearer. Once they retooled it for CBS and set it in the ’70s, the point of the character seemed lost.

Then you have the various attempts to make her relevant, which usually turn out horribly. My favourite example is how in the late ’60s, DC decided the way to make her appealing to a groovy, hip audience was to have her give up the super powers and the costume, dress in mod fashions, take on a magical Chinese mentor, and fight crime in go-go miniskirts or Emma Peel pantsuits. The decision to strip her of her powers just as women in real life were starting to become more empowered was a famously boneheaded move, the subject of a famous campaign by Gloria Steinem to bring back the powerful Wonder Woman who had inspired little girls. (Yes, the original Wonder Woman also got captured and tied up a lot, but so did the de-powered version.) The TV series’ decision to go back to the original time period may have been a way of throwing up hands, saying that there’s just no way to put this character into a contemporary setting. We’ll see what happens when/if this version finally hits the airwaves. The choice of costume, if nothing else, will be interesting, since there are several different versions to choose from and each choice says something different about the approach to the character — how contemporary she’s supposed to be, how much of a sex object she is, and so on.

Again, I don’t think she’s any more of a problem in this regard than Superman is, except for the costume issues. But writers, particularly writers of adaptations, do seem to have tremendous trouble with her. That’s how you get crazy stuff like the Kelley script.


 
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In Her Satin Tights, Fighting For Her Rights

  1. NBC should speak to Geoff Jones. His run on WW really brought forward the tension between being an a$$kicking warrior and an ambassador of peace. Made for a good read, and Johns knows a thing or two about Hollywood

  2. NBC should speak to Geoff Jones. His run on WW really brought forward the tension between being an a$$kicking warrior and an ambassador of peace. Made for a good read, and Johns knows a thing or two about Hollywood

    • I am unfamiliar with Geoff Jones, but that's not the wonder woman dillemma.

      • Jones was a production assistant to Richard Donner on the Superman Movies and spearheaded the revivial of the Green Lantern books climaxing in the best summer crossover I have read in years, Blackest Night.

        Wonder Woan has numeruous dilemmas, Thwim hits a few in his post below. I didn't mean to suggest that the conflict between her roles as warrior and amabassador was a dilemma, rather an excellent source of dramatic tension for a character or a tv show.

        Also I think it reflects the tension modern woman might relate to, wanting to be a warm and sensitive mother and spouse, while also kicking a$$ and taking names as high-powered doctors and lawyers.

        • P.S. Mike, I'm not saying you should read Blackest Night, I remember you asked not to be given reading lists. (Thought if I could, I would beg you to read BKV's Pride of Baghdad) http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&source=hp&a

          • I thought Pride of Bagdhad was middling (nothing wrong with it, just not fantastic) but Runaway was great and his work on the Buffy s. 8 comics was the only part I liked.

        • OMG how ever will I fulfill TWO gender stereotypes to the satisfaction of the Sci-Fi channel?

  3. Ugh. As a "Friday Night Lights" fan I am happy for Palicki, but David E. Kelley lost it around the 4th season of "Ally McBeal" and has never recovered.

    I could not watch more than 3 minutes of "Boston Legal" without my gag reflex being activated by yet another smug polemic against George W. Bush. And the jerky camera zooms– WTF?

    Kelley is destroying his own legacy (LA Law, Mystery Alaska, Civil Wars, Ally McBeal) with the embarassing crap he has been churning out for the last 10 years.

  4. I am unfamiliar with Geoff Jones, but that's not the wonder woman dillemma.

  5. Ugh. As a "Friday Night Lights" fan I am happy for Palicki, but David E. Kelley lost it around the 4th season of "Ally McBeal" and has never recovered.

    I could not watch more than 3 minutes of "Boston Legal" without my gag reflex being activated by yet another smug polemic against George W. Bush. And the jerky camera zooms– WTF?

    Kelley is destroying his own legacy (LA Law, Mystery Alaska, Civil Wars, Ally McBeal) with the embarassing crap he has been churning out for the last 10 years.

  6. Am I the only one who just isn't a big fan of Palicki? I love FNL, but never cared for her. Perhaps it was just her whole plot line in season 2 that I can't get over.

    I though that the first season or two of Boston Legal weren't bad. I felt it got a lot more preachy after that. That an Bill Shatner became a complete cartoon.

  7. Part of the problem with Wonder Woman is when you consider her "powers", as most people know them.

    1. Invisible plane — Maybe when overseas transportation was difficult this was a cool thing. These days it seems ridiculous. If I remember right, it didn't even have weaponry on it. So in that case, why not fly business class instead.. all of the advantages, none of the problems with navigating air-space traffic, finding landing areas not occupied, looking bloody ridiculous as you fly within it, and of course, forgetting where you parked the damn thing.

    2. Bullet reflecting bracelets. Okay. These could be handy.. so long as you're only facing one or two guys at a time and they don't have automatic weapons. But it's purely defensive, and what's more, it's a little hard to be kicking ass if you can't use your arms because they're busy blocking incoming gunfire.

    3. Lasso of truth. Great in theory. Death for a TV show. This is one of those things that's either too effective or not at all.. unless you constantly have villains with hugely intricate plots and they lie to their underlings. Otherwise, one lasso kind of blows any hope of rising tension as to the villain's plans. Either that or the guy doesn't know anything of value, making it practically worthless.

    4. Super-melee combat ability. See the thing about automatic weapons.

    Putting it simply, technology has advanced beyond Wonder Woman.

    Does that means it's impossible? Nah.. but any writer is either going to have to make some signficant changes to the powers, or significantly restrict the scope of her enemies.

  8. Part of the problem with Wonder Woman is when you consider her "powers", as most people know them.

    1. Invisible plane — Maybe when overseas transportation was difficult this was a cool thing. These days it seems ridiculous. If I remember right, it didn't even have weaponry on it. So in that case, why not fly business class instead.. all of the advantages, none of the problems with navigating air-space traffic, finding landing areas not occupied, looking bloody ridiculous as you fly within it, and of course, forgetting where you parked the damn thing.

    2. Bullet reflecting bracelets. Okay. These could be handy.. so long as you're only facing one or two guys at a time and they don't have automatic weapons. But it's purely defensive, and what's more, it's a little hard to be kicking ass if you can't use your arms because they're busy blocking incoming gunfire.

    3. Lasso of truth. Great in theory. Death for a TV show. This is one of those things that's either too effective or not at all.. unless you constantly have villains with hugely intricate plots and they lie to their underlings. Otherwise, one lasso kind of blows any hope of rising tension as to the villain's plans. Either that or the guy doesn't know anything of value, making it practically worthless.

    4. Super-melee combat ability. See the thing about automatic weapons.

    Putting it simply, technology has advanced beyond Wonder Woman.

    Does that means it's impossible? Nah.. but any writer is either going to have to make some signficant changes to the powers, or significantly restrict the scope of her enemies.

    • Bullet deflecting bracelets would be useless, bullet reflecting bracelets would be fraking effective.

  9. Jones was a production assistant to Richard Donner on the Superman Movies and spearheaded the revivial of the Green Lantern books climaxing in the best summer crossover I have read in years, Blackest Night.

    Wonder Woan has numeruous dilemmas, Thwim hits a few in his post below. I didn't mean to suggest that the conflict between her roles as warrior and amabassador was a dilemma, rather an excellent source of dramatic tension for a character or a tv show.

    Also I think it reflects the tension modern woman might relate to, wanting to be a warm and sensitive mother and spouse, while also kicking a$$ and taking names as high-powered doctors and lawyers.

  10. P.S. Mike, I'm not saying you should read Blackest Night, I remember you asked not to be given reading lists. (Thought if I could, I would beg you to read BKV's Pride of Baghdad) http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&source=hp&a

  11. Bullet deflecting bracelets would be useless, bullet reflecting bracelets would be fraking effective.

  12. I thought Pride of Bagdhad was middling (nothing wrong with it, just not fantastic) but Runaway was great and his work on the Buffy s. 8 comics was the only part I liked.

  13. One of the secrets of the Superman and Batman franchises was that they took the trouble to describe the creation myth of each in some detail. If they do that with Wonderwoman it sets the character. She would have to be a little clueless about the ways of the world, she might enjoy men for sex (or might not) but wouldn't be particularly interested in a relationship. Also at all times and in all eras the invisible plane was lame. However, young men are able to overlook a lot of details where cleavage is involved.

  14. One of the secrets of the Superman and Batman franchises was that they took the trouble to describe the creation myth of each in some detail. If they do that with Wonderwoman it sets the character. She would have to be a little clueless about the ways of the world, she might enjoy men for sex (or might not) but wouldn't be particularly interested in a relationship. Also at all times and in all eras the invisible plane was lame. However, young men are able to overlook a lot of details where cleavage is involved.

  15. OMG how ever will I fulfill TWO gender stereotypes to the satisfaction of the Sci-Fi channel?

  16. Fair enough, Tyra wasn't my favourite character either. I'm just happy to see anyone associated with the cruelly underwatched, underappreciated and under-awarded Friday Night Lights get a break.

  17. Fair enough, Tyra wasn't my favourite character either. I'm just happy to see anyone associated with the cruelly underwatched, underappreciated and under-awarded Friday Night Lights get a break.

  18. Tights are the in thing this year for women. How about bullet reflecting tights

  19. Tights are the in thing this year for women. How about bullet reflecting tights

  20. If this new Wonder Woman is as ridiculous as the previous one, then it will be great fun. If it tries to “Dark Knight” itself, then they have some serious work to do to make it…uh, work.

  21. If this new Wonder Woman is as ridiculous as the previous one, then it will be great fun. If it tries to “Dark Knight” itself, then they have some serious work to do to make it…uh, work.

  22. Winder Woman may have missed the latest live-action comic book film craze, but Warner Bros put out a great animated WW movie in 2009, even if it never turned into a series.

  23. Winder Woman may have missed the latest live-action comic book film craze, but Warner Bros put out a great animated WW movie in 2009, even if it never turned into a series.

  24. "WOnder"

  25. "WOnder"

  26. Why must the wheel be so thoroughly here? Why can't the pilot and subsequent episodes (either TV or big screen) simply state the original case and let the viewer watch? Seems like William Marson came up with a fairly compelling story back 60 some odd years ago. Technology Scmecknology. Zena showed you can do a period piece and never confuse good and evil. I believe one could roll WW out even a shade or two "darker" than Zena, maybe lose some of the self-aware cheekiness, and turn out an entertaining show. As for the costume, this is Hollywood for god's sake- reality can and should be suspended and anything is possible, including martial arts action in a strapless one piece. As for technology, the bottom line is WW is nearly as powerful as Superman, end of story. As for plot twists, I go back to Zena as an example of not having to literally save the world with the franchise. Just use the opportunity to explain WW's origin and demi-god pedigree, show what went on on paradise island, allow Steve Trevor to crash the plane, and allow Wonder Woman to fight villains without having to replace Oprah as the world's most influential woman.

  27. Why must the wheel be so thoroughly here? Why can't the pilot and subsequent episodes (either TV or big screen) simply state the original case and let the viewer watch? Seems like William Marson came up with a fairly compelling story back 60 some odd years ago. Technology Scmecknology. Zena showed you can do a period piece and never confuse good and evil. I believe one could roll WW out even a shade or two "darker" than Zena, maybe lose some of the self-aware cheekiness, and turn out an entertaining show. As for the costume, this is Hollywood for god's sake- reality can and should be suspended and anything is possible, including martial arts action in a strapless one piece. As for technology, the bottom line is WW is nearly as powerful as Superman, end of story. As for plot twists, I go back to Zena as an example of not having to literally save the world with the franchise. Just use the opportunity to explain WW's origin and demi-god pedigree, show what went on on paradise island, allow Steve Trevor to crash the plane, and allow Wonder Woman to fight villains without having to replace Oprah as the world's most influential woman.

  28. I think the Wonder Woman mythology is just too complicated. Say what you want about Superman, he's easy to understand. He's from another planet and because of that he has superpowers here. Everyone knows at least that much. I'm a comic geek and I still don't understand Wonder Woman's canonical origin. Whatever it is, it seems to involve too many buys, to the point where you lose track of what it's supposed to be. (I predict Green Lantern will have a similar problem.) So you get all these retooled versions that try to simplify it, but in retooling you lose whatever the character is and are left with basically a name and a costume. That's why Kelley's version seems to have nothing to do with Wonder Woman.

  29. I think the Wonder Woman mythology is just too complicated. Say what you want about Superman, he's easy to understand. He's from another planet and because of that he has superpowers here. Everyone knows at least that much. I'm a comic geek and I still don't understand Wonder Woman's canonical origin. Whatever it is, it seems to involve too many buys, to the point where you lose track of what it's supposed to be. (I predict Green Lantern will have a similar problem.) So you get all these retooled versions that try to simplify it, but in retooling you lose whatever the character is and are left with basically a name and a costume. That's why Kelley's version seems to have nothing to do with Wonder Woman.

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