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A 'Wonder Woman' Show? Sure! Just Maybe Not David E. Kelley's

by Chris Harnick, posted Jan 25th 2011 4:00PM
Wonder WomanThe world needs 'Wonder Woman.' Don't get me wrong -- there are plenty of butt-kicking women as part of ensemble casts and in legal and police dramas. But the TV landscape needs a star-spangled, bullet-deflecting warrior both to inspire viewers and create a rich fantasy world -- the best kind of TV show.

Do we need NBC and David E. Kelley's 'Wonder Woman,' though? Probably not.

As a big W.W. fan -- dating back to an obsession with the FX reruns of the Lynda Carter series and keeping current with the comic books -- a new show was a thrilling/terrifying idea. Then, I read Deadline Hollywood's description:

"[A] reinvention of the iconic DC comic in which Wonder Woman -- aka Diana Prince -- is a vigilante crime fighter in L.A. but also a successful corporate executive and a modern woman trying to balance all of the elements of her extraordinary life."

After my mind shut down in shock for the entire weekend, I've collected my thoughts and present them below.

The character has had many failed movie attempts, the latest with Joss Whedon at the helm. It was looking like Wondy wouldn't be gracing any screens soon, and there are a few reasons why.

First, she's a character with a lot of back story, one that's been written and rewritten numerous times. That leads many -- both viewers and writers -- to be afraid of playing with the character. The current comic story has rebooted Wonder Woman and made her a street-tough, no-nonsense, leather-clad hero. That's not the Wonder Woman mainstream audiences know.

Audiences are typically lukewarm toward female-driven action flicks / TV shows ... unless there's a huge name attached. Even that doesn't always work -- look at 'Salt.' 'Nikita' has been doing well for the CW, but that's by CW standards. Two million viewers won't cut it for a big-budget 'Wonder Woman' on NBC, especially with the hefty character-licensing fees.

A few weeks ago it looked like Kelley's project was stalled, which let fanboys and girls breathe a sigh of relief. The old 1970s series worked because of its campiness, and Kelley's TV sensibilities -- including but not limited to putting a quirky female into absurd situations and surrounding the lead with over-the-top scene-eating characters -- don't align well with the Wonder Woman fans have come to know and love, even if she's the 'All-New Wonder Woman' of the current comic stories.

Another problem: Neither Wonder Woman nor Diana Prince would be a corporate executive. Having a secret identity was almost always an after-thought for W.W. In almost all of her incarnations, her mission has been to bring peace to the outside world. A better idea: She could be the head of a nonprofit organization to help women.

Finally, there was no mention of anything Amazon in the breakdown. Wonder Woman has to have the Amazonian connection. Her abilities come from the Greek gods! Kelley brings a certain amount of quirk to each project he does, but putting Diana Prince into kitschy board meetings after a night of busting crime rings? No thanks.

A few tweaks that would make a "reinvented" Wonder Woman show work:

• Involve an origin story. Don't talk down to the current fans, but make the show accessible to the casual viewer.

• Set it at an embassy for the Amazon island of Themyscira, not some corporation. Viewers get political drama and funny/weird culture clashes. Best of both worlds! Think Greg Rucka's run on the comic series -- it had action and political intrigue.

• Don't overplay the romance. Wonder Woman is much more than a character in love with "Man's World" and Steve Trevor. Much, much, much more.

• Have Lynda Carter involved. It'll be a way to bridge the gap between the cult classic and the new show. She'd be ideal as Hippolyta, Diana's mother.

• Don't make Wonder Woman rely on a man to save her. Let her get into her own dangerous messes and let her get out of them on her own, using her wits and strength. Let her be the strong woman and role model TV needs.

However, Kelley's 'Wonder Woman' could surprise us and my whole rant can be rendered null. Here's hoping.

Tell us: Are you looking forward to the potential new 'Wonder Woman' series?

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Michael Lucas

I grew up watching wonder woman I can't wait to see this.

March 20 2011 at 11:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I totally agree with your article. They should just do a modern day Wonder Woman, but keep it as similar as possible to the 1970's tv show with Lynda Carter. Why would Wonder Woman be a corporate executive? Put her in the CIA, or the FBI, or she could even be a cop, or a private detective.

January 26 2011 at 11:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I want to see Wonder Woman. Then I can decide if I like it.

January 25 2011 at 10:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ana Regina Souza

If anyone other than Nadia Björlin or Tanit Phoenix is cast as Wonder Woman then I'm not interested.

January 25 2011 at 7:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Raffy Arcega

Chris wrote: Then, I read Deadline Hollywood's description:

"[A] reinvention of the iconic DC comic in which Wonder Woman -- aka Diana Prince -- is a vigilante crime fighter in L.A. but also a successful corporate executive and a modern woman trying to balance all of the elements of her extraordinary life."

I panicked too when I read that description the first time. But Vigilante describes a lot of superheroes. Its hyperbole. Simply means she has no official status with any government as a "law enforcer". If she saved a woman who was about to be stoned for reading a book somewhere, Wonder Woman will save her regardless of that location's traditions or politics. That would make her a Vigilante but still WW.

WB didnt like Joss Whedon's Ww treatment : he started changing the character's mythology. Especially the Bullets & Bracelets lore. (among other things) So he got fired.
And just to calrify- The current "The Odyssey" arc is a storyarc. Not a true reboot. Once its done, Phil Hester is retelling the (and I quote:) "ICONIC ORIGIN of WONDER WOMAN. (and not the altered timeline that is part of the current storyarc)

Audiences will usually embrace an ACTION HEROINE series if it is DONE WELL: XENA, Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ALIAS which features the Amazing character Sidney Bristow, the Original BIONIC WOMAN, The Original WONDER WOMAN TV Series, Resident Evil 1, 2, 3,4, ALIEN 1, 2, 3, 4,
Yes, the Origin ought to be included in the pilot. Re: "Corp. Exec." thing- doesn't mean "Ally McBeal". She could be working for a corp. that promotes social justice, equality, education for all, women's rights. These are relevant and timely elements that people can relate to. "Balancing the hero part and civilian part of her life would also be relatable. Specially when done in internal monologue style as David Kelley shows seem to do.

And there are many Male Action heroes who did not do well: Doc Savage, Flash Gordon (Movie and TV series on Sci-Fi Network), The Shadow, The Phantom, The Rocketeer, Speed Racer, The Phantom TV movie, and more recently.."THE CAPE" on NBC which has been cancelled.

Re: "Wonder Woman as a Vigilante" description- here's from an earlier article from Newsarama that the "Vigilante" description did not include in their minimalist description:

""Kelley had been interested in the Golden Age, World War II-era incarnation of the superhero icon."

So when we add this bit of info with the newest article, it doesn't seem so bleak anymore. Here's another thing to consider: When WB saw Joss Whedon's idea...they fired him. When WB saw David Kelley's idea- THEY LIKED IT. And for the first time- DC COMICS also apprved of Kelley's proposal. So that tells us something. So cheer up. We have much to celebrate ;-)

January 25 2011 at 5:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I grew up reading both DC and Marvel comic books. I think the best way to present Wonder Woman to the general public would be as a prime time animated series. Not the cheap animation that seems to be rushed either. The full detail stuff that George Perez did when DC retold the Wonder Woman story in the late 80s. Maybe the movie would get on track if the considered the same treatment for the big screen.

January 25 2011 at 5:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Liz T

It's like you read my mind. I used to read the comic books pretty regularly, and I've watched the movie info with interest, but I've never been surprised that it falls apart. I think Wonder Woman is a very difficult property these days - her canon is messed up, her enemies are laughable, her origin story is... problematic for audiences who want more realism in their superheroes. But the more people try to muck with those things, we end up with .... corporate honcho by day, vigilante by night. bah. Wonder Woman shouldn't be Batman in drag.

January 25 2011 at 4:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Scott Stamper

Wow, it's like you're reading my mind, especially with the embassy bits.

I seriously hop DEK takes a new angle to WW because right now his plans sound closer to Power Girl than Diana. And frankly, given PG's penchant for humor and the absurd that would be more of a natural fit with Kelley.

Who knows, maybe he will surprise us all and pull off something outside his comfort zone of lawyers and neurotic women with man problems.

As for casting. Karen Cliche. Just google her and you'll see it.

January 25 2011 at 4:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jae Risk

If anyone other than Nadia Björlin is cast as Wonder Woman then I'm not interested.

January 25 2011 at 4:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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