DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Wonder Woman - The Complete First Season

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

    Jun 24, 2003
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    Michael Osadciw

    The Complete First Season

    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1976-1977

    U.S. Rating: Not Rated
    Canadian Rating: Rating Pending

    Length: 725 minutes
    Episode length: 50 minutes approx. (70m for pilot)
    Genre: Fantasy/Adventure

    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    Audio: English Dolby Digital 1.0 mono
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
    Closed Captioned: Yes

    Release Date: June 29, 2004

    Show Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman/Princess Diana aka Diana Prince), Lyle Waggoner (Major Steve Trevor), Richard Eastham (Gen. Phil Blankenship), Beatrice Colen (Etta Candy)

    Created By: William M. Marston
    Executive Producer: Douglas S. Cramer

    The Adventures of the Greatest of the Female Superheros

    She is STRONG. She is INVINCIBLE. She is…WONDER WOMAN! In celebrating the world’s most popular, and beautiful super heroine of all time comes this marvellous collection of Wonder Woman: The Complete First Season. The collection includes the Pilot Movie as well as 13 regular season one episodes and is a Wonder Woman fanatic’s dream come true! This 3-disc DVD edition is composed of a box set fold out booklet with wonderful animated original DC comic book drawings, and real excerpts from regular season episodes. The backside of the fold out booklet dedicates a whole side to “Wondering About… WONDER WOMAN FACTS AND TRIVIA,” and explains a short evolution about Wonder Woman, beginning with her original comic book debut back in 1941, over 60 years ago.

    As one of the best known, longest lasting, and most controversial characters in the history of comics, Wonder Woman has always been obliged to play a dual role. In addition to keeping a large audience entertained with her exploits, she has also been expected to serve as a representative and an example for her entire gender; the tension between these two grand duties has given Wonder Woman a unique position in America’s popular culture. From the start of Wonder Woman’s introduction to the world her contradictions were inherent, in large part due to her creator as being something of a paradox himself. It was back in 1941 that a Harvard-trained psychologist with a law degree and a Ph.D. assumed a pseudonym and began writing comic books. This medium at the time was new and not particularly held in very high regard, especially coming from a middle-aged and respected writer already having a reputation nationally with his books and articles. While most of Dr. William Moulton Marston’s colleagues in comics wrote of young men who had grown up during the Depression, his entire comic book output encompassed only a single feature, and that was Wonder Woman.

    Marston’s ideas were often seen as unconventional, being something of a maverick among the psychologists of his day, and although his comic book profession is often discussed, Marston is first known as the man who invented the intriguing device known as the lie detector. His contribution to the evolution of the lie detector is seen in Marston being one of its most enthusiastic advocates. Despite accumulated scientific evidence that is not completely reliable, the lie detector test’s hold on the public’s imagination was wide. Ironically, Marston’s own theories of human behaviour did not stand the test of time, but their introduction into the Wonder Woman stories he wrote enabled him to become one of the Twentieth Century’s major mythmakers.

    And so the television series Wonder Woman came to be. With her great strength, invisible plane, bullet-deflecting bracelets, lasso of truth, and of course that star-studded style like no other, she’s Wonder Woman - known to her friends as Diana Prince. The series retains the World War II era of the super heroine’s early comic book adventures. With the former Miss USA Lynda Carter as the original warrior princess, Wonder Woman is driven by her overall sense of a woman’s worth, battling “Nazi bad-guys” and voicing her opinions of telling the truth at all costs, her views of good and evil and her vision of a world composed of the utmost in justice and peace.

    Starring also is former Carol Burnett Show regular Lyle Waggoner, Richard Eastham as Phil Blankenship, and Beatrice Colen as Etta Candy. Debra Winger appears as Drusilla/Wonder Girl and Carolyn Jones (who plays Queen Hippolyta), is best known as her part Morticia of TV’s The Addams Family.

    The episodes are spread on three discs with unprinted tops to accommodate the dual sided discs (except the last, which is only single sided). There are small labels around the disc’s hole to inform the viewer which disc and side they are inserting in the player. Each disc has a specific colour ring of either red, white, and blue – the colours of Wonder Woman (and the American Flag uniform she’s wrapped up in).

    Here’s a list of all fourteen episodes in season one including a synopsis of each.

    Disc 1, Side A

    Pilot: The New Original Wonder Woman – The world is waiting for her! The events that lead Wonder Woman to leave her uncharted homeland isle and join the fight for the forces of Good against Evil provide the adventurous springboard for the series.

    Episode 1: Wonder Woman Meets Baroness Von Gunther - Caught in a hornet’s nest of spies – and likely to be stung! Wonder Woman’s bid to rescue Steve from charges of enemy collaboration becomes even more difficult when her magical lasso falls into Nazi hands.

    Disc 1, Side B

    Episode 2: Fausta: The Nazi Wonder Woman - Is there enough room in the world for two Wonder Women? Not when one of them is a Nazi spy intent on capturing the real Amazonian hero and discovering her secrets for the benefit of Hitler’s Master Race!

    Episode 3: Beauty on Parade - A touring beauty pagent is a morale booster for troops…and the perfect cover for Diana (aka Wonder Woman) as she tries to discover what’s behind a series of recent saboteur activities.

    Episode 4: The Feminum Mystique Part 1 - Enter WONDER GIRL! Drusilla, Diana’s younger sister, arrives from PARADISE ISLAND and plunges into wartime intrigue when agents eager to find the source of the secret substance Feminum kidnap her.

    Disc 2, Side A

    Episode 5: The Feminum Mystique Part 2 - Today, PARADISE ISLAND. Tomorrow, the world. Drusilla inadvertently provides details of her home isle to her captors, sparking a Nazi plan to come to the uncharted island and seize Feminum for the Reich.

    Episode 6: Wonder Woman vs. Gargantua! - Will a Big Top attraction mean big trouble for the Allied war effort? A powerful circus ape secretly trained by the enemy awaits the command that will send him on a mission to nab a valued U.S. informant.

    Episode 7: The Pluto File - Trouble on the double! A race against time unfolds when an elusive ne’er-do-well who seeks an inventor’s earthquake machine is also discovered to be a carrier of the dreaded and highly infectious Bubonic Plague.

    Disc 2, Side B

    Episode 8: Last of the Two-Dollar Bills - A diabolical Nazi plot to undermine the economy! The plan: paper the nation with counterfeit currency and replace monetary overseers with enemy agents who are look-alikes of the actual officials.

    Episode 9: Judgment from Outer Space Part 1 - An onrush of wartime events puts Wonder Woman in contact with an interplanetary visitor whose special mission is to see if Earth should be destroyed…or if its worth saving.

    Episode 10: Judgment from Outer Space Part 2 - The interplanetary visitor’s experiences while being held by the Nazis – and Wonder Woman’s attempt to free him – lead to his fateful decision about the Earth’s destiny.

    Disc 3

    Episode 11: Formula 407 - An Argentine scientist develops a way to give rubber the strength of steel. It’s an invention that can help win the war for the Allies – if Steve and Wonder Woman can keep the enemy from obtaining it.

    Episode 12: The Bushwhackers - Efforts to stop the theft of cattle needed by the army go awry, leaving Wonder Woman captive and without her magical belt. But help comes from an unexpected source: a group of war orphans turned buckaroos!

    Episode 13: Wonder Woman in Hollywood - Wonder Woman and WONDER GIRL are in Tinseltown! Good thing, too, what with enemy agents kidnapping the GI heroes who are taking part in the filming of a wartime spirit-lifter about their exploits. SF/MO

    VIDEO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Viewing this series in a darkened room in recommended. While nowhere near in terms of dimly lit video quality, this series has impressively deep black levels in the Nazi interiors that gave the image a very three-dimensional look and will only be appreciated in a darkened room. The well-balanced colours as well as the amount of resolution present also impressed me. Filmed in 35mm and properly presented on DVD in its 1.33:1 television aspect ratio, grain is apparent throughout and most noticeable when there are comic captions on screen or when there are special effects. The rest of the time film grain is pushed to a minimum. This, in combination with virtually no compression artifacts and undetectable edge enhancement, makes for a very detailed DVD of this mid-‘70s season. Tiny details such as writing on the military uniforms can be noticed as well as the texture and patterns of the material. Aside from the sometimes shaky camera during filming, this image is sure to please! MO

    AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Duly presented in its original audio of 1.0 mono, the Dolby Digital soundtrack can be characterized as being slightly thin but not too strained sounding. Music, dialogue, and sound effects are clean as can be, so I have no complaints otherwise. The original television broadcast never utilized any fancy recording techniques or stereo audio, so I’m happy to hear the original soundtrack preserved on this release. MO

    SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    There are two special features on this box set. The first appears on disc one during the pilot episode and is the new original Wonder Woman commentary by Lynda Carter and Executive Producer Douglas S. Cramer. The commentary covers such discussions as the tongue-in-cheek nature of the show in comparison to the (competition of the) more serious Bionic Woman, to Lynda Carter’s rise to Wonder Woman, and reminiscing about filming the pilot.

    Next is a new documentary titled Beauty, Brawn and Bulletproof Bracelets: A Wonder Woman Retrospective (21.10, 4:3). It appears on disc three and features interviews with Carter and Cramer as well as artist Alex Ross. Topics covered are the creation of Wonder Woman from a combination of Greek/Roman and Amazon myth, and turning this myth into a reality for ABC and Warner Brothers studio. Other topics in discussion are costume, the (silly by today’s standards) special effects (but amazing to know how much they cost back then!), as well as the music used in the season. The documentary is a little on the short side, but interesting nonetheless. I imagine future seasons of this series will expand into other areas as well. Can’t throw all of the eggs in one basket! MO


    Born in 1941, Wonder Woman had her male competitors for her time – Batman and Superman had arrived in comic print only a few years earlier. She’s survived through to the modern day even after all of these years beyond the days of World War II. She was born out of it and her star-spangled outfit is a reflection of the American patriotism of her time. This DVD is mastered with excellent picture and retains the original audio production. With Wonder Woman come not only adventures of a fantasy heroine, but also a message that good will always triumph over evil, and that the truth will always be better off said. It was also a time to give women a strong female role on screen – a gamble initially and proved to be effective (imagine that!) providing the right person was selected. No other can fill the role: Lynda Carter IS Wonder Woman.

    Michael Osadciw
    & Salina Finelli
  2. Pete Battista

    Pete Battista Cinematographer

    Sep 20, 1999
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    Shepherdsville, KY. USA
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    Thanks for the review Michael...
    I got this set in the mail yesterday.. so I am planning on checking some of it out today. [​IMG]
  3. Peter McM

    Peter McM Supporting Actor

    Nov 18, 1999
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    Indianapolis, IN
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    Magnificent review. My wife may roll her eyes, but I'm going to enjoy this![​IMG]
  4. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie

    Jul 30, 2003
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    North of the 49th
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    Stephen J. Hill
    Now, if only Warner would release the shlocktacular Wonder Woman TV movie starring Cathy Lee Crosby. Deliriously bad, but SO much fun, with Ricardo Montalban as the villain.
  5. Will K

    Will K Screenwriter

    Feb 6, 2001
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    I love this show and I think the image quality is quite remarkable for something of its vintage.
  6. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Jul 19, 2002
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    i agree- very happy with this set and hope WB will release the remaining seasons in due course.

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