With Wonder Woman 1984 making its streaming debut on Christmas Day, HBO Max has decided to tease the film’s impending arrival – and to get you a little more geared up for the return of the DC Comics heroine – by adding the original 1970s Wonder Woman series to their catalog as well.
For those who don’t remember, never watched, or weren’t alive for this incarnation of Princess Diana, wherein Lynda Carter played Wonder Woman and Lyle Waggoner played Colonel Steve Trevor, allow us to remind you by offering up one of the most iconic opening credit sequences in TV history:
You may have noticed that there were actually several opening sequences within that video. If you stopped after the first one, though, you…didn’t miss a lot, frankly, because the first is by far the best, but you did miss an interesting aspect about the series: the first season set during World War II, with Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor battling Nazis on a weekly basis, whereas the second and third seasons adopted the title The New Adventures of Wonder Woman and were set in the present, with Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor battling non-Nazi forces of evil on a weekly basis.
Here’s the thing, though: in seasons two and three, Waggoner is actually playing Steve Trevor, Jr., son of the character he played in season one.
So does Diana find herself feeling maternal to the son of the man at whom she used to make goo-goo eyes during WWII? She most certainly does not. Instead, she apparently just decides, “They look exactly the same and his father’s dead anyway… Let’s do this thing!” But can you really blame her? It’s, like, “Waggoner? More like Swaggoner…”
For those who’ve written off the ’70s Wonder Woman series as too cheesy to revisit, you’re missing out. While it’s not exactly the same type of camp that the ’60s Batman series delivered so successfully, it’s definitely a show that has its tongue in its cheek way more often than not. Take, for instance, the very first episode of the series: the lead Nazi villain is played by Kenneth Mars, best known for his work in Mel Brooks’ The Producers…and before you think that’s a coincidence, Mars’ Wonder Woman character pointedly references his love for his pigeons.
The writers and producers were clearly having a ball with this show, as were the actors who appeared as guest stars. It’s truly a “Who’s Who” of ’60s and ’70s TV, including – but not limited to – such folks as Gary Burghoff (M*A*S*H), Gretchen Corbett (The Rockford Files), Dick Gautier (Get Smart), Frank Gorshin (Batman), Robert Reed and Eve Plumb (The Brady Bunch), Russell Johnson (Gilligan’s Island), Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family), Cloris Leachman (Phyllis), Dick Van Patten (Eight is Enough), Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat), and – lest we forget – Martin Mull (Fernwood 2-Nite).
Oh, and it wouldn’t be a recap of the ’70s Wonder Woman if we didn’t mention the fact that her sister Drusilla, a.k.a. Wonder Girl, was played by none other than future superstar Debra Winger.
When it comes right down to it, though, the biggest reason to watch Wonder Woman is, of course, Lynda Carter, who is positively glowing when she makes her first appearance on the series; not surprisingly, the 1972 winner of the Miss World competition remains gorgeous all the way through to the final episode. Okay, maybe the series was pressing the boundaries of the ridiculous when they decided to occasionally throw Wonder Woman into a diving costume, but if you can’t suspend your disbelief, then why the hell are you watching Wonder Woman in the first place?
Our recommendation is to watch the first episode of Season 1 (“The New Original Wonder Woman”), then watch the first episode of Season 2 (“Beauty On Parade”), and after you’ve completed them both, you’ll know which timeframe of the series you prefer. Truth be told, the first season is the one that feels most like a comic book brought to life, but there’s merit to all them if you’re a fan of fun ’70s TV, and throughout all three of its seasons, Wonder Woman delivers that from beginning to end.
Will Harris (@NonStopPop) has a longstanding history of doing long-form interviews with random pop culture figures for the A.V. Club, Vulture, and a variety of other outlets, including Variety. He’s currently working on a book with David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker. (And don’t call him Shirley.)
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