A Tale of Two Wonder Women: Gal Gadot (2017) + Cathy Kee Crosby (1974)

October 15, 2017 | By

Lyle Waggoner + Lynda Carter, circa 1975 in ABC & CBS’s Wonder Woman TV series.


When I was maybe 8 years old, Sundays would consist of myself and my father sitting in the living room, watching The Road Runner Bugs Bunny Hour and Wonder Woman on a 10” Admiral B&W TV set, and my mother would regularly break away from dinner, walk into the room, and berate my father for hanging around to watch Lynda Carter leap, fight, and deal with assorted circumstances in the most amazing costume ever created for a TV show.

The complaint was usually along the lines of ‘Why are you watching that?’ and my father would throw up his hands and say ‘He wants to watch it!’ making me the scapegoat for this classic 70s escapism that was part crime fighting, superhero action, and Perils of Pauline.

She’d leave and finish flattening, breading, and frying up schnitzel with potatoes or something classically Konisgbergian, and dad would make the worst effort to hide his grin. I doubt he was trying to hide the boyish glee for what was already developing into a cult TV series, but as easy as it is to blast the showrunners for a building a series around a healthy actress in a form-fitting costume, Diana Prince / Princess Diana was an assertive, clever, moral crime fighter, endowed with a sense of humour, and perspective of history & politics. (Her 2017 incarnation would likely use the truth lasso on the current President to admit to the world he is in fact a moron.)

WW is a timeless heroine, but her evolution through print, art, TV, animated programs, and appearances in superhero films eventually coalesced into a shockingly good solo venture that until the overlong finale, was exclusively about character. WW recognizes and calls out social wrongs, fights for human rights, and believes people are inherently good as long as fascistic monsters are appropriately punished.


Chris Pine + Gal Gadot, circa 2017 in Wonder Woman.


I’m not a fan of any recent comic book reboots, universe expansions, backstories, and the formulaic entries designed to sell merchandise, which is why I was willing to give Wonder Woman (2017) the time of day when it became clear genre fans went in droves to see a heroine in a film that was big on character & consequences, peppered light humour, and where action wasn’t conveyed in ADD edits and prolonged bombast.


Kaz Garas + Cathy Lee Crosby, circa 1974, in the pilot movie that failed to ignite a TV series.


That’s why my review of WHV’s Blu-ray is about the film proper instead of its place in the DC universe and the disc’s extras. Just the movie, where it scores, and misses a few marks. Gal Gadot is exceptionally strong, and for comparison I’ve added a review of the 1974 TV pilot (on DVD via Warner Archives) that was intended to launch a series but in spite of decent ratings, failed to tease ABC for a full series commitment until 1975.

Cathy Lee Crosby was the titular heroine, and she was soon superseded by Carter’s show which initially presented a more classic version of the crime fighter. Each TV and theatrical take on Diana Prince and Maj. Steve Trevor have their respective quirks, merits, and flaws, but they form a path which led to a near-perfect version in 2017 of William Moulton Marston’s famous character.

Coming soon: immersive experiences, fifties style, with Twilight Time’s new Blu offerings of Gun Fury (1953) in 3D, and Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953) in 2.55:1 CinemaScope and Surround Sound.

I’ve a grant deadline to meet this weekend, so I’m bumping the Tom Roston-Norm Wilner-Bay Street Video podcast to Tuesday.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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