Wonder Woman (1975) episode 4 features a beauty pageant and another ring of Nazi saboteurs, but under-utilises the titular character.
“It’s unfair to judge yourself by the criterion of age, a vital intelligent woman is much more than the sum of her birthdays.” – Wonder Woman
You’ll never believe this, but Wonder Woman episode 4 (“Beauty on Parade”) opens with things going awry for the U.S. war department, and Major Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) suspecting it all the result of an inside job. That would be three episodes of the four so far where trouble is caused by Nazi double agents, and Steve Trevor is finally cottoning on – good for him. This time, the enemy aren’t posing as American colonels, or anything totally outlandish like that, but are instead using an army-camp-touring beauty contest as a cover for infiltration and sabotage. The sudden central importance of this female beauty pageant in Wonder Woman episode 4 (the most ‘70s episode yet), allows for some rather tiring ideas to steal their way into the spotlight.
You know, like: pitching women against each other in a “who’s prettiest?”- competition (only to provide Wonder Woman with a rival whose one antagonistic trait is her vanity), the value of a person being defined by the shape of their body, being encouraged into baring your legs on stage for the sake of “boosting morale”, stuff like that. That arse Major Trevor even has the gall to inform Yeoman Prince (Lynda Carter) that she’s not attractive enough to participate in said beauty contest. So, Wonder Woman, undercover as Diana Prince, goes undercover as Diana Paradise, and enters the competition easily enough. You might think this would shut that bloke up, but you’d be wrong – Steve Trevor’s mouth continues to run.
A narrative twist and a figure from history show up in the final twenty minutes of Wonder Woman episode 4, desperate to try and raise the stakes even a millimetre. The attempt is well-intentioned but unsuccessful, and doesn’t save me from thinking this the worst episode yet (though perhaps it seems especially so after the previous one showed such promise). Despite my enjoyment of the series presently fluctuating like this from episode to episode, I’d say there was still a lot of value in the ‘70s Wonder Woman telly show.
Hating on Steve Trevor is an enjoyable past-time. Watching the Nazis fail at their every plan, and watching Wonder Woman lift up cars with her bare hands is good soul food. Plus, it’s interesting to experience how the Wonder Woman character was seen almost fifty years ago – having read and watched some of the contemporary adventures of different Wonder Woman characters adds a fun comparative element to the show for me. A bit like how watching Daredevil (2003) might offer more when seen by those familiar with Matt Murdock’s more recent screen appearances, for example.
Also, Wonder Woman (1975) is generally an easy thing to watch, which, after the intended sincerity of the Snyder-verse and the sulkiest Batman movie yet, is a nice change of pace. I doubt that Darkseid or the Gods of Olympus are going to show up any time soon, but watching Lynda Carter throw around baddies and stick up for her fellow woman is a simple enough pleasure.
Episode of Wonder Woman (1975) is now available to watch on digital and on demand.