Lynda Carter, best known as the star of the '70s TV series "Wonder Woman," has a heroic role in the film "Sky High," opening Friday. The action-comedy about a high school for superheroes features Carter as the super-powered principal.
Although it's fun to see the actress acknowledge her pop cultural past in "Sky High," nothing beats Carter as the comic book-inspired Wonder Woman, the immortal Amazon princess sent from Paradise Island to aid the U.S. government in World War II (for one season on ABC) and in contemporary times (for two seasons on CBS).
From her ability to change in a flash, to her neat-o invisible plane, to her coy alter ego Diana Prince, Wonder Woman was, in a word, fabulous. Watching the series again on DVD, it's easy to appreciate Wonder Woman on a new level: hometown hero. Though filmed in Southern California, the show was set in Washington, where Wonder Woman worked undercover at the War Department and then at the Inter-Agency Defense Command -- which led to some interesting D.C. area references.
Season 1, Pilot: "The New Original Wonder Woman"
It's 1942 and Wonder Woman has teamed up with American war hero Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) to stop a Nazi spy ring. Steve's secretary, Marcia (Stella Stevens), is one of the spies, and he gets kidnapped before Wonder Woman can give him the scoop. Where can he be? After a knock-down drag-out with Marcia, some golden lasso bondage will clear up this matter.
Wonder Woman: That lasso compels you to be honest and you must answer every question. Where is Steve Trevor?
Marcia: My apartment -- 2809 West 20th Street, Chevy Chase!
Yikes -- Nazis in Chevy Chase! That'll keep property values down. Round 'em up, Wonder Woman!
Season 2, Episode 1: "The Return of Wonder Woman"
In 1977, Wonder Woman leaves Paradise Island to help Steve Trevor's son -- also named Steve and also played by Waggoner -- who's a top agent with the Inter-Agency Defense Command, or IADC. (We learn that Wonder Woman is 2,526 years old, by the way, and hasn't visibly aged since her World War II adventures.) She'll go undercover as Steve's assistant, if only she can get over the sticker shock of apartment shopping.
Diana: $500? For rent? A month?
Landlady: What did you expect?
Diana: The last time I was in Washington, I think I paid $40 a month, including utilities.
Sorry, Diana. Prices took a hike when you ran all the Nazis out of town. It's a lovely place, though -- really. Have you seen the view?
Season 2, Episode 6: "The Pied Piper"
Hamlin Rule (Martin Mull) is a rock star whose mesmerizing ways with the flute have earned him countless young female fans. But he's brainwashing and then training them as thieves who use a metal-disintegrating device so powerful that it concerns the IADC. During a video briefing about Rule's Washington concert the previous night, Diana and Steve's boss, Joe Atkinson (Norman Burton) is startled to see his daughter Elena (Eve Plumb, aka Jan Brady) in the audience. Is she mixed up in this rock-flute-and-robbery madness? He confides in Diana.
Joe: She called me and asked for a round-trip ticket. I sent it, looking forward to the chance to visit. . . . Apparently she went straight from Dulles and spent the night waiting to buy a ticket to see him.
Diana: That doesn't sound like Elena.
Joe: That's the only time I saw her. She must have taken the redeye back to Los Angeles this morning.
Ah, the days of catching a Dulles redeye to keep up with the brainwashed rock-flute lifestyle. Good times, good times.
Season 3, Episode 5: "Disco Devil"
Top-secret information is being extracted from the minds of VIPs and sold to the highest bidder. The culprit is an evil telepath, Nick Carbone (Michael DeLano), who targets his victims at a discotheque where the DJ, Infra Red (Wolfman Jack), keeps the crowds in boogieing bliss. Diana and Steve put the pieces together as Diana locates the file on the suspicious nightclub.
Diana: Here it is. The Styx. Its owner is a wealthy socialite named Angelique McKenna. It's become sort of a watering hole for Washington bigwigs.
Steve: Providing them access to government officials, from whom Nick Carbone rips off classified data.
Diana: Perfect cover. Who'd suspect a disco fronting for a black-market-information broker?
Not me! Who cares about a mind-stealing telepath if Wolfman Jack is spinning at "the Styx"? Washington doesn't get any groovier than this, baby.
Season 3, Episode 6: "Formicida"
Robert Shields and Lorene Yarnell -- yes, the mime duo -- portray Doug Radcliffe and Irene Janus, chemists who invent a powerful pesticide. Doug has ignored Irene's concerns about the formula's instability, selling it to a greedy businessman and driving Irene to take insect hormones to become Formicida, a creature capable of directing legions of ants to destroy the pesticide company. She won't stop until the risky formula is off the market, even if it means tying up Doug and Diana in her lab. But Diana gets free. Next stop?
Diana: Call Steve Trevor at the IADC and tell him what's happened here. Tell him to see that the Easton plant is evacuated immediately. I'm sure that's where they went.
Doug: You know there were ants in those things she carried out of here. She must intend to destroy the plant like she did those buildings!
And so Wonder Woman again takes off to save the world via . . . Easton. You know, Wonder Woman, sometimes you have to choose your battles. Easton -- really, if it's too much trouble, we understand. Are you sure you don't want to just swing up to Chevy Chase and make sure there aren't any Nazis still lurking around?