Friday, April 1, 2011

Pilot Script Review - Wonder Woman

Network: NBC
Written By: David E. Kelley
Draft Date: December 16, 2010
Pages: 66

Check your presumptions at the door. Haters to the left.

Everything I heard about this project and this script was "trainwreck! TRAINWRECK!!!!" So, that's what I girded myself for when I started my read. Throw in the fact that I found the last two DEK pilot scripts unreadable almost to the point of thinking he was writing in a foreign language (Legally Mad).

There is still plenty to be improved on in this script for Wonder Woman, so don't me wrong. It's far from perfect. But it's nowhere near the trainwreck I'd expected. And, again, while I try to ignore casting when I read for these reviews, the casting of Adrianne Palicki was just too high profile to ignore. And I can hear and see her making this work.

For the most part... the script works. Diana has an emotional journey. She can't go home, even if she wanted to... and there are times she does. She misses home and family after having left to both right the injustices of the modern world and to follow Steve Trevor, the one person from our world who someone managed to enter hers. So, yes, there are obligatory E.T. and Wizard of Oz references... at times, it's played too hard. Diana still isn't over Steve Trevor, who isn't much of a presence in the pilot (mostly seen in flashback), but in series will probably come more to the forefront.

Not only does Diana have an urge to go home, there are complications with being a superhero. She has a corporation that has merchandised Wonder Woman and the profits pay for her crime fighting (and many planes... if there are two salient character quirks about Diana as DEK envisions her, she likes her automotive toys, and she likes singing in the car/plane/whatever she's driving at the time). There's even an amusing bit about Diana complaining in a doll product line meeting that the boobs on the doll are too big and it pisses her off because even though she knows the research shows big boobs sell more dolls, when people meet her in person, they are... disappointed. And that hurts. As well it should.

Diana also has a best girlfriend, Myndi Mayer, who is the PR whiz at the company. There's a LOT of potential for a Xena/Gabrielle relationship here. Which I would be all for.

While everyone knows that Diana Themyscira and Wonder Woman are one and the same, Diana has a third persona, Diana Prince. This is a normal, lonely girl with a barely-lived in one-bedroom apartment. She puts on conservative clothing, brown contact lenses and glasses, pulls back her hair... and suddenly no one recognizes her. It makes sense to have this escape, normal persona, but it's underrepresented in the pilot. Diana as CEO and as Wonder Woman simply has too much to do. It's important to establish this side of Diana's life for series, and I know it's part of pretty much every iteration of Wonder Woman, but it seems largely tacked on here and may leave those unfamiliar with the character's mythology scratching their heads. She uses it to go out to a bar with Myndi once, then drives into work

There is reference the old costume, too (Lynda Carter version, not... shiny leggings, blue high heel boots version). Diana, in our world, is aging. She won't be able to do this forever. And she can't believe she used to wear that thing.

It's almost refreshing to have a genuine superhero show (as opposed to just a "super power show") that allows for a level of earnestness and camp.

And there is camp. Particularly when it comes to the villain of the piece, Veronica Cale, who runs a Big Pharma company and is trying to create supersoldiers to take Wonder Woman down. Where their animosity comes from... who knows. Veronica's scenes are pretty much just her twirling a mustache while her henchman listens to her wax on about how much she hates Wonder Woman. The action scenes, particularly the final "Wonder Woman versus 20 super-soldier experiment subjects," play as camp, too. I half expected to see "BAM!" "POW!" and "FLRBBBBB!" The opening action scene, involving Wonder Woman chasing down a suspect (through Hollywood Boulevard, including a run-in with the Hollywood Boulevard "Wonder Woman" and "Marilyn Monroe") has its camp value, too.

Where the script truly stumbles, and also intrigues, is on the subject of Wonder Woman's vigilantism. She's subpoenaed by the Senate to speak about the constitutionality of her actions (for me, an intriguing question... is the Lasso of Truth akin to torture? It's touched on but not delved into) and whether she's in fact working for the "militaristic" LAPD. This basically just gives Diana an opportunity to grandstand about the failings and corruption government, about how we're willing as a society to sell sex but not safe sex, how police departments were being cut while the US cut bailout checks to Wall Street, how politicians' pockets are lined by various companies (of course, specifically referencing Veronica Cale here). Yes, you knew it was coming. It's a DEK script, after all. Of course she grandstands.

There are also some truly groan inducing parts of the script. Particularly, at least for me, was the presentation of "the Animals," aka the young kids who work as Diana's "evidence team." Brilliant, young minds who... take dance breaks from their geek wizardry work. They dress sloppy and keep their workplace even sloppier (i.e. pizza boxes scattered everywhere). Because I guess that's how David E. Kelley sees 20-somethings? And Diana feels the need to talk "gangsta" to these fools. She got bidness. GROAN.

But besides the classic DEK grandstanding, the two-dimensional villain, and the Animals... honestly, I think this could be a lot of fun.

And thank god they changed that costume...


Anonymous said...

very interesting, thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

I don't think WW would be hurt when a person commented about her boobs compared to the boobs on a WW doll. WW would have the dolls made as she wanted them to be made and WW would kindly and gently let the person who made such a comment know that they were wrong for making such a comment. WW, like Superman and Batman, isn't someone we should relate to (in that the character has the same insecurities and so on as we do), but someone we should aspire to be. WW is a hero in every sense of the word and only poor writing makes such a character two dimensional. It's an easy out to try and make a character three dimensional based on insecurities and what not.

Anonymous said...

I think this show could have potential that many others didnt. Dont forget guys NO ONE thought smallville would go longer then 4 seasons and now its in its 10th season which most shows never even get close to it these days. I believe the way their making this with wonder woman as long as they do what smallville did: stick to humanity and not gods. Then Wonder Woman may be the next hit show on the network. What i mean by that is that unlike Lois and Clark, and many other superman shows, Smallville shows supermans humanity lets people connect to him and the others around him which made it such a great show. But it also kept hold of the comic portions it needs (although especially in seasons 8-10). The kent dynamic was the basis and heart of the show and wonder woman needs to find a common ground. Thats y im giving wonder woman a chance and i wont give up on it until seasons end. If a comic book alien from another planet can show us his humanity, then a amazonian princess/superhero comic book character should be no problem.

Elaine R. Winter said...

Yours is the first positiv review I've read of the script and I praise you for it.

I've been thinking about this a good long while, the reason Kelley was tapped to write Wonder Woman reboot is to turn it into a drama. There will still be some mythos involved (flashbacks) but the main gist I get of her character, is how she fits into today's man's world.

Actually, I love that take. How would Wonder Woman fit in today's modern world? I'm very excited for the pilot and if it goes the drama direction, I'm cool with that (as long as it's done right). But then again, Kelley is known for writing good drama.

I just wish people would stop bitching it's going to be crap. I don't want to wait another decade for a live action Wonder Woman TV show. Animated direct to DVD movies are nice, but we deserve to be able to see her again in action on screen.

If fans are still disappointed after it airs because it's not all mythos and traditional superhero, they need to be reminded that's why it's called a REBOOT!!

Anonymous said...

Great to see an honest review and with a good analysis of the script.

I was on the fence at first after read other reviews but star thinking positive of the show and after your review I am really looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

A good honest review and while I agree the pilot does not sound completely awful, the scene in the board room with Wonder Woman complaining about the boob size on the doll and people making comments about them being smaller in person being hurtful is not Wonder Woman, sorry. The longing for home and Trevor are reasonable things for the character to have doubts about but self conciousness about her body is David Kelly adding his Ally McBeal BS to the character.