Wonder Woman to return to TV

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Well speak of the devil, whaddaya know, Wonder Woman is back; she’s getting her own David E. Kelley-produced TV show.

This has to be the highest-profile effort to bring Wonder Woman to television: One of TV’s best-known creators, David E. Kelley, has come on board to write and produce a new series project about the female superhero. The project, from Warner Bros. Television where Kelley is based, and Warner Bros.’ DC Entertainment, will be taken out to the networks shortly. Kelley, who has created several female-centered shows, most notably Ally McBeal, had been interested in tackling a contemporary take on the World War II-era Amazon.

He recently met with the DC team who also have been looking for ways to launch a new Wonder Woman TV franchise. Details on the reboot are being kept under wraps, and it is not clear if the new Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince will keep her signature powers and weapons, including her Lasso of Truth, her indestructible bracelets, her tiara and her invisible airplane. In the comic books, the Wonder Woman character has evolved significantly since she first appeared in a 1941 issue of All Star Comics and recently underwent a controversial makeover.


While one of the proverbial “big three” at DC, Wonder Woman had proven problematic to develop for filmed entertainment — movies with female leads don’t work, it is thought, and a Wonder Woman movie has repeatedly foundered at DC, including a controversial version by Joss Whedon. A movie is supposedly still in development (and WW would be part of a theoretical Justice League movie) but GTV is a much safer haven for the character widely seen as a feminist icon in a world where you can’t even use the word feminist. For one thing, female-lead shows are very successful on network TV.

Wonder Woman was, of course, the star of a highly successful TV show in the ’70s starring Lynda Carter. Kelley’s most successful shows have all involved lawyers — Ally McBeal, Boston Legal — so maybe Diana will go to law school?

What do you think — will she have a new costume? Or stick with the classic, branded look?

Comments

  1. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Please please please God Dancing Wonder Tot

  2. J. K. Simon says:

    I’d really like to be optimistic about this, but I’d be hard pressed to think of a TV auteur less suited to helm a superhero show than David E. Kelley. A scene wherein Diana, Etta Candy, and Steve Trevor chat about bizarre sexual fetishes in the Themyscrian embassy’s unisex bathroom is likely inevitable at this point.

    OTOH, maybe William Shatner can snag a recurring role as Zeus.

  3. I’ll be sorely disappointed if this isn’t Xena V.2.

  4. Tijmen says:

    “What do you think — will she have a new costume? Or stick with the classic, branded look?”

    Considering this deal must have been in the works for a while now, it’s not difficult to see Wonder Woman’s recent “controversial makeover” as a first step towards making the character more viable for multimedia exploitation. In other words, expect TV’s WW to be sporting pants and a jacket, with only a stylized halter top as token reference to her classic duds.

    Xena V.2 sounds good, until you realize that series was created by the producer of solid offbeat genre fare like Evil Dead and Darkman, whereas this’ll be made by the Orson Welles of Opressive Whimsy.

  5. >> A scene wherein Diana, Etta Candy, and Steve Trevor chat about bizarre sexual fetishes in the Themyscrian embassy’s unisex bathroom is likely inevitable at this point.>>

    Two responses:

    1. Yeah, on the “People only ever repeat themselves, which is why ALLY McBEAL was exactly like PICKET FENCES” theory. That’s also why Dan Jurgens killed off Spider-Man and replaced him with four other guys, and every episode of the A-TEAM opened with a funny answering machine message.

    2. If that actually happened in the show, I wouldn’t miss an episode. Heck, I’d like to see that in the comic book, even. I’m in for dancing Wonder Tot too, actually.

    The fact that Kelly isn’t who you’d expect for a show like this makes me more interested. He might actually do something different, instead of a formula action show.

    kdb

  6. >> the Orson Welles of Opressive Whimsy. >>

    William Shatner as Egg Fu, then?

  7. Scott says:

    Kelley was great with Boston Legal and The Practice so I’m hoping… but I know that they will fuck up the visual part for sure. Forget the classic costume as people will think it’s silly and not “realistic”. Hence, why most of today’s comics SUCK. Too much realism.

  8. Alexa says:

    If David E. Kelley were to produce a superhero show, I would have expected She-Hulk.

  9. bad wolf says:

    I’ve gotta agree with kdb there, it’s bound to be a more interesting show than one made by one of the ‘usual suspects.’

  10. Kid Kyoto says:

    Was the Lynda Carter really successful? It only lasted 3 seasons and by the end WW was barely in it. I’m sure it’s made a ton of money in syndication but it wasn’t really that big a hit as a first run show.

  11. Chris Hero says:

    I’m not Mr. Superhero – I can barely tell DC and Marvel IPs apart – but I thought I’d take a crack at this:

    “1. Yeah, on the “People only ever repeat themselves, which is why ALLY McBEAL was exactly like PICKET FENCES” theory. That’s also why Dan Jurgens killed off Spider-Man and replaced him with four other guys, and every episode of the A-TEAM opened with a funny answering machine message.”

    Ally McBeal was rather similar to The Practice and Boston Legal, wasn’t it? I dunno – I only ever saw Lake Placid.

    Dan Jurgens tried replacing Spider-man with Spider-clone, didn’t he? Or was that what you were referencing?

    A-Team…did it open with funny answering machine messages? I’ve only ever seen the YouTube clip with Hulk Hogan guest starred. Or was that Rocky? No, wait, it was Wrestlemania I!

  12. Chris Hero says:

    BTW – No disrespect meant, I’m just having fun.

  13. J. K. Simon says:

    Quibbling with with He Who Always Wins On The Internet is probably asking for even more trouble than I normally do but:

    “1. Yeah, on the “People only ever repeat themselves, which is why ALLY McBEAL was exactly like PICKET FENCES” theory. ”

    If the DEK who did Picket Fences shows up for this adaptation of WW, that would make it appointment TV for me. I loved that show.

    But DEK from Ally McBeal, most of The Practice, and nearly all of Boston Legal onward is a dude who seems to delight in sub-Aaron Sorkin level political soapboxing and comedy schtick to the virtual exclusion of anything past one-note characterization. The prospect of *that* DEK as WW showrunner is not something I can be enthusiastic about.

    “The fact that Kelly isn’t who you’d expect for a show like this makes me more interested. He might actually do something different, instead of a formula action show.”

    I’d be fine with an unconventional choice. For instance, I’d love to see what the likes of Rob (Veronica Mars) Thomas, Bryan (Pushing Daisies) Fuller, David (Deadwood) Milch, or the aforementioned Aaron Sorkin could do with WW and co. But DEK really seems to have devolved into a one-trick pony over the course of his last 2-3 shows — and that one trick, IMHO, doesn’t seem well suited to Wonder Woman.

    All that aside, I wish you continued success in all your creative endeavors. I’m really loving all the new Astro City stuff. I get my comics via monthly shipment, so I haven’t gotten my hands on the conclusion of the Silver Agent story, but the first issue has me poised on the edge of my seat.

  14. Tijmen says:

    Whoa! Kurt Busiek, the man who created Bluebird, Altar Boy and the Thunderbolts, who wrote “the Nearness of You”, commented on my post (and one with a glaring typo at that – d’oh!). Excuse me while I regain my bearings.

    Sir, thou art verily the bee’s knees, but I must respectfully disagree: Ally McBeal & Picket Fences are very similar, with lots of wacky courtroom scenes, increasingly cartoonish characters and outlandish, contrived plots used to prove dimestore life lessons, all served with generous helpings of sucrose-sweet sentimentality. Admittedly, both started out (very) strong, esp. PF, but the farcical level of self-parody attained in the course of their overlong runs makes it very difficult to remember now what made those shows once so original and fresh.

    Still, you’re right in that it’s a leftfield choice and as such probably deserves more cautiously optimistic curiosity: at the very least, David E. Kelley is a bonafide TV auteur with a distinct voice. Maybe the change in genre/subject matter will have a salutary effect on the quality of his output.

    As for Dan Jurgens and Spider-Man, are you implying that I *imagined* Spider-Boy, Cyborg Spider-Man, Pesticide & Web? Geez, next you’ll be telling me Spider-Man/X-Factor never happened…

  15. Ideally, I’d love to see this series do an updated version of George Perez’s reboot from 1987 — Diana as a “fish out of water” finding her way with the help of Julia and Vanessa Kapatelis, Ares as the first season Big Bad, etc. The core concepts are there for the taking, but who knows what the final product will be?

    My worst-case scenario, though, is that the series will end up on the CW and be called PARADISE, starring a near-anorexic 26-year-old playing an 18-year-old Diana and featuring a theme song by Katy Perry or Ke$ha.

  16. >> Ally McBeal was rather similar to The Practice and Boston Legal, wasn’t it?>>

    I’d say ALLY McBEAL and THE PRACTICE were quite different, for shows in the same genre, but what I saw of BOSTON LEGAL was kind of midway between the two.

    >> I dunno – I only ever saw Lake Placid.>>

    How was it?

    >> Dan Jurgens tried replacing Spider-man with Spider-clone, didn’t he?>>

    No, Dan came in after the Spider-Clone story had been going for some time, and tried to end it.

    >> Or was that what you were referencing? >>

    No, I was referencing the death of Superman and its aftermath.

    >> A-Team…did it open with funny answering machine messages?>>

    No.

    kdb

  17. >> Admittedly, both started out (very) strong, esp. PF, but the farcical level of self-parody attained in the course of their overlong runs makes it very difficult to remember now what made those shows once so original and fresh.>>

    You may be thinking of a different show if you think PICKET FENCES had a “overlong run.” Two terrific seasons and then a ghastly, tin-eared third without Kelly at the helm.

    kdb

  18. >> I’d be fine with an unconventional choice. For instance, I’d love to see what the likes of Rob (Veronica Mars) Thomas, Bryan (Pushing Daisies) Fuller, David (Deadwood) Milch, or the aforementioned Aaron Sorkin could do with WW and co. >>

    Rob Thomas would be interesting. I’ll watch anything Sorkin does, but I don’t think he should do a superhero story — I think it’d be an uncomfortable mix.

    kdb

  19. Tijmen says:

    “You may be thinking of a different show if you think PICKET FENCES had a “overlong run.” Two terrific seasons and then a ghastly, tin-eared third without Kelly at the helm.”

    Far be it for me to correct He Who Always Wins On The Internet, but that’s actually *four* seasons, three of which David E. Kelley wrote – who’s misremembering now, eh? I didn’t know he bailed for that final season, though, so point Busiek. However, I’d argue that ‘overlong’ is always an entirely appropriate qualifier when a series wears out its welcome by nosediving like a Kamikaze pilot. See also: TWIN PEAKS (two seasons and still overlong) and NORTHERN EXPOSURE (six seasons, one too many, but when it was good, it was everything Picket Fences wanted to be and so much more).

  20. Point of clarification: “movies with female leads don’t work” should probably be more specific: “superhero/comic-book movies with female leads have been mostly financially unsuccessful”

  21. Synsidar says:

    I’m guessing that one of the hardest things to handle well on a new Wonder Woman show would be a secret identity. If the heroine has to hurriedly leave a meeting, break off from a lunch, or make other obvious efforts to get away from people to change her identity and spring into action, the secret ID will take some viewers, at least, back to the ’60s and ’70s. If episodes have people trying to discover her identity or suspecting it, the material could be weak, especially since viewers know who she is.

    One of the best things Marvel did in recent years, for whatever reasons, was to get rid of the heroes’ secret IDs, for the most part. I don’t know if DC has done the same. If Wonder Woman can be written in a TV series without having a secret ID, that would be good.

    SRS

  22. I Wonder says:

    “GTV is a much safer haven for the character widely seen as a feminist icon”

    They can make Wonder Woman work, but you have to drop the icon stuff and make her human…a flawed human. Like Peter Parker or Tony Stark. What was that in “Almost Famous” where the band wouldn’t make the cover unless the article that showed them in all their flawed glory was printed?
    Anyway, not sure if she is a feminist icon really. But it still stands that the emphasis needs to be on humanizing her, give her flaws ala Stan Lee, so she may join the rest of the human race

  23. Update the cotume. Keep the iconography, but make it more like Superman without the cape. Form-fitting, sexy, but practical.

    Secret identity? Sure, but not the Clark Kent variety. Her day job is Wonder Woman, then she maintains an everyday identity so she can better relate to the New World. This alo allows the viewers to relate to Diana. Perhaps a bit of the small-town-girl-in-a-big-city theme. That allows for some coy humor, as the viewers know where she’s from, but her roommates/friends don’t.

    “Young Diana” won’t work, because Smallville has explored most of that subject. Instead, Diana is the opposite… she’s grown up with her powers, but doesn’t understand the world around her.

    Hmmm… romance is a big plot point. She’s led a sheltered home-school existence, with no boys. THAT’S where you sell the show! The most powerful woman on the planet has th same troubles ordinary women have!

    So, yeah, David Kelly might pull this off IF he doesn’t make Diana neurotic. Men watch (generally) for the action, women (generally) watch for the relationships.

  24. >> Far be it for me to correct He Who Always Wins On The Internet, but that’s actually *four* seasons, three of which David E. Kelley wrote – who’s misremembering now, eh?>>

    Ah, you’re correct. But since the nosediving happened under other hands, I don’t count the Kelly seasons as overlong in any way.

  25. Here’s hoping they use Tricky’s “#1 Da Woman” for the theme song – http://bit.ly/bsIvS1 (iTunes link)

  26. I can see it now…they already made a pilot for it awhile back:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tKZJVhn7M4

  27. I look forward to a show that has virtually nothing to do with the comic, followed by a comic based on the show that gets cancelled after a handful of issues, and then a bunch of internet moaning about why the Wonder Woman comic doesn’t sell when Wonder Woman can support a hit television show. (Exhibit A: Smallville)

    Putting away the cynicism stick now…

    DEK on She-Hulk would be actually awesome, I think.

  28. Kate Willaert says:

    “Point of clarification: ‘movies with female leads don’t work’ should probably be more specific: ‘superhero/comic-book movies with female leads have been mostly financially unsuccessful'”

    I would broaden that to say “action movies with female leads are rarely considered financially successful.”

    “and a Wonder Woman movie has repeatedly foundered at DC, including a controversial version by Joss Whedon. ”

    Joss Whedon’s version was considered *controversial*…?

  29. I need to be a casting director for this.

  30. Chris Hero says:

    >> I dunno – I only ever saw Lake Placid.>>

    >How was it?

    Funny as Hell. It’s the only thing from Kelly I’ve ever seen and I liked it. Very, very tongue-in-cheek.

  31. I am not sure whether this show will be action based enough or show enough respect to George Perez’s Wonder Woman to make it worth while. Those are two things that would make me watch it. I also remember and enjoyed the original Wonder Woman TV Show.

  32. “Controversial” in the way the Studio handled the working relationship.

    IMDB does list a production slated for 2013, but only a writer has been announced.

  33. Wonderful says:

    Kate,
    it is rather surprising in light of the success of the “Resident Evil” franchise…and while it’s based on a video game and not a comic, I think most would view it as a ‘comicbooky” movie. Same goes for the recent “Salt”.
    I think a Wonder Woman movie faces the same obstacles a Superman movie faces.

  34. Wonderful says:

    I think a Wonder Woman movie faces many of the same obstacles a Superman movie faces…meaning as far as making it a good story for a movie…not in terms of getting it off the ground as I don’t know or understand the mindset of the decision makers.

  35. This is all premature until a network actually commits to a pilot, and then subsequently orders a series, right? There’s no guarantee of either of those things happening.

  36. I can see it now. Diana will be an ACLU lawyer who volunteers for NOW. She’ll have the cool goth, lesbian room mate. Emo Steve Trevor will be her neighbor in the building who brings over fresh baked organic cookies and who constantly invites her to his book club (all women except for him of course)where he serves wine and cheese (the book is an Oprah selection, naturally). He gets picked on by the bully of the building who turns out to be a wife beater.

    But while Diana always promises to take Steve up on his offer, seems she’s too busy slipping on her black pants and members only jacket, slipping out into the night to punish and lecture date rapists and lecturing teens as she flies them to the abortion clinic in her invisible jet…or perhaps an invisible prius? Meanwhile, Steve waits up with a glass of merlot on the off chance she might show up.

    The chicks will really dig it.

  37. >> I can see it now. Diana will be an ACLU lawyer who volunteers for NOW.>>

    Actually, it could be interesting to put Diana Prince and Steve Trevor into the JAG Corps, as a way of getting into stories — and using Kelley’s legal background.

    kdb

  38. Albert Deschesne says:

    Well if we put Diana in the JAG, then (I’ll say it) Catherine Bell for Wonder Woman!

    What?

  39. I’m with those who say, “No way does Kelley have the skill-set to do a good adaptation of Wonder Woman.”

    However, just as the 1960s Batman series is its own enjoyable animal however much it diverged from the comic (yes, STILL a nerd-worthy topic after all these years), the same *could* be said of whatever David E. might turn out.

  40. Daniel says:

    Sounds well, as long as it does not turn into a smallville with wonder woman and is aimed at intelligent people.

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