The second season was a big change for the WW series. ABC declined to renew, and CBS picked it up, but no longer had it set in the 1940s. This not only made it cheaper to produce, setting it in current day (1977) allowed it to hit the current pop culture trends (ex. disco). A lot of people consider this move a big step backward; however, I feel WW got a super seventies makeover that was pure dynamite. Let's start with episode one, shall we?
Season 2 - Episode 1 "The Return of Wonder Woman" (original air date: Sept. 16, 1977)
This is the season premier episode, and it's thirty minutes longer than regular season episodes. There's been a lot of changes, so there's a lot to explain and set up. Thus, this episode is a bit more complicated than the rest, since there's so much ground to cover to set things up for the rest of the season. Still, it has a lot to offer, including: a Robot Steve, battling Amazons, The Devil's Triangle and Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development...
Check out the groovy interiors of this government issue airplane. It's 1977 and Steve Trevor is still at it. He's taking four nuclear scientists to South America to terrorist-proof a new nuclear power plant. As you'll recall from Season 1, Steve had a bad habit of getting gassed.... well, thirty years later, and nothing's changed. A hijacker aboard gasses the crew to steal those nuclear plans (in the suitcase below the table).
Oh, and by the way - they're passing over The Bermuda Triangle.
Down below on Paradise Island, Diana sees the aircraft hurtling towards certain death. Using some power I had no idea WW possessed, she rights the speeding plane and lands it safely on the island.
At left is her fellow Paradise Islander, Evadne, played by Dorrie Thomson. Thomsan had a recurring role on Operation Petticoat, but that is about her only claim to fame [unless you count Chesty Anderson U.S. Navy (1976)].
I'm still hung up on how WW can telepathically land a plane; I'm pretty sure that's a power outside the WW canon. But I'm willing to look past it.
WW boards the plane nestled safely in the Paradise Island jungle, and inspects the still unconscious crew. She checks to see if the nuclear scientists are still alive, and then moves on to... STEVE! Can it be?
She carries him like a little baby to the Paradise Island hospital. (Again, if you've been following along these WW episodes, you'll know how ludicrously common this scenario is.) Obviously, the Steve Trevor she knew and loved should be in his late 60s - so, who is this schlup?
The Amazons look at his records, and it turns out, this is Steve Trevor, JUNIOR. Ah. Now it makes sense.
Another revelation from the Amazonian investigation of this mysterious plane - they discover that there is a global terrorist organization, possibly more diabolical, more dangerous, than the Nazis could ever hope to be. Naturally, this calls for Diana to return to the US as Wonder Woman. America needs her.
The Queen (Diana's mother) disapproves of the idea. She's played by Beatrice Straight, Academy award winning actress, cousin of Gloria Vanderbilt.... and Dr. Lesh in Poltergeist.
But before Diana can return to the States as WW, she must take part in the most awkward, pointless competition ever conceived. She faces off against Evadne. The two fire bullets at each other and deflect them with their bracelets;
There's no danger whatsoever. It's just striking silly poses whilst deflecting bullets. Evadne misses one, making Diana the winner. Wonder Woman is officially back!
The Amazons stage the aircraft to appear as it was before landing. The plane is brought back on course, and WW blows into a pan flute (?) which brings everyone aboard back to consciousness. It's as if the emergency landing on Paradise Island never happened.
Of course, the international terrorist organization has been monitoring the whole thing. From their perspective, the plane disappeared above "The Devil's Triangle" only to reappear unscathed two days later. They're flummoxed.
While Steve was snoozing on Paradise Island, the Amazons brainwashed his weak and supple mind. He will have a new "associate" named Diana Prince.
The plane lands on Sumara (a fictional area of South America where the nuclear plant is being constructed). They're a bit confused how they lost two days of their lives, but they get past it pretty quickly. Most importantly, Steve Jr. is united with his new associate.
The series setup is officially complete. We are now back on track.
Diana and Steve are attending a big meeting announcing the unveiling of the nuclear plant in Sumara. Look who they've run into - it's Lucille from Arrested Development (Jessica Walter). She plays Gloria Marquette, a representative from some big company involved in the plant construction.
The chairman of the meeting is a Dr. Solano (Fritz Weaver), who we've already learned is the head of this global terrorist organization. Diana tells Steve she doesn't trust him - "solano" is bad luck, a form of the deadly nightshade plant.
Steve must think his new associate is a certifiable nutcase.
A good look at Dr. Solano. Who would ever suspect him of bad intentions?
Actor Fritz Weaver has been at it since the 1950s, appearing on everything from Gunsmoke to Law & Order. He does a lot of History Channel narration, but I primarily know him as Dexter Stanley from "The Crate" story in Creepshow (1982).
After the meeting, back at hotel we learn that Solano and Gloria are in cahoots. We also learn that Solano wants to use this nuclear power plant as the trigger to start World War III, with him emerging as the global dictator.
Don't ask how controlling a nuclear power plant in Sumara (?) will help them achieve their aims. My suggestion: just roll with it.
For those that appreciate a look at paleo-computing will love the next scene. Diana somehow gets clearance to the US government's central computer, where she covertly embeds her false credentials. Now she has high level security clearance and a legit bio.
But, how did she get access to this room in the first place? Again, don't ask too many questions.
We're also introduced to IRAC, the talking computer. Our entire government's security rests with this single computer. Diana thinks he's a cutie pie - and their banter is just precious.
Diana is being followed by Gloria. I include this, not because it's vital to the storyline, but because I wanted to show Gloria's kickass car phone.
A car chase ensues (a prerequisite for any 70s action drama) where WW subdues a band of Solano thugs while Gloria films the whole thing from afar. Once the smoke clears, Steve Jr. finally gets to meet WW - till now, she was just a story his father told him.
She explains to Steve Jr. that she knew his father, but she, herself doesn't age at a normal human rate:"I will be 2,527 years old on my next birthday."
"Yeah. Well, you're in pretty good shape for your age."
BAM! Steve Jr. hasn't lost a bit of his father's studly mojo. He has WW giggling like a school girl.
Ah, but don't get too cocky, Steve Jr. Dr. Solano has constructed a robot in the perfect likeness of Steve Jr. Once again, Steve is knocked out - and he's replaced by his robot clone.
Robot Steve tells the flight crew set to bring the nuclear power plant to Samara to change plans and ship it to a different location.... a location where Dr. Solano will be waiting. (insert Dr. Evil laugh)
WW figures out Robot Steve Jr. is an imposter quickly enough. Her Lasso of Truth apparently works on robots as well as humans because it is soon confessing to the diabolical plans. The nuclear power plant is being shipped to the wrong place!
WW rescues the real Steve Jr. and they race in her invisible plane to where the nuclear plant is being shipped. There, they must stand off against Dr. Solano, Gloria and a host of nameless henchmen.
WW faces a Robot Dr. Solano in a fencing duel (yes, you read that correctly). The robot is armed with a bomb, which WW throws into a cave where Gloria and the real Dr. Solano are hiding. Did the resulting explosion kill them? Is the world free from these two evil terrorists?
"I wonder....", says WW. I have a feeling they'll be meeting again soon.
For now, the world is safe thanks to Wonder Woman. The nuclear plant can be shipped securely to Sumara, and all is right with the world. Or at least until the next episode....