Wonder Woman: S2E5
Season 2, Episode 5 - "Knockout" (original air date, October 14, 1977)
Those following along may be wondering what happened to S2E4 - "The Bermuda Triangle Crisis" - one of the classics. That episode was actually covered on Retrospace way back in 2010. Maybe it needs a reboot; but we'll go ahead and move along to episode 5 - "Knockout". Enjoy.
Diana gets an emergency phone call from Joe at HQ alerting her that Steve has been kidnapped, and her own safety is at risk. Diana decides to take a flight to L.A. to locate the missing Steve.
Um... I already have a few issues/observations with this episode, and we haven't passed the five minute mark:
1. Diana's "emergency phone" is cleverly hidden behind a curtain. This is a terrible hiding place for the red phone. BTW the phone does not ring; the lamp light flickers on and off to alert her to the call. A ring might give away the phone's location.... behind the curtain a few feet away. But I digress - this is trivial, I know.
2. What isn't trivial is the number of times Steve gets kidnapped. I focused on this a lot during the Season 1 posts; but it bears repeating (as you'll recall, that would have been Season 2 Steve's dad). Steve should find another line of work. He is forever the damsel in distress, and it's getting downright embarrassing. After S2E9, we start seeing a lot less of Steve... which, I'll admit, will be a welcome change.
In California, Diana is picked up by friendly cab driver, Pete, played by Ted Shackelford. As you know, ol' Ted would go on to be a primetime soap fixture in the 80s via Dallas and Knots Landing. But that would be a few years down the road; Ted would have to pay his dues on The Love Boat and a host of other guest appearances (including another WW stint next season) before making it big.
Diana notices they're being followed; fortunately, Pete is an ex-racecar driver (well, isn't that convenient?), and the obligatory car chase ensues.
Pete can't handle the two thugs, so WW arrives to make easy work of these nameless henchmen. Her Lasso of Truth reveals that they were hired by someone named Angel Velasquez "a chicano kid we were in the CYA (California Youth Authority) with". but the reason why remains a mystery. She at least gets Steve's hotel address.
Meanwhile at a hotel in Los Angeles, Steve is, as usual, captive and unconscious. One of his captors is "The Tall Man", the other is Carolyn, played by Jayne Kennedy.
Kennedy appeared in a ton of guest spots around this time (Trapper John, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Love Boat, Rockford Files, Shaft, Starsky & Hutch, Diff'rent Strokes, etc.), and she has several notable accomplishments under her belt. She was the first African-American to win Miss Ohio, the first African-American to appear on the cover of Playboy, and she broke another barrier when she became a sportscaster in the late 70s.
Perhaps even more interesting, after this episode they considered doing a Wonder Woman spin-off with Jayne Kennedy as the lead superhero. I don't have any more specifics than that, but it's interesting to imagine what it would have been like. She was also nearly the first black Charlie's Angel... but back to the story....
Diana arrives at the hotel and gets an uncomfortable vibe from a passenger on the elevator. It's "The Tall Man" played by Frank Marth, another regular on the guest star circuit of the 1970s.
We get some pretty good looks at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott during this episode.. and some its smoking hot patrons...
I don't know who this lady is, but damn! She emerges from the elevator that Diana subsequently boards, and I felt it was my duty to preserve the moment.
Stone cold 70s foxes aside, it's a special treat to glimpse into this 70s hotel and catch the decor, the fashions, etc. I find it infinitely fascinating for some inexplicable reason.
Also, inexplicable is Diana's next action...
She calls Pete the cab driver. She asks him to give her a lift to the residence of Angel Velasquez. Why she, as a government agent, would enlist the help and put at risk the life of an innocent and uninvolved citizen is beyond me. Pete is out playing with his kid (they're in the front yard with boxing gloves on when she calls).... and now he's got to leave his son to get involved in an anti-terrorist operation!
This makes even less sense when you consider that Diana is Wonder Woman, and shouldn't need help in the first place. Obviously, she's attracted to the guy and is letting her constantly repressed passions get the better of her. Let's just hope 70's boy pictured above doesn't end up an orphan due to WW's pent up lusts.
Pete gives Diana a lift to East L.A.. Deep in the barrio, she transforms into WW and interrogates Angel Velasquez (Alex Colon). She learns that the reason Steve and other I.A.D.C. operatives are being taken out is due to the plans of an underground terrorist organization called "The Movement". She also learns that an ex-police officer named Carolyn is a member.
There's a bit of a goof during this scene. Angel Velasquez admits under the spell of the Lasso of Truth that he had some thugs follow her from the airport... but that was Diana. They don't know that Diana Prince is actually WW.
And another goof right after...
Still in the barrio, The Tall Man tries to assassinate Diana, but can't get a good angle for the shot. As he conceals himself in a storefront, you can see the reflection of the camera guy if you look close enough.
This is a good illustration of how 70s TV shows didn't worry about minutiae. Not only were their budgets a fraction of today's, but they couldn't have conceived of a day when the shows could be dissected frame by frame. They were meant to be aired once with the off chance of reruns down the road.
Back at Pete's house, Diana is introduced to his mute son, Ted, played by K.C. Martel. You may know Martel from Growing Pains - he was Kirk Cameron's friend (not Boner - the other one). He was also one of the psychopathic killer kids in Bloody Birthday (the one with glasses), and he was in E.T. as well.
Pete explains that Tom is his bastard son from a stripper. He banged his mother while he was in the Marines.
Poolside at the LA Airport Marriott, Diana grabs a seat next to her incognito I.A.D.C. colleagues, John Kelly (Arch Johnson) and Tom Baker (Burr DeBenning). They inform her that The Movement has plans to sabotage an upcoming World Trade Commission ceremony and kill high ranking U.S. government officials. A few problems with this scene:
1. John and Tom are supposed to look inconspicuous... yet they stick out like sore thumbs in their business casual attire at a pool.
2. Tom Baker? I know it's a common name, but they had to know of the contemporary Dr. Who with the same name. Was this, perhaps a nod to the show?
3. Thirdly, Diana's bathing suit...
This looks like underwear. Did she not pack a suit, and thought no one would notice she's in lingerie? Plus she's obviously wearing pantyhose - not suitable for swimming or tanning I would think.
The Tall Man abducts little mute Ted, which never would have happened if Diana hadn't needlessly involved Pete. The Tall Man accepts Diana as a hostage in exchange for the boy, who says, "Dad!" when he is returned to his father's arms. He spoke - it's a miracle! (groan)
As WW, The Tall Man is easily apprehended. Now it's on to the show's climax - the World Trade Commission Ceremony.
Steve is still hostage to The Movement, and we learn that Tom Baker is a member. Yes, The Movement has as its leader a Time Lord.
To me, The Movement sounds a lot like Symbionese Liberation Army. The Patty Hearst incident was just 3 years prior to this episode, so it was still fresh on everyone's mind. Carolyn, a woman brainwashed by Tom Baker to join a small domestic terrorist organization, is very much a Patty Hearst character.
Of course, The Movement's plan is foiled by WW who appeals to Carolyn's conscience. Carolyn drops her weapon, and the World Trade Ceremony is now free to continue to drive the nation into deeper debt, send jobs overseas, and cripple the poor and middle class.
Season 2 always ends with these horrible awkward scenes at I.A.D.C. HQ talking to a faceless Charlie's Angels Jim Forsythe-esque voice. When the subject of Pete comes up, Diana explains that in restitution, she's given the father and son tickets to Disneyland. Are you kidding me?
Pete risked his life several times over and even had his kid abducted because of her. Plus, he bared his soul to her... now this tease just leaves his ass and flies back to D.C.? I'm not expecting a Pete-Diana sex scene (although that might've been nice), but a couple Disney tickets in the mail seems like a raw deal.
Until next time.