By Kerensa Cadenas and Noel Kirkpatrick
Season 2, Episode 21: “The Girl From Ilandia”
Original airdate: April 7, 1978
Noel:Well, Kerensa, it appears that I have picked an episode that all but spelled out POTENTIAL SPIN-OFF in big yellow letters across the bottom of the screen to round out our Season 2 discussion.
What’d you think of our you friend from Ilandia (I’ll fix the spelling later) and her struggle to elude capture from a man “so intelligent that he only talks to himself”?
Kerensa: That episode was DEEPLY SAD. Holy crap. And Simon is kinda creepy? I did really like it overall and it was finally nice to see Wonder Woman more often.
What did you think?
Noel: I…did not like it that much. Long breaks of “Here’s our powers!” sort of undermined much in the way of sadness for me about Tina getting stuck in this Earth dimension with, indeed, creepy Simon. Though I was also constantly distracted by the fact that Diana kept talking about Ilandia and Bleaker (man, Alan Arbus needed way more to do, I love him) as if we had had heard of them before.
But, please, tell me more about your reaction to the episode! I want to know how and why it elicited all the feels.
Kerensa:Well, other than being like a super emo 15 year old lately, I just felt so sad for her. All she wanted was to go home and no one seemed to really care? And that scene with her and the dog on the beach. ALL THE FEELS.
Also, I totally want Tiger to get his own spinoff.
I do agree that the “athletic powers” montage totally took from the emotional power of the episode. Mostly because it felt like it should have been in something completely different. And that was distracting how it felt like we were supposed to know creeper Simon, Ilandia and Bleaker from before.
And I’m not totally wrong in that Simon was SO creepy? When they had that conversation about her staying with him and him renaming her Tina–just all of it grossed me out.
Noel: I think Diana cared, but I also think that she was being overly-pragmatic about Tina’s chances about getting back to her home dimension, which seemed to be nil without Bleaker’s helper. So much for your compassion, Diana! Can’t even fake it for a kid who is clearly miserable stuck among all these ordinary mortals. It seemed like her solution was to have the athletics montage to distract the poor kid.
Yeah, we need to talk about Simon a bit. I see where you’re coming from with the sadness regarding Tina, and I think Simon’s story — dead wife, renames young girl he happens to save after her — was supposed to speak to his pathos and heartbreak, but it’s actually just super-creepy. I don’t have an issue with Simon wanting to take her on as a daughter/ward, a la Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson and then traveling around the country as a roving reporter, helping people along the way. BUT the dead wife aspect just made it really weird. Like, uncomfortable weird. Like, Diana needs to contact child services weird.
Kerensa: Yeah, I agree. Diana’s compassion for her felt weirdly forced. And you know she was comparing it to her own journey from Paradise Island to adjusting to life in the States. But Diana, you are a grown ass woman–this is a little girl who was COMPLETELY forced from her home. And wasn’t there someone she could contact re: getting back to her home dimension–like ANDROS PERHAPS?! UGH.
I think that it was too–I don’t necessarily think we are supposed to think he’s a creeper. But it all came off so weird. And he was just also so pushy and mansplain-y which maybe didn’t help things.
What else did you think about re: the episode? I guess the bad guys–I didn’t really get them at all.
Noel: They totally should’ve contacted Andros! I’m sure his pendant from the Deus Ex Machina line of jewelry would’ve solved this problem in no time. Sigh. If only the Interplanetary Council of Hardasses had jurisdiction over other dimensions, too. I’m sure Stickler For the Rules Council Woman would’ve been all over this.
I wanted so much more from the bad guys! So much more. I love Allan Arbus who played Bleaker. The man will always be Sydney from M*A*S*H in my brain, but I relished the idea of him being a villain here, and that relish was ruined with…whatever you ruin relish with. The whole conceit of him as the smartest man who only talks to himself and he has this submarine base and all this other craziness was awesome! He could’ve teamed up with Manta from “The Bermuda Triangle Crisis” and taken over the world!
As things stand in this episode, he’s just underdeveloped and underused, depriving of us of one of TV’s great character actors hamming it up for 44 minutes. And so the ending ends up feeling a little bit rushed, though it was cool to see Tina use her powers and do battle with would-be teenage thieves and Bleaker’s hapless goons.
Kerensa: I did, too! They felt so absent within the storyline which doesn’t make sense because they are the reason why she’s stuck there in the first place. Throughout the episode, I literally had no idea what was going on with the bad guys. They were just around but not doing anything. It was confusing.
I did like when we got to see Tina use her powers especially against the YOUTHS. I laughed so hard when that teen thief showed up.
Most importantly though, what did you think of the clear star of the episode–TIGER?!
Noel: Oh, Tiger. Giving away Diana’s secret identity without a second thought (I.D.A.C. can’t set up its agents in nicer hotels?)! I was fine with Tiger, even though he also reeked of spin-off material as well. I am glad that the animal telepathy wasn’t some silly one-off power, though. Well. One-off, anyway; it’s still silly.
This is our last episode of Season 2 (though not the season finale). What did you think about it, based on what we watched? We’ve hashed out a lot of stuff, especially early on, in comparison to Season 1…
Kerensa: Tiger was so cute though! And the animal telepathy is super silly.
Honestly, Season 2 even based on what we watch was such a huge decline in quality from Season 1. It’s not like Season 1 was by any means perfect but they just feel so vastly different. Season 1 felt more cohesive and I guess just what I expected from the show–vague political leanings, goofiness and tons of Wonder Woman. As Season 2 has gone on, pretty much all of that has been stripped from the show. It’s been something, I’ll say that much.
Noel: I think “cohesive” may be the correct word, even barring the comparisons to Season 1. Season 2 could never settle on a tone or a perspective, at least in a consistent enough of a fashion for me. We started off with government agents and spies and terrorists but then switched gears to Diana-goes-undercover-or-is-in-the-field stuff, no doubt the result of the producer switch that happened at the halfway point that Marty mentioned a while back. And while I’m glad that the fencing robot never became the norm, the show never seemed to find a happy medium on its camp scale, between the rock star flutists, hammy magicians and then criminal masterminds or half-baked geniuses like in this episode.
I don’t think we’re running into too much of a generation gap here as we both really liked Season 1, even without comparisons, but the shift to the 70s seemed to result in a taste of just too much inconsistent approach in style. It’s sort of a “LET’S DO EVERYTHING” sort of adventure show, but without a guiding center.
Kerensa: Nailed it.
We’re doing a six episodes (well, technically seven, but we’re counting the two-parter as one) from Season 3 to wrap up our discussion of the series. Here’s the order:
“The Deadly Sting” – Diana investigates corrupt college football games. Even Wonder Woman hates the Bowl System.
“The Fine Art of Crime” – Roddy McDowell is turning people into statues, but all that really matters is Ed Begely, Jr. is back.
“Spaced Out” – There’s a laser hidden at a sci-fi convention, and Wonder Woman has to find it. Standing in her way? NEEEEEEEEERDS!!!
“The Richest Man in the World” – A Howard Hughes-type millionaire — in that he’s a recluse, not that he’s obsessed with Ice Station Zebra — has some secrets about missiles.
“The Man Who Could Not Die” – In what sounds like another spin-off attempt, Diana encounters an indestructible man AND an indestructible chimpanzee. Also: Steve Trevor is dropped from the show as Diana relocates to Los Angeles.
“The Phantom of the Roller Coaster” Parts 1 & 2 – We can only assume that this is a Scooby-Doo tribute episode. These are the last two episodes of the series, even though “The Man Who Could Not Die” was the last episode produced.