By Kerensa Cadenas and Noel Kirkpatrick
Season 3, Episode 22: “The Man Who Could Not Die”
Original airdate: Aug. 28, 1979
Noel: What we have here — aside from an actually really good episode — is the last episode produced of the series, though not the last aired. And it shows. Diana has moved to L.A. — finally — and while Steve and IRA are gone, she gets a whole new supporting casting, including a jerk-ish new boss, a street-wise hustler in form of a black kid, and the man who could not die and his equally invulnerable pet chimp.
It’s yet ANOTHER reboot of the series, but one that went no further than this episode as the show did not receive a fourth season. What did you think about this one?
Kerensa: I really liked this one too. It was the first time–in a while–that the show kept me pretty engaged.
I thought the plot was great, Bryce is totally hot and Diana kinda felt like an actual person! SHE WAS DRINKING WINE. It’s an achievement! She’s come so far!
What did you think?
Noel: I’m sort of conflicted about the potential of this new Wonder Woman, even though it never came to be. I mean, Diana has to transform to be super-strong. Bryce just shows up and is invulnerable. While it doesn’t seem like he’d be in the field, we both know he would be so Diana could be Diana more and Wonder Woman less. But it doesn’t matter since the show never had the chance to become this. I do think it was a good gesture, overall, on Diana as a character, as she’s more…organically central to the show’s narrative, with a supporting cast that wouldn’t have seemed forgotten in the way that Steve did since they’re brand new. And not as annoying as a smart ass computer. Of course, a shift in narrative centrality isn’t that big of an issue with the show, but its retoolings across the episodes made it difficult to feel smoother.
To the episode as an individual unit though, I thought it was a lot of fun. Stunts were neat (except for the stuffed monkey flying through the sky — that was just hilarious), and the story, while doing all this retooling, still felt like it could’ve completely self-contained, which is probably the highest compliment I can possibly pay it.
Kerensa: Yeah, I totally agree. Do you think what ultimately killed this show was the fact that it could never figure out its identity? I mean how many retoolings have we gone through in our time watching it?
It’s so weird to see a show that should have a such clear idea of what it could be, considering the source material, and just completely blow it at every turn. I do think that with the retooling it would turn into something resembling that terrible movie we watched with Diana as more of a sexy spy woman and less Wonder Woman which is also depressing. Also, I miss Steve 😦
The episode as a whole was a lot of fun–that stuffed monkey part was hilarious. I especially liked all the SUPER LA references–like when the movers told Diana there was no way she’d get to downtown LA in less than 20 minutes. One thing I do want to talk about was the sexual tension with Bryce and Diana! I think she was actually flirting with him. She’s come so far! Do you think they would have developed a relationship between the two of them?
Noel: Hm. I don’t know that the retoolings would matter all that much, and that it was more a matter of trends and ratings in the TV landscape that contributed to the lack of a renewal beyond Season 3. Though I can only imagine the press today talking about how Wonder Woman is retooling itself again.
Who’d have thunk that you would ever miss Steve? I can’t say I missed him in that supervisory role, though I did miss him out in the field with Diana. I like to think that if they ended up doing a show similar to that one in the mid-80s during the heyday of mixed gender detective shows, it might’ve been a very big show.
Give me an example of the flirting? I certainly think there’s more interest there than has been with any other guy she’s encountered thus far, but what specifically stuck out to you? Now, that being said, I don’t know that they would’ve started up a relationship. The one thing that has survived all the re-calibrations this show has gone through as been Diana’s lack of a personal life, let alone the idea that she’d have romantic and/or sexual needs/desires.
Kerensa: Right? I never thought I would miss Steve either. Wonder Woman has profoundly changed me apparently.
I just thought there was some tension between the two of them, especially in that end scene when they are having a drink. There was just a lot of lingering looks and I think Bryce said some thinly veiled things about Diana being pretty. And she was kinda giggly. It was kinda weird to see actually.
What else stood out for you in the episode? Other than Diana’s new fondness for hats…
Noel: Re-watching their after-adventure drinks at hotel (all hotels should look like that, by the way), there is certainly some tension, and gentle flirting. Diana certainly isn’t “chopped liver,” though I feel like Bryce is the first man to say such a thing without it sounding horrible.
I’m glad you mentioned this scene, though, as it’s one of the key things I wanted to discuss about the episode. Bryce’s condition: invulnerable and apparently immortal, without the need to sleep or eat are very Superman-esque problems (they even reference Bryce entering the circus as the Man of Steel complete with tights and a cape). Clark doesn’t need to eat or sleep, really, he just does it to feel human (and because he enjoys it), and due to his biology, he actually ages slower than everyone else around him. Everyone except for Wonder Woman. So this idea of a romance between the Diana and Bryce actually serves as a stand-in for some of the previously non-canon pairings between Superman and Wonder Woman.
And while I doubt the show would’ve revisited that sense of Diana feeling isolated ever again — I feel like this is something we talked about briefly early on, maybe? — that Diana even makes mention of Wonder Woman beings in a similar predicament to Bryce’s just a surprising emotional moment for a show that eschews those moments.
Tell me about all of the hats, Kerensa. ALL OF THE HATS.
Kerensa: Yeah, Bryce actually seems like a nice guy? Weird.
That’s a really interesting way to look at it. Understandably, Bryce clearly doesn’t know how to deal with his new condition, but he was kinda annoying about it. Like dude, you can still eat if you aren’t hungry.
We did talk about Diana feeling isolated early on and I really liked that moment when she mentions that to Bryce. It would have been cool if the retooling had made Wonder Woman as a mentor figure to him. I kinda doubt they would have ever done that though.
I’m just generally puzzled by where all this hat wearing is coming from? It’s so out of nowhere. She wore SO many different hats in this episode and they were all so ridiculous. Did you have a hat preference this episode?
We should talk about some of the other new characters they introduced–did you have any thoughts on them? I loved the kid–he was super adorable. I hate Diana’s new supervisor, he’s a total dick.
Noel: I wouldn’t be that hard on Bryce! It’s probably like being sick and not being hungry but knowing you should eat. Except in his case, he feels great, but all those little touches of humanity that he understands are gone. I feel for him.
I’m curious about what the show’s format would be going forward. I imagine a Fugitive-esque scenario where we have episodic baddies but every now and then, Reichman would pop up and Bryce would want to get into the field and go after him for a cure, a la the search for the One-Armed Man. But who knows.
T. Burton Phipps III was fine with me, as was Tobias the chimp. I’d rather have a street-wise hustler in the form of a pre-pubescent kid than a snarky computer. Her new boss, Hawthorne, was sort of a welcomed presence for me, though. Yeah, he’s a complete jerk, but I like that there was something for Diana to push against in the workplace. It was the most political the show’s been in a very long while, and I thrived on that element, even if it had sort of faded by the end to Hawthorne being just a hard-nosed, unflexible guy.
Kerensa: Much rather have the kid selling sandwiches out of his coat than that dumb computer.
That first scene Diana has with Hawthorne when he insists that she can’t be the agent because she is a woman was infuriating. And definitely the most political the show has been in a long, long time. I wonder if they would have kept that dynamic between the two of them if the show had gone on.
Noel: Nah. Probably not.
So well me about the hats? I sort of loved the one with the ribbon, but that’s largely because the asymmetrical nature of the second one bothered me.
Kerensa: I thought they were both terrible. I really don’t like this hat thing she’s trying to make happen. I think mostly it’s because they are too matchy with her outfits, it’s distracting.
Noel: So none of the outfits worked for you this week?
Kerensa: Not really. I did kinda like her casual “moving” outfit.
Noel: Poor Diana’s wardrobe this week.
Last of our discussion of Wonder Woman: “The Phantom of the Roller Coaster” Parts 1 and 2