"Electra Woman and Dyna Girl" (TV Pilot, 2001)


Franchise reboots are tricky. The rules are essentially the same as remaking a movie - get it right and your work will be identified as "this generation's so-and-so"; get it wrong, and if you're lucky it will be forever compared to the original, and never in a positive light. Sadly, while some find their own success, many reboots fall into the latter of these two, either because its showrunners make too many changes to the source material or simply because the fans have such fond memories of the original.

The science fiction genre is no stranger to reboots. Battlestar Galactica got one, Flash Gordon got one, Doctor Who got one, Star Trek had several throughout the '90s... even Star Wars got a fresh set of movies (and I know "fresh" is stretching things a bit) back in 1999, plus we've started seeing teasers for a seventh installment.

Sid and Marty Krofft caught the reboot bug back in 1991 when they re-imagined their most popular '70s green screen puppet show Land of the Lost, which ran for two seasons on ABC Saturday morning and was co-produced by the people who brought you Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Then in 2001 they tried again, and what with the popularity of Buffy and the Gilmore Girls, this time they chose to revive a series they felt would fit in perfectly. One that managed to grow from a meager one-season run as a "show within a show" to become one of their most popular Saturday morning offerings.

That's right - we're doing the failed pilot episode of the 2001 attempted relaunch of the bicentennial seventh-grader's answer to Adam West's Batman, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.

Conceived for the WB Network and never aired on television, today this TV pilot exists only in the realm of bootleg video and preserved for posterity deep in the bowels of YouTube's servers. And the best part is, it's only fifteen minutes long, so this review won't take as long to read as most of the others.

So we begin at an amusement park, where a little girl running around unsupervised decides to take a ride on a Ferris wheel. Suddenly the cable on her car snaps and overturns, leaving her hanging precariously over imminent doom! But luckily for her, a lady in a familiar-looking costume with an oversized wristwatch in on the scene--it's Electra Woman, who climbs onto the wheel to rescue the poor girl and bring her down.

Dyna Girl rounds out the cast.

"You should know better than to wander off by yourself. Remember what happened to that kid on Lidsville?"

Fast-forward a few years, and that little girl is now a young Anne Stedman who is still crazy obsessed about Electra Woman. In fact, as it happens, her fancy-pants pretty-people-only college which I assume is some Professor Xavier-type academy for superheroes or something (which would explain all the cameos) is having a homecoming parade in which they have invited a number of superhero graduates to participate in some kind of thank-you float or something, and she's insisting that her long time idol participate in the proceedings.

Her name's Judy, by the way.

Sadly, since that episode, her rescuer has since disappeared from the public eye and is now an estranged middle-aged divorcee played by Markie Post from Night Court living in a trailer park and smelling of cigarettes and booze. Seems the original Dyna Girl ran off with her husband and since then her self-worth has hit an all-time low. She doesn't even think of herself as a superhero anymore - not compared to Superman being an alien, Batman having that goth thing going for him, and Wonder Woman having bigger--

Wait...divorce? Sex? Bosom envy? Wasn't this based off a kids' show? That was made during a time when you weren't allowed to punch people on a kids' show?

Judy can't help but notice that Electra Woman's invitation went return-to-sender on her, not that anyone planning the parade cares since Judy's not even on the planning committee and EW was a drop-out, and pays her a visit to find out what the dilly-o. She discovers Laurie's--I'm guessing that's her name--sad state of affairs just in time for the two of them to tumble out of the back of the trailer as it's being towed away while they were still inside it, which I must admit was pretty funny.

So the main gist is that Judy now aims to bring her childhood hero back into the spotlight by hiding her booze, booking her publicity gigs, and risking bringing up one of the worst traumas of her life by digging out the original Dyna Girl costume and putting it on.

Uhh, Judy...when you get home after Laurie throws you out of her hotel room, find a dictionary and look up the word "tact."

Judy books the two of then an appearance at a local pawn shop, where nobody shows up, Laurie isn't exacly crazy about the idea, and Judy loudly announces that her leotard is "creeping into her secret places." Her words, not mine. Fortunately, nothing quite breaks up the monotony in a pawn shop quite like a pair of armed robbers who quite cartoonishly knock out the guy behind the counter and start pointing rifles at things. Judy has to goad Laurie into foiling this heist as the security guard rather ineffectually clutches his inhaler and after a moment's disillusionment, Laurie reluctantly gets involved.

Thus follows one of the most bizarre dialogue exhanges within fifteen minutes of anything.

I'm holding a GUN. A BIG GUN.

Oh please. I've had bigger things than that up my--

WHOA!!! Too much information.

At the very least, it sets off something you NEVER saw in the original TV show - a fight scene.

Which also includes something ELSE you never saw in the original TV show - Dyna Girl kicking a bad guy in his Bugaloos.

Conclusive evidence.

And as luck would have it, a news van drives up right outside just as the bad guys are beaten into submission.

So Electra Woman and Dyna Girl are officially back in the public eye, Judy celebrates by immediately leaking her new secret identity to her horny boyfriend, and Laurie celebrates by--


Yeah...she's decided to move in with Judy and finish her degree. And she's already made herself right at home.

Chest windows? This MUST be the 21st century!

Okayyyyyyyy...good points:

Well, compared to what we were given in the original series, the writing felt more mature. Obviously it wasn't 1976 anymore, and this was made to attract older primetime audiences, so taking it in a more adult direction was a given, which honestly is not a direction normally taken in a Sid and Marty Krofft production--not even in any of their variety shows. We even got a fight scene. And a crotch kick. And at least this aborted continuity goes out of its way to explain Laurie and Judy's living arrangements. If this had actually gotten past the pilot stage, it might have been interesting to see this expanded upon.

And who was Laurie's ex-husband? Frank Heflin?

Euggghh...no. Not if Dyna Girl stole him away.

Which leads us to the bad points: the writing is a little TOO mature. There were way too many sex and female anatomy jokes in it, and whoever wrote this went a little overboard in making Electra Woman 2.0's life miserable. In fact, she kinda comes off as a sleazy, sex-starved old lady, and a lot of that made me quite uncomfortable. You wouldn't think the people who gave you something like H.R. Pufnstuf could pull off a superhero costume with a chest window.

When all is said and done, based on this pilot, I think I would probably have prefered the original. At least I had fun with its camp nature and low production values, and I would rather cringe at the writing quality than at superheroines making rapid-fire vagina jokes.

Why so serious?

1 comment:

Tucsoncoyote said...

Hate to break this.. But Glitter Rock ran for president .. 3 Times.. 3 TIMES!

and this one should never have seen the light of day... now on the other hand...

(See my other post relating to the actual TV Series..)