In the UK: Saturday 3rd September, 7.10pm, BBC1/BBC1 HD. Available on the iPlayer In the US: Saturday 3rd September, 9pm/8c ET/PT, BBC America
I would review this, but basically I've already reviewed it when it was called Fear Her. Okay, it was a lot better. The direction was better. The writing was better. There were some great lines of dialogue, including Rory's "We're dead – again." And Matt Smith was very, very good.
But it was still Fear Her in plot, Macguffin and more or less everything else (Doctor investigates alien cuckoo child in suburban estate who can shape reality with its mind, gets trapped by alien and relies on outside help to get saved). And it still wasn't that good, although I imagine very young kids might have wet themselves.
Essentially, a big set of things that seem scary on paper (and in the case of the life-size dolls, scary on TV) or that were scary when they were last seen in Sapphire and Steel when they were done well, it failed to connect emotionally or hang together properly. With most adults, at least, it failed to scare or engage. The trite ending – "dad must rescue son by telling him he loves him unconditionally" – was as poor as the attempts to add social realism, which were largely thrown away. And above all, It failed to make sense – kid fears getting rejected by parents so distorts reality, causing his parents to think about rejecting him.
It was a lot better than Gatiss's last effort, Victory of the Daleks, but still a bit of a wasted chance for the plot of Fear Her to redeem itself. Not awful, not bad in places, but still an also-ran episode.
In the transfer between book and TV series, a lot can change. A case in point: the ITC adventure series, The Baron, a sort of prototype Lovejoy and the first ITC show filmed entirely in colour that featured people rather than puppets.
Based on John Creasey's series of novels, The Baron starred American actor Steve Forrest as John Mannering, a former Texas ranch owner and antique dealer who takes on missions for ITC's catch-all British spy service, Diplomatic Intelligence*, aided by his glamorous spy colleague Cordelia Winfield (Sue Lloyd) .
What's interesting about this is that in the books
Mannering is British
He's a former jewel thief
He doesn't own a cattle ranch
He doesn't work for British intelligence
Basically, ITC bought the name and made another version of The Saint but starring an American. Nevertheless, it was a fun little action show, with lots of fights, car chases and running round, even if the scripts themselves were largely unremarkable. The theme tune was great, plus anything with Sue Lloyd in it has to be good. And for ITC lovers, this was the very few show to feature the notorious "white jaguar driving off a cliff scene" that later appeared in virtually dozens of subsequent ITC shows.
Largely written by Terry "I created the Daleks" Nation and Dennis Spooner, another former Doctor Who script writer, the show was very much in hoc to American financing. As well as the US lead, the show was redubbed for the American market, with words like 'petrol' changed to 'gas'. The original assistant planned for Mannering, David Marlowe (played by Paul Ferris), was replaced by Winfield at US instigation as well.
However, those who live for the American market, die by the American market because when ratings suffered, a second series for the show was out of the question, despite doing well in the UK. Happily, you can buy it on DVD still.
* At the time, SS/MI5 and SIS/MI6 didn't officially exist
So I'm going to out myself as a bit of a Wonder Woman fan. I love her in the comics (with the right authors such as George Perez, Gail Simone and Greg Rucka), we have the whole 1970s TV series on DVD, we have the animated movie on iTunes and lovely wife has a Wonder Woman mug to drink from. I even have a couple of Wonder Woman encyclopaedias on the shelves.
I know. Sad.
But I'll tell you for why. As well as Wonder Woman being one of the very few iconic and powerful female superheroes out there, the DC universe is such that while Superman is off fighting sci-fi enemies, Batman is fighting human grotesques and Captain Marvel is off beating up magical villains, Wonder Woman is the fourth iconic pillar: she's the mythological hero, fighting gods and monsters. Her stories are unique and she has a necessary, irreplaceable area of the comics world to call her own.
But there's still more to her: she is literally an emissary from the Greek gods, who are second to none in the DC universe (no Christian or any other monotheistic gods at the top of this pantheon), and they have imbued her with their powers to give their mortals a message: there's a better way to live than patriarchy.
In other words, despite what you may or may not think about her costume, she's just about the only feminist and indeed religious superhero out there and when she prays, her prayers are answered.
Wonder Woman's TV and movie career is a little checkered. There was a dreadful 1967 pilot that tried to do for Wonder Woman what the Batman TV series did for the caped crusader - camp it up. Then Cathy Lee Crosby did a quite awful TV movie version that preserved most of the trappings of Wonder Woman, but robbed her of all her powers.
Lynda Carter had a much better time of things from 1976, with three seasons of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. The first season, set as the original comic was during World War 2, wasn't bad and did a reasonably good job of presenting the Wonder Woman of the early comics.
However, the later seasons, set in quasi-modern/futuristic times, became very camp sci-fi affairs.
Nevertheless, none of these versions have really depicted the comics version of Wonder Woman, who can fly, is as strong and as fast as Superman, can talk to animals, has the wisdom of Athena and is a trained Amazon warrior. That means it's largely been left to animated shows and movies to depict the real Wonder Woman halfway decently.
Recently, however, in this, Wonder Woman's 70th anniversary year, NBC tried to make another TV version of Wonder Woman. For some reason, however, they got David E Kelley of Ally McBeal, Boston Legal and Harry's Law fame to do this. It's not been picked up for series, so will probably never get onto TV (just like that very first Wonder Woman pilot), but just for the sake of completeness and curiosity, I've watched it and, well, it's exactly what you think it would be like: never has a superhero worried so much about the law, jurisdiction, search warrants and the difficulties of her love life, as well as the pressures of running a company and being a woman in today's world.
About the blog
A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
Add in film, theatre, art, books, events, competitions and even weekly reviews of Wonder Woman comics, and you've (hopefully) got officially the fourth best blog on the web for media lovers. Oh yes, and there's The Barrometer, the ultimate guide to quality TV.
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"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
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"Billing itself as 'officially the fourth most popular UK TV blog', there are several whimsical regulars here that could help it climb as high as number three…"
I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.