Wonder Woman Costume from Show You Never Saw Appears on Show You Never Watch, Worn by Actress from Show You Hated
ComicsAlliance extends sincerest kudos to NBC and producer David E. Kelley for executing what is one of the cleverest, grandest bits of trolling we’ve seen in quite some time: Adrianne Palicki’s costume from Kelley’s much maligned and unsuccessful Wonder Woman television pilot will appear on his latest series, Harry’s Law, worn by Erica Durance, who played Lois Lane on the controversial quasi-Superboy series Smallville. Kelley’s deft maneuver invokes and sews together layers and layers of nerd trauma, and the news of this meta-trolling has already generated consternation around the Web. We break it down in more detail after the cut.It struck everyone as a dubious if not outrightly bad idea when it was announced that Ally McBeal creator Kelley would film a new Wonder Woman television pilot in 2011. As demonstrated by ten seasons of Smallville, geeks are prepared to forgive all manner of televisual sins. Except of course when it comes to Wonder Woman’s pants, which as all ComicsAlliance readers know is probably the single most written about topic in the history of sequential art. Fandom had just endured the introduction of Jim Lee’s ’90s-infused leather-jacketed, black-panted redesign of Diana, Princess of the Amazons, for a comic book revamping of the character when NBC released a photo of actress Adrianne Palicki in a version of her TV costume (left):
While unmistakably Wonder Woman and coming far closer to capturing the majesty of the character than the Lee design of the time, the costume as photographed resembled the kind of cheap, rubbery, unlicensed female superhero costumes you see brimming out of Hollywood Boulevard exotic dancer supply stores around Halloween. Although refined for the pilot itself (image on right), this costume instilled great fear and sadness in many comic book fans. The Wonder Woman show was not upgraded to a proper series, and leaked copies of the pilot have taken on the mythic status of an especially grotesque celebrity sex tape. For a great many Wonder Woman devotees, the entire ordeal remains a painful memory ripe for trollish exploitation.
Invoking an unloved costume and aborted series is the easy part, though. The main thrust of Kelley’s attack comes in the form of Erica Durance aka Lois Lane from Smallville. As you know, ComicsAlliance writers Chris Sims and David Uzumeri authored the most definitive and essential analysis of the recently concluded CW series, and in that mammoth work, Sims and Uzumeri determined that Durance’s portrayal of the intrepid reporter of DC Comics legend was the show’s single most intentionally entertaining element. Indeed, for years dedicated Smallville viewers rationalized their weekly self-flagellation by citing Durance’s Lois as being so good that her presence excused the rest of the series, whose standard method was, as Uzumeri put it, to “use the names and appearances of things we recognize and then tell a story with them that basically has nothing to do with those original stories.”
It was through that prism of weirdness that Durance appeared even more radiant, and compounding nerd love for her was a very special episode of Smallville in which her character — again, Lois Lane — dressed up like Wonder Woman. What’s more, the costume she wore is generally considered to be among the best Diana designs of all time, and certainly the best one ever seen on screen:
In the January 11 episode of David E. Kelley’s laywer dramedy Harry’s Law, Erica Durance guest stars as a “psychologically infirm woman who retreats into the persona of the DC Comics heroine to help wreak revenge on perpetrators of domestic abuse.” That according to TV Guide, with whom Durance discussed her role:
TV Guide: How does it feel actually getting to play Wonder Woman… of sorts?
Erica Durance: “Of sorts” is the best way to put it and it’s probably the best way to play it because you get to have a little bit of freedom and you’re not judged quite so harshly. The way that I was able to work with the character Wonder Woman in this is through the eyes of a woman who desperately needed a strong female archetype to look up to, and she had gone through such terrible things and this was her alter ego. I would challenge anybody who said that she didn’t think she was Wonder Woman. This is how she found her way out.
So, as an actress, getting to put on the suit and play Wonder Woman was fantastic and then I got this whole other layer because of the way David E. Kelley had written it, to ground it in this kind of humanistic viewpoint, which was lovely.
As Smallville fans know all too well, there’s nothing quite as agonizing as seeing “sort of” versions of your favorite comic book characters on television, and Durance’s appearance on Harry’s Law makes it the second time the beautiful and talented actress has “sort of” played Wonder Woman.
But this isn’t enough for Kelley’s epic revenge troll, whose coup de grâce was dressing the fan-favorite Durance in precisely the same costume that Palicki wore in the Wonder Woman pilot everyone hated.
To recap: a performer everyone loves for playing a character everyone loves on a show that everyone hates appearing as yet another version of a character everyone loves (and wants her to play legitimately) on a show that nobody watches and wearing a costume everyone hates from a show that nobody will ever see.
Epic trolling, David E. Kelley.