Adrianne Palicki is the Wonder Woman we don’t talk about. After Lynda Carter and before Gal Gadot, the Friday Night Lights star slipped into Wonder Woman’s red bustier and blue hot pants to fight crime in Los Angeles, for an NBC pilot written by Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelley in 2011. It never went anywhere, and even Kelley admitted it “made mistakes.” He imagined Wonder Woman not as fun but frustrated: As a vigilante she’s irritated by the confines of the criminal justice system, as a normal woman she’s lonely. Her nemesis is Veronica Cale (Elizabeth Hurley), a pharmaceutical CEO who’s up to no good.
The reason Kelley’s pilot wasn’t picked up by NBC isn’t a great unsolved mystery. From top to bottom, lasso to cuffs, it’s a mess. (There’s an Abu Ghraib joke in the first five minutes.) The tone is stiff and awkward. Palicki juggles three identities: Diana Themyscira, CEO of Themyscira Industries, who is openly known to be the crime-fighting Wonder Woman, and lives secretly as Diana Prince, a red-wine-sipping cat lady hiding behind bad bangs and worse glasses. Everyone knows Themyscira is Wonder Woman; Prince is the secret identity here.
Themyscira Industries is apparently a successful toy company that gets all its revenue from Wonder Woman merchandising, mainly dolls with big boobs. Only Christian Grey has a multi-million-dollar company that makes less sense, and Kelley’s pilot forces Diana Themyscira to yawn through a board meeting about Wonder Woman’s foot-tall rendering before shouting at Cary Elwes that she never said it was okay for the company to “merchandise her tits.”
A Greek chorus of pundits — Nancy Grace, Jeffrey Toobin, Dr. Phil, and Alan Dershowitz, waving around a copy of the Constitution — provide commentary on the mystery Wonder Woman is solving. Cale is running illegal drug tests to perfect an enhancement drug. Her subjects — “Six teenage athletes, all from ghettos, by the way” — have suffered heart failure from the injections. Since Diana names Cale the culprit early on, there’s not a lot of investigating going on: Instead, we just have to wait around for Diana to decide it’s time to ignore the red tape of the FBI, break into Cale’s lab, and bring her to justice.
For a show that’s Ally McBeal–adjacent, both of Diana’s alter egos have boring love lives. By the time her ex-boyfriend shows up and announces he’s married, instead of deflating, it feels like we’ve been spared an entire season of terrible rom-com subplots.
I realize I’ve made this show sound incredibly unappealing, but the pilot’s still worth checking out, if only for curiosity’s sake. You can watch it below!