Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman
January 5, 2013

Super-fan Mike Pingel has self-published an episode guide to the Wonder Woman TV show. That’s only half the book, though. The other half is full of information on the show and its star, Lynda Carter. (This is the second edition, a reworked version of The Q Guide to Wonder Woman (2008), that includes a new interview with Lynda Carter.)

Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman cover
Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman

Cover art by Glen Hanson

Because it’s self-published, it’s subject to the usual caveats. There were many more typos than I’d like in the text, which at times made reading a chore, and the book could use a copy-editing pass or three to clean up some of the phrasing. I saw duplicate paragraphs and missing ends of sentences and spaces in the middle of words. Alternately, there’s a certain slap-dash appeal that can be seen as attempting to capture the unbridled enthusiasm of a devoted fan. Also, print-on-demand books don’t age well; in the half year since I received it, the covers have begun curling badly, til they’re now at a 45-degree angle from flat.

The content is full of fun facts, with various bits of trivia scattered throughout to break up the main text. It begins with a history of the Wonder Woman character on television, leading up to her show’s debut in 1975. There are interviews with Carter, producer Douglas S. Cramer, producer (of the planned theatrical WW film) Leonard Goldberg, Stella Stevens, and others, as well as a list of Wonder Woman references in other TV shows, information on fan websites, and discussion of Carter’s singing career. A recurring topic is asking a number of gay semi-celebrities about their opinion of some aspect of the character.

However, much of the material is presented in a fashion that assumes we know almost as much about the topics as the author does. References are confusing in some cases, and subjects are discussed without clear introduction. Typical of an unauthorized work, there aren’t any pictures from the show itself. The few images are either modern, taken by the author, or fan art illustrations.

Lynda Carter and author Mike Pingel

Lynda Carter and author Mike Pingel in 2007

The episode guide section is a poor substitute for IMDB. For each, there’s a plot description, two or three sentences each about notable guest stars, and a few bullet points of trivia. Obvious elements may be omitted — for example, in the writeup for episode two, “Wonder Woman Meets Baroness Von Gunther”, the name of the actress playing Von Gunther, Christine Belford, is never mentioned. I can’t envision any purpose I’d use this section for. It’s not entertaining enough to be a fun read on its own, and if I’m watching the show myself, what do I need someone else’s notes for?

It’s a shame that an obviously beloved subject isn’t presented more clearly and professionally, but it appears the author got too caught up in his love for Wonder Woman to share it with us well. (The author provided a review copy.)

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