Saturday, June 20, 2015
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: ElectraWoman and DynaGirl (1976) Series Primer
The next Saturday morning live-action series I will cover here on the blog is Sid and Marty Krofft’s ElectraWoman and DynaGirl (1976).
The series ran on ABC in the year 1976 as part of the omnibus program The Krofft Supershow. Like Secrets of Isis (from Filmation), ElectraWoman and DynaGirl is a female driven superhero program.
Unlike, Isis (a series which adopts the format, essentially, of the 1950s Adventures of Superman), it is clear that the inspiration for the Sid and Marty Krofft series is the 1960s Adam West Batman (1966 – 1968).
In particular, ElectraWoman and DynaGirl involves crime fighting partners, costumed super-villains, and a campy tone.
The series follows Lori (Deirdre Hall), and Judy (Judy Strangis), reporters for Newsmaker Magazine.
They are also, secretly, ElectraWoman and DynaGirl. These colorfully-dressed superheroes operate from the Electra-Base, an installation deep under the suburban house they share. They reach the base by elevator, and from surface to Electra-Base done their costumes via the wonder of instantaneous “Electra Change.”
In the Electra-Base, their friend (and Alfred stand-in), Frank Heflin (Norman Alden) tires endlessly to aid their cause.
He watches their highly-advanced Crime Scope computer for signs of criminal activities, and is constantly updating their most valuable piece of equipment with new applications. This equipment is the wrist-watch like device called an “Electra-Comp.”
In various episodes, the Electra-Comps are up-fitted with “Electra Vibe” applications, which can shatter matter, and the “Electra Split” function, an unstable “decoy” weapon that can double or duplicate non-living matter. The two superheroes can also fly using their Electra-Comps, thanks to the function “Electra De-Gravitate” (seen in the segment “The Empress of Evil.”)
In terms of aping Batman, ElectraWoman and DynaGirl also possess a signature vehicle, the Electra-Car, which can also transform into the Electra-Plane.
And DynaGirl, like the Boy Wonder, is given to enthusiastic exhortations. Instead of prefacing those exhortations with the word “Holy,” however, she uses the word “Electra.” In other words, she says things like “Electra Wild!” or “Electra-Fantastic” or Electra Wow!”
Similarly, ElectraWoman and DynaGirl features a sort of spinning wheel scene transition, much like the spinning bat-wheel transition on the West series.
Unlike Batman and Robin, however, ElectraWoman and DynaGirl don’t even wear masks when changing from civilian to superhero gear, making it difficult to understand how people don’t recognize them. On the other hand, Lori and Judy aren’t the city’s most prominent citizen, like Bruce Wayne, either. Instead, they are journalists in the immediate Post-Watergate Scandal age, digging deep into their stories, but not drawing attention to themselves as “hero journalists.”
Despite the fact that ElectraWoman and DynaGirl lased for just sixteen fifteen minute segments (comprising eight episodes in all), the series has nonetheless become a lasting part of the pop culture firmament. A pilot was made for a follow-up series in 2001, and in 2016, we can expect a web-series re-boot starring Grace Hellbig and Hannah Hart. It will be interesting to see how the property is updated, and what tone it strikes.
The villains of the series are mostly bizarre, costumed freaks, who always have one and only one sidekick. Some of these villains include the Sorcerer (Michael Constantine) with sidekick Miss Dazzle (Susan Lanier), Glitter Rock (John Mark Robison) with minion “Side-Man, Ali Bab (Malachi Throne), The Pharaoh (Peter Mark Richman), the Spider Lade (Tiffany Bolling) and The Emress of Evil (Claudette Nevins).
I’ll be reviewing each episode of ElectraWoman and DynaGirl here for the next eight weeks. Instead of breaking the segments up into part I/part II -- cliffhanger/cliffhanger resolved -- pieces (another way that the series apes Batman’s storytelling structure), I’ll be treating each 25 minute story as an entire episode.
Next Saturday we begin our "electra" journey with: “The Sorcerer.”