Episode Title: The Pluto File
Original Airdate: December 25, 1976
There are certain actors that are well known for playing villains. There’s just a certain quality that makes them particularly suited to that type of role. Now, maybe it’s just me, but if I were a casting director, my first instinct for casting a bad guy would probably not be to go for an actor who is most famous for playing one of TV’s most famous sitcom dads. Then again, actors pride themselves on versatility. Forget about The Brady Bunch for a while, because this episode gives us Robert Reed (Mike Brady himself) as a sinister agent working for the Nazis in The Pluto File.
Reed plays a mercenary known as “The Falcon” who has recently arrived in Washington along with a female companion. His mission is to steal the work of one Professor Warren (Hayden Rorke) who has been working on a way of using explosives to trigger small earthquakes. His ultimate goal is to come to a better understanding of seismic activity to be able to control and prevent earthquakes. The Falcon, however plans destruction. Posing as a soldier delivering dinner, he successfully breaks into the professor’s lab and steals the file.
Meanwhile, a strange development occurs. The woman that arrived stateside with The Falcon ends up in a New York hospital with Bubonic Plague. One of the guards from Warren’s lab also comes down with it. It seems that The Falcon is carrying the disease and doesn’t even know it. Luckily, the professor doesn’t yet show any symptoms, but he is still hospitalized due to injuries from the attack. While there, The Falcon tries to eliminate the professor with some sniper fire from across the street. Luckily Diana, who is there to question the professor, spots the assassin, quickly transforms into Wonder Woman, and deflects the bullet with a magic bracelet. Wonder Woman gives chase, jumping out of the window, but The Falcon escapes.
We soon learn that Professor Warren’s assistant is in league with The Falcon, and he soon starts showing signs of having the plague as well. But the assistant wasn’t there during the attack. When Steve connects the dots, the assistant pulls a gun tries to make an escape. Luckily Diana spots him on the way out and, as Wonder Woman, snags him with her golden lasso.
The Falcon continues his plot, however. He and another lackey head to the outskirts of Washington where a secret military installation is working on an experimental nuclear reactor. All along the way they keep infecting more people with the plague. Using the Pluto File, and a few well placed explosives, they start a chain of Earthquakes that will eventually grow strong enough to cause the reactor to explode…and all of Washington with it. The only hope is for Wonder Woman to work with Professor Warren to find away to stop the quakes before a horrible catastrophe can happen.
While there is a lot I liked about this episode, there’s also a lot that left me wanting, not to mention confused. I found the whole earthquake thing to be incredibly convoluted. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Is the professor working on a device? Is it a formula? Whatever it is, this turtle-neck wearing fop working for the Nazis is able to decipher it and use it against us. I believe that this guy can design a home for eight people plus a housekeeper, but I’m not so sure he can become a seismologist by reading some professor’s chicken scratches. That’s a Brady Bunch reference there people, just roll with it.
This episode is also a bit low on action. Wonder Woman’s leap out of the window to try and chase down The Falcon is impressive, but overall she doesn’t do a whole lot this time. She actually shows off more brainpower than physical prowess in this episode. Nothing wrong with that, don’t launch any protest marches against me. I’m fine with Wonder Woman being a mathematical genius, but humor me and have her catch a few missiles or life a few cars while we’re at it.
On the plus side, I thought Robert Reed’s performance was a real hoot. He does a strange snooty accent that has no distinguishable country of origin. From the way he raises his eyebrows to the way he places a cigarette holder between his lips, the performance is pure camp. I’m not sure if Reed intended it that way, but in the context of this series it works to great effect. It’s all the more reason why the ending of this episode is less than satisfying. Finally starting to succumb to the effects of the plague (somehow he’s the one carrying it but last to experience symptoms) he somehow sees the error of his ways and ends up essentially resting his head on Wonder Woman’s shoulder like a four-year-old. Sorry, but an over-the-top villain needs a dramatic end.
This is an episode that is entertaining if you don’t really think about it that much. Robert Reed makes a fun campy villain, and the ever-present charms of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman are still in big supply. Storywise, though, this episode is more than a bit nonsensical. Next time, though, the Nazis plot to cause the collapse of the US economy with counterfeit two dollar bills! Okay… Join us next time for Last of the Two Dollar Bills.