Episode Title: Last of the Two Dollar Bills
Original Airdate: January 8, 1977
When it comes to money, old Thomas Jefferson kind of got the short end of the stick. Washington’s on the one dollar bill, honest Abe got the five, but old Tom got stuck on the two dollar bill…which is hardly ever used these days. Well, today’s episode of Wonder Woman answers the question of why that’s the case in Last of the Two Dollar Bills.
Our story begins with a German sub being sunk in Chesapeake Bay. Of course, Steve and Diana go to check things out. While on the scene, they spot a raft coming ashore with three people on board. While Diana heads off to call General Blankenship, Steve stupidly tries to take on all three invaders himself. Luckily, Diana transforms into Wonder Woman and deflects a bullet intended for Steve just in time. During the attack, she makes eye contact with a masked individual who ends up getting away.
Later, Diana and Etta are walking through Washington when they encounter a street photographer taking pictures of people for fifty cents. They get their picture taken and fill out the form, but Diana sees something familiar about the photographer’s eyes. Meanwhile, the shutterbug snaps a picture of another couple, a guy who works across the street at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving and his fiance, who runs a coffee shop across the street. Later, back in Berlin, we see that the photographer is the Nazi agent who Wonder Woman saw on the shore. He is called Wotan. He is using the photo of the couple to have doctors transform some Nazi agents into exact doubles.
A few weeks later, Etta and Diana have not gotten their pictures…which has Etta quite upset. They go down to the photoshop the photographer was working out of, but the owner has no idea what’s up. Turns out he’s a Nazi agent, too. After Diana can ditch Etta, she transforms into Wonder Woman and goes to get a closer look. She finds all sorts of incriminating stuff in the apartment above the shop and, after subduing the bad guy, calls in Steve to have a look.
Meanwhile, Wotan has returned stateside with his doubles. The actual couple are captured and locked up in the basement of the coffee shop. The doubles are put in place with the plot of stealing the plates for making two dollar bills. The idea is the counterfeit two dollar bills can help the Nazis collapse the US economy. When Steve gets a partial transmission from one of his spies across enemy lines, he starts to become aware of the plan. It’s Diana, though, who determines that the plot revolves around the coffee shop owner and her beau when visiting to get some lunch for Steve. She recognizes that sinister look in the eye’s of the short order cook, who is Wotan in disguise. When she returns as Wonder Woman, though, she is quickly locked up in the basement after Wotan threatens to kill his prisoners.
Things start to get pretty complicated as the plot moves forward. Everything from a bomb to Nazi tooth filling come into play as Wonder Woman tries to escape and stop the Nazis from getting away with the plates. All the while, Steve has got to get to the bomb in time to stop the Bureau of Printing and Engraving from becoming a pile of rubble.
Most TV series’ evolve a bit as they move forward and we are certainly seeing that here with Wonder Woman. I’ve noticed in the last few episodes that we’re seeing Wonder Woman do a lot more jumping when going after the bad guys. She springs up into the air a good 15 to 20 feet accompanied by an electronic sound effect. This episode also gives us another look at an alternate costume for Wonder Woman. When she goes to visit the bureau of printing and Engraving she wears a star-spangled skirt as well as her red, white, and blue cape. Speaking of her costume, in the climax we see a new use for her tiara, which she tosses like a Frisbee and uses to puncture an inflatable raft trying to rendezvous with a sub. Strangest, though, is a scene where we see Wonder Woman’s ability to exactly mimic anyone’s voice, in this case it’s a male secret service agent.
One of the best moments of this episode actually comes right after the opening credits roll. We get some pretty sweet underwater footage of death charges being dropped on subs. I have no doubt that at least some of this footage may have been borrowed from another movie or television program, but it’s still pretty cool. I kind of wished we had gotten a bit more of that in this episode.
This story does have some interesting elements to it. For example Nazi agents getting plastic surgery to look like ordinary Americans. I can dig that. At the same time the episode gets a little too complicated for its own good. The whole set up and ultimate payoff regarding one of the agents being outed because he has a steel filling rather than a gold one is a bit of a stretch. See, the Nazis are so short of gold that they’re taking people’s gold fillings and replacing them with steel. The script has to really go out of it’s way to explain that, so it’s maybe not the best plot device to have included in the first place.
I think one of the main problems with this episode is that it’s lacking in some of the colorful characters that we’ve seen in some of the other recent episodes. There’s no Robert Reed or John Saxon hamming things up. So, while it’s a decent enough episode, there’s not much about it that really stands out. Next time, though, we do get a familiar face in a guest star role. One from another comic inspired TV series. Tim O’Connor from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century plays an alien in Judgement from Outer Space part 1.