Episode Title: The Bushwhackers
Original Airdate: January 29, 1977
When I was about 13 years old, I went on a trip with my grandparents to Washington D.C. I have many great memories of the trip, but one unusual thing I remember is that we had many of our meals at one restaurant in particular. See, many of the fast-food joints we came across were, let’s just say not too friendly looking. So, we kept on going back to Roy Rogers Chicken. We didn’t have those in the midwest, so it was kind of unique. Before he got into the chicken biz, though, Roy Rogers was a big big movie star. He wasn’t quite the box office draw anymore in 1977, but he did end up guest starring on Wonder Woman. Here he is as a Texas rancher in The Bushwhackers.
Rogers plays JP, a rancher who keeps falling victim to a bunch of cattle rustlers. The latest incident has cost him near a hundred head. Fed up with the local law enforcement’s lack of results, he calls an old buddy in Washington…none other than General Blankenship. JP’s ranch is certainly a concern since it exclusively supplies beef for the military. Steve Trevor is dispatched to deal with it. Diana doesn’t go with, but Steve gives her a few days leave before he heads out…so she is able to follow as Wonder Woman.
Now, it seems that one of the troublemakers is a local deputy named Walt Lampkin (Henry Darrow). He and his goons are hiding out in a nearby ghost town. Why they are stealing the cattle is a bit unclear, but there is reference to a deal with the mob. They are also getting some help from JP’s oldest son Jeff (Lance Kerwin). He’s been tipping them off as to the herd’s location. Basically, the kid is jealous because his old man has adopted a bunch of war orphans from around the world and daddy just ain’t giving him enough attention.
Of course, the kid tips the baddies off to Steve’s arrival and the bad guys waste no time tossing him into a hole in the ground and covering it with a huge boulder. Luckily, this is seen by JP’s adopted native american son, Charlie, who alerts Wonder Woman. Charlie, though, doesn’t speak after his real dad was killed a Pearl Harbor.
Well, Steve and Wonder Woman begin investigating. Our favorite Amazon even ends up wearing an outfit more suited to the western setting. Eventually, the bad guys set out to get Wonder Woman out of the way. Supplied with intel from Jeff, they go for her magic belt and lasso, making her powerless. She then ends up locked in the ghost town’s prison. Steve later ends up captured, too. Luckily Charlie comes ends up finding the discarded belt and lasso (kind of a dumb move by the crooks). He then finds the rest of the kids, and even speaks to tell them what’s up. Then it’s tiny tots to the rescue…busting Wonder Woman out of prison so she can nab the rustlers.
This episode is somewhat different than what we often see. First, it takes place almost entirely away from Washington, D.C. We spend most of our time in Texas, which is “a nicer place than Harlem” according to one of the kids. Another unusual feature of this episode is that Wonder Woman spends very little time as Diana. As soon as Steve leaves the office to head to Texas, she transforms right then and there and stays Wonder Woman for the duration of the episode. Though, she changes into a different outfit once she gets to the Lone Star state (borrowed from JP’s housekeeper…who does not match Wonder Woman’s size at all). Of course, Lynda Carter looks spectacular in it…but she’d also look spectacular in a Hefty Bag.
A lot of time is spent in this episode with Wonder Woman interacting with the kids. If you don’t have solid kid actors, this could be a problem. But these kids do a fine job. They aren’t too precocious or annoying and actually add some humor to several moments. One of the kids does sport a very fake English accent, but it’s not too much of a distraction. Among the kids is Kristoff St. John, who is now a regular on The Young and the Restless. That’s not first-hand knowledge, folks, that’s what IMDB is for!
As for Roy Rogers, it is fun to see him in this episode. He is certainly well suited to the part. However, it is clear that his acting style is quite different than his co-stars. I mean, nobody’s going to look at 70’s TV and consider it the apex of the acting profession, but Rogers’ western matinee style doesn’t completely mesh with what Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner are delivering. Still, his undeniable on-screen charm is still very apparent.
Overall, this is an entertaining episode full of charm. Classic movie fans will certainly enjoy the chance to see a classic Hollywood star like Rogers. Speaking of classic Hollywood, that’s where we’re off to next time. Plus, Debra Winger returns as Wonder Girl in the finale of season 1, Wonder Woman in Hollywood.