Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (review)
Return to Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (review)
I never watched The Krofft Supershow, not when it aired in the late '70s, but I had a peripheral awareness of the thing. Among its features: a pair of camp super-females who keep almost making it back into pop culture-- not always with their original kiddie audience in mind.
Joe Ruby and Ken Spears created them for Sid and Marty Krofft, but all they really did was clone the campy 1960s Batman show, replace the Dynamic Duo with original, license-free females, and make it even campier and cheesier. Hyperbolic narration takes us into the world of Electra Woman and her sidekick, Dyna Girl, crime-fighting femmes who wear tight spandex outfits and battle villains like Spider Lady and Glitter Rock.
They were part of the Krofft Supershow, a 70s Saturday morning sort of thing. For two seasons, Kaptain Kool and the Kongs played host, a rock band composed of kid-friendly living cartoons. In the second season, the Kongs were toned down into something resembling a real band (though in the era that produced Kiss and Dr. Funkenstein's Parliament, it would be difficult to tell), and in the third and final season, the real-life kid-friendly rock band the Bay City Rollers took over from the Kongs. The rockers introduced various live-action segments such as Dr. Shrinker (with Billy Barty) and Wonderbug and, well, this thing. The Supershow's first season featured sixteen 12-15 minute long episodes of "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl," which the Kroffts later stitched into eight half-hour shows.
Although their outfits provide no discernible disguise, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl have secret identities as Lori (Dierdre Hall) and her teenage friend/ward/room-mate, Judy (Judy Strangis). They work for a magazine, but can, in a flash of light, transform into superheroes, who get around in a shield-shaped "Electracar." While the gals can fight with skill, they rely heavily on their "Electracoms," bracelets that shoot sonic beams and have any number of other aps that the plot requires. Frank Helm (Norman Alden), who apparently lives in their basement, monitors a computerized "Crimescope" and provides Tech support. The show gives the heroes no origin story. Dyna Girl seems nonplussed by the proliferation of Electra-prefixed items and the absence of Dyna-ones. She even exclaims things like "Electra-awesome!" and "Electra-tastic!" One suspects she and Batman's Robin developed complexes, but more on that later.
The spandexed ones produced no spin-offs at the time. They didn't even rate an appearance in Gold Key's Krofft Supershow comic book, which ran for six issues, all published after the duo had been dropped from the tv line-up. In the age of the Internet, however, they maintain one of the largest Krofft presences online. Cyndi Lauper even covered their theme song.
Like I said, I never watched it back then. I know about it mostly through Youtube, and mostly because, in 2001, Warner Brothers tried to revive the show. The new version starred Night Court’s Markie Post, and definitely expected viewers to keep the kiddies away from the screen.
"I'm pretty sure you didn't use to smell like cigarettes and macaroni and cheese."
The pilot begins with a college frosh named (like Dyna Girl), Judy (Ann Stedman). When she was a child, Electra Woman saved her from certain death and now, years later, she wants to ensure the long-unseen super-doer participates in UCLA's big homecoming celebration.
She finds, alas, that her hero (Markie Post) has grown older and bitter. Her husband left with her money, her car, her vibrator, her wigs-- and Dyna Girl. Lori now drinks heavily, chainsmokes, and sleeps around. She went public with her identity after appearing in Jugs magazine. She still has the Electracoms, though they're prone to misfiring. In place of her old swank abode, she lives in a trailer park. The park has clearly been created on a soundstage, and recalls the sort of set we'd see in the old show. The dark and gritty tone that has been part of comics since the mid-1980s goes to camp.
Predictably, Judy convinces Lori to resume her career as Electra Woman and, with no apparent training, takes on the role of Dyna Girl. The pilot episode relies heavily on crude gags: cougar Lori sleeping with college guys, and newbie Judy complaining the costume keeps "creeping" into her "secret places."
As a bonus, since Warner Brothers owns DC Comics, the show folds the Krofft heroines into the broader DC Universe or, at least, a parodic version of it. Aquaman and the Flash make quick cameo appearances. Lori and Judy discuss better-known heroes as actual contemporaries: Batman, Superman and, of course, Wonder Woman "Wonder Woman," says Lori. "Better tits. Fake, but..."
What's surprising is how often this train wreck works. Markie Post seems to be having a blast with the bizarre material. What's not surprising is that no one picked up this pilot, and no further episodes were made. It found an audience thanks to the World Wide Web.
That was over a decade ago. Whether Electra Woman and Dyna Girl will fade, or whether someone will successfully revive the almost-forgotten franchise remains to be seen. In the meantime, the duo live on a Youtube and, one suspects, in the minds of viewers who were almost too old for kiddie shows in 1977, and just old enough to find those outfits "Electra-tastic" for other reasons.