Pop HazMat: Someone’s in the kitchen with Dyna-Girl. #popculture #nostalgia
HAZMAT-RETRO HALL OF FAME presents CHILDREN’S TV ON-THE-CHEAP! by JONATHAN KIERAN
TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: Electra Woman and Dyna-Girl (1976. 16 Episodes. ABC)
GUILTY OF VEHICULAR FANSLAUGHTER: Sid and Marty Krofft (as usual), Deidre Hall, Judy Strangis, ABC
RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: From the clusterflucked minds of Sid and Marty Krofft emerged Electra Woman and Dyna Girl in 1976 — yet another Saturday morning Abomination of the Imagination intended to attract the interest of easily amused children vibrating in front of the boob tube due to Frankenberry sugar-highs and Apple Jacks apoplexy. Running for a paltry 16 episodes at a brisk 15 minutes a pop, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl was different from almost anything in the Krofft oeuvre. There were no villages populated by manic, anthropomorphized hats or play-dough dinosaur props or Weenie Genies or brain-damaged dragon-dandies with Gomer Pyle affectations. This show featured crime-fighting babes in panty hose and marching-band capes! Whether or not the scantily (and stupidly) clad Electra Woman and Dyna Girl were also intended to snag the attention of any hung-over adult males who might be scrounging around the kitchen cupboards at dawn for an Alka-Seltzer is up for debate. I mean, even having a nubile kids-show character with the name “Dyna Girl” presented viewers with a series of vaguely dirty, back alley Las Vegas strip-club undertones. I seem to recall my father pausing once or twice, half-asleep and teetering in the living room, squinting at the screen, as the show’s heroines underwent one of their “Electra Changes” from mild-mannered magazine journalists into Super Bimbos. He was probably just wondering what in the hell kind of televised tomfoolery his kids were watching this time.
We often wondered the same thing, because Electra Woman and Dyna Girl stunk with a particularly rancid stench, even amid a TV-landscape already quite littered with smelly entertainment offerings for gullible tots. The show was a tepid and blatant rip-off of the Batman & Robin theme, and if Electra Woman and Dyna Girl didn’t represent the creative burnout of Hollywood Choom-Gang writers at their tackiest and most stultifying, I don’t what did in those days. You had a big, pushy chick (Electra Woman) and her perky little wide-eyed & pig-tailed sidekick (Dyna Girl) who had an obvious crush on her taller, more bosomy cohort. Imagine the minds that green-lighted this project in some malodorous boardroom beneath a wonky ceiling fan. How did they sleep at night? How did they go home and live lives with their families, doing presumably normal things that families do? Whiskey straight-up, surely.
The show’s set seemed to mimic the size and dismal atmosphere of one of those walk-thru “Scare Houses” you used to find at third-rate carnivals in the most backwater potato-growing counties imaginable. You know — the kind of cramped Scare House that was really just a trailer spattered with dripping red paint and staffed by carnies in rubber monster-masks, hiding in little closets at various junctures as you felt your way along in the greasy dark … only the carnies were too drunk to even bother leaping-out to send a dollar’s worth of “chills” down your spine. You were more frightened by the reek of Boone’s Farm halitosis in such close quarters than you were by the disheveled carnies lurking (or slumped) in the shadows. I expect that there was likewise a fair amount of hard liquor halitosis on the set of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, and I expect a significant amount of that halitosis was emanating directly from the pouting pie-hole of lovely actress Deidre Hall, who played Electra Woman with the kind of look on her face that said: “I knew I should’ve accepted that Tijuana ‘donkey cabaret’ offer. I can’t go back to Florida now, not after this! What am I doing here? Are there any razor blades lying around? A noose? Who’s got a noose? Can I fashion a noose out of this sateen crime-fighting joke-of-a-cape? God, I want to strangle that wretched little Dyna Girl, at the very least.”
Yeah. Poor Deidre Hall. It was bad. The show even had a hysterical theme song that was as jammed with creepy overkill and ambition as the actual show itself was lacking in both of those attributes. A frenzied, high-energy half-rock half-disco piece of wanton sonic butchery, the tune was screeched by a woman who sounded as if she were clawing her own eyes out, bouncing off the walls of a seedy Burbank recording booth while in the grip of some acid-fueled hallucination.
“Electra Woman and Dyna Girl!” she shrieked. “Fightin’ all evil deeds! Each writes for a magazine. Who could know the life she leads?”
That was about the extent of the lyrical prowess. As for the rest, well, there wasn’t an awful lot the makers of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl could do in 12 minutes, but they sure could come-up with a helluva lot of Awful. There was much button-pushing of plastic Electra-gadgets to combat villains named “Ali Baba” and “The Pharaoh” and “The Spider Lady” and “The Sorcerer” (there’s always a sorcerer, isn’t there.) The special effects on Electra Woman and Dyna Girl made Ed Wood movies look like CGI extravaganzas. Blessedly, this incomprehensible mess was cancelled by ABC before the start of the second season. Deidre Hall must’ve gone on a four-week toot after getting that particular pink-slip, if only to find an outlet for her overwhelming euphoria.
In case you’re wondering how I remember so much about this travesty of kid’s programming, let me inform you that Electra Woman and Dyna Girl was the kind of thing you had to sit-through. You had to let your sister (or perhaps your gay brother) watch this insult or else incur screams of protest that would result in Mom and/or Dad staggering out of bed on Saturday Morning and revoking all of your weekend TV-watching and backyard misadventure privileges, usually with a ratty old slipper slapped a few times upside your head to drive the point home. So you bit your lip and watched these desperate actresses embarrass the hell out of themselves until it was time for ThunderCats.
DEFINITIVE DIALOGUE: “Put yourself on full brightness, Dyna Girl. That way we can saturate both walls at the same time.”
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Deidre Hall must surely have repressed the memory of her brief stint as Electra Woman deep, deep down, all the way to the level of her quivering and impregnable id, for she went-on to enjoy a successful 32-year run as “Marlena,” a much-beloved regular on some drippy daytime soap called Days of Our Nights or The Edge of Our Lives or some such. She couldn’t escape the excruciating legacy of a masochistic career-catastrophe forever, though. Sadist Rosie O’Donnell managed to bring up the Electra Woman nightmare when Hall guested on her talk-show back in the 1990s. Squirm Central! You KNOW she wanted to stuff Rosie’s head right up into her very own Dyna-Girl for pulling a stunt like that! Cute little Judy Strangis, who played Dyna Girl, wisely squirreled herself away into the Dyna-free realm of voiceovers and the occasional TV commercial after the program’s abrupt cancellation. The whole mess remains, of course, a cult favorite.
EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: Behold the show’s immortal intro. Dyna-Disaster deluxe.
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Jonathan informs us that he is on a writing odyssey for the next few weeks. We will be blogging a Pop Hazmat “Best Of” collection until he returns in mid-September. Enjoy!