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Chosen One of the Day: Lynda Carter on Battle of the Network Stars
A sports team that includes Wonder Woman and one of Charlie’s Angels sounds like a winning formula.
This isn’t a TV crossover cooked up in a fever dream, instead, it is a very real bi-annual series that ran for 19 seasons from 1976 to 1988. Battle of the Network Stars debuted on ABC in 1976 pitting actors from the three major TV networks in events including volleyball, tug-of-war, and a variety of relay races. There was even a dunk tank, which doesn’t seem like something you can technically win, but this was the 1970s so who knows what the thought process was beyond hot actors in swimwear getting wet.
Future competitors include Kurt Russell, Cheryl Ladd, Robin Williams, and Michael J. Fox, which is more star-heavy than recent attempts to revive the concept. First in 2003 as a two-hour special, then in 2005 as Battle of the Network Reality Stars on Bravo. Two years ago ABC brought the series back, but looking at the line-up there is a reason why this didn’t make an impression.
In comparison to when Battle of the Network Stars debuted there is much more television has to offer, but I can’t even remember this being a thing in 2017. If this was the stars of various CW shows (the DC contingent alone!) versus Netflix (see also, the canceled Marvel shows) it would be a television event to remember. The risk of injuries and/or humiliation is probably too great though.
But back in 1976, TV was a very different beast. Lynda Carter’s team included Farrah Fawcett, Penny Marshall, and Ron Howard. They would go on to be the victors of the inaugural games, which makes sense considering they have someone with superpowers on their team. Carter won her swimming relay lap, which you can watch above. Warning, the commentator verges on (or rather fully leans into) creepy, because it is the 1970s.
Lynda Carter has always been a style icon, but nothing has made me want to wear sports attire more than seeing her decked out in head-to-toe Adidas (in a shade that mirrors her Wonder Woman shorts, swapping stars for stripes).
Who needs the Olympic Games when you have Wonder Woman on the obstacle course?