Sunday, June 3, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Amazing Spider-Man TV Show (1978)

Following The Amazing Spider-Man TV pilot in 1977 the character got an ongoing series in 1978. The show was on for two seasons including a two-hour season finale that I'll review separately.
The cast of The Amazing Spider-Man
The television series continues right from the TV pilot. In fact, the first two episodes "Deadly Dust" parts 1 and 2 (which were combined and re-released under the title Spider-Man Strikes Back) seem to have almost intentionally been designed to mirror the pilot in theme.

Regarding characters, J. Jonah Jameson and Aunt May are the only two characters that appear in the series from the comics. Jameson was played by a different actor in the series than he was in the pilot. The actor playing Jameson in both cases was more sarcastic than a firebrand. Jameson's secretary, Rita, would often warn Parker about Jameson's bad moods but he comes across as a sassy skinflint, not a tyrannical hothead like he is in the comics. Aunt May for some reason was played by a host of actresses.

Perhaps my favorite character in the series was Captain Barbera. The Captain has more of Jameson's comic book personality than Jameson does. He's not afraid to verbally rip Parker's or Spider-Man's heads off. An reoccurring theme of the series is that Barbera is forced to believe either Parker or Spider-Man is guilty despite the fact that he likes them personally.

Spider-Man's costume looks pretty good... from a distance. The hands in particular show the shoddiness of the costume. But in some regards this makes it more believable that Parker made this costume on his own. This show represents the only live-action appearance of Spider-Man's spider-tracers. Spider-Man also has a webshooter... for some reason, he only has the one. He's also given a utility belt on the outside of his uniform. The eyes in his costume look like sunglass lenses glued into the mask.

Spider-Man's spider-sense is introduced in the series where it was missing in the pilot. Blue and red flashing lights on Parker's eyes give it a creepy effect. Not only does the spider-sense warn him of danger but it also allows him to see misdeeds in the past and the future (precognition and retrocognition). Hence, Parker often has knowledge of things that he did not directly witness.

Perhaps the best episode of the series is Night of the Clones. This episode features the Spider-Clone. It's also the only episode to have an actual superhuman vs superhuman fight. The original clone storyline apperaed in the comics just a couple years earlier.

Overall, the series holds pretty steady. During the second season, the titles sequence gets juiced up a bit and the new character of Julie Masters, a female photographer, is introduced.

1LR REVIEW - 14 out of 20! It's a Hit!

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