Spidey Super Stories

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Spidey Super Stories
Spidey Super Stories (logo).jpg
Created by Stan Lee (comic book)
Steve Ditko (comic book)
Starring Danny Seagren
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes ~29
Production
Running time 5 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel PBS
Original run 1974  – 1977
Chronology
Preceded by Spider-Man (1967 TV series)
Followed by The Amazing Spider-Man (1977 TV series)

"Spidey Super Stories" is a live-action, recurring skit on the PBS children's television series The Electric Company.[1] Episodes featured the Marvel Comics character Spider-Man, provided to the Children's Television Workshop free of charge, and was played (always in costume) by puppeteer and dancer Danny Seagren. It premiered during the premiere of The Electric Company's fourth (1974–1975) season, show 391.

Stories involved the masked superhero foiling mischievous characters who were involved in petty criminal activities (such as burglary or assault). The cast of The Electric Company played the roles of the various characters in each story, with another serving as narrator. In many of these sketches, in keeping with Stan Lee’s writing style, viewers were addressed as true believers.

Unlike other live-action and cartoon productions of Spider-Man, this version of the web-slinging hero did not speak out loud, instead communicating only with word balloons (having a similar role to Clarabell the Clown of Howdy Doody), in order to encourage young viewers to practice their reading skills because he was drawn without a mouth. He also never appeared out of his costume as Peter Parker and, given the series' budget limitations, used his web-shooters sparingly. (Many times, the scene cut to a pre-drawn panel of Spidey using his web-shooters, with the caption "Take that!")

The theme song that plays at the beginning and end of the shorts was written by Gary William Friedman. The lyrics are as follows:

Spider-Man, where are you coming from?
Spider-Man, nobody knows who you are!
Spider-Man, you've got that Spidey touch
Spider-Man, you are a web-slinging star!

Episodes[edit]

Approximately one dozen "Spidey Super Stories" segments were produced during The Electric Company's 1974–1975 season, with another twelve or so during the 1975–1976 season, and an undetermined number during the series' final season.

A 4-DVD boxed set was released by Shout! Factory and Sony BMG Music Entertainment on February 7, 2006, named The Best of Electric Company. It featured 20 episodes from 1971–1977 (D4D 34121), three of which contained Spidey segments.

A second 4-DVD boxed set with 20 shows from 1971–1976 was released on November 14, 2006 (82666-31014). Two of the episodes in this boxed set featured Spidey segments; however, in several of the other episodes, the Spider-Man segments were edited out to minimize the appearance of the character because of rights issues. Episode 60A, from season five, which featured a Spider-Man sketch as the sketch of the day, was altered drastically from the version that originally aired on television.

On March 7, 2006, another DVD named The Best of the Best of Electric Company, a truncated version of the volume-one boxed set, was released (DD 31006).

1974–1975[edit]

A number of episodes from season 1 (season 4 of The Electric Company) featured Spidey battling the villain in the screenshot of the comic book cover. Other only had a standard picture of Spidey alone. This is documented in the chart below.

Title Narrator Summary
"Spidey Meets the Spoiler" Morgan Freeman The first "Spidey Super Stories" segment. Spidey links clues to the Spoiler (Skip Hinnant), a mischievous villain who aims to spoil people's fun. Spidey defeats him, but the victory is bittersweet: A wall got spoiled when Spidey knocks the Spoiler through it. The opening shot cover features the Spoiler leaping at Spidey.

Spider-Man also appeared in the opening sequence of the actual episode (Season 4 premiere). In the scene, J. Arthur Crank (Jim Boyd) looks around for Spider-Man, but only comes upon Easy Reader (Morgan Freeman). Crank never finds him and walks off, frustrated.

"A Night at the Movies" Skip Hinnant Count Dracula (Morgan Freeman) plans to bite the neck of an unsuspecting movie-goer (Judy Graubart). Spidey is able to foil Dracula's plans.

Count Dracula (based on the Bram Stoker character) was a regular character on The Electric Company, appearing in skits with the Werewolf (Jim Boyd) and Frankenstein's monster (Skip Hinnant). It was episode 9B’s sketch of the day.

"Dr. Fly" Morgan Freeman Dr. Fly (Luis Avalos), a mutated half-fly, half-human plans to turn the world's inhabitants into the same type of mutant. He disguises himself as a vendor to distribute hot dogs laced with a formula of fleas and flies. Spidey saves a customer (Jim Boyd) from eating a tainted hot dog and traps Dr. Fly in his web, but gets a ticket from a police officer (Morgan Freeman) for operating (Dr. Fly's) pushcart without a license.
"Spidey Up Against the Wall" June Angela At a New York Mets baseball game, a mutated wall-human creature (Jim Boyd) sneaks up behind outfielder "Gumbo" Grace Ivy (Skip Hinnant) and causes him to miss a routine fly ball. The umpire (Morgan Freeman) is also knocked down. Spidey catches The Wall, but is ejected from the ballpark because spectators are not allowed on the field. The opening screenshot shows The Wall bumping Spidey.

This also aired as part of the last episode of The Electric Company (episode 130B).

"Spider-Man Meets the Can Crusher" Morgan Freeman Long ago, young boy visited a soup factory but loses his pet frog in a vat of tomato soup. As an adult, the Can Crusher (Jim Boyd, sporting a Don King-type hairdo, a large red nose and wearing a black jumpsuit) visits supermarkets to find the can where his beloved frog may be, smashing them with a large hammer, causing a disturbance and a food shortage whenever he destroys cans in his vain efforts. Spidey is called on to help, and the Can Crusher disguises himself as the store manager. Spider-Man initially smashes the Can Crusher into a can display, but the Can Crusher retaliates and returns the blow, knocking Spidey unconscious. After his victory, the Can Crusher tells the viewer his story as above, then escapes. Spidey then comes to and begins to contemplate on how to defeat the Can Crusher the next time.

Best moment: As the Can Crusher gets Spidey distracted, he strips off his disguise, taunting Spidey all the while: "Have you figured it out yet, web-spinner?" (Removing disguise) Ceiling-crawler? (Raising hammer for the kill, screaming) "CHANDELIER STOMPER??!!??"

"Spidey Meets the Funny Bunny" Morgan Freeman Once an ordinary girl until a bully sat on her Easter basket, a woman dressed in an Easter Bunny costume (Judy Graubart) sets out to steal other children's Easter baskets. She plans to disrupt the annual Easter Egg roll at the White House. Spidey is tipped off and sets a trap that catches her.

The role of the president is played by Melanie Henderson, who is believed to be one of the first African-American actresses to play the role of a U.S. president on television. See List of fictional United States Presidents.

"Meet Dr. Fright" Hattie Winston Dr. Fright (Skip Hinnant) is a monster who has a face so frighteningly ugly that he conceals it beneath an oversized stovepipe hat. He uses this to terrify victims, robbing them when they become frozen in fright. He plans to freeze Spidey but Spidey instead freezes Dr. Fright by holding up a mirror.
"Meet Mr. Measles" Jim Boyd Mr. Measles (Skip Hinnant), armed with a large bag of measles-causing spots, plans to spread a worldwide epidemic. He infects several people but Spidey catches him before a large-scale outbreak happens. However, Spidey becomes ill with the measles.
"Spidey Jumps the Thumper" Judy Graubart The Thumper (Hattie Winston) was a spoiled little rich girl who didn't get a yellow pony for her birthday. Turning to a life of crime after the cake and ice cream, the Thumper fancies herself as Napoleon Bonaparte. She assaults two citizens (Luis Avalos and Skip Hinnant) with an oversized boxing glove hidden inside her coat a la Napoleon's famous pose. Spidey catches her but he too is thumped. He regains his senses and traps her in his web. The opening screenshot shows the Thumper landing a blow on Spidey.
"Spidey and the Queen Bee" Morgan Freeman A half-human, half-bee mutant named The Queen Bee (Hattie Winston) plots to rule the world. Her underlings are also mutated bee-human creatures (played by Skip Hinnant and Judy Graubart). She plans to release a deadly bee named Fang to sting and kill whomever stands in her way. Spidey tracks her down to her giant hive and foils her plans by webbing her minion, The Beekeeper (Luis Avalos), but not before Fang is released. The other mutated bee-humans sting Spidey repeatedly while she escapes. Spidey, covered with sting marks, eventually escapes the hive and is in pursuit of Queen Bee and Fang as the story ends.
"Little Miss Muffett" Based on the nursery rhyme. Spidey comes to the rescue of the title character (Hattie Winston) after a large spider terrorizes her. However, Spidey recognizes the spider (a large prop) as an uncle of his, and as they become friends, as Miss Muffett leaves in disgust.
"The Bookworm" Skip Hinnant Easy Reader (Morgan Freeman) is helping his friend, Valerie (Hattie Winston) sort books at the library, when they notice large holes in the books. They try to beat back a large bookworm (a purple and green striped sock-puppet) by throwing books at it. Spidey arrives in time but the Bookworm escapes his web. The opening screenshot shows Spidey attempting to stop the Bookworm from eating a book.

1975–1976[edit]

Title Narrator Summary
"The Birthday Bandit" Luis Avalos The Birthday Bandit (Jim Boyd), dressed in a multi-colored suit, steals birthday party items, saying what he is doing in Dr. Seuss-style rhyme. In his final attempt at thievery, he notices the birthday cake is unusually large and suspiciously assumes Spidey is hiding inside. However, when he smashes the cake, he finds out he is wrong and Spidey appears and captures him in a web.
"Spidey Meets the Prankster" Skip Hinnant Spidey is visiting the Short Circus when several practical jokes occur. Spidey eventually links them to Principal Prescott (Jim Boyd), who after being captured admits he was frustrated by a series of recent pranks by the Short Circus and only wanted to get even.

This was also episode 60A's sketch of the day.

"Spidey Meets the Blowhard" Janina Matthews A man in a tuxedo and cape (Luis Avalos), who fancies himself as the Big Bad Wolf, plots revenge on Fargo North Decoder (Skip Hinnant) after the detective foiled his plans to blow down Trenton, New Jersey. Meanwhile, Fargo's friends plan a surprise birthday party for him. Later, when Fargo is asked to blow out the candles, The Blowhard crashes the party. Spidey is quickly able to capture the villain, thanks to Paul the Gorilla smashing the birthday cake into Blowhard's face as he prepares to blow. Spidey and Paul then venture out to buy another cake, since Paul used the original to stun the Blowhard.
"Who Stole the Show?" Todd Graff A former child star named Winky Goodyshoes (Hattie Winston) bemoans her inability to find suitable work. Later, she steals the props and costumes from an auditorium where a dress rehearsal is in progress. Spidey catches Winky before she can literally move the show too far off-Broadway. However, the cast remembers the former child star and they offer her a chance to star in the show as the villain.

This sketch features a flashback scene of the villain's childhood, with Short Circus member Réjane Magloire making a cameo appearance as the young Winky.

"Spidey Meets the Yeti" Todd Graff An abominable snowman (Jim Boyd) becomes homesick after wandering away from his home in the Frozen North, and sits on various cold items to help him cope. Spidey sets a trap to catch the Yeti, after which a policeman (Morgan Freeman) wants to take him into custody. Spidey persuades the policeman to let him take the Yeti back home.
"Spidey Meets the Mouse" Janina Mathews A college student (Skip Hinnant)who doesn't receive cheese on his Big Mac sandwich dons a giant mouse costume and steals cheese from other cheeseburgers and the tops of pizzas. He then abducts the judge of a large cheese contest (Morgan Freeman) and, stealing his clothes, takes his place at the contest, but before he can run off with the grand prize, Spider-Man snares him in his web.

For his role as "The Mouse", Skip wears the outfit he regularly wore for his character, "Mr. Mouse", who was a regular recurring Electric Company character.

"Spidey Meets the Sitter" A burglar (Luis Avalos) uses an old lady's wig and dress in order to get access to people's homes by impersonating a baby sitter, then robbing the house after the kids are asleep. Spidey shows up to foil the faux-granny and sticks around to be an authentic babysitter.
"Spidey Fixes the Hum" June Angela An aspiring rock star named David Dinger (Luis Avalos) from rock 'n' roll's earliest days would hum his songs because he could not remember the words: critics dub him the Hum Dinger. By 1960, the hits stop coming and he works as an electronics repairman. He defrauds his customers by revealing phony hums in their equipment. Spidey investigates and tracks Hum down at the home of a customer (Judy Graubart) and her son (Todd Graff), foiling him by leaving a radio turned on until Hum could no longer maintain his hum.
"Spidey Nabs the Sandman" June Angela A burglar named The Sandman (Luis Avalos) dresses as sleepwalker Wee Willie Winkie. He sedates and robs his victims by sprinkling magic sand on them. The Sandman happens upon a grand gala with nearly the entire cast. He sprinkles sand on everyone. Spidey arrives and investigates a pile of sand and falls asleep. He awakens and tracks down The Sandman, nabbing him using The Sandman's sand against him.

This is not the Sandman from the original Spider-Man comics.

"Spidey Meets the Tickler" Hattie Winston The Tickler (Luis Avalos) is a bitter failed comedian. He dresses as legendary William Tell and pesters pedestrians with his bad jokes, tickling his helpless victims with feathers and robbing them when they don't laugh. Spidey corners the Tickler but he runs out of web. The Tickler tells Spidey jokes, and Spidey pretends to laugh. He tells more jokes until he finds himself arrested.

Best joke of the Tickler's: Q - Why does a duck have webbed feet? A - Because if he had a webbed head, he'd be Spider-Man!

"Spidey Gets the Old One-Two" June Angela Conk (Jim Boyd) and Bonk (Luis Avalos) were ordinary third graders until a bully stole their lunches. The duo dress in black suits and derbies and assault their victims: Conk with a large mallet to the head, Bonk with a boxing glove to the stomach, grabbing their victims' lunches before they can recuperate. With a good samaritan's (Janina Matthews) help, Spidey uses a peanut butter and banana sandwich to set a trap.

Note: Conk and Bonk were a parody of the Alka-Seltzer commercial running at the time: the personifications of headache (Conk) and upset stomach (Bonk) would assault people who hadn't been eating right, only to be defeated when the victims would take Alka-Seltzer.

"Spidey Meets Eye Patch" Janina Matthews Eye Patch (Skip Hinnant) is a pirate with an evil eye, concealed by a patch. Anyone who is exposed to Eye Patch's powers are prompted to do the last thing they would ever want to do. He causes trouble in town. He flashes his eye at Spidey who dances foolishly, allowing Eye Patch to escape. Eye Patch then flashes his eye at a peace-loving flower child (Judy Graubart) who punches him in the cursed eye (the last thing she ever wanted to do was hurt someone), taking away Eye Patch's power and giving him a whole new outlook on life (no pun intended) as he, Spidey, and the flower child walk off together.
"Spidey Meets Silly Willy" Todd Graff Similar to The Tickler, a failed clown named Silly Willy (Jim Boyd) takes out his frustrations with inane antics such as bopping himself over the head with a rubber chicken. As he causes passers-by (including Hattie Winston and Morgan Freeman) to respond with laughter, he robs them. Spidey captures the evil clown when he attempts his silly antics at a posh dinner party.
"The Uninvited" As a youngster, The Uninvited (Luis Avalos) is the only child in his class to not be invited to a birthday party. He gets his revenge by inviting himself to parties to rob the guests. One of The Uninvited's victims is J. Arthur Crank (Jim Boyd, cameoing his signature role on The Electric Company), when the Uninvited invites himself to Crank's bath night, stealing his last dry towel and his rubber duckie: the one his friend Ernie gave him! Just as the Uninvited invites himself to steal a construction worker's (Judy Graubart) salary, Spidey extends a special invitation to The Uninvited: to jail, courtesy of a webbing.
"Spidey After the Fox" Judy Graubart The Fox (Hattie Winston) is a villain in a fox costume who prowls the streets to rip people off, including their clothes. Spidey sets a trap, standing on the street in a trenchcoat, hat, and dark glasses. The Fox sneaks up, strips Spidey's trenchcoat off and sees that it is actually Spidey. Spidey launches his web and captures her.
"Spidey Meets the Sack" Rodney Lewis A man dressed in a 100-pound flour sack (Jim Boyd) throws vegetables, cream pies and other food items at people for amusement; The Sack's costume enables him to hide amongst other large sacks, barrels, etc., undetected. Spidey and the police officer (Morgan Freeman) track The Sack to a bakery, where Spidey believes he is hiding amongst sacks of flour. Spidey and the officer tear open several sacks, but fail to find the Sack as he makes his getaway.

1976–1977[edit]

Title Narrator Summary
"The Beastly Banana" Luis Avalos Jennifer of the Jungle (Judy Graubart) is worried about Paul the Gorilla's recent weird behavior, which she links to tainted bananas—the work of Morgan Freeman's signature Mad Scientist character, who plans to capture Paul and abuse him in a series of experiments. Spidey follows a trail of banana peels and catches up with Paul in the nick of time. Just as Paul is about to eat it, Spidey grabs the tainted fruit. The Mad Scientist tries to flee but Spidey nails him in his web.

In other media[edit]

Comics[edit]

From 1974 to 1982, Marvel Comics published a comic book called Spidey Super Stories,[2] which was aimed at children ages 6–10. A total of 57 issues were produced, written by Jim Salicrup. During the early years, a comic book version of one of The Electric Company Spidey skits was included. A truncated version also appeared in The Electric Company Magazine. In contrast to the live-action segments on The Electric Company, Spidey often appeared out of costume as Peter Parker.

Every issue of Spidey Super Stories featured at least one story where Spidey would team up with an established Marvel Comics superhero and/or fight an established Marvel villain. This served to introduce other Marvel characters to new readers who were unfamiliar with the company's characters prior to seeing Spider-Man on The Electric Company. Most of these stories would feature quick origins, usually taking up a single page or less, of both the featured hero and villain. Guest heroes included Iron Man (on several occasions), Captain America, Doctor Strange, Spider-Woman, Nova, The Cat and Ms Marvel. Guest villains included the Green Goblin, the Blizzard, Jack O'Lantern, and even Thanos.

Other stories in the issue would feature regular characters from The Electric Company, such as Easy Reader and detective Fargo North, with Spidey as a supporting character; conversely, The Electric Company characters would sometimes appear as supporting characters in the Spidey-centric stories. Supporting characters from other Spider-Man comics made regular appearances as well, such as Peter Parker's girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson, and the staff of Parker's workplace, the Daily Bugle, most notably editor J. Jonah Jameson.

All issues were declared easy-to-read by Easy Reader in a stylized drawing on the comic's cover. To aid comprehension by young readers, the stories featured larger print and less complex stories than most comic books; in particular, Spidey Super Stories as a rule featured no more than four evenly divided panels per story page.

Marvel themselves parodied Spidey Super Stories in a humorous issue of What If...? For two pages, an alternate universe is shown where Marvel had instead teamed up with the National Endowment of the Arts to produce Spidey Intellectual Stories, where Spider-Man defeats the Mad Thinker by debating philosophy. The Watcher notes that it "is for a [yawn] select audience, to be sure."[3]

Record[edit]

"Spidey Super Stories" also appeared as a special vinyl record in the 1970s licensed by Children's Television Workshop to Peter Pan Records. Included on the record are two stories from The Electric Company: "Spidey Versus Mr. Measles" and "The Queen Bee." Other stories include Spidey versus an evil toy-wielding criminal called the Jester in "The Last Laugh," The Purple Pirates and Evil MacWeevil in "The Leader of the Pack" (which includes a cameo of Fargo North, Decoder), and Spidey's origin story. Three other stories feature Spidey with members of the Short Circus, and Pedro and his plant Maurice fighting the Mole Man in "20,000 Feet Under the Ground"; and the group tackling more traditional Marvel Comics villains in "Deadly is the Doctor Called Doom" and "Spidey Versus the Sandman." On the records, Spidey/Peter Parker was given a voice, but a picture of Spider-Man on the back utilized the traditional Spidey-talking technique of having his words in word balloons. Elements such as Spidey's spider-sense and the spider-tracer are used in these stories as well.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Spider-Man on TV". IGN. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  2. ^ Goodgion, Laurel F.; Jana Varlejs (ed.) (1978). Young Adult Literature in the Seventies: A Selection of Readings. The Scarecrow Press. p. 348. ISBN 0-8108-1134-0. 
  3. ^ What If...? vol. I, #34 (August, 1982).

External links[edit]