The Amazing Spider-Man (TV series)
|The Amazing Spider-Man|
|Created by||Alvin Boretz|
by Stan Lee
Robert F. Simon
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||13 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||1 hour|
|Production company(s)||Charles Fries Productions
Dan Goodman Productions
|Original run||April 19, 1978 – July 6, 1979|
|Preceded by||Spidey Super Stories|
|Followed by||Spider-Man (Toei TV series)|
The Amazing Spider-Man is the first live-action TV series based on the popular comic book The Amazing Spider-Man, not counting Spider-Man's appearances on the educational The Electric Company series, and was shown in the USA between 1977-1979. It consisted of 13 episodes, which included a pilot movie in the fall of 1977. None of the episodes are available on DVD, but almost all of them have been released on VHS. Despite being set in New York City, the series was mostly filmed in Los Angeles.
Series run on CBS and criticism
The series began as a backdoor pilot in the form of a two-hour film known simply as Spider-Man which aired in September 1977. In it, university student Peter Parker gains super powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider and uses his new super powers to get a job at the Daily Bugle and stop a con man who is using mind control. In the pilot J. Jonah Jameson was played by actor David White and subsequently replaced with Robert F. Simon for the weekly series.
The series was then picked up for a limited series of five episodes, which aired at the end of the season in April and May 1978. This run of episodes debuted very well, with the first obtaining a 22.8 rating with 16.6 million viewers, making it the best rated program for the week on CBS, and the eighth best rated program for the week overall. The series ended up being the 19th best rated show of the season. However, CBS was reluctant to commit to a regular time slot for the 1978-79 season as Spider-Man was expensive to produce and lagged in the lucrative adult demographic ratings. Instead, CBS took the more cautious approach of optioning the episodes on a sporadic basis and deliberately placing it on the schedule to drain the ratings of specific competing shows at key times. Former Six Million Dollar Man producer Lionel Siegel took over production duties for the second season and made deliberate changes to attempt to grow the adult audience. These included dropping the character of Captain Barbera; adding the character of Julie Masters as a love interest for Peter; creating more down-to-earth plots; and toning down Spider-Man's powers slightly to make him more accessible. The second season of seven episodes was to air sporadically through the 1978-79 TV season. The show was officially cancelled after that. Reportedly, one of the problems was that CBS was cautious about being labeled the "superhero network", as it was airing other comic book content including The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman, Captain America and Doctor Strange. Another problem was that in spite of the show's popularity, fans were highly critical of the series for the changes made to the comic book storyline and the lack of any real "supervillains".
In addition, Spider-Man creator Stan Lee disliked the show, and was vocal about his dissatisfaction with it. He once said in an interview for Pizzazz magazine that he felt the series was "too juvenile" - a controversial statement given his credit as script consultant on each episode.
The show has so far featured the only live-action appearance of Peter Parker's spider-tracer tracking devices, which are prominently featured in several episodes throughout the series.
In the mid-1980s and early 1990s, two attempts were reportedly made to recreate an Amazing Spider-Man live-action television series. The first one would have had the original cast team-up with the cast from The Incredible Hulk television series.
This was part of a plan to have several television movies featuring the Incredible Hulk and various Marvel Comics characters (three had already been aired, the first with Thor, the second with Daredevil, while the announced She-Hulk did not appear in the third).
Reportedly, this attempt finally fell through when Bill Bixby died of cancer in 1993. A second attempt would have been an entirely new series that never got beyond preproduction because the networks wanted to make Spider-Man into a mutant.
Cast and crew
The only characters besides Peter Parker to appear regularly in both the television series and comics were J. Jonah Jameson and Aunt May. Joe "Robbie" Robertson (played by Hilly Hicks) also appeared but only in the pilot. A different actress played Aunt May each time she appeared.
In both these incarnations, J. Jonah Jameson's abrasive, flamboyant personality was toned down and the character was portrayed as more avuncular.
- Nicholas Hammond as Peter Parker / Spider-Man
- David White as J. Jonah Jameson (pilot)
- Robert F. Simon as J. Jonah Jameson (series)
- Chip Fields as Rita Conway
- Michael Pataki as Capt. Barbera (pilot and first season only)
- Ellen Bry as Julie Masters (second season only)
- Rosalind Chao as Emily Chan ( "The Chinese Web" only)
- Tom Blank
- Cliff Bole
- Michael Caffey
- Dennis Donnelly
- Tony Ganz
- Fernando Lamas
- Joseph Manduke
- Don McDougall
- Ron Satlof
- Larry Stewar
- Matt Charette
Season 1: 1978
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||1||"The Amazing Spider-Man"||E.W. Swackhamer||Alvin Boretz||September 19, 1977|
University student Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider and decides to use his super powers to stop an evil New Age guru that is turning law abiding citizens into criminals through mind control.This pilot TV-movie was released theatrically overseas and saw VHS releases in the 1980s by CBS/Fox Home Video (and later, reissued on its Playhouse Video label) and in the 1990s by Rhino Home Video. A CED videodisc version (CBS/Fox) was also released. In Japan only, this was also released on VHD format and laserdisc. All versions are out of print.
|2||2||"Deadly Dust: Part 1"||Ron Satlof||Robert Janes||April 5, 1978|
Upset that their professor has brought a small amount of plutonium onto campus in order to give a class demonstration, three University students decide to steal the plutonium and build a bomb in order to illustrate the dangers of nuclear power. However, the international businessmen and arms dealer named Mr. White has his henchmen steal the plutonium so that he can detonate it in Los Angeles, California where the President will be giving a campaign speech.
|3||3||"Deadly Dust: Part 2"||Ron Satlof||Robert Janes||April 12, 1978|
|International terrorist "Mr. White" proceeds with his plan to detonate the bomb during the President's speech in Los Angeles, but during preparation a female member of the trio succumbs to acute radiation poisoning. While Spider-Man is intent on thwarting the bomb's detonation, he is also torn between helping the dying woman.|
|4||4||"The Curse of Rava"||Michael Caffrey||Dick Nelson,
|April 19, 1978|
Members of a religious cult, led by the telekinetic Mandak, plan to steal a Rava religious icon from a museum and in the process frame Mr. Jameson for attempted murder.
|5||5||"Night of the Clones"||Fernando Lamas||John W. Bloch||April 26, 1978|
A scientific convention is being held in New York City and a controversial American scientist has figured out a way to clone human beings, only to have his evil clone twin escape, and clone an evil Spider-Man.
|6||6||"Escort to Danger"||Dennis Donnelly||Duke Standefur||May 3, 1978|
Season 2: 1978–79
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|7||1||"The Captive Tower"||Cliff Bole||Gregory S. Dinallo,
Philip John Taylor
|September 5, 1978|
Thieves steal ten million dollars from a new high-tech security building and use its computers to trap the people inside.
|8||2||"A Matter of State"||Larry Stewart||Howard Dimsdale||September 12, 1978|
NATO defense plans are stolen and held for ransom by terrorists. Julie Masters accidentally gets a photograph of the ringleader of the gang and now Spider-Man has to protect Masters, while also trying to get the defense plans back.
|9||3||"The Con Caper"||Tom Blank||Brian McKay,
Gregory S. Dinallo
|November 25, 1978|
An imprisoned politician is released and poses as a reformed humanitarian dedicated to prison reform in order to stage a break out of some prisoners and steal a hundred-million dollars.
|10||4||"The Kirkwood Haunting"||Don McDougall||Michael Michaelian||December 30, 1978|
Peter Parker is sent to the estate (complete with its own zoo) of a wealthy widow and longtime family friend of Mr. Jameson. The widow claims that she is being visited by the ghost of her dead husband and he is telling her to donate all her money to the group of men that are acting as objective investigators of paranormal phenomenon.
|11||5||"Photo Finish"||Tony Ganz||Howard Dimsdale||February 7, 1979|
While doing a story on a rare coin collection, the coins are stolen in a robbery with one of the thieves wearing a wig and muffling his voice to appear to be the coin collector's bitter ex-wife. The photo that Parker has of the disguised thief will falsely frame the ex-wife and Parker is willing to go to jail in order to protect the innocent and break out of jail as Spider-Man to bring the thieves to justice.
|12||6||"Wolfpack"||Joseph Manduke||Stephen Kandel||February 21, 1979|
When a greedy Sorgenson Chemical representative learns that University students have developed a mind control gas, he uses the gas to take control of the students and even some soldiers to commit crimes.
|13||7||"The Chinese Web"||Don McDougall||Lionel E. Siegel||July 6, 1979|
The final episode (a 2-hour special) has an old college friend of Mr. Jameson fleeing China (where he is the Minister of Industrial Development) to live with his Chinese-American daughter because the Chinese government has falsely charged him with being a spy during World War II. While Peter Parker tries to prove the man's innocence he must contend with a henchmen of a British-Hong Kong businessman who will do anything to get a new Minister of Industrial Development who will ensure that his firm gets a lucrative business contract with China.
- "Spider-Man on TV". IGN. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- "ABC Reclaims Lead in Ratings". Merced Sun-Star (Merced, California). AP. April 12, 1978.
- "TV's worst season slowly nearing an end". Boca Raton News (Boca Raton, FL). UPI. May 15, 1978.
- "There's a web of truth woven into action of 'Spider-Man series'". St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, FL). Apr 5, 1978.
- Richard Meyers (Oct 1978). "Return of the video Superheroes.". Starlog Page 50-51.
- "Rivals Attending to 'Roots' Return". The Time-News (Hendersonville, NC). Washington Star Syndicate. September 5, 1978.
- Marvel Animation Age: "The Incredible Hulk In Animation - A Retrospective" (Part One)
- Pizzazz, October 1978
- The Incredible Hulk TV Series Page, FAQ , item #13.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Amazing Spider-Man (TV series).|
- The Amazing Spider-Man at the Internet Movie Database
- The Amazing Spider-Man at TV.com
- The Amazing Spider-Man at Superheroes Lives
- An interview from 2002 with Nicholas Hammond about the first Spider-Man movie starring Tobey Maguire