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Spider-Man [tv]

Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

1. Animated tv series (1967-1970; vt Spiderman). GrantRay-Lawrence Animation with Krantz Films (first season); Krantz Films solo (seasons 2 and 3). ABC-TV/Syndicated. Produced by Ray Patterson, Ralph Bakshi. Directors included Bakshi, Patterson, Grant Simmons, Gray Morrow. Writers included John Romita Sr, Fred Halliday, Dick Robbins and Lin Carter. Based on characters created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for Marvel Comics. Cast includes Peg Dixon, Paul Kligman and Paul Soles. Narrator: Bernard Cowan. 52 25-minute episodes. Colour.

Teenager Peter Parker (Soles) is bitten by a spider accidentally exposed to radiation at a science demonstration; he gains spider-like Superpowers including great strength, speed and agility, the power to stick to any surface with his hands or feet, and an ESP "spider sense" which warns him of approaching danger. Attempting to use his powers to earn fame and fortune, Parker allows a thief to escape; this offender later murders his Uncle Ben, bringing great guilt to Peter, who realizes this would not have happened had he helped capture the thief earlier. Vowing to fight all crime, he become the costumed Superhero Spider-Man, and finds work as a freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle, a newspaper edited by gruff J Jonah Jameson (Kligman). Among other problems, Parker balances college, photography (often photos of himself as Spider-Man battling various Villains) and a rocky love life.

In the first season, Spider-Man faces opponents only from his Comics series, including Dr Octopus, the Green Goblin, Mysterio, the Vulture, the Sandman and the Lizard. Thereafter he chiefly fought original foes including various Aliens and occasional Supernatural Creatures, plus many sf-themed enemies. This variety may be attributable to Lin Carter's contributions. Ralph Bakshi's Krantz Films took over production as well from season two onward. A wish to reduce costs may have been responsible for the decreased use of established Marvel villains and the recycling of much stock footage from past episodes: Peter changing into costume, Spider-Man swinging over New York, and so on. Bakshi also imported stock footage from his other animated series, such as Rocket Robin Hood (1966-1969). While generally written for younger audiences, the series sometimes featured dark themes such as the death of Uncle Ben. This first animated adaptation of Spider-Man comprised two separate adventures per episode. It continued in syndication well into the 1980s, both in the US and abroad, and was released into home video in 2004. [GSt]

2. US animated tv series (1981-1982). Marvel Productions. Syndicated. Based on characters created by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, others. Produced by Arthur Vitello. Directors included Don Jurwich. Writers included Doug Booth, Donald F Glut, Jack Hanrahan and Jeffrey Scott. Cast includes Linda Gary, Ralph James, Ted Schwartz and William Woodson. 26 22-minute episodes. Colour.

Following a brief recap of the classic origin story, Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Schwartz) battles crime as a masked Superhero in New York, dealing with numerous super Villains while working for J Jonah Jameson (Woodson), crusty Chief Editor of the Daily Bugle and looking after his elderly Aunt May Parker (Gary). He becomes involved with rebels trying to overthrow dictator Dr Doom (James) in the fictional European nation of Latveria; Doom attempts to take over the world in a continuing subplot throughout the series' run. Spider-Man also faces most of his usual rogue's gallery of opponents including Dr Octopus, the Green Goblin, the Lizard, Kraven the Hunter, and the Sandman, plus some less often seen, such as Magneto, and Antiheroes including the Black Cat and the Sub-Mariner, the latter annoyed by human Pollution of the seas. Other Marvel Comics heroes occasionally feature, including Captain America and Ka-Zar. [GSt]

3. Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Animated tv series (1994-1998; vt Spider-Man). New World Entertainment/Marvel Animation Studios for the Fox Network. Produced by John Semple Jr. Directed by Bob Richardson. Writers included Mark Hoffman, Denny O'Neil, Marv Wolfman, Stan Berkowitz, Virginia Roth, Len Wein, many others. Based on characters created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Cast includes Edward Asner, Sara Ballantine, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Majel Barrett, Roscoe Lee Browne, Linda Gary and Rodney Salsberry. 65 21-minute episodes. Colour.

After a replay of the origin story as in 1 above, Peter Parker (Barnes) becomes Spider-Man – balancing crime-fighting with college and an often difficult romantic life, generally with girlfriend Mary Jane Watson (Ballantine). Another occasional relationship is with fellow-student Felicia Hardy (Hale), who becomes the costumed Antihero the Black Cat. Again, as a freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle edited by J Jonah Jameson (Asner), Parker sells Jameson photos of himself battling such superhuman opponents as Dr Octopus, Electro, the Green Goblin, the Rhino, the Shocker, the Hobgoblin (an even more ruthless villain who stole the Green Goblin's equipment and super-strength formula) and Morbius, the Living Vampire. Other Marvel Comics Superheroes making guest appearances include Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil and members of the X-Men including Wolverine.

Written to a high level, the series was popular and reportedly ended only because of disputes between the network and Marvel over the direction it should take. Copious Tied merchandise included action figures, Videogames, and at least two comics series. [GSt]

see also: Japanese Spider-Man; Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends; Spider-Woman.


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