The 1977 Spider-Man television series offers almost no reason to watch it. Somewhere in the wide cosmos, The Amazing Spider-Man held the title of the most-watched television show of the 1970s.
Regardless of the fact that I had never seen the show, I thought that headline would honor the 45th anniversary of the September 14, 1977, debut of The Amazing Spider-Man TV series.
Nevertheless, after watching the two-hour episodes as well as the 90-minute pilot, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that the program is more than deserving of its current status as a small footnote in Spider-Man history, equivalent to the infamously stupid Spider-Mobile.
If you’re lucky enough to not be familiar with The Amazing Spider-Man, allow me to give you a brief overview of it. It was Marvel’s first live-action television production, and it ran over the course of two inconsistent seasons for a total of 13 episodes.
Strangely enough, the show succeeded well in the ratings; CBS only dropped this because it didn’t like being perceived as a network that was primarily home to superhero series at the time. Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk were both on CBS at the time.
Robert F. Simon and Nicholas Hammond both had significant parts in The Amazing Spider-Man. Only one constant comic book heroes were those two, according to Jameson. All of the additional characters were new.
Sometimes Aunt May would show up in it too, but she was seen as being so insignificant that she only made two appearances and was represented by two different actors.
Peter Parker’s stint as a photojournalist for The Daily Bugle, where he would get entangled in articles about different criminal activities, served as the central theme of the program.
As the action progressed, he would alternate between playing Peter Parker and Spider-Man, rescuing people as necessary.
If that seems familiar, it’s because multiple Superman series has operated in just that way, starting with Dean Cain’s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and ending with George Reeves’ Adventures of Superman.
Instead of using the well-known drama surrounding Spider-Man, such as his love life, Uncle Ben’s narrative, his obligation for providing for his Aunt May, or even just his struggle to pay the rent, the producers simply concluded that Superman’s story was more engaging than Spider- Man’s.
A tweak was also made to the flashy J. Jonah Jameson resembled Perry White more and more as he developed into his stern yet charming persona. In addition, Peter Parker frequently finds himself “on the case” despite being a young freelance photographer.
Peter Parker is also lost to the program as a result of the loss of his story. Although Peter is impersonating a graduate student at college because we rarely ever see him there, the nerdy social outsider aspect of his image that is necessary to make him the “everyman” superhero is missing.
He strikes me as a younger, more honest man with a keen eye for reporting. And to make matters worse, Spider-Man isn’t portrayed with any of the wit or whimsy that makes the character fun.
Instead, he is almost silent throughout the film, and the only sound we hear is the upbeat dancing music that is featured in the score.
Even worse than being terrible since at least awful can be fun, Hammond’s acting, both as Peter and as Spider-Man, is only competent and not at all memorable.
This means that The Amazing Spider-tone Man is mostly to blame for its total lack of value. An hour-long Spider-Man program might have gone in one of two routes, depending on the constraints of the time and the fact that it was for television: it could have been a straight, serious drama like The Incredible Hulk, or it could have been a campy bit of fun, like the 1960s Batman show.
Since it does neither, as opposed to both, it is absolutely poor. However, it is not at all horrifying enough to be pleasurable; it is just absolutely bad enough to be terribly uninteresting.
Although The Incredible Hulk was a well-liked TV show at the time, it is certainly outdated by today’s standards. Even though it didn’t include supervillains, The Hulk is a figure full of sadness, and there is plenty of Jekyll-and-Hyde, duality-of-man type drama for the program to explore.
Of course, Spider-Man can have it too, but since the tone of this show was much lighter and Peter Parker had Superman drama instead of Spider-Man drama, the intimacy may not have been as great as it may have been.
Spider-Man also had the choice of adopting the Batman strategy, which may have worked. Batman was excellent because it was enjoyable to watch for both kids and adults.
For kids, it was a basic superhero show, but for adults, it was a fun journey with comic performances from Cesar Romero as the Joker and Burgess Meredith as the Penguin.
The Amazing Spider-Man, on the other hand, decided to follow the Hulk paradigm and remove supervillains, which significantly decreased the amount of entertainment it might have offered.
Try to imagine Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster), a cheeseball live-action Doc Ock, munching on the countryside. Despite the fact that the program would have been a lot of fun, The Amazing Spider-Man lacked all of that and as a result, had absolutely no personality.
Sincerity dictates that the best way to describe The Amazing Spider-atmosphere Man is to simply compare it to Batman, minus all of the comically funny villains and Adam West’s outstanding charm and comic timing.
As a result, despite my best efforts, The Amazing Spider-Man TV show is actually not that likable. But given that there are innumerable possibilities, isn’t it possible that Grandpa Munster played Doctor Octopus in at least one alternate universe?
Even if I were to offer a guess, I’d say this program has never been a success anywhere in the vast cosmos.