Friday, August 18, 2006

I Can't Believe This Isn't On DVD Yet

This is the SPIDER-MAN I grew up with. Many comics fans have fond memories of the 1960s cartoon series with the groovy theme song, and today's audiences have Sam Raimi's big-budget films, but for those of us who grew up in the 1970's, this was the only Spider-Man we had, outside of Marvel's comics, of course.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN was one of the most fucked-up shows, scheduling-wise, in TV history. We never knew when the damn thing was going to be on. The pilot aired in the spring of 1977 as a 90-minute movie, but then it took 51 weeks for CBS to air the series. It ran for five weeks, then was yanked off the air for four months. It began its "second" season in the fall of 1978, but ran only twice before CBS yanked it again, dribbling out five more episodes over the next nine months. I don't know what the ratings were like, but if no one was watching, it comes as no surprise, considering nobody could possibly know when it would air next.

Even then, I knew it wasn't very good. Peter Parker was too old--at least in his mid-20s--and there were no supervillains in costumes for him to fight, just run-of-the-mill robbers and kidnappers and spies (THE FLASH, a much better series, had the same problem). There was no Aunt May or Mary Jane. The only character from the comic books to appear on the series was J. Jonah Jameson...who was a nice (but gruff) guy who didn't hate Spider-Man at all! Star Nicholas Hammond was a child actor who played one of the Von Trapp children in THE SOUND OF MUSIC. He did quite a bit of TV during the '70s, but eventually moved to Australia, where he continues to be an extremely busy performer that doesn't show up often in American productions.

At any rate, watch the opening title sequence to THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and you'll get a good idea of how awful it was. Even the theme by the normally dependable Stu Phillips is pretty cheesy.

There were only about a dozen episodes, and I'm amazed that it hasn't yet shown up on DVD to coincide with the release of the new SPIDER-MAN movies starring Tobey Maguire. I think just about all of the SPIDER-MAN cartoons are out...hell, even THE ELECTRIC COMPANY is on DVD now. Plus, CBS' other superhero shows from the same time period--THE INCREDIBLE HULK and WONDER WOMAN--are on DVD. So where is THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN?

ADDENDUM: I believe I was originally mistaken, and this is actually the second title sequence created for the series' second season. The appearance of Ellen Bry, who was not originally on the show, leads me to that conclusion. In that case, the laughable theme was actually composed by Dana Kaproff. I don't want Stu to carry the blame for a crime he didn't commit!

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