With news of the new Peter Parker/Spiderman casting setting the world in a (ahem) spin it got my spider sense tingling with fond memories of the original Spiderman live action adventures, not those of Tobey Maguire and co but those featuring a former Von Trapp child from the Sound of Music, Nicholas Hammond, in the titular role as old ‘Web head’ swung onto screen s for the first time in the 70s, The Amazing Spiderman.
Not only was it a TV series, but over here in the UK several episodes were spun together to create movies that were released theatrically, one of which being my first ever foray into the cinema with a trip to my then local ABC Cinema, thanks Dad.
Whereas DC were taking over the silver screen in the 70s with Superman and making us believe a man could fly, Marvel had to make do with us seeing a body builder with a green paint job and a rather bad wig and Spiderman, whose wall crawling left more than a little bit desired, but who cared, it was just great to see that red and blue costume for real and he had far more impressive and authentic web shooters than the Sam Raimi films.
Some 30 years later it may all look a bit low rent and kitsch but Spidey looked no better or worse than other action-packed shows of the time, including The Six Million Dollar Man, Wonder Woman and the already mentioned, The Incredible Hulk.
It also had some great locations including Hong Kong, clearly jumping onto the martial arts bandwagon, and a whole host of villains. The only disappointment here is that these weren’t exactly super villains and were more low rent types or crime lords as seen in the likes of other dramas at the time, like Kojack and Starsky and Hutch, rather than any of your Sinister Six, like Doc Ock, Kraven, The Vulture, or even the Green Goblin. But, this did at least ground the show in a sense of reality and made Spiderman all that little bit more believable as well.
Stan Lee, who of course made a cameo appearance in all three recent big screen outings, even penned two episodes of the show and acted as its creative consultant, which only lasted 14 episodes over two very short seasons, although he was on record as feeling the series was too juvenile.
The three aspects of this short-lived but fondly remembered show that I loved were Spidey’s spider tracer, which were spider shaped device used to track people to great effect. The music, mostly by Stu Phillips, who also had scoring duties on Battlestar Galactica, and is something that has just stuck with me in my head to this day.
Finally, I also loved it when Parker’s Spider sense started tingling as his eyes flashed white and we got to see a negative image of what Parker was seeing unfold as well, their equivalent to Bill Bixby’s green eyes in The Incredible Hulk I guess.
One of the early Spiderman episodes also dealt with a terrorist with designs on the World Trade Center, which does link this 70s pre-cursor to the original Raimi film, as in its teaser trailer it featured a helicopter being caught in a giant web between the two buildings and some initial posters had a reflection of the Twin Towers in his giant eye, both of which were removed after the 9/11 atrocities.
Raimi’s creation may have had the state-of-the-art sfx and the mega budget but there is always something cool about seeing a live action
Spiderman taking out folk on the TV screen. As good as he# looked in the Raimi movies, when he is flying through the air he is CGI, at least here it is all done for real and sometimes you just can’t beat that , so for me this will always be the real Spiderman and not one created in a computer.