Rave : 2000 : Unlimited Air-Time Severely Limited
Spider-Man Unlimited faced an early demise after only 3 episodes aired in 1999 (in the US). Victim to the Saturday Morning Pokemon vs. Digimon cartoon war, poor Spidey was put on hiatus while extra Digimon episodes filled its time slot at the FOX Kids network. The war was said to end in December 1999, but the show never reappaeared.
Seems television networks have a spider-sense to forsee the success of a show after only two or three episodes. Just look at how unbelievably quick Kevin Smith's Clerks cartoon got the axe!
To be honest, I was a harsh critic of "Unlimited" after a seeing those few episodes - but it's Spider-Man, and I was willing to give the show a chance. The show seemed juvenile compared to its predecessor, the 90's Spider-Man Animated Series. Plot details seemed neglected (Carnage and Venom were buddies? Spider- Man's costume came from where? And cost Peter Parker nothing? Mary Jane's back... is this a continuation of the last show, or a clean start? Spidey hijacked the space shuttle and got away with it? Give me a break). Depth of characters was substituted for flash and action.
I was also disappointed to see a separation of continuity from the previous cartoon - it was a pseudo-separation, that left viewers confused, since the animated series ended with some questions left unanswered. However, I liked the concept of Spider-Man trapped on an alternate Earth. It opened the door to some twisted views at traditional characters. When the show went off the air, the comic book counterpart continued for a few issues, providing some interesting new stories not directly translated from the cartoon scripts. I began to look forward to the return of the cartoon.
Spring 2000 came and went - no Spider-Man Unlimited.
Word on the 'Net over the summer said the remaining episodes had been completed. Reports recently came to us from Australia that Spider-Man Unlimted has returned to the airwaves. The remaining ten episodes were being aired! You can check out the latest plot summaries at The Ultimate Guide to Spider-man Unlimited.
[Ed - Sorry, that website no longer available.]
Meanwhile, we checked in with FOX Kids and, as of August 2000, there are still no plans for Unlimited to air in the US.
It seems unreal that a full season of Spider-Man can be fully produced, yet remain off the air over most of the globe. Next year, the Spider-Man movie and many of it's rights (options for a new cartoon and even a live-action tv show) will be in Sony's hands. How will this exchange of rights affect Spider-Man Unlimted from ever airing in the US and elsewhere? This is just what Spider-Man doesn't need - more tangled legal webs. Where's Matt Murdock when you need him!