The Electric Company (TV) - Season 4, Episode 8

Background

The Electric Company was the Pepsi of children's television in the 1970s to Sesame Street's Coca-Cola.

Sesame Street had lovable Muppets which allowed them to earn additional income through merchandising (the main reason the show is STILL on the air after all this time). The Electric Company had Morgan Freeman. As cool as he is, I can't see a Morgan Freeman plush toy outselling Big Bird, Kermit, or Grover (especially the Super Grover variant). Oscar the Grouch, maybe.

Perhaps to compete with their sibling show, TEC somehow managed to acquired the rights to use Spider-Man in small segments starting in 1974. The intention was to teach children to read using one of the most popular comic book characters of all time. On that front they succeeded.

However some of the segments had to be GREATLY toned down to be appropriate for their target audience. This resulted in many so-bad-they're-good encounters with villains that wouldn't quite make the cut in the comics.

Story 'Spidey and the Queen Bee'

  The Electric Company (TV) - Season 4, Episode 8
Date TBD
Star: Danny Seagren (Spider-Man), Hattie Winston (The Queen Bee)
Narrator: Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman welcomes us to another episode of Spider-Man. (His voice is always comforting for some reason. He just has that calming quality.) In this one he drops a few bad "bee" puns to warn us of the difficulty ahead for our surprisingly silent super-hero.

While swinging home, our hero drops down to street level for a small break. As he sits perched on a fake wall, two grown men in bee costumes walk in front of him. (They also have a pseudo-buzzing sound in the background. I think they took that from Studio 54) They communicate with each other in their bee-language (probably mocking Spider-Man for his weird-looking costume) and continue on their way (to the honeycomb hideout? AGH!! couldn't resist!). Spider-Man knows that they work for his enemy The Queen Bee.

Elsewhere at the Bee Hive sits another bee-person wearing a cape and crown - it's the Queen Bee (her terrifying appearance is emphasized by scary organ music). Morgan Freeman informs us that she plans to take over the world because she doesn't let anything get in her way. (She's got that disco diva tone in her voice that projects supreme confidence. I'll bet she could tear up "Lady Marmalade") Her subordinates return and she offers them honey as a reward. One of them responds with the Jackie Gleason catchphrase "Oh how sweet it is!". (Yeah Gleason's probably not too happy about that.)

They warn her that Spider-Man may have followed them back to the beehive, which may foil her plans. She throws a fit (backed up by some more scary organ music) and plans to sting him with poison-laded worker bees. She then calls for her specialist - The Beekeeper.

Elsewhere Spider-Man is searching for a clue to the Queen Bee's location. To the untrained eye, it would appear he is laying down on a glass box while the background scrolls by. But we know better, don't we?

The Beekeeper arrives, dressed in his work suit: a beekeeper's mask and a shirt that has his name-slash-occupation on it. Before they can plan their next move, Spider-Man arrives and webs up The Beekeeper. The Queen Bee then commands her subordinates to defend her! Their method of attack involves dancing like the Roxbury Guys from Saturday Night Live. Butt-bumping Spider-Man with their imaginary (or perhaps very small) stingers. Either way it's a little disturbing.

Queen Bee escapes to attack the world another day. Spider-Man escapes his attackers as well. Our hero is glad to have survived another adventure, but he is covered in bee stings. He decides to make a trip to the nearest pharmacy for some supplies.

General Comments

My only real question about this episode is why two of her henchmen are humanoid bees and the other is a regular human. I'm thinking there's a Wuzzle-style pairing somewhere.

Overall Rating

4 webs. Perfectly appropriate for small children and adults with juvenile tendencies. Morgan Freeman narrating plus scary organ music backing the villain just makes this episode.