The Electric Company (TV) - Season 5, 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 Fixes The Hum'

  The Electric Company (TV) - Season 5, Episode 8
Date TBD
Star: Danny Seagren (Spider-Man), Luis Avalos (The Hum Dinger), Todd Graff (Kid with Radio)

The year is 1951. A very nervous man named David Dinger steps onto the stage of a concert to perform. Panic overwhelms him and he forgets the words to his song! Left with no choice, he begins to hum randomly. For some inexplicable reason, the crowd begins to cheer loudly instead of booing him off the stage. This propels him to super-stardom as the "Hum Dinger". (Somebody becomes famous for having little-to-no talent. The 50s are not so different from modern times.)

The years pass in the form of an old-style odometer and we progress through the 1950s all the way up to 1960. Fans have grown tired of him and have moved on to the next fad. (All his songs were indistinguishable from one another. Again, pop music hasn't changed too much since the 1950s.)

Angered by fickle crowds the Hum Dinger (doesn't Dolly Madison make a snack cake by that name?) turns to a life of crime. He sets himself up as a radio/television repair man and "fixes" consumer electronics (He used to come into millions of living rooms all at once, now he does it one at a time.)

He arrives at his intended victim's residence to con her out of some hard earned money. He enters her apartment and tells her that there's a "hum" (an additional and generally irritating sound) coming from her television set. He proves his point by turning on the set and humming a single note. This is all the proof that the gullible lady needs. She then pays him to fix her set. (She probably still falls for the "got your nose trick" too.)

Hum Dinger is unaware that he is being watched. Outside this apartment, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is washing windows as a favor to his friend (Sure hope he's getting paid for this. In cash. We know he can't cash a check.) Spider-Man is washing the apartment window in which Hum Dinger is running his con. He observes the repairman's actions and gets an uneasy feeling about him.

When the woman's son appears, showing off his new radio (A transistor radio, it was the 70s and I can't explain that away). Hum Dinger decides to get a two-for-one and convinces him that the radio is in need of repair. He pulls the same trick and they both fall for it.

At this point Spider-Man decides to intervene. He enters the apartment and confronts the faux repairman. He tells him to turn the radio on. Overconfident Hum Dinger does just that. When he fakes the hum, he is caught off-guard when Spider-Man looks at him instead of the device (Being a science nerd, he's familiar with electronic gadgets. He doesn't think that they're magical in nature.) Hum Dinger tries to continue his ruse, but eventually becomes winded maintaining the sound. His cover is blown.

When the teenager retrieves his radio, they stumble upon a "Hum Dinger Festival" on station QRZ (just a coincidence I'm sure). It is then that they recognize that their crooked repairman is the legendary rock star. Hum Dinger then gives the starstruck teen a live performance.

Neither the mother nor Spider-Man are particularly happy with this development. They cup their ears trying to drown out the sound.

General Comments

Reading WAAAAAY to much into this episode to yank out some social commentary, but this is what I get from it. I call it like I hallucinate it.

While this character is obviously a parody of Elvis Presley, the King managed to regain popularity after the Beatles came along. Which was the presumed "next fad" that ended his career.

Overall Rating

3 webs. So goofy, so enjoyable