Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 2, Episode 10

Background

Just "Vine"? Why not title this episode "Creeping Vine", "When Plants Attack", or *gasp* "Spider-Man Vs. The Vine"? Well I'm sure that since they went cheap on the title, the episode will make up for it. Right?

Story 'Vine'

  Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 2, Episode 10
Summary: First Aired Nov 16th 1968 (full-length episode)

One of Peter's female classmates Jackie asks him to help her explore the attic of her family's new house. The previous owner was an eccentric scientist named Professor Smithers who disappeared thirty years ago [Thanks to the Simpsons, this name no longer commands any respect.]

Jackie discovers a box that contains what looks like a giant seed. Neither she nor Peter can identify it. When Peter examines it, he notes that it's getting warmer. He sets it aside and uncover Smithers' other equipment and find his journal. Jackie begins reading from the journal and learns that one of the devices is a fully functional time machine. Smithers set the controls to the year 3 million B.C. and kept it running for any who want to follow him [Impressive the electricity isn't even on]

The professor warns that he has already brought back a seed from the past and kept it in a box. It lives on any available energy and has an incredible growth rate in response to direct sunlight. Smithers warns that the seed should never be exposed to sunlight [But feeding it after midnight and allowing it get wet is ok, right?]

With that necessary exposition the seed soaks in the sunlight and transforms into a large aggressive vine. It slithers out of the house and heads for the city destroying everything in its path. [Nowhere in that journal entry does it mention that the seed becomes sentient.] With little choice, Peter tells Jackie to notify the police; he'll go back in time and find Professor Smithers - and a way to stop the vine. [Cue dramatic music]

Peter steps into the time machine and arrives at the pre-programmed coordinates. He then changes to Spider-Man and begins searching for the chronally displaced scientist. He is soon captured by savages from that time and is taken to their camp. These savages just happen to be allies of Smithers in a stroke of sheer plot advancement.

Smithers explains that the only way to stop the vine is with pure radium. [So go back to 1898, grab Marie Curie, and let her destroy the plants.] The only available source is the gems in the idol of the Forbidden City. They originally constructed the Forbidden City but were eventually overrun by the angry plant creatures and forced to leave. When Smithers initially arrived, he and the savages used to kill the vine creatures by feeding them radium gems, which were abundant at that time. Eventually only two remained. They fashioned those into the eyes of an idol they built. [Time travel and idolatry. Great combo.] As they years past the vines mutated and actually thrived off the energy. Smithers tells him if he takes the eyes of the idol the vines will now wither away. He can use the eyes to destroy the vine that's threatening New York City.

Spider-Man makes his way to the Forbidden City, but his presence is noticed. His first attempt steal the gems results in failure. He is captured and forced to fight a giant creature by the Master Vine. He quickly defeats the creature and then steals the gems. Their absence soon causes the remaining vine creatures to wither as expected. As he leaves the city, he tells Smithers that it's safe for him to return.

Spider-Man makes his way back through the time machine and heads for New York. He finds the massive vine and drops the radium gems into it's happy little mouth. The big vine soon withers and dies due to energy overload.

Later Peter explains to Jackie what happened and she compliments him on his heroism. When they discuss bringing back Smithers, Jackie informs him that the radium gems deactivated the time machine. She does invite him over to look in the basement and to see what they can find there. [Peter, your spider-senses should be tingling because I think she's hot for you]

General Comments

A menace from the past threatens the present's future!! This menace is a destructive plant that thrives on energy, but if it consumes too much it dies. What a waste.

The odd facial expressions of the vine creatures made me laugh a bit, but it is no substitute for a decent story.

Overall Rating

1/2 web. I almost gave it a full web, but then I realized that there were too many things that were wrong with the episode.

  • What was the power source for the time machine? Solar? Nuclear? Energizer batteries?
  • Why did Smithers bring back a seed for anyone to find?
  • I'm not quite sure how Smithers can handle "pure radium" gems of that size and presumed intensity for almost thirty years and not get cancer.
  • Why the vine creatures could absorb the radium energy slowly and thrive, but taking in too much will kill them. Then they change their position and say that without it, they'll die. Isn't there sunlight in 3 million B.C.??
  • The Master Vine and his lackeys were noticeably different. Similar to a googly-eyed venus flytrap. Why weren't they all vines?