Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 1, Episode 1 (Story 1)

 Posted: Jan 2010


While Spider-Man fans were elated to have their favorite character turned into a "fully" animated Saturday morning cartoon, there were certain trade-offs. Episodes were constructed to maximize the reuse of animation (expensive in those days) and to push the story forward by whatever means necessary. More often than not this meant cutting corners to arrive at a resolution. Not necessarily one that made any logical sense.

Given the nature of this show, certain story elements are highly unbelievable. While I will cut them some slack, I can't let certain things alone. I will comment on these quirky elements in mid-review using a "Mystery Science Theater 3000" / RiffTrax.com approach. My personal comments will be in bold. This approach will be used for all subsequent reviews.

Dr. Octopus is one of Spider-Man's most dangerous and recurring foes. His first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #3 signaled the beginning of a long and enjoyable hatred between these two characters.

Story 'The Power of Dr. Octopus'

  Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 1, Episode 1 (Story 1)
Summary: First Aired Sep 9th 1967

Peter heads back to the Daily Bugle after his assignment turned out to be a "wild goose chase" involving mysterious lights in the country. As he drives [Peter's never driven before, what's going on here?] down a mountain path he encounters a rockslide. Having little choice, he swerves to avoid the rocks and falls off the side of the mountain. His car lands on a tree saving him, for the time being.

He then changes to Spider-Man [what's less likely to upset the delicate balance here besides unnecessary movement] and secures the car to the mountain at all four corners. He then lowers the car [somehow without any additional webbing] to the ground without leaving the vehicle.

As he lands, the car bumps into a rock formation that slides apart revealing a previously hidden cave from which a bright light emanates. Thinking that he found his story, he goes inside and finds a laboratory. He then falls into a steel net and is captured by the sole occupant of the lab: Dr. Octopus, a mad scientist in a purple jumpsuit with four mechanical arms.

Octopus then explains that he's just in time to watch his master plan unfold. On his monitor, he shows him an unidentified suburb which he intends to destroy. Spider-Man immediately recognizes as his neighborhood (Forrest Hills, Queens for those keeping score). Ock states that he has sent his demands to J. Jonah Jameson.

At the Daily Bugle, Jonah reads Ock's letter with contempt. His instincts from years as a "fearless publisher" convinces him this is a crank letter. Betty takes it seriously, despite Jonah's assurances to the contrary. She then wonders aloud where Peter is. Jonah responds that he's "goofing off" like other teenagers.

Back at Ock's lab, Spider-Man frees himself from the net and engages Ock in a one-on-one battle. He quickly learns that his webbing is useless against Ock's arms and soon finds himself trapped in a steel cage.

Betty is worried about Peter and leaves the Bugle to find him. She drives out to his last known location and finds his car and subsequently the cave. She looks around oblivious to the fact that Ock is aware of her presence. He allows her to enter the lab where she is captured and handcuffed to Spider-Man's cage. At this point, Ock explains that his plan involves using electricity to generate shock waves that will ultimately tear the city apart.

Spider-Man then forms his webbing into a key that unlocks Betty's handcuffs. He then instructs her to run and find help while he puts a stop to Octopus. He eventually coats Ock's glasses with his webbing and then webs him to a support column.

Outside Betty has found a police officer. Once Peter appears, the officer goes inside to find Ock wrapped up for him with a note from Spider-Man.

General Comments

Since Dr. Octopus is one of Spidey's most popular and well-known enemies, one would think that they would come up with a slightly better plot than having him hide out in a cave while he plans to conquer the world.

Given that this is the first show of a new series, I expected something a little more exciting. With the generic nature of Ock's plan, they could have used any mad scientist in his place. They didn't even allow him to walk around on his mechanical arms. He just used them like mentally-controlled sledgehammers. At the very least they could have titled the episode "Dr. Octopus' 8 Point Plan" or something similar to give it some unique quality.

It's established here that Spidey can turn his webbing into whatever form he wants. This was done in the early issues of Amazing Spider-Man, so we can't really blame them for using that. Personally I always thought such applications were impossible. In my mind his web-shooters have two settings - stream and spray. It's like using a spray bottle of Febreeze©, but with web fluid.

Overall Rating

2 webs. Decent story but they could have done better since it was the first episode of a new series and the fact that it was Dr. Octopus. There were other problems as well. The scene with the car landing on a tree was unbelievable. The overly simple way (even for a children's show) that Ock was finally captured was not satisfying. Granted Spider-Man had difficulty fighting Ock throughout the episode, it came across as a simple "wrap it up now" solution.

 Posted: Jan 2010