Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 1, Episode 18 (Story 2)

 Posted: May 2010


The title is a twist on the popular musical "Fiddler on the Roof". I will admit having limited knowledge of the plot as I am not familiar with musical theater beyond the titles. If it makes me uncultured, whatever. I have at least heard of it.

As one can gather an evil fiddler (violinist) is running around New York causing some sort of mischief. But how could a lone violinist cause problems? We shall see.

Story 'Fiddler on the Loose'

Eccentric millionaire Cyrus Flintridge III has built a concert hall to host performances for "modern" music. This is specifically aimed at the younger demographic. He invites Jonah to preview a band called The Squawkers who will perform on opening night. Spider-Man learns of this and wants to see Jameson's reaction.

While Flintridge is genuinely interested in all types of music, Jonah can't stand this particular genre. Spider-Man watches – and laughs - from his vantage point as Jonah squirms in his seat eagerly waiting the end of this concert.

From a short distance away, a main aims his violin at the conservatory and draws the bow across the strings. A sonic wave is created that causes the Squawkers to disappear. Another knocks Spider-Man to the ground. The violinist is content with his work and leaves.

He returns to his hideout where it becomes clear that the violinist has a major grudge with Flintridge. He blames Flintridge for putting too much emphasis on so-called modern music and away from classical music. He intends to blackmail Flintridge and use the money to build a conservatory where real music can be played at all times [Carnegie Hall, anyone?]

The next day, Flintridge receives a note from the violinist, instructing him to leave $100,000 at the foot of Beethoven's statue in Central Park. He pays a visit to Jonah for advice. Jonah has a plan to trap the blackmailer [Jonah with a plan? Nothing good can come from this.]. He sends Peter to make the drop with an empty case and take pictures of the blackmailer. This plan almost works, but Peter is discovered and his camera is destroyed.

Fearing for Flintridge's safety because of the double-cross, Peter changes to Spider-Man and arrives at the Flintridge penthouse. He watches as Flintridge happily listens to his records and plays his bongo drums. The violinist has discovered the deception and plans to gain some measure of revenge. He uses his special violin to destroy his stereo and record collection. Spider-Man follows him, but the violinist traps him under construction equipment and makes his escape. Spider-Man eventually frees himself, but the violinist is long gone.

The next day Flintridge informs Jonah that the blackmailer is now asking for $500,000. The instructions state the he has to deliver the money personally to his Mod Conservatory or else it will be destroyed. Left with no options, Jonah recommends he give into the demands.

Later that night, Spider-Man meets Flintridge and pretends to be the blackmailer, taking the ransom money. Knowing that Flintridge will get the police, he stalls long enough for the authorities to return. Flintridge identifies him as Otto who used to play second violin in the Symphony Orchestra.

General Comments

One of my many theories is that many people - at some point in their life - decide to stop listening to newer music. I have no idea why they do this, but I have noticed some people behave this way. The only explanation that I have is that they dislike the next generation and refuse to give them any form of acceptance.

While this theory may have more than a few holes in it, it does seem to apply to Jonah. He is constantly ranting about the irresponsibility of teenagers, so it should come as no surprise that he doesn't like music from their generation. Flintridge, by contrast, seems to be the type of "eccentric" individual that doesn't limit himself musically. He probably has a higher opinion of people - teenagers included - than Jonah, but again that's not difficult to imagine.

Is there a correlation between musical taste and your opinion of others? In this episode Otto and Jonah both seem to prefer classical music to the exclusion of all else. Jonah's attitude is legendary. Otto is portrayed as someone desperate to justify his musical preference - perhaps for employment, perhaps for aesthetic reasons - that he becomes a criminal by turning a one-of-a-kind musical instrument into an instrument of revenge. How he got that whacked-out violin is question that will never be answered.

Now that I've waxed philosophic, I have to point out that Otto the Fiddler reminded me of Captain Kangaroo. I was very disappointed that Mr. Green Jeans didn't make an appearance as his sidekick Franz the Flutist.

Overall Rating

3 webs. A reasonable cartoon for the series. The only complaint that I have is that the origin of the sonic violin was never revealed. Perhaps I'm asking for too much, but it would have been nice to hear that he won it in a contest, it was a present from the Red Skull, or something along those lines.

 Posted: May 2010