Before the fun of #SpideySeptember comes to a close, it would truly be a crime to webbed up for if I didn’t share my experiences (love) for the vastly underrated 2003 animated show and the fantastically funky 1970s tv debut.
Spider-Man: The Animated Series
Running for only a mere 13 episodes, this different spin on Marvel’s favourite do-gooder was released in July of 2003 to positive reviews but unfortunately disappointing viewership. Using CGI to render the show in a lush cel-shaded style that complimented the high spirited nature of Peter’s adventures. Picking up after the events of Raimi’s beloved first Maguire instalment, this series acted as spiritual bridge between that and Spider-Man 2. For obvious budgetary reasons, the Raimi cast doesn’t appear in capacity to lend their voices to the main ensemble. Don’t fret however, because there is one man who gave us a supremely overlooked turn as Mr Parker.
Dispatching webs left, right and center is Neil Patrick Harris. With a gusto akin to that of Yuri Lowenthal, Harris holds a spot in my heart close to times where I would rewind the simply awesome opening sequence and holster my favourite Raimi era action figure. Something about the beautifully overdramatic EDM theme captures the wit and blissful fun of Spidey’s next dilema. Lisa Loeb and Ian Ziering (Biker Mice From Mars!!!) accompany Harris as Mary Jane Watson and Harry Osbourne respectively.
This is now the odd thing with Spidey 2003, the cast is stacked?!
Devon Sawa, James Marsters, Rob Zombie (yes you read that right), Keith David, Jeffrey Combs and Michael Clarke Duncan (reprising his Daredevil interpretation of Kingpin) appear in various shades of villainy and intrigue as the show progresses as a breakneck speed. Seeing Clarke Duncan as Kingpin filled my imagination with hope of a crossover to Ben Affleck’s stint as Matt Murdock, which sadly wasn’t to be. I’ll still take the hours of wonder that idea gave me though.
Playing out like any good video game experience tied to the Raimi verse (we all know which one), The New Animated Series filled in the gaps between movies with characters we have yet to see crossover in the MCU. Kraven, Curt Connors, Silver Sable and Rocket Racer all have their chance to become tangled in Peter’s web. For the first time in fifteen years, the show was aired last year on TV. It’s nice to know there is still some love out there for this chapter of Spider-Man’s ouvre.
The Amazing Spider-Man (1970)
Unlike my times with Channel 5 watching The Incredible Hulk repeats with Dad, my first encounter with The Amazing Spider-Man TV show came about the best way it could have: through the grace of Blockbusters heavenly bargain bins. As soon as my ears were serenaded by the clav synths and disco grooves, I knew that this wasn’t going to be any ordinary time spent with the character. To this day, I’m still completely taken by how they achieved the POV shots of Nicholas Hammond’s stunt coordinator Fred Waugh, as he scaled the city tops.
Conceived originally as backdoor pilot titled “Spider-Man,” it would be released on the CBS network and in theatres internationally for a limited run. Starting strong with a 16.6 million viewership, the show would ride off the initial goodwill till its end in 1979. Strangely, the show was cancelled due to its large success, which would lead viewers to associate CBS as being a “Superhero Network”, with The Incredible Hulk / Wonder Woman / Doctor Strange providing further comic fuelled entertainment across the station. CBS wanted to change directions, leading The Amazing Spider-Man’s swift cancellation after the second series concluded.
Much like The Incredible Hulk and it’s various crossover events with Thor and Daredevil in the form of TV movies, the same gleeful obscurity was to be found with Spider-Man Strikes Back and Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge. Moving away from the traditional form of comic book driven plotlines of supervillain tierney (much to the disdain of a portion of the fanbase), the direction of the show tried to forge its own path within the Spidey mythos. If you haven’t ever had the pleasure of viewing this incarnation of Spidey, then disservice is just the start of what I could say.
It’s aging against modern times has only added to the charm of Nicolas Hammond’s time in the suit.