Live Action Spider-Men Part 2: CBS
Okay, the second day, the second adaptation overview. Today CBS’s “The Amazing Spider-Man,” the most boring adaptation of the bunch. So come slog through part 2 of “Live Action Spider-Men” with me.
Now in the mid to late seventies CBS was doing a lot of comic book, or more specifically superhero, shows. They had “The Incredible Hulk,” “Wonder Woman,” “Shazam!,” and of course “The Amazing Spider-Man;” which ran for two seasons from 1977 to ’79. Now while this adaptation, which starred Nicholas Hammond as Spider-Man, included more elements from the comics, it still lacked any of Spider-Man’s rogue gallery but does feature the only live action appearance of his Spider Tracers thus far. The series is also technically the first time our friendly neighborhood web slinger appeared on the silver screen, as various multi-part episodes were edited together to create three feature films that were released overseas. Now,back to the TV series that actually got fairly good ratings when on the air, with over 16 million watching the pilot and ranking as 19th best rated show its first season, but CBS was unwilling to give it the show a set air day and time.
Basically they did what Fox would do to “Firefly” in twenty some years. Unlike “Firefly” though, all of second season of “The Amazing Spider-Man” would air eventually in that initial, albeit sporadic run. It aired two episodes in September of 1978, followed by one in November and December, then two more in February of 1979, and finally the finale of the season (and series as it happened) aired in early July. The second season also the removal of the Captain Barbera character from the series and the addition of love interest in the form of Julie Masters, both characters that were exclusive to the series as well.
Although both those were original characters, the series did make occasional use of some comic characters. J. Jonah Jameson, for example, was a regular character through out the series’ run, first played by David White in the pilot and then by Robert F. Simon in the rest of the series. Aunt May also made a few appearances, played by a different actress each time though, and Hilly Hicks played Joe “Robbie” Robertson in the pilot. The series also as previously mentioned did not feature any of the traditional Spider-Man rouges, instead this Spider-Man fought the likes of terrorists, cultists, and even his own clone; something he’d eventually do in the comics years down the line.
It should also be mentioned that there was an attempt to revive the series and in doing so cross it over with “The Incredible Hulk.” Now, you can read the Nicholas Hammond’s take on the attempted crossover over at IncredibleHulkTVSeries.com, but the basics are as follows: Bill Bixby, who portrayed Dr. David Bruce Banner in “The Incredible Hulk,” had convinced Columbia and Universal Television to let him direct and have Hammond, Stan Lee and Ron Satlof write the project. They had gotten crew from both series on board, had a new black suit design for Spider-Man to match the comics at the time, and were prepared to go into production. Or, they were, at least until Universal learned that Lou Ferrigno couldn’t make the current production dates and then proceeded to shelf the project.
Overall, this version of the old web head is fine, from the episodes I’ve watched it I find it a bit boring at times, although I think the effects of him crawling the walls were good, especially considering its era. And Stan Lee sort of agrees with me.