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The Amazing Spider-Man
(1977-1979 TV Series)
Spider-Man
Season Two Opening Title

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About This Series
Cast
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Cast:

Pilot
Nicholas Hammond- Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Fred Waugh- Spider-Man [Stunts]
David White- J. Jonah Jameson
Hilly Hicks- Joe "Robbie" Robertson
Michael Pataki- Captain Barbera
Jeff Donnell- Aunt May Parker

Season 1
Nicholas Hammond- Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Fred Waugh- Spider-Man [Stunts]
Robert F. Simon- J. Jonah Jameson
Chip Fields- Rita Conway
Michael Pataki- Captain Barbera
Irene Tedrow- Aunt May Parker

Season 2
Nicholas Hammond- Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Fred Waugh- Spider-Man [Stunts]
Robert F. Simon- J. Jonah Jameson
Chip Fields- Rita Conway
Ellen Bry- Julie Masters

The Amazing Spider-Man (1977-1979):  It aired on CBS which, in the late 1970s, became the mecca of live-action superhero shows along with other hits as "The Incredible Hulk" and "Wonder Woman".  This show is highly underrated, mainly for the fact that it did not follow the comics very faithfully.  It also didn't follow the Spider-Man "formula".  In the comics, there would be continuity from one issue to another because Spider-Man's adventures were told in form of a saga.  In the TV series, whatever happened in one episode was completely ignored in all others.  Whatever girlfriends Spidey made, enemies he fought...you'd never hear of them again.  However, the TV character of Spider-Man is essentially the same as in all other Spidey media.

    I was a big fan of the Spider-Man comics and cartoons growing up, and I still like this TV series.  In the comics, Peter Parker gained his spider-powers as a teenager.  In this show, we completely surpass his teenage years.  Peter Parker gets bitten by the radioactive spider when he is a college grad student (about 26 years old).  I actually like the fact that we don't have to see his teenage years in this show;  the comics dragged it out for years already and now we get to see something new.  Plus, this kept a bit more current with where Peter Parker/Spider-Man was at in his life in the comics.

    Another big detail is that there is absolutely no mention of Uncle Ben in this series, and Aunt May is used sparingly.  I miss seeing Aunt May.  She is used a few times in the series, and played by a wonderful actress.  The character, like in the comics, is endearing (first played by Jeff Donnell, then Irene Tedrow), but there just didn't seem to be much of a place for her in the show for some reason.  Uncle Ben's death serves no purpose in this adaptation, because Peter Parker acquired his Spider-Man powers long after the fact.

    Nicholas Hammond is great as Spider-Man.  He's slightly disturbed over the fact that being Spider-Man changed his life, but not overly so that it would be a "downer" to watch.  He has a tougher attitude than his comic book counterpart and doesn't let things overwhelm him too much.  "The Amazing Spider-Man" is more realistic than the comics for the fact that it has to be.  1970s special effects were pretty crude, and expensive, so they couldn't have spectacular supervillains like Dr. Octopus or Green Goblin.  It would've come off bad if they tried using stop-motion animation, puppets, models, or other methods of the day.  Instead, Spider-Man is almost always fighting gangsters and thugs...adventures like a real-life Spider-Man might have.  He does fight a few people with super-powers which is really great, but not as farfetched or wild as Spidey's typical comic supervillains.  The stuntwork is fantastic with a lot of martial arts action and unique conceptual stunts such as hanging from a helicopter, sliding down webs, catching himself in a web net, clinging to the ceiling, riding on the roof of a car and pulling the hood up to blind the drivers with his webs, and much more!  Some people like this series, and some people pan it pretty hard, but EVERYONE likes the stuntwork supplied by "Spider-Man" Fred Waugh and the crew!

    Another major difference from the comics/cartoons, and this is a biggie, is that J. Jonah Jameson is not a complete butthead.  In the comics, Jameson's hatred for Spider-Man almost makes him a villain.  In the show, he doesn't really mind Spider-Man that much.  He's a lovable grump in the TV series and not an obstacle.  I like the fact that despite Jonah's gruff nature, he is somewhat nice and a father figure to Peter Parker.  Spider-Man has all he can do with college life, working for the Daily Bugle as a photographer, and being a superhero without having to contend with an a**hole boss.  A lot of Spider-Man comic fans do not like this at all, but I think it's great.  This mellow version of Jameson leaves the show loose and more open for possibilities.  David White played Jameson a bit more critical, but Robert F. Simon gave an outstanding performance as Spider-Man's boss!  I've always enjoyed Simon as an actor, and he does a standout job of playing anything but a "cardboard cutout" boss character.

    There were many characters in "The Amazing Spider-Man" that never appeared in the comics such as Jonah's secretary Rita Conway (played by Chip Fields, mother of Kim "Tutti from The Facts of Life" Fields).   She didn't appear in the pilot, but did for the rest of the series.   Joe "Robbie" Robertson, Jameson's main man from the comics, and a good guy, appeared in the pilot, but not the series.  Why did they drop this character?  If you know, please CONTACT ME.  I thought Rita Conway was a clever, funny character played by a wonderful actress.

    Captain Barbera (played by Michael Pataki) is another character that did not appear in the comics, but worked well for the show.  He appeared only in the first season.  Barbera is a lot grumpier than Jameson in this series and is a lot more like the Jameson of the comics than Robert F. Simon's Jameson.  Barbera, although a good guy, is definitely Spider-Man's nemesis.  He never gets ahead of Spidey, despite his many attempts to bust the superhero.  He was a good character.  Being a policeman, Peter Parker/Spider-Man could always follow him around when trouble was brewing.  This served as an ongoing plot-device.  Captain Barbera was dropped after season one and in an attempt to make the show more for teens and adults, Spider-Man was given a potential love interest in rival photographer Julie Masters (played by Ellen Bry) in Season 2.  Compared to Captain Barbera, the character of Julie Masters isn't that interesting.  Ellen Bry is a good actress, but the Julie Masters character just doesn't add that much to the plot of the show.  Clearly, Peter Parker is not romantically interested, which ruins the whole "love interest" theme.  Julie is always a pain in the butt, getting into trouble that Spidey has to bail her out of, and just kind of annoying when she's rivalling Peter Parker and stealing his photo opportunities.  She also doesn't have as many adventures on her own as Captain Barbera had, and Spidey's Season 1 adventures thrived at Barbera's expense. 

    In the recent live-action movies, Spidey's webs shoot naturally from his wrists.  In the comics and this TV series, Spider-Man uses web-shooters he invented and straps to his wrists.  He also has a utility belt, unlike the comics, but still interesting and good for this show.  It borrows from Batman's use of his utility belt.

    "The Amazing Spider-Man" is a fun superhero show that families can watch with a likeable cast.  It's not as faithful to the comics like the newer "Spider-Man" live-action films, but by itself is a wonderful show.  If you're open-minded and love the character of Spider-Man you will like this show.  I do.