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The 40 Year-Old-Critic: Spider-Man 3 (2007)

11005771In The 40-Year-Old Critic, Venganza Media creator and host Arnie Carvalho recalls a memorable film for each year of his life. This series appears daily on the Venganza Media Gazette.

See a list of all reviews
Earlier this week, when I discussed Star Wars Episode III:  Revenge of the Sith, I described how I tend to channel my excitement into creative venues. I’ve been doing it my whole life, whether that meant writing fan fiction, building model kits, customizing action figures — the point is, I like to build upon my imagination. In 2005 that drive led to the creation of the Star Wars Action News podcast.

Two years later, a near-equal level of excitement gave birth to an even larger idea that became Now Playing Podcast. The excitement was for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3; the first film Now Playing ever reviewed.

I had been a longtime Spider-Man fan, from the 1970s Spidey Super Stories on The Electric Company to Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and even Stan Lee’s daily The Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strips, but even I didn’t anticipate my own hype for this sequel. I barely caught the first Spider-Man film in theaters (its release in 2002, directly against Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and my wedding, was much of the reason). I was more excited for 2004’s Spider-Man 2, but I wouldn’t say I was “hyped.”

But the bug bit me in 2007 — Venom had gotten into my system.

I started reading comics in 1990. I never got into them as a child; I simply wasn’t exposed to comics through friends or media. My Star Trek fandom drew me into the comics culture, because I wanted to read the “official” stories taking place after the events of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. The first time I stepped into a comics shop the clerk tried to sell me Spider-Man No. 1, from the highly-acclaimed Todd McFarlane series.

This tease ignited the fanboy in me.

This tease ignited the fanboy in me.

I passed. I always thought the comics were just color reprints of the daily newspaper strip, until my longtime friend and Now Playing co-host Stuart started telling me stories about how Spider-Man changed his costume to one that was black-and-white. Incredulous, I didn’t believe him, especially when he told me the suit turned out to be an evil alien. In response, and to prove his point, he pointed me to a comic book store. I went back to read many of McFarlane’s Amazing Spider-Man back issues. Of specific interest were the stories that involved Venom, a muscle-bound baddie named Eddie Brock with whom the alien suit had bonded. Venom had all of Spider-Man’s powers, but none of his responsibility.

For years I read every Spider-Man comic, but I anticipated none as much as those that starred Venom. When Brock went from villain to anti-hero in his own series, Venom: Lethal Protector, I was even happier; I could now read about him every month!

I honestly wonder if I liked Venom even more than Spider-Man himself.

As a fan I read rumors about a big-screen adaptation of Spider-Man, but it languished in development hell for more than a decade. I remember reading a Wizard Magazine in 1992 that teased a James Cameron directed Spider-Man film starring Charlie Sheen as Peter Parker and using Terminator 2 special effects for the villain — Venom! I couldn’t have been more excited but, alas, that film never materialized. When Spider-Man did hit theaters in 2002 Sheen, Cameron, and Venom weren’t even under consideration.

Finally, after enjoying two Spider-Man films in theaters (as you can hear in the Now Playing Podcast Spider-Man Retrospective Series), word came that Raimi was finally getting to my favorite Spidey nemesis.

Venom was first teased at the 2006 San Diego Comic-Con. I wasn’t in the Sony panel, but friends excitedly described the scene of alien ooze landing on Eddie Brock (Topher Grace). That the scene took place in a church really upped my expectations — Raimi had been pretty loyal to the Spider-Man mythos thus far, and despite casting the wiry Grace as the muscle-bound Brock, it seemed he was continuing that trend with Venom.

I'd seen the black outfit take Peter Parker to dark places in the comic...but never as dark as Maguire's uncomfortable dance scene.

I’d seen the black outfit take Peter Parker to dark places in the comic…but never as dark as Maguire’s uncomfortable dance scene.

Venom, Raimi, and Spider-Man created a perfect storm of hype.

I am a collector by nature, and often I express my fandom through displays of movie memorabilia. It all started with my Star Wars toys in 1977, but from Superman to Gremlins to Ghostbusters to Star Trek, I’d always buy the trading cards, toys, and books for films I loved. Of course, Star Wars remained my primary focus — I bought every figure, vehicle, book, and game released.

By the year 2000 my townhouse was a crowded toy box, full of Star Wars toys, but also X-Men movie figures, Spider-Man toys, McFarlane Toys’ Movie Maniacs series’ Leatherface, Freddy, and many more. But in 2001 I quit my job and became a full-time student, and with that drastic reduction in income came a drastic reduction in collecting. I actually sold most of my toys and narrowed my focus down to my first love — Star Wars. Even as my career started to take off, my income increasing, I was never tempted to return to collecting anything but Star Wars until Spider-Man 3.

By 2007, Star Wars Action News was heard by tens of thousands of listeners every month, and hundreds congregated on our forums to discuss the toys. Surprisingly, many of those fans were also swept up in the excitement to see Raimi’s next Spider-Man film. When I mentioned on the podcast that I was drawn to — but couldn’t allow myself to buy — a particularly cool Venom figure sold by Sideshow Collectibles, these listeners came to the forums en masse to encourage my spending! Some even tried to take up a collection to buy the $80 figure for me; an act of generosity I could not possibly accept.

The flames of my Spider-Man 3 excitement were fanned by Star Wars Action News listeners, and that combination caused me to move on an idea I’d had for some time: a movie review podcast. The first movie we’d review would be Spider-Man 3, obviously.

It wouldn’t be a stretch, my wife (and co-host) Marjorie and I had already reviewed one movie together, Snakes on a Plane, the year before.

Coincidentally, another Marvel character first planted the seeds in my head that I should launch this show. Coming out of 2007’s Ghost Rider Marjorie had me almost doubled over with laughter as she lambasted the Nicolas Cage film. Not only were her observations on point, they were quite amusing. I knew many of our listeners loved Marjorie’s color commentary, and I thought that if I’d had a microphone on us walking out of Ghost Rider we’d break download records.

Despite the film's numerous flaws, the CGI work on Sandman was impressive, and moving.

Despite the film’s numerous flaws, the CGI work on Sandman was impressive, and moving.

But I was daunted. Movie review podcasts were a dime a dozen. Anyone with a microphone seemed to be reviewing movies. With Star Wars Action News we’d made a big splash in the Star Wars community — a big fish in a tiny pond. Yet, even with that success I knew that we’d be out of our comfortable pond and thrust into an ocean of movie podcasts. I wasn’t sure how to make us stand out, and so I never acted on it.

More, SWAN had gone from a one-day-per-week hobby to a very time-consuming new career. Two hours of recording became 10 hours of editing, and then toy photography and travel — suddenly I was spending more time on podcasting than I was on teaching my college courses. Plus, teaching was my second job; I also had a full-time day job. With all of these commitments the thought of doing another podcast regularly was overwhelming.

Still, the seed had been planted, and my excitement for Spider-Man 3 turned it into action. Marjorie came up with the name, taken directly from the screen of her iPod that always said at the top, Now Playing.

It’s laughable now as I spend 30 or more hours per week on the show, but I originally thought Now Playing Podcast wouldn’t take much time. I figured we’d stick to my first idea and take the portable recorder (the one I’d purchased for the Samuel L. Jackson interview) to the theater and when the movie was over I’d have a microphone to capture our initial reaction. Marjorie and I went to the movies nearly every week, so we could have a spoiler-free review with just a few minutes of recording. I’d release it unedited, just add music, and be done.

As for the way to differentiate ourselves from the thousands of other podcasts? That would take me a couple more years to really figure out. In the meantime we had Marjorie and a built in audience for Star Wars Action News.

Deciding to launch Now Playing on the same day as Spider-Man 3’s release had two profound effects. First, my excitement for the next Spidey film had an outlet that didn’t involve buying collectibles. I was preparing our own launch of a podcast, so my time and money was spent getting domain names and setting up web pages (Though I was visiting Burger King more than usual to get their Spider-Man 3 kid’s meal toys — the Venom still eluded me).

Second, the anticipation for May 4, 2007 increased 50-fold — that was the day I’d get to watch Spider-Man and we’d launch our newest podcast!

My excitement level was so high we actually took that afternoon off work. There were no midnight shows, but we were there for the first matinee of the day. It was time to see Venom fight Spider-Man, and classic Spider-Man bad guy Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church) would be in there somewhere as well.

In my mind I felt I knew how the movie would be paced. The trailers had shown Spider-Man fighting Sandman while wearing his black suit. I thought for certain it would follow the structure of the original film, with the first half largely about the origin story, only this time it would be the origin of the black suit (again with Sandman in there somewhere). Then, I assumed the second half of the picture would be about our hero battling his arch-nemesis, only this time instead of Green Goblin it would be Venom.

The more I heard about Sandman being the main baddie in this film, though, I started to form a back-up theory. The trailers never showed Venom outside of the church, so I thought this entire film could be a setup for Venom, who would return as the main bad guy in Spider-Man 4. 

No matter what, in Raimi I trusted. From Evil Dead to Army of Darkness, Darkman, and more, he had proven time and again to be a director with style and vision (that late 90s period including For the Love of the Game notwithstanding).

We got to theater early, after an obligatory trip to Burger King to try and get that damn Venom toy. No luck.

I can still remember being so excited I was practically vibrating in my seat. The film started, the score played over an opening credits montage reminding us of the first two films. Little did I know this would be the high point of the movie for me — thinking of the earlier, better films.

The introduction of the alien symbiote that became Spider-Man’s black suit was the opening scene, and completely convenient. It just happened to land near Peter Parker and take him over. No reason why, it just happened.

Faith was restored with the introduction of Sandman, Church having bulked up for the role and really looking like the comic book character come to life. The CGI effects during his transformation marked a new standard for humanity conveyed by computer animation.

But that was quickly lost by the contrived retcon tying Sandman to the death of Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben, and a subplot involving Peter Parker’s love life.

I won’t rehash the entire review again. You can hear our full, detailed, scene by scene review in the Now Playing Podcast archives. The disappointment you’ll hear in my voice mirrors my thoughts sitting in that theater. During that theatrical experience I realized not only was I watching a movie that was not very good, but that Now Playing’s first review would not be very positive. I had hoped for the show to be a celebration of Raimi’s film — the orgasmic climax after five years of build-up. Instead, we would have to be honest and discuss how everything —  from the plot to the acting to the score — was not only far below my expectations, but also not very good at all.

No matter the quality of the movie, Now Playing Podcast had arrived. Star Wars Action News listeners and forum members were anxiously awaiting the review. So we went to the car and, raw from the experience, recorded our thoughts. We sat in the car, Spider-Man toys from BK in the back seat, and gave our initial reactions. I tried to temper my disappointment, but when I listen to that show I can hear the sound of a heart breaking.

In the years since I’ve come to focus on some of the better parts of the movie. The effects are mostly top notch, Topher Grace adds needed energy to the cast, and some of the jokes are winners. With the dour nature of The Amazing Spider-Man reboots, I even sometimes finding myself actually wishing for some of the spirit Raimi put in all of his films… even Spider-Man 3.

The tangled web that is Peter Parker's love life would never straighten out; after Spider-Man 3 Sony decided to reboot without Raimi at the helm.

The tangled web that is Peter Parker’s love life would never straighten out; after Spider-Man 3 Sony decided to reboot without Raimi at the helm.

Yet from that bad movie experience something good did come — Now Playing. It would take years for me to realize that. Despite my best intentions, the show went from being recorded on the run to being done in the studio; it went from unedited to lightly edited to full edits. The time commitment was growing, and the listenership wasn’t. We were now one very tiny fish in an ocean so overpopulated that most shows suffered from listener famine. Without listener involvement the show became neglected, and the fewer shows we did the fewer listeners we had when we would put out new reviews. For a while we even gave up hosting altogether.

It wasn’t until 2009 when another movie, another hype machine, got me going: the Platinum Dunes remake of Friday the 13th. Then I had the idea of the Retrospective Series and a three-person rotating cast of hosts. The hype for that movie also ended in disappointment, but we had finally found the format that made our show stand out.

Today Now Playing is a regular show in iTunes’ Top 10. I’ve met hundreds of listeners in person and talked to thousands through social media. Each person with whom I interact is an experience I cherish, and it’s stunning to think none of this would have happened if it weren’t for Spider-Man 3.

And as for my resistance to collecting Marvel, Spider-Man 3 helped me stave that off… for a couple more years at least. As anyone who’s heard my Marvel collecting podcast, Marvelicious Toys, knows, I have now fully embraced it and enjoy it as a smaller side-collection to my primary Star Wars collecting.

Tomorrow — 2008!

Arnie is a movie critic for Now Playing Podcast, a book reviewer for the Books & Nachos podcast, and co-host of the collecting podcasts Star Wars Action News and Marvelicious Toys.  You can follow him on Twitter @thearniec    

September 6, 2014 Posted by | 40-Year-Old Critic, Amazing Spider-Man TV Series, Comic Books, Movies, Reviews, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The 40 Year-Old-Critic: Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Amazing Spider-Man Episodes 2 and 3 – The Deadly Dust

A group of students steal radioactive materials as a sign of protest, but they learn a lesson in nuclear weapons when an arms dealer takes advantage of the situation.

Spider-Man rides a chopper
The Deadly Dust
(Part 1 and Part 2)
Season: 1
Episode: 2 and 3
Air Date: Part 1: April 5, 1978
Part 2: April 12, 1978
Director: Ron Satlof
Writer: Robert Janes

Recently I watched Spider-Man (1977), the pilot movie for The Amazing Spider-Man TV series, which you can hear us review at Now Playing.   While I felt that movie was a bit slow, it was also so wacky and gonzo I could not look away.  More, I couldn’t imagine how CBS would turn this concept as presented into a weekly series.  I had to see more, so I eagerly jumped into the next episode, The Deadly Dust.

And man was that a mistake!  I’ll get into why.

The Deadly Dust is a two-part episode that aired over two weeks.  It was released internationally and on VHS and Laserdisc as a single movie.  As it is a single story I will be reviewing both episodes here.

I was still excited during the opening credits sequence, and noticed the title has changed.  While the movie was just Spider-Man, now the series is The Amazing Spider-Man, and the opening credits is no longer a tiny window of Spider-Man wall crawling–instead it’s a montage of the opening movie set to some generic 70s music.  I was disappointed to see the more rockin’ disco music from the pilot movie replaced; this isn’t nearly as groovy.

In addition to the title, in the year that passed between the airing of the pilot movie and this first episode the series cast had changed.  Peter Parker is still played by Nicholas Hammond, but gone was Dave the lab partner, as was Peter Parker’s Aunt May.  Instead there is an entirely new supporting cast.

J. Jonah Jameson, editor of the Daily Bugle where Peter works as a photographer, was played in the pilot by Bewitched’s David White.  White was replaced by Robert F. Simon (who had a recurring role on Bewitched), to whom I take an immediate dislike.  His Jameson is far too quiet.  Jameson should have a flaming temper and wild ideas about Spider-Man.  That’s how the character is still written, but as acted by Simon the character just comes across as cranky, and perhaps a bit constipated.

In the role of the Daily Bugle’s token African-American, Robbie Robertson (Hilly Hicks) is gone and replaced by a new character, Jameson’s secretary Rita Conway, played by Chip Fields.  Fields is the spitting image of Glory Grant, who was Jameson’s secretary at the Bugle, but inexplicably that’s not Fields’ character.  Conway is shown to be a sassy woman who keeps Jameson in his place.

Though again in these opening scenes I’m not taken with her.  She seems to have the temper Jameson should have, blowing up too easily at her grumpy boss.  Plus the portrayal is a bit racist.  When Peter tells Rita he’s afraid Jameson will fire her, and that he has friends that would make it hard for Rita to find another job, Rita replies that she has friends that could make it difficult for Jameson to keep the tires on his Rolls Royce.  Why must the black character’s friends steal car tires?  I suppose because it’s the 1970s and on television.

But I am happy to see the only returning supporting character, Michael Pataki as Captain Barbera.  His Colombo-like persona was a highlight of the pilot movie.  When this episode opens it’s with Barbera trying to stop a woman from jumping off a building.  She says it’s her boyfriend’s fault and is ready to jump, but of course Spider-Man comes in and saves the girl.

I was immediately enthralled.  Who is the girl’s boyfriend and why is he making her commit suicide?  The title is “The Deadly Dust”–is that deadly dust Angel Dust and the girl is on a bad trip?  I thought back to the controversial issues of The Amazing Spider-Man comic where Harry Osborne goes on drugs and thinks he can fly, and I’m really taken in.  So you can imagine my disappointment when I discover this is just an introductory action scene that has no bearing on the plot of the episode.

The actual plot is about a nuclear bomb.  Peter’s college professor Dr. Bailor is about to open a nuclear reactor on the college campus.  Peter and his classmates are outraged at the thought of having radioactive materials on campus as the reactor will produce the titular “Deadly Dust”, also known as plutonium oxide, the byproduct produced from the nuclear reactor.  Bailor refuses to relent despite the sutdents’ heated arguments, so three of the students decide to teach Dr. Bailor a lesson and steal the plutonium.  When that doesn’t get enough press, they then take it a step further fashioning the plutonium into a makeshift nuclear bomb.  Lacking only one ingredient, plastic explosive to use as a detonator, the students hope the bomb will strike fear into the university and make Bailor rethink his blasé attitude towards such dangerous materials.

This was a plot line I could get behind–extremist activists going too far to prove a point and a nuclear threat are concerns big enough to warrant a superhero’s attention yet real enough to relate to the fears of the audience.  If that wasn’t enough to warrant Spider-Man’s attention, the masked vigilante is thought to have stolen the plutonium.  Now his biggest supporter, Barbara, is partnered with the FBI to investigate Spider-Man for causing a nuclear threat.  More, as Bailor said the only student capable of fashioning the plutonium into a bomb was star pupil Peter Parker, and Parker is known for his connection to Spider-Man, the feds think the two are in cahoots on the theft.

It’s a really good set-up that I enjoyed watching.

I was also enjoying the B-plot introduced.  Barbera’s public praise of the vigilante gets the attention of Miami Beach supermarket tabloid The Weekly Examiner, who sends Gale Hoffman to get a cover story on Spider-Man, using Spider-Man’s photographer Peter Parker as a lead.  Gale is sexy and smart and Peter is interested in her, but her refusal to leave Parker’s side hinders his ability to investigate the plutonium theft.  Gale acts in this episode much like a Lois Lane to Peter Parker’s Clark Kent–she’s a good reporter aiding Peter in the investigation, but needing to be ditched when it’s superhero time.

There’s many good scenes between Peter and Gale, with Gale suspecting Spider-Man of stealing the plutonium.  Here, for the first time, we get to the root of why Peter is a superhero.  Gale rightly points out that no one asked Spider-Man to save the world, and if he doesn’t like it he can just hang up his blue tights.  Peter responds very gravely saying “What about his conscience?  What’s the point of having a special power if you don’t use it to help people?”  He also says “I think Spider-Man does a lot of good but if people knew who he is it wouldn’t be the same thing?”  He goes on saying how lonely it is for Spider-Man, and it’s hard because Spider-Man has to lie to everyone at work, his friends, and even his girlfriends.  “People think it would be really wonderful to have Spider-Man’s powers.  Let me tell you, I’m not so sure whether it’s a blessing or a curse.”

In the entire pilot episode we were never given these insights into why Peter dons an outfit and stops evildoers.  Here, we get the reason and it comes because Peter is feeling close to Gale.  It’s both character exploration and relationship development in one scene.  I do wish there was more of a reason, though.  Without the guilt of Uncle Ben’s death, Peter’s motivations are thin.  More, his passionate speaking on the topic makes Gale suspect Peter may be Spider-Man, something she eventually asks him outright.  Unfortunately Peter’s convenient lies put Gale’s suspicions to rest. I think I’d have preferred it if his partner was in on his secret.

All of this in the first hour made me think The Deadly Dust may actually be an improvement over the pilot film, but it did lack in one regard–there was no real villain.  The students aren’t bad guys, they’re just misguided and not all that bright.  Running from the cops and performing investigations into the nuclear theft is entertaining, but could not sustain a two-hour running length, so we are introduced to Mr. White (Robert Alda, father of Alan Alda and bad guy from two Incredible Hulk episodes).

Mr. White is a multi-millionaire record executive who enjoys his Los Angeles lifestyle, hanging out on the roof of his skyscraper, bikini-clad women surrounding him.  But making money on gold records isn’t enough, Mr. White is also a…well having watched the episode I don’t know what he is.  Mercenary?  Terrorist?  Gangster?   Let’s settle on ill-defined baddie.

White reads about the plutonium theft and races to New York to steal the stolen nuclear goods.  He, like the FBI, thinks Peter Parker stole it, and that if he can take it from the grad student he can then sell it to the highest bidder.  Truthfully I liked the addition of this fourth faction to the story, but unfortunately Mr. White would come to dominate the story in its second hour.

By the end of what would have been the first regular episode of The Amazing Spider-Man I was really enjoying it.  The cops, the rogue students, Peter and Gale, and Mr. White’s goons all chasing the nuclear materials had been a great bit of fun.   I would have recommended the first of the two episodes.  But after the midway point the episode loses its focus and leaves New York.

Parker’s name is cleared and the plutonium found all too quickly.  One of the students making the fake bomb gets radiation poisoning and is rushed to the hospital. The hospital reports radiation poisoning and the real thieves are discovered, but not their bounty.  Racing to the hospital, the students just left their near-complete bomb in the middle of the room, and Mr. White’s goons quickly steal it and take it back to Los Angeles.  Peter, having put a spider-tracer on White’s white limo, wants to pursue.  He tells Jameson about the bomb, but Jameson cannot run the story lest it cause widespread panic.  To recover the bomb, and be the first out the door with the story once the danger has passed, Jameson agrees to go with Parker and Gale to Los Angeles.

This is where the story goes south.  Literally.  Once the three leads leave New York, every single aspect of the New York storyline is forgotten.  The students who caused this whole mess?  Never seen again.  Barbera?  Out of his jurisdiction.  The FBI agent DeCarlo who was tracking the plutonium in New York?  Disappeared.  No, the only ones who can save us from a rogue nuclear bomb are two reporters and a grumpy newspaper publisher.  Well, and Spider-Man, I suppose.

I learned after watching this episode that The Amazing Spider-Man series production was based in L.A., but the character is so closely identified with New York City they did not relocate the character.  With that being the case, why then make a story where Peter must travel cross-country to follow a criminal?  Was it so they could have their end action scenes outdoors, in the air, and not reveal that they are not in Manhattan?  It’s confusing, as is the story.

In LA Spider-Man fights White’s goons several times, most comically on a Hollywood old-west backlot (literally an old-west backlot, not a backlot subbing for a real location) and White becomes nervous.  Instead of selling the bomb he tries to extort the US Government, saying if his demands are not met he will “detonate the bomb in the place where it will do the most damage.”   This phrasing confuses our newspaper reporters, who apparently only write for newspapers but never read one, because the headline of a newspaper in LA reads “President to speak in California”.

The entire second episode of “The Deadly Dust” is a jumbled mess.  There are repeated fights that change nothing.  Gale is taken hostage and then freed.  Peter and Gale even visit Mr. White’s record studio, driving home the ridiculous nature of a record executive terrorist.  At best any two-hour episode of a 1970s television series might start to wear out its welcome, but here it has devolved into nonsense.

I think the show runners thought the plus side of the second hour is there is a lot less Peter Parker and a lot more Spider-Man.  Parker disappears more and more as Spider-Man fights goons and chases after the bomb, but honestly the Spider-Man fights in this episode are entirely terrible.  The Spider-Man outfit looks even more silly in this episode than in the pilot, his gloves flapping in the wind and his red boots looking like he’s expecting a rainstorm.  Moreover, the stuntman in the outfit is prone to grand, theatrical movements and cocking his head like a dog.  Every time Spider-Man is fighting these same goons I am left shaking my head.  More, it usually ends with Spider-Man running away!  Why he chooses to flee rather than use the oversized web shooters on his wrist to trip up his enemies confounds me.  There is no logic, it’s just there to stretch out a thin, silly story.

Not all the stunts are terrible.  We do get some good wire work as he climbs down buildings or performs superjumps, but watching someone climb isn’t really all that fun.  More, due to budget constraints, Spider-Man seems to wall-crawl only as a last resort preferring to run like any human on solid ground whenever possible.  I understand why it is done this way, but that doesn’t make the show any more entertaining.

Strangely the high point of the second hour for me was Jameson.  I couldn’t stand him in New York, being confined in his office and very low-key, but once out in LA he lets his cheap flag fly!  He is constantly chasing after Parker and dismissing anything having to do with Spider-Man.  He really starts to embody a version of Jameson as I imagined him.  He still has nothing on J.K. Simmons, but it’s an improvement.

And I must give this episode credit for its climax.  At the end, Mr. White and his goon have hidden the nuclear bomb on a rooftop near where the president is speaking, and it’s up to Spider-Man to stop it.  He convinces a helicopter tour guide to give him a ride, telling the pilot it’s a publicity stunt, and then freefalls out of the helicopter.  While the spider-suit flapping in the breeze shows clearly how poorly the suit fits the stuntman, it is cool to see Spider-Man actually perform death-defying feats.

And it gets better!  Mr. White is in his own helicopter and flies after Spider-Man, who uses his webbing to latch on to White’s ride.  White’s goon Angel pilots the chopper all around trying to shake the wall-crawler and we get to see practical stunt footage of the Spider-Man dangling from a helicopter.  The point-of-view camera used in the pilot returns as well, and we see Spider-Man’s view as he hangs on the rope.  It is really exciting.  This is where all their money went, and it is money well-spent.  Unfortunately it becomes a case of too-little-too-late in this episode as the poor writing and repetitive action had me checked out a good half hour before the money shot.

The poor writing continues as Mr. White just so happens to shake Spider-Man on the exact same rooftop where they stashed the nuclear bomb, and with Peter Parker’s scientific knowledge Spider-Man disarms the bomb, saving the president and Los Angeles, with two seconds to spare.

Peter Parker gives Jameson pictures of Spider-Man posing with the bomb, and he and Gale seem destined for a romance, but Mr. White escapes saying he will get Spider-Man another day.  Why FBI Agent DeCarlo doesn’t just arrest the man based on the newspaper articles is a question never answered, and I don’t think the series lasted long enough for Mr. White to actually return.

The first half of “The Deadly Dust” had so much promise, the second hour devolved into brain-numbing action for action’s sake, and bad action at that.  It’s a weaker not recommend as there are some things of value, but an easy not recommend.

Read my other Amazing Spider-Man Series Reviews

June 19, 2012 Posted by | Amazing Spider-Man TV Series, Comic Books, Movies, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Reviews, Television | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Amazing Spider-Man Series Review Index

The Amazing Spider-Man TV Series Cast
The Amazing Spider-Man TV Series
Seasons: 2
Episodes: 13
Air Dates: 1977 – 1979
Series Creator: Charles W. Fries and Daniel R. Goodman
Stars: Nicholas Hammond, Chip Fields, Robert F. Simon

In anticipation of The Amazing Spider-Man opening in July, 2012, Jakob, Stuart, and I are doing a podcast retrospective series of all the movies based on the Marvel Comics Superheroes at Now Playing.

With Now Playing’s current Spider-Man Retrospective Series I will also be looking back at every episode of The Incredible Hulk TV series that ran from 1978 to 1982.

Pilot TV Movie
Spider-Man (1977)

Season 1
The Deadly Dust (later renamed Spider-Man Strikes Back)
The Curse of Rava
Night of the Clones
Escort to Danger

Season 2

The Captive Tower
A Matter of State
The Con Caper
The Kirkwood Haunting
Photo Finish

TV Movie Finale

The Chinese Web (later renamed Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge)

June 19, 2012 Posted by | Amazing Spider-Man TV Series, Comic Books, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Reviews, Television | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Amazing Spider-Man Series Review Index