First introduced in an issue of Amazing Fantasy in 1962, the wall-crawling wonder known as Spider-Man has become one of the most popular characters in all of comicdom. This character was the alter-ego of Peter Parker, a misfit high-school student who got super powers when bitten by a spider that was accidentally irradiated during a scientific experiment. His new abilities included super strength, the ability to climb walls, and a heightened ability to sense danger. After that legendary first appearance, Spidey soon got his own title, and the rest is comic book history.
In 1977, the character was brought to television by executive producers Dan Goodman and Charles Fries as a two-hour film. It was one of a series of Marvel Comics adaptations done for CBS in the late 70’s, which also included Captain America and Dr. Strange. The Spider Man film did so well in the ratings that CBS commissioned the producers to develop it into a short-run series for the spring of 1978.
The Amazing Spider Man series fast-forwarded a bit from the origin story, picking up Peter Parker’s life as a college student and as a photographer for the Daily Bugle. Peter kept his superheroic double life a secret from most, including Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson and his wisecracking secretary Rita. But when that trouble-detecting spider-sense started tingling, Spidey swung into action. Unfortunately, since TV budgets are limited, Spider-Man usually followed the route of TV’s The Incredible Hulk, downplaying the colorful supervillains of the comic books in favor of non-supernatural, human antagonists.
The series did well, but did not become a full-time series because network executives at CBS thought having two full-time superhero series (The Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman) was enough. Seven more episodes were filmed and aired as individual specials between the fall of 1978 and the summer of 1979. An additional character, photographer Julie Mason, was added for these episodes.
The last episode, “The Chinese Web,” was telecast on July 6th, 1979. No further episodes were made. However, various episodes of the series were subsequently released on a few different video labels and have become popular items with collectors. Re-runs of the show also pop up on cable periodically.
After several movie versions and reboots since the early 2000’s onward Spidey is finally back inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe (but still under the control of Sony who have made all the previous Spiderman movies) and made a triumphant debut in Captain America: Civil War (teaming up on Iron Man’s side.) before the arrival in 2017 of Spiderman: Homecoming
USA / CBS – Fries & Goodman / 2×90 minute episodes / 11×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 5 April 1978 – 6 July 1979
Producers: Robert Janes, Ron Satlof, Lionel E.Siegel
NICHOLAS HAMMOND as Spiderman/Peter Parker
CHIP FIELDS as Rita
ROBERT F. SIMON as J. Jonah Jameson
MICHAEL PATAKI as Capt. Barbera
ELLEN BRY as Julie Mason