Shows : The Electric Company (TV) - Season 5, Episode 3

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: The Show Must Go On...

This review was first published on: Sep 2010.

Background...

The Electric Company was the Pepsi of children's television in the 1970s to Sesame Street's Coca-Cola.

Sesame Street had lovable Muppets which allowed them to earn additional income through merchandising (the main reason the show is STILL on the air after all this time). The Electric Company had Morgan Freeman. As cool as he is, I can't see a Morgan Freeman plush toy outselling Big Bird, Kermit, or Grover (especially the Super Grover variant). Oscar the Grouch, maybe.

Perhaps to compete with their sibling show, TEC somehow managed to acquired the rights to use Spider-Man in small segments starting in 1974. The intention was to teach children to read using one of the most popular comic book characters of all time. On that front they succeeded.

However some of the segments had to be GREATLY toned down to be appropriate for their target audience. This resulted in many so-bad-they're-good encounters with villains that wouldn't quite make the cut in the comics.

In Detail...

"Who Stole the Show?"
The Electric Company (TV) - Season 5, Episode 3
Date TBD : SM Title
Star:  Danny Seagren (Spider-Man), Hattie Winston (Show Stealer/Winky Goodyshoes), Janina Mathews (Young Show Stealer), Jim Boyd (Director), Judy Graubart (Actress), Morgan Freeman (Show Stealer's Partner), Rejane Magloire (Actress), Skip Hinnant (Actor)
Narrator:  Todd Graff
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The play without a name is opening tonight. Spider-Man drops by to watch the final rehersal and gets invited to dinner with the actors and director (Very nice of them. Hope they can cover him, since we know Peter's always broke!)

As they leave an unidentified woman sneaks in. Her disguise consists of a trench coat with huge lapels, dark sunglasses, and an orange fedora (A 1970s version of Carmen Sandiego) The Narrator asks, "Who could this be?" The mystery villain identifies herself as a former child star (Oh great, another one). Her fame is nothing but a distant memory to modern audiences now that she's a fully grown adult. Unwilling to share the spotlight with anyone, she plans to once again steal the show. Only this time, she decides to take a more literal interpretation of the phrase. She loads up all that she can and makes her escape.

While at dinner Spider-Man's spider-sense (they call it "insect-sense") buzzes alerting him to trouble back at the theater (*Groan*. Let's call it "plot device sense" and move on). Excusing himself, he returns to the theater and finds the stage empty.

Spider-Man then sets out to find the missing ... everything. His doesn't have to search long before he sees "Disco Sandiego" pushing the stolen items down the street. Spinning his arm in a complete 360o circle and then following suit with the rest of his body, Spider-Man spins a giant web that captures the runaway stage production (I guess that's what he has to do when his web-shooters are jammed).

The cast and director arrive (probably asking Spider-Man to cough of his part of the tab) and identify the mystery woman as Winky Goodyshoes; they're all fans of hers. They offer her an as-yet uncast part in their play - the countess that steals the jewels (They're opening tonight and they have an unassigned role in their play? WTH??) Winky happily accepts.

Everyone is happy except for Spider-Man. It seems that he missed dinner and mistakes wax fruit for the real kind.

In General...

Very formulaic:
Step1: show Spider-Man.
Step 2: show villain, provide meager back-story
Step 3: show one instance of naughtiness
Step 4: Spider-Man captures villain
Step 5: End

Overall Rating...

2 webs. Not sure which is the culprit here - a bad idea or too short a run time to make it worthwhile. I'll call it both, shake my head, and hope for better ones.