Shows : The Electric Company (TV) - Season 5, Episode 6

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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...

"Spidey Meets the Blowhard"
The Electric Company (TV) - Season 5, Episode 6
Mar 1976 : SM Title
Summary: First Aired Mar 19th 1976 (TEC #110A)
Star:  Danny Seagren (Spider-Man), Jim Boyd (Paul), Judy Graubart (Jennifer of the Jungle), Luis Avalos (The Blowhard), Morgan Freeman (Easy Reader), Skip Hinnant (Fargo North)
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Today is Fargo North's birthday. His friends Jennifer of the Jungle and EZ Reader (Morgan Freeman!) are planning a surprise party for him (With 250 balloons and party hats. It's gonna get crazy up in here!). While they decorate his office, Jennifer notices that it's very windy outside. She comments that the weatherperson didn't mention anything about this much wind (Sneaky Electric Company, teaching political correctness at such an early age ).

As it turns out, this wind is not natural; it's man-made. The announcer explains that the man who is responsible for this particular meteorological event is The Blowhard. Blowhard speaks directly to the audience stating that "It was no gust of wind .. it was a gust of me!" (Somebody had the #5 combo at Taco Loco, didn't they?) Blowhard is dressed in a top hat, tuxedo, and matching cape and puts on a display of his powers. (He looks like a silent movie villain. Shouldn't he be tying some unsuspecting woman on a train track?)

The narrator explains that Blowhard is an “example of reading gone wrong”. Feeling sympathy for the wolf in the story of the “Three Little Pigs”, he dedicated his life to blowing things down (with the help of very spicy food).

Sometime in the past, Blowhard had an encounter with Fargo North (Whose full name is Fargo North, Decoder … all together, class: *groan*). Fargo helped prove that he was responsible for blowing down the city of Trenton, New Jersey and was sent to jail. Having served his time, he now decides to get revenge upon “that wiener” and ruin his surprise birthday party. (How much of a surprise could this be if Windy Winston here knows about it and he just got out of jail?)

Spider-Man has been invited to the surprise party and is having a tough time deciding what to get Fargo for his birthday. He eventually decides on a bowling ball. (I hope Fargo can decode how to keep score. I still have trouble after all these years).

While The Blowhard makes his way to Fargo North's party, he decides to harass a hamburger vendor. He orders 300 all-beef patties (Yeah, good luck getting that), 150 of them with cheese, 6 of them without relish, and the last 6 on a kaiser roll. The vendor promptly (as in immediately) produces the order and states that the total is $126 (Wow, the definition of cheap & greasy). The Blowhard then uses his Big Bad Wolf powers and scatters the food, scaring away the vendor.

At Fargo's office, the party is in full swing with Jennifer, EZ, Fargo, and Paul the Gorilla (It's not a real party unless a primate is involved). Just as Fargo is about to blow out the candles on his cake, the Blowhard arrives threatening to destroy the party. Moments later Spider-Man arrives (sans bowling ball. Way to go, Peter).

As the Blowhard prepares to attack, Paul gives him a gift - cake in the face (Morgan Freeman, a chick in a jungle swimsuit, a primate, and a food fight. Now this is a party!) This distracts him long enough for Spider-Man to web him up. While the party continues, Spider-Man and Paul go out to buy another cake.

In General...

The idea of Spider-Man and Paul the Gorilla going out to buy a birthday cake sounds hilarious. I can imagine that a story involving a baker that waits on these rather mismatched individuals would be funny... under normal circumstances. This is the Electric Company after all; unusual characters like this never seems out of the ordinary.

Overall Rating...

3.5 webs. Basing a life of crime on the story of the three little pigs! Awesome.

Footnote...

"Windy Winston" was a Garbage Pail Kid. Yes, I collected Garbage Pail Kids when I was younger. They're still funny today.