Shows : Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 1, Episode 9

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

This review was first published on: Mar 2010.

Background...

Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is generally regarded as the most expensive street in the world for its high-end shopping. The Phantom is another show-exclusive character. While "The Phantom" is a generic name, it doesn't mean we'll have a generic episode, right? Right?

In Detail...

"Fifth Avenue Phantom"
Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 1, Episode 9 (Story 2)
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Spider-Man patrols Fifth Avenue looking for the Phantom. According to reports, he's responsible for a series of thefts on this street and has eluded the police at every turn. From his perch on the side of a nearby building, he shines an apparently powerful flashlight down on the street [I wish I was kidding] and looks for any signs of activity. He sees a possible target in Benets [Or is it "Benet's"? It's spelled with an apostrophe on the side of the building, without one on the awning].

He notes that the Toy Drive that Benet's is co-sponsoring with the Daily Bugle wouldn't interest him, but the mink coat on display would. He sneaks inside and plants a tracer on the coat. Within seconds the Phantom appears and distracts Spider-Man. The mannequin is revealed to be a robot under the control of The Phantom and sprays Spider-Man with a concentrated anesthetic gas that knocks him out. [This concept would be modified and used in the Kim Cattrall movie "Mannequin"]

While Spider-Man lies unconscious on the floor the Phantom instructs "Marie" the mannequin to perform her task while he "finishes [his] rounds". Marie focuses on her targets (mink coat, jewels, etc) and, using a shrink ray that emerges from her eyes, reduces them to toy size and hides them in the Toy Drive's doll house. [Wouldn't that shrink her eyes as well?]

When Spider-Man awakens, the store manager is giving a description of the stolen items to the police. Naturally he blames Spider-Man. [How could he steal something if he just regained consciousness? This is a cheesy tactic to turn Spidey into a scapegoat. From this point forward, I will start referring to this as "scapegoat cheese"]

The police try to take Spider-Man in for questioning, but he creates a web-line and swings away, prompting one of the officers to fire upon him inside the department store [Which looks surprisingly bigger on the inside than the establishing outdoor shot would have you believe.] Once outside, Spider-Man is unable to pick up the signal from his tracer. He is unaware of the fact that it was miniaturized, but is aware that something isn't working properly. He returns home to perform a thorough test on his receiver.

In the Phantom's lair, the purple terror reviews the evenings take with all his robotic employees – all women. The ladies restore each stolen item to their proper size. The Phantom rubs his hand together in anticipation. He then learns that the dollhouse containing the stolen goods from Benet's has been moved to the Daily Bugle. [This guy seems to be the shy electronic genius type. He can build robots and shrink rays, but remains covered in his Grimace-meets-Barney jumpsuit, cape, and cowl. $10 says he can't get a date, which would explain the plethora of robotic women. You've heard the story a thousand times: lonely guy builds a robot girlfriend, gets labeled a deviant, turns to crime.]

Spider-Man determines that the receiver is in perfect working condition. All of a sudden it begins to buzz loudly. He makes his way back to Midtown where he follows his tracer to the Daily Bugle. Poking his head inside, he sees the doll house from Bennets with the stolen merchandise. He decides to wait around for The Phantom to return. [It was the miniaturization that was causing the problem, not the location. This is just an excuse to have them fight each other again.]

The Phantom breaks into the Bugle after hours to take the dollhouse. He is met by Spider-Man and engages in a brief fight, highlighted by a pen-sized laser, a device that turns filing cabinet drawers into weapons, and a rolling chair. he Phantom pulls out a smoke bomb to cover his escape. [Which is sad because they were about to get to my favorite event: garbage can hammer throw.]

This is all part of Spider-Man's plan to follow The Phantom back to his hideout. When the smoke clears, Spider-Man sees that The Phantom is literally running down the street carrying the doll house. [He's running back to his hideout? A very lonely and confused man is running free on the streets of New York wearing a faceless purple costume carrying a doll house. He's screaming for a hug.]

Eventually The Phantom realizes he's being followed and activates "Sandra" and "Diane" to put a stop to Spider-Man. They prove to be very ineffective and he continues his pursuit. He eventually finds "Marie" and instructs her to bring him to the hideout. [Wait. This is what you didn't want thirty seconds ago. Ramblings of a lonely and confused man, anyone?] Marie meets up with Spider-Man and orders him to accompany her to the hideout. He complies since that is where he wanted to go in the first place.

At the hideout The Phantom describes his master plan to Spider-Man: sell the stolen goods to fund the creation of more robots to help him take over the world. [His master plan is to open more Wal-Mart stores?] Now that he knows of the plan, it's time shrink him down to microscopic size. He easily avoids the shrink rays and quickly captures The Phantom in a web-net, leaving them for the police.

In General...

What could have been a decent story about a string of robberies became weighed down with a doll house obsession. Making it the focal point of the story forced them to stage events that were resolved too easily or just stalled for time.

Overall Rating...

1 web. The formula for this episode is as follows: take some potentially interesting concepts, mix with plot points that do not support the concepts, shake fist at the screen.