Shows : Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 1, Episode 9
This story is part of a Lookback Series: The Show Must Go On...
This review was first published on: Mar 2010.
Instead of using an established hunter-type character like Kraven, the series creators decided to make one of their own. Perhaps they thought the lion vest was too gaudy. I have no idea. This is the end result.
Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 1, Episode 9 (Story 1)
Nov 1967 : SM Title
Summary: First Aired Nov 4th 1967
An anonymous admirer leaves a stone statue with a note for Jonah as a token of his appreciation. [For doing what? Slamming phones and yelling at his employees? That's all we've seen him do.] As Jonah sits back and congratulates the donor for recognizing his genius, Betty sees a bushman in the window. Her jaw drops and she begins pointing at him stating that a "horrible creature" is in the window with a "painted face". [Ok, couldn't they just have her say "a man" was the window. And this is supposedly New York City. She hasn't seen an African-American before?] Jonah doesn't see him, but naturally assumes Spider-Man has a new costume.
Later that night, Spider-Man swings by the Daily Bugle and sees the light on in Jonah's office. Aware he's too cheap to keep a light on this late, he decides to investigate. A bright light emerges from the idol. A voice orders Jonah to empty his petty cash drawer and place it into the secret compartment in its head.
Spider-Man observes this but is caught unaware by a boomerang attack that knocks him off his ledge. His spider-agility and webbing saves him from becoming street pizza. [No, not the kind you buy on the street, the other kind.] Undaunted, he returns to Jonah's office, now empty. He comes face to face with the bushman, who steals the money and uses a blowgun to cover his escape. Spidey is surprised that Jonah would steal from himself. He knows there's more to this than meets the eye.
The next day Jonah accuses Betty of stealing from him as they are the only two people with keys to the cash box. Betty becomes livid and quits on the spot. Later than night, Jonah is pacing in his office and fuming because he can't find his phone book. [#1 Pathetic. #2 Have you checked in your desk?] He becomes so frustrated at the situation he states that there ".. shouldn't be any women at all in the world. Just children … and men". [What the hell is the matter with the writers? Jonah just became old man Herbert from "Family Guy". This is the most ludicrous statement I have ever heard … and on a kid's TV show. ]
The Idol projects its hypnotic beam at Jonah once again, placing Jonah in a trance. The voice commands that he empty his main safe downstairs and place the content into the secret compartment. When Jonah leaves, the bushman climbs into his office, soon followed by Spider-Man. The bushman [I'll just call him N!xau. They never give him a name.] dodges every webline Spider-Man aims at him, prompting him to turn to his other spider-power: obnoxiousness. He whistles for him saying "nice doggie", presumably referring to the bone in his nose. He then proclaims "eight ball in the corner pocket" and tries unsuccessfully to snare him with his web again. [Ok, feeling a little uncomfortable with these remarks. I may have to break out some Chris Rock to strike a balance.] Their battle ends when another boomerang is thrown at Spider-Man and knocks him out. [It's a white boomerang, by the way. ]
When Spider-Man awakens, he's in a body bag and is the prisoner of the Australian hunter Harley Clivendon [Who has a major squinting problem. You ascot-wearing Mr. Magoo wannabe.] Clivendon bids Spider-Man welcome. He then turns his attention to Jameson, who is once again under the hypnotic gaze of the idol. Looking through a pair of binoculars, he speaks to Jameson through his one-way communicator and orders him to deposit more money into the secret compartment, forget what just happened, and go home. [Many years ago in the Kalahari Desert, Clivendon met N!xau's father, who taught Clivendon everything he knew about technology, mind control, and the Watusi.]
He then turns his attention to Spider-Man, promising to get rid of him in a way that can't be traced back to him and will look like and accident [Oh sure it will.] Since Spider-Man is known for getting into unusual situations, he has decided to hang him from the bottom of an elevator and send the car to the bottom of the shaft, crushing him. [1 in every 227 people tie themselves up in full-body bags and get flattened by an elevator every year... in Australia.] Spider-Man quips that he'd rather start at the bottom and work his way up. [Wow, a good one-liner. It's about time.]
Clivendon sends N!xau to Jameson's office to collect the money from the idol. Clivendon presses the down arrow on the elevator controls, sending Spider-Man to his demise. Within ten seconds, Spider-Man has freed an arm, made an temporary support column with his webs to slow his descent, and subsequently frees himself. [Nice. He should have used sharks with lasers attached to their heads. It works just as well]
Clivendon watches N!xau climb the Daily Bugle building to retrieve Jameson's money [and nobody asks how he does this.]. As he daydreams about having Jameson write him a check for $2 million, Spider-Man returns. He and Clivendon stand on opposite sides of the room and display their prowess with weapons. Spidey only uses his webbing [they can re-use animation that way]; Clivendon goes through an array of weapons (swords, bow & arrow, spear & shield, and a derringer.) All of them fail. N!xau returns and tries to catch him by surprise, but fails as well [N!xau was climbing the wall of the Daily Bugle a minute ago. He's already done and back at Clivendon's that quickly? Without Kangaroo Jack here, he might be a credible threat to Spider-Man.]
Spidey webs the two together and brings them to Jonah's office with a note for the police and changes back to Peter [That would have been an interesting scene. Dragging two grown men webbed together across the street]. Peter reads his note to Jonah, who wants to exclude Spider-Man from the police report.
Peter manages to convince Jonah that he acted hastily in calling Betty a thief and suggests that if he apologizes, she may return. Jonah has little choice as he can't function without his secretary. Peter brings Betty inside his office where Jonah acknowledges the situation but can't bring himself to express contrition. Betty accepts his feeble attempt at an apology and returns to work.
From what I can gather, this was the series' version of Kraven complete with a silent tribal bushman as his sidekick.
The comments directed toward the bushman that I listed are considered racist in today's society. I have a difficult time coming to terms with the fact this kind of language was allowed on a television show aimed at children. Hearing these statements from Spider-Man is like hearing Kermit the Frog tell a child that it's acceptable to hit someone under the right circumstances. It just makes me sad.
I were a network censor today (I'd be a very boring individual most likely) I would not allow them on TV.
1.5 webs. First, 1/2 web off for some of the dialogue. The remarks toward the bushman and Jonah's "men and children" comments would have to be edited out for obvious reasons. Thankfully they are simple lines that don't contribute to the plot and wouldn't be missed. Still, it's embarrassing.
The plot would be acceptable with a different villain. I can't wrap my head around how a big-game hunter would have the technical know-how to create and use mind control. It doesn't make any sense. Does Clivendon come from a long line of scientists that dabble in this field? This is about as feasible as a wrestler turned nuclear physicist.
N!xau was the name of the Namibian bush farmer who appeared in the move "The Gods Must Be Crazy". I just thought it was appropriate for the unnamed assistant.