Shows : Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 1, Episode 10

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

This review was first published on: May 2010.

Background...

Do you like a international politics mixed in with your Saturday morning cartoons? Boy are you in luck because we have something tailor-made for you!

In Detail...

"The Sinister Prime Minister"
Spider-Man TV (1967) - Season 1, Episode 10 (Story 2)
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Local newspapers are trying to get a picture of the visiting Prime Minister of Rutania [Don't be too impressed; it's not a real "fake" country, it's a "principality".]. The limousine reserved for the Prime Minister drives straight into the Rutanian Embassy, denying the photographers a photo-op. Among the group of photographers [Four to be precise. What's the point of a drawing a full crowd on a limited budget?] is Peter Parker. He refuses to return to the Bugle empty-handed and face Jonah's wrath. He changes to Spider-Man and decides to use his powers to help him get an exclusive. He sneaks into the embassy and climbs up the wall to the Prime Minister's suite [They gloss over the part where doing this may lead to your arrest or being shot on sight. Security on world leaders is not this lax in the real world, kiddies.]

When Spider-Man arrives he finds the Prime Minister gagged and tied up in a chair. An unknown individual applying the finishing touches to his makeup. He now looks identical to the real Prime Minister. Spider-Man takes a picture showing both men and makes the mistake of announcing his presence. [This is a character flaw in all TV superheroes. Tremble before me ... before you defeat me.] The fake dignitary uses his weaponized cane to discharge a powerful incapacitating agent that renders Spider-Man unconscious in seconds.

When Spider-Man wakes up, his camera and the real prime minister are gone. The security detail informs the Fake Minister that the police are on their way. Unable to prove that the Prime Minister is a phony, Spider-Man leaves, vowing to get to the bottom of this soon.

Later the Prime Minister visits Jonah at the Daily Bugle. Initially Jonah is against giving Rutania any type of foreign aid. He changes his mind when Fake Minister promises that he will be revered as a hero by the poverty-striken population of Rutania. Jonah begins printing extra editions of the Bugle to raise the goal of $20 million.

Spider-Man returns to the embassy later than night hoping to find the real Prime Minister. Instead he finds the impostor waiting for him. He then demonstrates the other capabilities of his cane: firing poison-tipped darts at Spider-Man and employing hidden propeller blades in offensive and defensive capacities. [Eat your heart out, Burgess Meredith. We may have copied the Penguin's umbrella schtick, but you can't do this on your live-action TV show.] Once again the security detail arrive and chase Spider-Man away.

The fake Prime Minister calls Jameson to describe his latest encounter with Spider-Man. Jameson promises to hire extra security and an armored car to transport the relief money to the airport. Fake Minister then promises to commission a statue of Jameson for his efforts. [Perhaps I'm thinking too much, but shouldn't this have sent up a red flag? The leader of a principality with a high rate of poverty shouldn't be promising statues to people.] Jameson is naturally flattered by this treatment; Betty mutters under her breath that "the pigeons will love it" [Best. Line. Ever.].

The armored car leaves the Rutanian Embassy with the relief money. Spider-Man's attempts to stop it before it reaches its destination fail. He sneaks into the airport and watches as the contents of the armored car are loaded into the Prime Minister's plane. Conspicuously placed among the gold ingots is a large trunk which Spider-Man believes contains the real Prime Minister. [A trunk with no noticeable air holes. You know what happens to fireflies when leave air holes out of the jar, right?]

As the plane taxis, Spider-Man fires a webline at the cargo bay door. When it takes off, he is carried along with it. The flight crew is unable to close the door due to the interference from the webbing. The Prime Minister offers to help out and uses his cane to blast away the webbing, leaving the door wide open. Spider-Man has climbed his web and made it into the cargo area, intent on putting a stop to the Fake Minister once and for all. [Note: this sequence is completely ridiculous. A plane can't leave with a door partially open. In the event that the door is opened all the way in mid-flight, there is a good chance someone is going skydiving sans parachute. But enough reality...]

A very brief fight ensues and the Fake Minister is defeated. [Two points of interest: Spider-Man is able to manipulate his webbing like a pair of hands and an artificial snake. It's not sentient webbing, people, come on!] Fake Minister is revealed to be Charles Cameo, an actor of some note because he is recognized by one of the pilots. [Wow. Talk about your Scooby-Doo-style ending.] Spider-Man frees the real Prime Minister from the trunk and makes the headlines for averting an international crisis.

The next day Jonah complains about Spider-Man's latest "stunt", claiming that if he hadn't interfered, he'd have been immortalized in marble. [Psssst. Jonah. Jonah!! That was a Fake Minister lie. THERE WAS NEVER GOING TO BE A STATUE!]

Betty then notices something on his window sill. It's an engraved bust of Jonah – in marble - left by Spider-Man to bust his chops.

In General...

Jonah's ego is on display throughout this episode. He isn't interested in giving money to anyone - even a poverty-stricken area - unless there's something in it for him. Only when Fake Minister promises to make him a national hero does he reconsider his stance on foreign aid. Way to go, Montgomery Burns.

The other major issue I have is Spider-Man's final attempt to stop the Fake Minister from leaving with the $20 million. Not that this is repeatable, but its just not believable. You're left wondering why they would stage such a pointless stunt. I would have preferred to have Spider-Man simply appear inside the plane and say he outsmarted the guards and was hiding in the bathroom. Crazy as it sounds, it's less crazy that the boarding option they chose.

Overall Rating...

2.5 webs. The plot for this episode is actually very simple and straightforward with a few minor problems, most of which can be ignored. The airport sequence brought down the score 1/2 web. I know that's a bit much, but it could have been done in a more believable manner.

There's only so much you can do with politicians in children's cartoons. For the most part, they did a good job including a low-level political element into the story.