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Topic: Lack Of Supervillains In 70s Hulk/Spider-Man TV Shows Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 12 July 2017 at 10:42am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I am a fan of the 70s Hulk series (I can't praise it enough). And I am quite the fan of the 70s Spider-Man series, too. I judge things by the standards of the era (and the budgets available). TV budgets and special effects limitations of the time meant we couldn't have a CGI Hulk throwing tanks around - or Spider-Man swinging from building to building with a glider-travelling Green Goblin on his tail.

But I respect them for what they are and what they did. Despite the Spider-Man series not getting a DVD release (come on, studios!), it is enjoyable. I accept the special effects limitations, i.e. web-swinging shots were rare as they took 2 days to set up and were quite dangerous. The show did have some good special effects, anyway, such as Spider-Man hanging from a helicopter - well done, stuntman Fred Waugh. And the Hulk had many memorable moments, some of which were difficult to set up: a Hulk/bear fight in the second pilot episode had to keep being filmed as the bear kept knocking Lou Ferrigno's wig off.

Anyway, I digress. Could the Hulk and Spider-Man TV shows have made more of an effort, within the budgets and limitations, to give us more comic-book plots and supervillains?

Both shows did go down that route. Clones are big in Spider-Man's comic universe, but the only live-action incarnation that has dealt with clones is Nicholas Hammond's series ("Night of the Clones"). "The Curse of Rava" featured a monk with telekinetic powers. As for the Hulk, he took on the US military in "Prometheus" and "Blind Rage" - and battled an evil doppelganger in the two-parter "The First". Those episodes are pretty close to the comic book exploits.

It might have been interesting to see what they could have done, though. I'd have liked a Hulk/Bigfoot encounter in the series. And the Leader might have been doable within the Hulk series. It would have been as acceptable to me as the doppelganger Hulk seen in "The First".

I did like what we got. Two-part Spider-Man episode "The Deadly Dust" is tremendous fun as Parker/Spider-Man travels from New York to L.A. to stop a white-collar crook and his 'associates' from detonating an atomic bomb. Seeing the Hulk battle animals and all sorts of criminals was a lot of fun. I'm just imagining scenarios.

I think something like Scorpion could have worked, a man with an armour and a scorpion-like tail would surely have been doable within budgetary and special effects limits (and with keeping to the reality of the show). Ditto various Hulk villains. The one thing I didn't like about "The First" was that the evil Hulk was a beanpole who looked a bit comical. An Abomination-style character, surely done via make-up and the use of a bodybuilder, could have worked.

Thoughts?

EDIT: Feel free to name which supervillains you think would have been doable within the special effects/budgetary limits. And feel free to name which supervillains you don't think special effects or budgets could have served.


Edited by Robbie Parry on 12 July 2017 at 10:47am
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 12 July 2017 at 5:21pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Universal  Studios had already dabbled in 'lower level'-powered villains on the two bionic shows, so translating some of Marvel's villains to TV wouldn't have been too much of a stretch.
Electro, Kraven,and Mysterio might have worked for the Spider-Man series. Maybe the Hulk could have had a "TV adaptation" of Doc Samson; bodybuilder strength with little need for makeup beyond a green wig. 
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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 13 July 2017 at 1:09am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

The Kingpin easily could have been on Spider-Man.
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 14 July 2017 at 12:01am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

So could Hammerhead, or even the Enforcer and the Circus of Crime,
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Andrew Saxon
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Posted: 14 July 2017 at 2:32am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Even at the time I was shocked by how poor the live-action Spider-Man was. Nicholas Hammond seemed untroubled by any sort of charisma and the scripts were terrible. Oh, and that costume - OUCH!* It's a long, long time since I saw the series, but I recall thinking things might be turning round with the clone episode - however, my hopes were quickly dashed (the final battle between Spidey and his doppleganger was such a let down). Would the introduction of super-villains have helped? Maybe, but a more likable actor playing Peter and some better script-writers would have helped a whole lot more.

* As a youngster I remember watching an episode with my family when my sister pointed out that the stunt man playing Spidey had clearly wet himself. My Dad chipped in by saying that if someone hung him over the side of a skyscraper like that he'd have done more than just wet himself!
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 14 July 2017 at 8:19am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I have many criticisms of the series. But I do think there are some good episodes.

"The Deadly Dust" is one. From New York to Los Angeles, Parker, reporter Gail Hoffman and Jameson try and locate a missing atomic bomb. There's a lot of action such as Spider-Man battling a martial arts henchman atop a skyscraper - and a battle with the bad guys on a Western movie set. It ends with a race against time to locate and defuse the bomb.

"The Dragon's Challenge" (the final two-parter) is another solid one with plenty of action: subway fights, a finale with martial artists atop a skyscraper and some character interaction as Parker struggles with his double life (he runs away to change during a hostage situation, but his girlfriend believes he ran away due to cowardice).

"The Captive Tower" is a siege episode which I think is well worth a look.

There's so much more the show SHOULD have done, i.e. exploring the double-identity dilemma, having more ambitious plots, etc. But there are good moments to be found, I feel. 
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 14 July 2017 at 11:53am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Two 'martial arts atop a skyscraper' fights???
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David Miller
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Posted: 14 July 2017 at 5:24pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

When I saw "The Deadly Dust" as a kid —at my grandparents' house in Scotch Plains, New Jersey — five year old me wasn't sophisticated enough to understand the freeze frame that cut to a photo on the Bugle's front page; and thought it meant the bomb had gone off, killing everyone. I don't think that was even the very end of the episode, making my confusion especially dull-witted.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 15 July 2017 at 12:30am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Those episodes Robbie mentioned were edited into
`movies` and shown in the cinemas over here quite a
while before we got them on tv,yes they were poor in
both script and effects,but to a kid in 1978 they were
brilliant!
Regarding the stuntman wetting himself,that reminds me
of Kiss Meets The Phantom where an obviously African
American was Ace Frehley`s stunt double!
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 16 July 2017 at 4:47pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I tell you, there's no justice in this world, not when the two lame CAPTAIN AMERICA TV movies from the late 70s have a DVD release, but not THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. ;-) 
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 27 July 2017 at 10:04pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Same thing with the WONDER WOMAN show--no villains!  And that was developed by Stanley Ralph Ross, who wrote for the BATMAN show--you'd think HE, of all people, would realize how valuable good takes on the villains could be.

At least LOIS & CLARK had Luthor (of a sort) and tried the Toyman and the Prankster.  (And did Howie Mandel REALLY play Mr. Mxyzptlk?!?  How come I don't remember that?)
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 28 July 2017 at 11:14am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I would have thought the Chameleon would have been a perfect villain for a low-budget TV show like the 70s Spider-Man.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 28 July 2017 at 2:44pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Same thing with the WONDER WOMAN show--no villains! 

***

What, you mean that intelligent gorilla wasn't a villain? ;-))
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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 29 July 2017 at 1:34pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Didn't Baroness Paula von Gunther appear in the Wonder Woman TV series?
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Roy Johnson
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Posted: 30 July 2017 at 6:40am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

MYSTERIO would be awesome.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 30 July 2017 at 8:46am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

It's a shame we didn't see supervillains. Burt Reynolds would have been perfect as Kraven, right? 
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 30 July 2017 at 12:00pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Is the Spider-Man series available to watch?
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 30 July 2017 at 2:45pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

No. Never had an official DVD release.

Surprised, really. The two lame 1970s CAPTAIN AMERICA films get a DVD release during Cap's theatrical appearances in recent years - whilst a show that, for better or worse, had its fans is denied a release.

Here in the UK, some episodes got distributed in the 90s, but that's it.

Someone I know claims Stan Lee has banned it from being released. Which is silly. I don't think Mr Lee has clout over DVD distributors. 
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 30 July 2017 at 6:17pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

That sounds like the old 'Bill Cosby bought all the rights to 'Amos and Andy' just to prevent it from being repeated' rumors.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 30 July 2017 at 9:20pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

It's a shame we didn't see supervillains. Burt Reynolds would have been perfect as Kraven, right? 
----------------------------------------------
So true. And back when Smokey and the Bandit was second at the box-office to only Star Wars, I'm sure Burt Reynolds would have been up for it as well.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 31 July 2017 at 5:35am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

I'm wondering if Peter is playing along with me or taking me seriously. ;-)

My Burt Reynolds suggestion was a joke.

Truth is, my brother tells me my casting is lame. I suggested Tom Selleck as Iron Man, had the movie been made in the 80s. He didn't like it. I also said that if a Spider-Man film had been produced in the early 80s, Geena Davis should have been Mary Jane. He didn't like that, either.

They should have made a theatrical Spider-Man film in the 70s. Max Von Sydow could have been the Vulture. 
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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 31 July 2017 at 9:54am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Although...if you want your Vulture to be a true-to-source really old guy, Von Sydow may not be perfect casting. He would barely be in his 50's by the end of that decade.

I guess you could age him with make-up as they did in THE EXORCIST....
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Stéphane Garrelie
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Posted: 01 August 2017 at 4:12am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Boring for Spider-Man, that we got as movies (very small release i thing and that i personally saw in video back in the early 80s), even i enjoyed those movies (i'm not sure if i saw only one or two of them though. it was a long time ago).

I didn't care at all for the Hulk tv show, that i loved as it was, and is one of the reasons why i got interested in Super-Heroes comics.
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Eric Ladd
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Posted: 01 August 2017 at 8:26am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Another consideration is that most television series had a central theme or device that was explored in single episodes. With the exception of Jack McGee dogging Dr. Banner, very few reoccurring characters or villains ever saw more than one episode. Even writing a two part episode was rare for television in the 70's and 80's. I wonder if avoiding recurrence was a consideration for the show. There were 82 episodes and 47 writers credited on the show. Not much room for huge story arcs and reoccurring characters?
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 01 August 2017 at 9:37am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

You're probably right, Eric. It's a shame. I mean, we all wanted to see Arnold Schwarzenegger to show up as Juggernaut in the live-action Hulk series, right? ;-) 
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