Archive | Featured articles

Some of the best articles on the blog. Typically, these have a picture. It's a low entrance requirement, I know.


January 10, 2013

Nostalgia Corner: The Amazing Spider-Man (1977-79)

Posted on January 10, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Amazing Spider-man

These days, superheroes are all the rage in movies. TV series? Not so much, beyond Arrow and a few series stillin the works. But back in the 70s, TV was the natural home of the superhero, it seemed, with Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel/Shazam all getting simultaneous adaptations, and made-for-TV superheroes and heroines like Electra Woman, Dyna Girl, Isis, The Man From Atlantis and the Bionic Woman also getting a look-in.

One of the biggest comic book adaptations was The Amazing Spider-Man, which ran on CBS between 1977 and 1979. Starring Nicholas Hammond (a former von Trapp child from The Sound of Music), it sees mild mannered university student Peter Parker get bitten by a radioactive spider and as a result, become incredibly strong and gymnastic, as well as acquire the ability to stick to walls and ceilings and anticipate danger. With a little bit of scientific and engineering ingenuity, he even manages to create "web shooters" that enable him to shoot sticky and extremely strong webbing from cartridges on his wrists, so that he can swing from building to building, tie up criminals and so on.

After initially ignoring the responsibility of his new powers, Peter eventually decides to fight crime and gets a job as photographer on the Daily Bugle so that he can pay for his night-time endeavours - usually by taking exclusive pictures of himself as 'Spider-Man'.

The show started as a back door pilot TV movie back in 1977…

…and was picked up for five episodes as a mid-season replacement in 1978. These initially did well, earning 16.6m viewers which made it CBS's highest rated show. However, CBS, wary of being known as the 'superhero network' (since it already carried four other superhero shows), cancelled it. It then changed its mind and picked up the series for another eight episodes which aired sporadically: six in the autumn and winter of 1978 and a final two-hour episode in the summer. After that, the show was officially cancelled.

It's fair to say no one was particularly happy with this Amazing Spider-Man. Fans objected to the changes made to the Parker storyline and the lack of any of Spider-Man's super-villains from the comics. Spider-Man creator Stan Lee, despite being a consultant on the show, thought it was too juvenile. Production values weren't great either, with the show being filmed in Los Angeles despite being set in New York, and Spider-Man noticeably always played by a stunt double rather than Hammond. With such sporadic air dates and lack of commitment from CBS, it's no surprise that not only did J Jonah Jameson, the editor of the Daily Bugle, get played by a different actor in the series than in the pilot, Peter's Aunt May was never played by the same actress twice.

Nevertheless, both the TV movie and the final two-part episode were released in cinemas around the world, the second movie benefitting greatly from having extensive footage shot in Hong Kong.

Since then, though, The Amazing Spider-Man has faded in many people's memories. Unlike The Incredible Hulk, which has seen frequent repeats, DVD releases and a series of comeback movies in the 80s and 90s, The Amazing Spider-Man has instead languished in edited forms on VHS and laser-disc, the planned comeback TV series and movies never happened, and repeats have been few and far between.

But good old YouTube to the rescue. Here's the title sequence and a playlist of all the episodes, you lucky people!

Read other posts about:

January 8, 2013

Review: Transporter 1x1-1x2 (RTL/M6/HBO Canada/Cinemax)

Posted on January 8, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Transporter The Series

In Canada: Fridays, 9pm ET/MT, HBO Canada/Super Ecran 1
In the US: Acquired to air on HBO Cinemax, possibly in June
In Germany: Already aired on RTL
In France: Already aired on M6

Co-productions are the future. Allegedly. Ask the BBC, which regularly works with BBC America and also HBO on productions. Sky also does plenty of international shows in collaboration with US, Spanish, French and South African broadcasters.

The idea is that you unlock more money that can result in either better shows or shows that couldn't otherwise have been made at all, or you can have overseas filming and exotic locations courtesy of the people who know the areas best and can give you firm advice on the cultures that can be incorporated into the scripts.

Sometimes this works: the Swedish/Danish The Bridge was excellent; Sky's Falcón and Strike Back are good; Canada's Flashpoint, originally produced in association with CBS, wasn't half bad, despite its desperate attempts to appear as un-Canadian as possible.

Sometimes it doesn't: BBC/Cinemax's Hunted was dreadful.

Quite often, the problem is in making a programme that will appeal to audiences in all the countries involved. Anyone can import another country's television, quite cheaply, but once big production money is involved, you often want actors from both countries, filming in both countries, writers from both countries and so on. And of course each country's producers and network executives will want input into the show. As a result, more or less anything interesting gets filed off by the process.

It's basically 'death by committee'.

In particular, there is one unholy alliance of producing countries, familiar to anyone who watched TV in the 90s, that can be pretty much be guaranteed to co-produce rubbish: Canada, France and Germany. Forget how good each individual country's television can be - united in co-production they are only a force for evil.

Remember Highlander? Remember its arbitrary location changes from Canada to Paris and back each season? Remember the contractually obligated French and German actors struggling to speak English each episode? Remember the guest Englishperson in any episode shot in Paris, since they needed someone who could act in English, who was cheap and who could be there quickly?

If not, let's pretend 20-odd years haven't happened and tune into Transporter: The Series. It's based on the 2002 Luc Besson French-US movie that starred Jason Statham as Frank Martin, an ex-special forces, samurai-like car driver who would drive anything you wanted, anywhere you wanted for a price and would kick the crap out of anyone who tried to stop him - provided you stuck with his supposedly rigid rules. The series sees Chris Vance (ex of Prison Break and Mental but no action background whatsoever) take over the role of Martin, who's still working in the South of France - and Germany - but now has the help of a comedic German car engineer and an East European female boss, and is being chased by both the French and Belgian police.

Creative compromises? I don't know what you mean. Here's a trailer for the movie, followed by a trailer for the series itself.

Continue reading "Review: Transporter 1x1-1x2 (RTL/M6/HBO Canada/Cinemax)"

Read other posts about: , ,

December 28, 2012

Review: Wonder Woman #15/Justice League #15/Batwoman #15/Aquaman #15

Posted on December 28, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Wonder Woman #15

As we head into the new year, for Wonder Woman, it seems an appropriate time to say, "Out with the old, in with the new."

For starters, in Wonder Woman #15, not only do we have the much-heralded, full-on return of the New Gods to the DC Universe, we also have some new characters - including, naturally enough, a new relative for Wondy - and new powers for her as well.

But over in Justice League #15, the flip remark I made when reviewing Justice League #14 turns out to have been prophetic, too: Wondy has a new secret dating identity. Yes, 'Diana Prince' is back. Woo hoo!

Justice League #15

And since our Wondy seems to be getting some proper 'screen time' in the DC Universe for a change, this month, she's also popping up in Aquaman for the first time since the nu52 reboot. Although, it has to be said, it's a less than edifying experience for all involved. And it's not just because of the usual Aquaman fish jokes.

Aquaman #15

And, just for fun, she flies a bit in Batwoman #15. Well, falls, flies, it's much of a muchness. But it does give us the chance to ask a vital question that DC seems to have been posing for a couple of months now: is Wonder Woman a goddess? And to answer another vital question that DC seems to have been posing for even longer: do its writers really do any research?

Batwoman #15

Continue reading "Review: Wonder Woman #15/Justice League #15/Batwoman #15/Aquaman #15"

Read other posts about: ,

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399 400 401 402  

Featured Articles

The Bold Type

Journalism for people who can't read more than a Tweet