College student Peter Parker, working his way through college as a photographer for New York City’s Daily Bugle newspaper, is bitten by a spider that has come into contact with radioactive material in his school’s nuclear lab. Gradually, this event imbues Peter with amazing abilities, such as shooting remarkably strong webs from his wrists, climbing completely vertical surfaces, and a sixth sense that alerts him to danger. As Peter begins exploring these new talents, the city is gripped with fear as banks are robbed by people who were previously lawyers, judges, doctors…in other words, the people who would least need to rob banks. Mind control is suspected, and then a ransom note is sent to the mayor of New York City: if a ransom isn’t paid by a deadline mere days away, the next round of mind control victims will be ordered to kill themselves. Peter discovers that his abilities – and his newly-fashioned “Spider-Man” costume – are best put to use to help others, and combined with his natural journalistic curiosity, he begins investigating the series of strange robberies, discovering a self-help guru named Byron is conditioning his new recruits to obey his every command. In the guise of Spider-Man, Peter finds it difficult to find out more, especially when he discovers that Byron has ninjas on his payroll, something rather unusual for a self-help expert. Peter realizes that his investigation depends on signing up for Byron’s next seminar as himself, not as a superhero – but doing so puts the powers of Spider-Man at the disposal of a madman.
written by Alvin Boretz
directed by E.W. Swackhamer
music by Johnnie Spence
Cast: Nicholas Hammond (Peter Parker / Spider-Man), David White (J. Jonah Jameson), Michael Pataki (Captain Barbera), Hilly Hicks (Robbie Robertson), Lisa Eilbacher (Judy Tyler), Dick Balduzzi (Delivery Man), Jeff Donnell (Aunt May), Robert Hastings (Monahan), Barry Cutler (Purse Snatcher), Thayer David (Mr. Byron), Ivor Francis (Professor Tyler), Norman Rice (Henchman), Len Lesser (Henchman), Carmelita Pope (Group Member), George Cooper (Group Member), Larry Anderson (Dave), Ivan Bonar (News Anchor), Kathryn Reynolds (Group Member), Harry Caesar (Cab Driver), Robert Snively (Judge), James E. Brodhead (Policeman), Roy West (Group Member), Mary Ann Kasica (Group Member), Jim Storm (Group Member), Ron Gilbert (Policeman)
Notes: Stan Lee is credited as a script consultant, with no onscreen credit acknowledging his participation the creation of the character of Spider-Man. Rather than the comics’ (and later movies’) depiction of Peter Parker as an awkward teenager living a secret life, Peter is here seen as a reasonably un-awkward college student, played by Nicholas Hammond (who appeared as a child actor as Friedrich von Trapp in The Sound Of Music). Actress Jean Marie Donnell, who worked under the stage name “Jeff” due to her childhood fixation on Mutt & Jeff comics, appears to be perhaps 10-15 years’ Peter’s senior as Aunt May; Uncle Ben is nowhere in evidence. Also nowhere to be found is a certain almost obligatory quote about great power and great responsibility. This would turn out to be David White’s sole appearance as “J.J. Jameson”. Some recasting and a nervous network green-light later (with CBS balking at the potential expense of a full season of Spider-Man), a surprisingly short season (for the late 1970s on a major network) was given a go-ahead, to debut the following spring.
LogBook entry by Earl Green