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Buena Vista Home Video presents
Spider-Man '67: The Complete Series (1967-70)

"Is he strong? Listen, bud

He's got radioactive blood!"

- The Spider-Man theme song

Review By: Jeff Wilson   
Published: April 22, 2005

Stars: Paul Soles, Peg Dixon, Paul Klingman (voices)
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (animated violence [gun play, fistfights, explosions, etc.], tobacco use
Run Time: 19h:04m:00s
Release Date: June 29, 2004
UPC: 786936242409
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- DA-A- D-

DVD Review

Nostalgia can be cruel sometimes. Take the Spider-Man: the '67 Collection set. I have fond memories of watching this show as a kid, along with the mute Spidey of the Electric Company, and I've been a diehard Spidey fan ever since. But upon watching this set, I got that sick feeling that this show, frankly, was more or less terrible. And let's face it, who likes to have childhood favorites squashed like that?

Spider-Man ran for three seasons (1967-70), highlighted by that insanely catchy theme song (which made an amusing cameo in Spider-Man 2). A total of 52 episodes were made, the final two seasons being helmed by Ralph Bakshi, who would go on to bigger and better things in the animation field. The animation, such as it is, is quite crude compared to what one sees even from late 70s and 80s material, and the production crew recycled shots mercilessly. If there isn't already a drinking game based around the use, re-use, and re-re-use of footage, there should be. "Look, it's that Ditko cut-out again! Drink up!"

The basic set-up of the show is the same for most episodes, though the second season did try to stretch things a little bit. Basically, criminal commits crime, Peter Parker listens to J. Jonah Jameson rant about Spider-Man being in cahoots with said criminal, Spidey goes after criminal, gets beaten somehow, finds way to beat criminal in second meeting. Or a slightly different variant thereof. For the first season, it's fairly decent, as the stories are over and done with in about 12 minutes. During Bakshi's run, the show declined sharply in terms of quality, due in part to non-existent budgets. Bakshi's first season expanded to full half hour length stories, which resulted in many shows that were tremendously dull and repetitive. The Bakshi shows feature psychedelic backgrounds that do make it a bit more interesting to look at, if nothing else. Bakshi also recycled entire episodes on occasion, changing the stories only slightly. My recommendation for discs 4-6? Colorful Spidey-coasters!

Some of Spidey's classic foes show up, such as the Green Goblin (albeit nothing like the comic book version in terms of character), Dr Octopus, the Rhino, and the Kingpin, and a couple others. Spider-Man's powers are often abused, such as his use of webbing to do just about anything, like make a boat with working outboard motor, or his come and go spider-sense, that allows the writers the cheap way out of that first fight with the villain (you know, the one Spidey loses). On too many occasions, someone hits Spider-Man from behind, something that would be unthinkable in the comic. I realize it's the height of geekdom to make points like this, but laziness like these writers display deserves to be pointed out.

The end question is, what is the audience for this series? People like myself that grew up watching it, today's kids who loved the movies, or both? Trouble is, the 90s Spider-Man animated series has better stories, vastly superior animation, and is closer to the Spidey most of us know nowadays. I've read reviews by people of my age group who loved seeing this again, but aside from that momentary nostalgic buzz, my enjoyment factor plummeted. And today's kids have likely seen much better-made shows on so many occasions that I can't imagine them wanting to see much of this. But I could be wrong.

One further note: the episodes as presented here do not include the bumpers or previews for the next episode. Inexplicably, one episode does feature the preview for the next episode. Sticklers for a presentation exactly like the televised original will find this off-putting, but it didn't bother me.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: In most of the shows presented here, the image looks simply beautiful in terms of color and detail. It's good enough that you can see brush strokes on the cels. It should be noted that there are a handful of episodes on the fifth and sixth discs that have extremely subpar transfers. These episodes are blurry and dirty, though colors look okay. Presumably a lack of similar elements to the rest caused this disparity. Overall though, this set looks really nice considering the age and type of material.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Given that this was made for TV in the 60s, we have exactly what we would expect: a clean Dolby 2.0 mono soundtrack. It does the job, mainly in bringing the swingin' music through loud and clear.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 77 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Aladdin SE DVD; Spider-Man: The Venom Saga; Bionicle 2; Spider-Man vs Doc Ock; The Incredibles
Packaging: Digipak
Picture Disc
6 Discs
6-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: What extras? The only features, if you want to call them that, are scene selection and "play all" options. These are bare bones discs. The scene selection is limited to one chapter per story, which isn't so bad in the case of the half length stories, but it is somewhat lazy when the episodes stretch to the length of a full show. The booklet that accompanies the discs is only notable extra, though it is mainly lists the episodes, an admittedly handy feature. It does include a short Stan Lee piece originally written for a book on Spider-Man, but it has nothing to do with the show itself. The first disc includes a "Sneak Peaks" section hyping four other Buena Vista DVDs as well as The Incredibles.

The set comes in a digipak with six plastic pages, one for each disc, housed within a slipcase. While it looks spiffy, I doubt it will hold up under repeated use, particularly if one of the users is a child.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

A blast from the past or sheer tedium? It depends on how fondly you remember the show, and your tolerance for its weaknesses. There is some occasional fun to be had here, but it's often unintentional. A little of this goes a long way.


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