Thursday, May 5, 2011

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Spider-Woman (1979)

Originally published in my other blog, The Land of Whatever, on August 17, 2010.
The cover blurb on her comic book read, "To know her is to fear her", but when Spider-Woman made the transition to television in 1979, there really wasn't anything fearsome about her. Instead of being a product of the High Evolutionary, or so Marvel wanted us to believe back in the day, Spider-Woman, in her civilian guise of Jessica Drew, was posited as the publisher of an investigative magazine. In other words, DePatie-Freleng decided that she was to be a cross between Spider-Man......and the Green Hornet. Go figure.

DePatie-Freleng was nearing its end. The studio had sold its first series to ABC 4 years earlier (The Oddball Couple), then they moved the popular Pink Panther franchise over from NBC in 1978, ending a 9 year run on the latter network. NBC, in turn, picked up DFE's remake of The Fantastic Four, which unfortunately fell victim to affiliate disinterest and was cancelled after one season. I know this for certain because the NBC affiliate in my market refused to air the show. Luckily, in those days, my cable provider had a 2nd NBC affiliate, albeit from Utica, handy for such cases. Spider-Woman, then, would be the last series to bear the DFE logo, as it transitioned to Marvel Productions 2 years later. ABC's previous association with DFE, by the way, was a series of specials for the Afterschool Special anthology series, which in turn spun off Time For Timer to use with the Saturday lineup. I digress.

On TV, Spider-Woman (Joan Van Ark, later of Knots Landing) fought the usual collection of SatAM villains, including Dracula. I guess Bram Stoker's vampire was in the public domain at the time, since a variation on the same character fought the Super Friends a year earlier. Unfortunately, with Super Friends and Plastic Man airing in the same lineup, ABC was risking giving viewers a bad case of superhero burnout. Spider-Woman was coupled with Scooby & Scrappy-Doo in the 11-12 (ET) block, as memory serves, but it just didn't last very long.

With Marvel now a part of Disney, would a revival of Spider-Woman for TV, given all the changes made with the character in the comics in the 31 years since, be possible? Only the suits at the two companies know for sure, but it certainly would be welcome.

Updated, 5/5/11: Here's the open, uploaded by palitoy:

Grade: B.

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