What makes a Worst Episode Ever? A complete absence of enjoyable? Something resembling a coherent plot? An incapability or maybe unwillingness to honor its supply materials? Low-quality manufacturing? Ought to it’s so dangerous it’s good, or ought to it harm you with its badness? The reply, I believe, will be any of those—which is why selecting the worst episode of the traditional 1967 Spider-Man animated collection has been so powerful.
In “Horn of the Rhino,” Spidey is outwitted (regularly!) by the dimwitted super-villain and inexplicably webs himself right into a literal ball to flee some cops. In “Revolt within the Fifth Dimension,” Peter principally goes via a Hunter S. Thompson drug nightmare courtesy of a bunch of tiny aliens. And within the third season, there are a number of episodes that re-use previous footage to retell first season episodes, solely worse and extra boring. What I’m saying is, most of the Spider-Man ’67 episodes are horrible in numerous methods however often to the identical diploma.
However, for some motive, “Vine” caught out to me, through which Peter Parker unwittingly lets an historical plant-monster free in New York and heads three million years up to now to discover a ludicrous and moronic resolution to the issue. The episode begins with Peter and his girlfriend of the week Jackie (severely, he ran via a number of love pursuits within the cartoon; Mary Jane solely exhibits up in a single episode) are rooting across the attic of a home beforehand belonging to a Professor Smithers. Amongst his crap and junk are three gadgets of observe: a big seed, a journal, and a completely open time portal to three,000,000 BC.
Peter instantly exposes the seed to the sunshine, and it grows into a large vine monster that crawls out the window and makes a beeline to NYC, leaving a large swath of destruction in its path (together with a blue-white home it crushes not as soon as, however three or 4 occasions, to maintain animation prices to an absolute minimal). Jackie reads the journal and discovers the Professor is chilling up to now. Peter, with a very wild leap of illogic, decides the easiest way to cease the vine creature is by ignoring the final three million years of human development, expertise, and weaponry, and the truth that he’s Spider-Man by deciding to leap via the time portal and discover a resolution there.
An attention-grabbing factor about this traditional cartoon is that Spidey is always being owned by his numerous foes, who’re led by a strong villain I wish to name “Whole Lack of Continuity.” So I need to break down what occurs instantly after ol’ Net-head arrives up to now and discovers a large frog monster:
- Spider-Man fires his webbing on the beast, who has not made any menacing strikes towards him.
- The frog, having apparently jumped into the air whereas off-screen, is webbed and inexplicably frozen in mid-air.
- All of a sudden on the bottom and free, the frog smacks an attacking Spider-Man so exhausting he flies on a 100-foot cliff.
- The frog approaches Spider-Man, who’s now by some means caught in a tree on the frog’s eye degree.
- Spider-Man webs the frog once more, and this time it really works for some motive.
- Spider-Man is straight away brained by a blue large who by some means sneaks up on him. Spidey’s Spider-Sense doesn’t go off at any level throughout this.
Stated blue giants are apparently buddies with Professor Smithers, they usually deliver Spider-Man to him. When the hero warns Smithers that the seed has sprouted and gotten free, the Professor has the gall to say, “I used to be afraid of that.” Effectively, then perhaps you shouldn’t have left it within the 20th century in a shoebox in your attic, fool.
Fortunately, the Professor is aware of easy methods to cease the creature: radium! Unluckily, radium is difficult to return by, as he explains in his again story: Smithers introduced “all the boys he might discover” to construct a terrific metropolis in 3,000,000 BC. The vine creatures had been there, too, however he found they may very well be destroyed by massive gems of radium, which had been additionally used up within the course of. By the point the vines had been destroyed, solely two gems had been left, of which the prof says, “we put within the eyes of the big idol we constructed.” (We are going to completely come again to this in a minute.) Alas, the radium that killed the vines for some unknowable motive then began mutating them into sentient beings who ultimately took again over town and kicked Smithers out. Now they require the vitality from the 2 remaining gems within the idol to dwell.
When Spider-Man approaches town, he deduces the idol should be within the large temple (Batman’s title as World’s Biggest Detective stays totally unchallenged). Spidey is attacked by a number of plant individuals, one in all whom throws a trident via his internet, inflicting the hero to fall perhaps 50 toes to the bottom the place he lands instantly on his again. Suffice it say, there was no spider-sense alert, nor did it happen to Spidey to, you recognize, shoot one other internet. Spider-Man wakes up in an area the place he’s “pressured” to battle a monster he might simply swing away from, then he grabs the radium gems and runs, leaving town suffering from the useless our bodies of all of the plant individuals.
In the meantime, right here’s what the large vine monster’s been as much as:
So, yeah, it’s not going properly. However Spider-Man swings via the portal—I imply, actually, he swings via the portal together with his webbing passing impossibly via either side of the time machine’s body, the far facet of which opens right into a home attic that impossibly doesn’t break Peter’s momentum or arc by any means—and promptly shoves the gems down the monster’s throat. This, bizarrely, electrocutes the plant creature earlier than killing it. The episode ends with no point out of the tens of 1000’s of fatalities the vine factor will need to have brought about throughout its rampage. Nonetheless, the subsequent day at college, Jackie mentions that by some means the professor’s journal disappeared, and the time portal stopped working, not a lot wrapping up free ends as lazily letting them fall individually to the bottom.
None of this adequately describes how visually dangerous the Spider-Man cartoon works. Positive, loads can excused, as a result of the budgets for TV cartoons had been often fairly low again then, and most of them had been pressured to regularly reuse sequences to economize. However Spider-Man has perhaps three or 4 swinging animations, which is an actual downside when webslinging makes up most likely a full quarter of the episode’s runtime. It additionally doesn’t excuse how the backgrounds aren’t made to accommodate these animations within the slightest; Spider-Man by no means appears to truly be part of the world as a result of his webs are clearly hooked up to nothing. He by no means seems like he’s standing correctly on the bottom within the few occasions he’s not swinging round.
However not less than there are budgetary excuses for the animation being horrible—the plot has none. It’s mindless that the McGuffin, the radium, kills the plant creatures, then by some means mutates them, then turns into the one factor retaining them alive. It’s much more absurd that some random NYU professor constructed a time portal, determined to make a complete metropolis tens of millions of years up to now together with his buddies, grew to become besties with a couple of blue giants, acquired kicked out of his personal metropolis by plant individuals, after which simply hung round ready for…what? The off-chance that some hero will ultimately root round in his attic? Calling the story illogical seems like an understatement. It’s so lazy it’s virtually contemptuous, particularly when a lot of the run-time of “Vine” remains to be padded out past this nonsense.
The one advantage of this lazy storytelling is that it provides us a golden alternative to discover the house ourselves, notably in regard to what within the dwelling fuck Professor Smithers was really doing. What sort of man would return in time three million years to create a large metropolis? Who would volunteer to assist with such a undertaking? Why would that metropolis embrace a large temple housing an infinite, monstrous idol? As a result of Smithers very particularly says “we put [the radium gems] within the eyes of the good idol we constructed.” And the screenshot unequivocally exhibits individuals worshipping it earlier than the plant-beings assault:
And why, oh why, would the door to town have to be this massive? Who’s going to return via it?
Guys, there’s actually just one motive somebody who do that, and it’s as a result of he’s a worshipper of an H.P. Lovecraft-esque, Cthulhu-style Elder God and is making an attempt to summon this unfathomable monster past house and time to deliver the world to utter ruination earlier than the scourge of humanity ever exists. It’s the solely reply that makes a modicum of sense, and I say that with none exaggeration. Smithers and his fellow cult members didn’t return in time to create a large temple and pray earlier than a darkish idol for his or her well being. They’d a purpose, and that purpose was unspeakably evil.
In fact, if “Vine” had made any of this stuff express, it might need gone down as the best episode of the 1967 Spider-Man that ever existed. Alas, it didn’t. Be at liberty to get pleasure from it and the remainder of the cartoon for its old-school allure, its excessive campiness, or simply sarcastically. Simply know if you do, Professor Smithers’ energy grows and the dread god past inches ever nearer to our world.
- The second monster Spidey fights up to now seems extremely anxious, and it’s somewhat cute.
- On the way in which to town, Spidey encounters one other monster and runs into a large chasm he can not cross. Arduous reduce to: Spider-Man swinging merrily, the chasm far behind him, his resolution to this unsolvable downside unmentioned.
- The plant guys have a plant king, and I’ll fortunately confess to smiling when he praised his personal “vegetable superiority” and the way a lot he hated taking a look at Spider-Man’s “protein physique.”
- At one level, Spider-Man webs up a big monster and has to tie his webs in a knot round a hoop to safe them. If solely spider webs had been sticky, like the opposite finish of Spider-Man’s webs that are firmly hooked up to the monster.
- At one other level, one in all Spider-Man’s webs simply explodes when it hits a plant man.
- When Spider-Man steals the 2 radium gems, that are at minimal three inches thick and have a diameter of 1 foot, he sticks them each underneath his shirt the place they’re apparently positioned within the alternate dimension situated in his abdomen as they’re utterly unnoticeable.
- The episode ends with Jackie asking Peter to return to the prof’s home and assist her “discover the basement,” which isn’t a good sexual euphemism, however definitely may very well be worse.
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