Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003)
Neil Patrick Harris/Spider-Man
Lisa Loeb/Mary Jane
Ian Ziering/Harry Osborn
Following what went down in Sam Raimi’s "Spider-Man", Peter Parker (Harris) aka Spider-Man is going to college, trying get his photography career going while having to face a slew of old school and new villains in the name of justice, ass-whooping and the American way. Oh and yeah…he’s still harping on Mary Jane (Loeb). LET IT GO, PETE! DIAL 1-800-WHIPPED CREAM HOOKERS instead! It worked for me, bro!
"I bet the X-Men get to go to parties."-- Peter Parker
ARROW SINGS: ”Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Does whatever a spider can!” I have adored Spider-Man through most of his incarnations since I was a wee trouble-maker. My favorites thus far have been the original Spider-Man TV cartoon (1967-1970), the 1970’s TV movies (go Nicholas Hammond go!), Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends (1981-1983), the 90’s cartoons (Venom!!!!) and Raimi’s flick. With that in mind, it was with mucho curiosity that I tackled the recent MTV (i.e. the Anti-Christ) Spider-Man TV toons.
Three DVDs were tossed my way: High Voltage Villains, The Mutant Menace and The Ultimate Face Off. All three DVDs sported 3 episodes each (one hour run-time in all) with ZERO extras in tow.
The shows themselves took me aback since they were all communicated via CGI animation. I must admit that the approach tingled my Spidey Sense to high bliss, especially during the uber-snazzy action scenes and the “Spidey webs about town” segments. Those bits were beyond rich in details, kinetically directed and full-on energetic! Spidey never moved so gracefully! WOW! Substance-wise, I was entertained with the shows to various degrees. Some were excellent, others were decent and none of them were bad-- which is always a good thing! The slew of classic villains (loved The Lizard) and new baddies created especially for the series (The Gaines twins owned!) were definitely the main attractions throughout and I relished in their creative ways of making Spidey Boy’s life a living hell. It should also be said that since I was expecting a kiddie vehicle, I was kneed in the groin by the mature tone of the series. The sadness that comes with Peter’s “gift” was explored, the overall character drama was potent, the criminals were more scary than childish and people actually died brutally (yet off-screen)! Who knew MTV had it in them?
On the expired side of the webbing, running at 20 minutes each, I was left craving more out of each individual episode. And being that every installment played off as “Spidey fights the villain of the week”, a sense of firm continuity between every entry was somewhat lacking. Some redundancy also kicked in at times regarding the Mary Jane/Peter thing and Harry’s loathing of Web-Head. They needed to step back from both those themes, in my opinion! Visually, it was obvious to me that the artists put the bulk of their efforts on the web slinging/action scenarios, therefore making the “regular” interaction moments pale in comparison when it came to definition. And lastly, the voice acting by Neil Patrick Harris aka “Doogie Howser MD” as our beloved hero was somewhat distracting. I kept picturing the pre-pubescent Doc performing a rectal exam every time Spidey would blab. This was one of those cases where casting an unknown with no baggage would’ve been a better move or I had my own shit going on.
All in all though, I did the cha-cha and the meringue with this series and apart from the slick techno ditties (good shite!), the trendy wear the kids wore (Peter Parker never looked so freaking sharp), the cell phones, the “moccachinos” and the odd absence of Aunt May, it acted and felt like classy Spidey stuff to me! ARROW SINGS: "Is he strong? Listen, Bud! He's got radioactive blood!"
We don’t get any gore, but the show was brutal in places, while at the same time, not graphic in its violence.
This is not to say that Neil Patrick Harris (Peter/Spider-Man) is a bad voice-actor, but the fact that I associated his squeak to that pre-teen Doctor, kind of took me out of the show at times. He did a stellar job though! Lisa Loeb (Mary Jane) and Ian Ziering (Harry Osborn) did what they had to do well and were never bothersome due to any association to their past work (9021-what again?)
T & A
We get Mary Jane looking like a doodle I’d diddle. The ladies get Spider-Man’s butt cheeks clenching as he spins a web any time and catches thieves just like flies.
Directing...hmmmm...well, it’s a cartoon filled with stylish angles, quick cuts, slow motion/bullet time and more nutty angles. IT ROCKED! The Spidey traveling the city sequences and the action jamborees were the most accomplished on a visual and inventive standpoint. They went "all out" and I lapped it up! FUN STUFF!
The techno tracks (by badass DJs John Digweed and Nick Muir) tossed into the show made this trance/techno fan a happy fried raver. The opening credits song, in particular, kicked major glow stick!
It’s no kitsch Spider-Man 1967-70 (my fav…love it to death!), but it got the job done…very well! You think MTV + Spider Man, you think possible "cop out" in the name of target audience hell. You think tie-ins with that talent-challenged stripper Britney Spears. Man, was I bamboozled to see that apart from the techno tunes and the contemporary gear, they stayed true to the spirit and feel of classic Spider-Man. Sure, the episodes were too short, the “drama” at times redundant and Doogie’s voice semi-distracting, but on the whole, I had a discharge with this show. All web slinger fans should, at least, give this series a gander! It’s a slick way of getting revved up for "Spider-Man 2" or introducing the webcrawler to the younger generation. ARROW SINGS: '"Here comes the Spider-Man!"
This show had its slew of celebrities cameos including Ethan Embry (Electro), Michael Clarke Duncan (Kingpin), Eve (Talon), Edward Asner (Officer Barr) and Rob Zombie (The Lizard).
Brian Michael Bendis, writer of the Marvel Comic books “ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN,” “DAREDEVIL,” and “ALIAS”, was the main force behind this show, having written the pilot episode and co-executive produced the series. His presence might explain this series' class.
This show has only completed one season so far with 13 episodes under its belt.