Review by Jon T, Media By Stu
Episode #21 - Origin Of The Spider-Friends
Written By: Donald F Glut
Music Composed By: John Douglas
Guest Starring: Christopher Collins as The Beetle, William Woodson as J. Jonah Jameson and William Marshall as Tony Stark.
Stan Lee's exuberant narration (can speak any other way?) claims that this episode was written in response to many fans' requests for explanations about many aspects of the series. Most notably, how and why the team got together, and just how they were able to afford their crime computer equipment. I have no reason to doubt Stan Lee's claim, so it's a testament to the series' popularity that people actually wanted logical answers to those questions, instead of simply dismissing the series as watered-down network fodder. Contemporary series like these rarely got origin episodes; viewers were instead expected to simply go with the flow and blindly accept any changes.
And so once again, immense credit has to go to Donald F. Glut for providing a very engaging origin story that actually manages to give entirely plausible explanations for everything in the series...even Ms. Lion! In almost every way, this episode is successfully able to justify the entire set-up of the entire series, which I would argue even non-fans of the show should accept.
Aside from seeing the Spider-Friends get together, the plot is a standard one, but enjoyable. I really like the take on the Beetle here, especially his fittingly ‘insect-like’ voice. Also very welcome is Tony Stark's prominent appearance in the episode. As soon as I first saw him, I expected Iron Man to eventually turn up, but although he does appear (in his classic 60s/70s/80s armor) it's sadly only a very brief cameo appearance. All in all however, this episode is a good one that not only makes sense of the entire set-up of the series, but also provides great entertainment with the clever use of Tony Stark, and the villainous-ness of the Beetle.
Having said that, there's always been one huge plot hole that always bothered me. Namely, how come Tony Stark didn't realize who the Spider-Friends were, after one of his own trucks delivered the crime computer to the Parker residence? Come to think of it, what did all the neighbors think?! Regardless, this is naturally one of the series must-see episodes, if only for the fact that we finally get to learn why Peter and Bobby tolerate Ms. Lion's existence!