"Remember This?" is a recurring feature on HuffPost Entertainment, resurrecting pop-cultural artifacts that haven't enjoyed the spotlight for quite some time. Today, Mike Ryan writes about is first introduction to Spider-Man, on the PBS series, The Electric Company. If there's a topic you want us to cover, let us know in the comments.
My first experience with Spider-Man came from a show called The Electric Company.
I'll never forget the lyrics to the theme song: "Spider-Man. Where are you coming from, Spider-Man? Nobody knows who you are." These lyrics disturbed me greatly. I mean, The Electric Company sketches involving Spider-Man were -- for the most part -- forgettable to an adult's eyes, other than in a kitschy quality. But, for a child, they were downright upsetting.
For people my age, the children's show of record is Sesame Street. But no offense to Sesame Street, I was always an Electric Company type of child. Here's the thing that I never realized: The Electric Company ended in 1977. In other words: when I was really into The Electric Company (or TEC, as no one ever called it) I was watching ghosts. Today, this depresses me. Today, it depresses me that my first introduction to Spider-Man was just some joker in a suit who hadn't worn that costume in five years.
First of all, let's talk about The Electric Company. For those who don't know, it was basically SNL for kids -- a series of nonsensical comedy sketches aimed at the six-year-old mind. For a short time, Bill Cosby was once a part of The Electric Company. For a long time, Morgan Freeman was very much a part of The Electric Company. No one could sneeze quite like Freeman.
OK, back to Spider-Man. The Electric Company featured a series of short sketches revolving around our favorite webslinger, only he was nothing like any incarnation we had ever met before or since. First of all, those aforementioned lyrics hint at a man who has an identity that we would never know. Spider-Man, as far as The Electric Company was concerned, was the character. In this universe, Peter Parker doesn't exist. Even when Spider-Man attends a Mets game, he attends as Spider-Man. (And, to the classy Mets' fans credit, they left Spider-Man alone to enjoy his day.)
Or the day all Spider-Man wanted was a nice sandwich, but he was tricked by a villain who planted a rubber glove between two pieces of bread.
The first Spider-Man comic book I ever read was Marvel Tales #163, which was a reprint of an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man in which J. Jonah Jameson uses a robot to try and kill Spider-Man. (Why Peter would still want to work for Jameson after this, I have no idea.)
Regardless, this comic book astounded me. The Electric Company had taught me that, when it comes to Spider-Man, "Nobody knows who you are." Bullshit. Apparently everyone knows who you are, Peter Parker. OK, maybe not in the comics -- Peter keeps his identity fairly secret -- but, as far as we, the reader, are concerned, we all know. I felt hoodwinked. I quickly realized that the Spider-Man that I knew, the Spider-Man from The Electric Company, was an imposter.
OK, harsh words. But, seriously, the Spider-Man from The Electric Company used to really freak me out. He was not the accessible Peter Parker, he was just this really strange fellow who seemed to always be involved in solving very esoteric crimes that, for the most part, had to do with learning a lesson. Or was defeating criminals that had the ability to throw produce.
I'm not going to dwell on this for too long, but I always wondered why The Electric Company made it a point to not delve into Peter Parker's life. I mean, it's a children's show -- why not show us that? Even though Peter Parker is different, he's still a hero. No, for whatever reason, this version of Spider-Man was just weird. This version of Spider-Man went to baseball games in costume.
Then again, perhaps that was for the best. I mean, I was six years old. I didn't need to know that Peter couldn't pay his rent or had love problems. Perhaps at that age, it was better that my version of Spider-Man just wanted to attend a Mets game, in costume. Perhaps it was better that nobody knew who he was.
Regardless, for a brief time, that Spider-Man was mySpider-Man. As the new movie is released and the arguments persist over Sam Raimi's interpretation of Spider-Man compared to Marc Webb's version, it's hard for me not to think of The Electric Company's version. The version that convinced me that nobody knew who he was. Eh, you know what? At least for a six-year-old, perhaps that was all for the best.
Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. He has already listened to The Electric Company theme song eight times today. You can contact him directly on Twitter.