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The Complete 1st Season

Spider-Man - Season 1 Review




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Rating
Video:   9/10
Audio:   10/10
Extras:   9/10

I love this show!
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
1/24/2004

Buy this DVD.

This MTV series picks up right after the events in the 2002 theatrical movie starring Tobey Maguire. Harry Osborn still blames Spider-Man for the death of his father, Norman Osborn, which makes it tough for Peter when the two become roomies. Mary Jane is still pining over Spidey, as well as her "woman-challenged" friend, Peter Parker. This set contains all 13 episodes of the series, presented in logical order. The production order and airing order don't make sense, but this DVD is set up so the episodes can be watched without the continuity problems that would have occurred during the broadcast run ("The Party" aired as episode 1, but those events were totally ignored in "Head Over Heels" which aired as episode 6).

Columbia TriStar has gone all-out with this DVD set, and I don't think I'd be wrong if I said this is their best TV release. They've loaded it full of special features, and spread the episodes over 2 discs instead of trying to cram them on 1.

Video

I'll keep this short and sweet; the video looks awesome. This is a 3D show rendered to look 2D, and Mainframe Entertainment pulls it off with flying colors. It lost a mark simply because of some issues that can't be avoided with 3D shows; a bit of aliasing and shimmer in a few places. Yes, I'm stingy with the full marks, and if out rating system was set up for .5s, I would give this a 9.5. They've even placed a chapter after the shows opening so you can skip over it, and there's a "play all" feature on both discs.

Audio

Wow, I've only given top marks in the audio department to 3 sets, and this is one of them. Not only does this have a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, it also has a DTS track. Yes, that's right...a cartoon has the two best sound formats on it. Explosions will rock your sub, and there are so many directional sound effects that I was grinning ear-to-ear. I was really impressed with the dialog that would pan as a character got closer to the center of the screen, ending coming solely from the center channel speaker. Everything was done right here. No subtitles for this release (which is odd for Columbia TriStar), but it is closed captioned.

Extras - How we rate extras

Commentary tracks
Let me say that Audu Paden is one of the best commentary people. He was great on Roughnecks and Heavy Gear, and he's great here. He keeps everyone on track and knows everything about the production that he has intelligent questions for everyone else involved. If there were an award for "Best Commentary Guy," I would nominate Audu Paden. Listen to these commentary tracks - they're very entertaining.
EP 1 - Audu Paden (executive producer), Tim Eldred (director), Grace Benn (production executive), Brian Bendis (co-executive producer).
EP 2 - Audu Paden, David Hartman (character designer), Vince Toyama (background/set designer), Morgan Gendel (executive producer/writer).
EP 3 - Morgan Gendel, Tracey Forbes (writer), Todd Felderstein (writer), Rick Suvalle (writer).
EP 4 - Audu Paden, David Hartman, Morgan Gendel, Stan Lee (Spider-man creator).
EP 5 - Audu Paden, Marsha Griffin (story editor/writer), Susan Blu (voice director), Neil Patrick Harris (Spider-man/Peter Parker).
EP 6 - Audu Paden, Tim Eldred, Neil Patrick Harris, Morgan Gendel.
EP 7 - Audu Paden, Morgan Gendel, Vincent Edwards (director), Alan Caldwell (director).
EP 8 - Audu Paden, Steven Wendland (CGI producer), Gio Corsi (associate producer), Robin Shea (supervising animator).
EP 9 - Audu Paden, Steven Wendland, Sebastian Brodin (CG director), Rav Grewal (supervising animator).
EP 10 - Audu Paden, Barbara Zelinski (CG producer), Johnny Darrell (director), Rex Ahn (supervising animator).
EP 11 - Audu Paden, Bruce King (editor), Will Anderson (composer).
EP 12 & 13 - Audu Paden, Morgan Gendel, Steve Kriozere (writer), Stan Lee.

Amazing Spider Facts
Cool facts that pop up on the screen. Sometimes the facts flash on for half a second, which can make it a little hard to read. To get the most bang for your buck, turn this on while listening to the commentary. The Spidey-facts are displayed using a subtitle track.

Production Artwork (182 screens)
These are various drawings used as reference material, or material created to be inserted into the show.

  • Main Characters (36)
  • Villains (89)
  • Guest Characters (43)
  • Miscellaneous (14)

    DVD-ROM Character modeler that uses Flash to display various character models along with slight changes to make them appear completely different. Because this uses Flash and not a proprietary player, it's suitable for anyone with a DVD player in their computer.

    Filmographies (8 screens)
    Just information on the various shows these people have worked on: Audu Paden (1), Rick Unger (3), Morgan Gendel (1), Neil Patrick Harris (1), Lisa Loeb (1), Ian Ziering (1).

    Trailers (15:43)
    Trailers for other Columbia TriStar releases:
  • Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2:05)
  • Cyborg 009 (1:14)
  • Memories (0:57)
  • Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis (1:41)
  • Spider-Man (1:20)
  • Spider-Man: the New Animated Series (2:00)
  • Stan Lee's Mutants, Monsters & Marvels (3:14)
  • Steam Boy (0:37)
  • Underworld (1:38)
  • Activision's Spider-Man 2 Game Teaser (0:57)

    Featurette - The Making of Spider-Man (23:21)
    This is a great featurette on the making of the series. Includes interviews with many crew members, and some cast. They cover everything from concept to delivery of the finished series.

    Featurette - Spider-Man Tech: Creating the models (12:34)
    The folks at Mainframe Entertainment talk about the modeling and rendering process for the show.

    Featurette - Spider-Man Tech: Animating Performance (13:40)
    A look at how much work goes into animating the 3D characters.

    Featurette - Spider-Man Music: The Composers (7:03)
    John Digweed and Nick Muir talk about the music they created for the series.

    Outtake Reel (1:34)
    A couple of goofy "outtakes" from the series.

    Building With Layers (0:29)
    A multi-angle feature which allows you to look at some footage and see the various layers used in the animation process.

    Initial Mainframe Pitch (1:09)
    The piece created during their bid on the project, Mainframe did an excellent job on this. This is fully 3D and doesn't have the special shader applied to it to make it look like 2D drawings.

    Abandoned "Spidey-Sense" Test (1:00)
    A different look for the series...it's not clear exactly what this was to be used for.

    Rough Animation (1:40)
    Rough animation, or animatics, used to test shots before they are fully rendered.

    Summary

    Not only is the release loaded, it's loaded with quality extras! The commentary tracks are superb, and the featurettes are in-depth looks at various aspects of the series.

    I thought I would like this show, but I didn't realize I would love it! The stories are great because they haven't been dumbed down for kids; this is adult stuff complete with characters dying and blood on screen! The animation style is very, very cool as well. I love how you can take any frame from this show and it will look like a drawing, but watching it in motion it's so fluid. There's a reason Mainframe Entertainment is a leader in 3D animated shows, and this is their masterpiece.

    Buy this DVD.


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