Apr 3, 2011

Upcoming Spy DVDs: Spyder's Web

Yay! Network will release Spyder's Web on May 2. That's one of the ITC spy series I've been hoping they'd put out. (Virgin of the Secret Service is another I'd love to see.) I've never seen it, but I'm intrigued by what I've read about it.  The exact premise, however, is a little tough to pinpoint—even from Network's official description:
There are over 40,000 different species of spider. All are cannibals, and almost all kill through cunning.

There’s only one Spyder, though. Using a documentary unit as an ingenious cover, the specialist organisation is directly responsible to the government – taking on jobs that are too hot or too delicate for the police, or that someone in authority is putting the block on. Operating within the ideal anonymity of the film world, with its headquarters an office in a crumbling shared building in Soho, the ‘Arachnid Film Unit’ has representatives in many places; it spins a web to trap the guilty, with a network of highly skilled agents all licensed to kill.

An offbeat, stylish and humorous ITC thriller originally screened in 1972, Spyder’s Web stars Patricia Cutts as the dynamic Lottie Dean, Anthony Ainley as her trigger-happy fellow agent, Clive Hawskworth, and Hammer horror star Veronica Carlson as Tolstoy-reading secretary Wallis Ackroyd. The series was based on an idea by Man in a Suitcase co-creator Richard Harris, and writers include Robert Holmes (Public Eye), Alfred Shaughnessy (Upstairs, Downstairs) and sitcom veteran Roy Clarke (Last of the Summer Wine).
In his essential ITV Encyclopedia of Adventure , Dave Rogers asserts that the lack of clarity in the show's premise is intentional and part of its charm. His intriguing description of the series makes it sound downright Avengers-y in its weirdness. Some of the strangeness that the mysterious government organization Web encounters includes a nursing home that can arrange almost anything, a romance tour company whose clients fall in love and then disappear, a mynah bird who relays orders to field agents (in an episode that also involves life-size puppets), a mad vicar waging a war in the middle of Britain and a gadget that instantly ages humans to the point of skeletonizing them.

Network's 4-disc Region: 2 PAL set includes all 13 episodes. Retail is £40.84 but it will be available from Network's website for £35.74. I'm really looking forward to this one!


dfordoom said...

It sounds great. I just wish Network's DVDs weren't so expensive. That one's right out of my price league at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Wait until they have a sale.

I remember SPYDERS WEB from it's first screening (I'm THAT old!) and - apart from maybe 2 episodes - it's rather a boring load of tosh. I think they were trying to emulate some of the style of THE AVENGERS.

There was only one series made - I think there's probably a good reason for that too!

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, SPYDERS WEB was NOT an ITC series - it was made on video by ATV. Why Network are calling it an ITC series, I don't know.

Maybe they distributed overseas version of it. But it *isn't* an ITC series.

Tanner said...

Well, that explains why it's not in Rogers & Gillis or Sellars' ITC book! I see that Network has now updated their copy. It no longer says ITC (so it was probably just an error and not an international distribution deal or anything), and it now adds that "Though made in colour only two remain in this format, with the remainder existing only as black and white film recordings." That's too bad, but I'd still take black and white over nothing and I'm still looking forward to this! Thanks for managing my expectations, though.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm actually looking forward to it because its always possible my tastes have changed:-)

You have to give Network credit for releasing stuff like this - its never going to be a big moneyspinner for them.

Incidentally, SYPDERS WEB has a *great* theme tune - written by Derek Scott, as I recall.

Anonymous said...

The earlier poster was right - SW really doesn't hold up after all these years.

Anthony Ainley is superb as the John Steed-type character, there one or two amusing Avengers-style plots and a few funny lines, but on the whole it's pretty incompetent and childish, and there's no action whatsoever even when the stories cry out for it. (In fact Ainley's character spends so much time moaning that he's got nothing to do that you start to wonder if it's an in-joke.)

Clearly an attempt to revisit Avengers territory, but badly mishandled.