In 1977, the first live-action Spider-man appeared (not including the Electric Company version). The Amazing Spider-Man was a tv series that actually ran for two years and nabbed a total of 13 episodes in its very short run (note that some of them were 2-hour movie / episodes). It starred Nicholas Hammond, who did a great job at the time despite his heinous 1970’s hair style.
I saw a lot of these episodes in the 80’s but I haven’t seen them at all in the last couple decades. The show stayed very true to spirit of the comic book with some noteable differences:
• Spider Sense. This worked more like a “second sight” which allowed Peter Parker to see actual dangers in negative/black and white. For example, if someone was on the other side of the door ready to break in, Peter saw the person from a third-person point of view. This turned out to be a very effective mechanic for letting the tv audience experience the Spider Sense.
• Web shooters. Peter actually had external (albeit bulky) web-shooters, which are clearly visible when wearing his costume. His belt was also external, giving his costume more of a uniform look. It worked well, and added a greater sense of realism to the character – very much like the Scarlet Spider’s look many years later. This gave the costume a more surreal feel to it, and let the audience relate to the hero more -- I liked this a lot.
• Mundane Villains. There were no super-villains in this tv series, only criminals and criminal organizations that's reminiscent of the Nolan/Bale Batman series. This more "realistic" approach worked well in my opinion without getting campy like the Adam West Batman series.
Does the Amazing Spider-Man tv series stand up to the test of time? Yes it does... as well as any 70’s action show can. There are definitely some cheesier aspects, but it's still a gem to watch. For a 70’s tv serial, they did an extremely good job with the effects and action sequences. They even tried the “Clone of Spiderman” storyline once, which turned out far better than the heinous 1990s comic book storyline.
As great as I thought the show was, it was ultimately done in by fanboys who didn't like it, and Stan Lee who was openly critical of it. It just wasn't "comic-book-y" enough to satisfy the fanboys, which is a real shame since it was an extremely enjoyable series.
Unfortunately the Amazing Spider-man never made it to DVD, but you can find some older VHS copies laying around. Hey Wizkids, how about a HeroClix version of this costume...?
In the meantime, check out this little YouTube compilation video I found: