So, back in the beginning of April, Ultimate Spider-Man (the TV series, not the comic) premiered and shortly thereafter I posted my initial impressions of it. In short, I was unimpressed but hopeful. Now that we are 8 episodes in, I'm just barely hanging onto the show.
Before Ultimate Spider-Man premiered, Greg Weisman addressed a fan asking about the details of Spectacular Spider-Man's cancellation. His response can be found here: http://s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/search.php?qid=14223
He finishes his answer with an optimism-instilling note. When I read it today, I just felt a little depressed. Weisman's own words were, "There's no reason to think (Ultimate Spider-Man) won't be as good or better than (Spectacular Spider-Man)."
How I wish that was true. Ultimate Spider-Man is decidedly a step down from Spectacular in just about every way; the voice work, the animation (higher detail but much less fluidity and infrequent framerates), the humour and especially the story-telling.
Of the 8 episodes so far, only two of them (in my opinion of course) have been worth a second viewing and even then aren't exactly great television. Contrasting that with Spectacular; in the 2008 cartoon, the first 8 episodes gave us two and a half story arcs, setups for almost the entire cast of characters, pivotal plot points such as Peter being fired from his lab job, major characterization such as Peter deciding he needs to be Spider-Man while in psychological turmoil, etc. And it managed all that without feeling rushed or poorly paced. Even the 90's series (a show which I dislike) did a much better job than Ultimate of keeping things interesting for its first set of episodes; though it did feel poorly paced.
Ultimate's first season is set to have 26 episodes which is double the length of Spectacular's seasons. So it may be fair to say that Ultimate still has a lot of time to do better, but even proportionately speaking (so, by episode 4), Spectacular still had a lot more going on by this point. To date, Ultimate seems to be making as little an effort as possible to create an actual continuity. There doesn't seem to be any bigger story to anything that's happening, it's just a bunch of events that happen in totally isolated manners. Sure, we have the Venom symbiote returning and Norman Osborn and Dr. Octopus are shown to be behind a few of the schemes Spidey's had to deal with. That's it though, and neither of these elements have had any real impact so far. The show is far more episodic than it seems to want its viewers to realize, and the total lack of character development for any of the heroes that this highlights is becoming more and more of a glaring flaw.
I really wanted to like this show. I mean, I really, really did. But I don't. I'll probably give just the next episode a watch, but it's going to have to do some great stuff to keep me watching anymore.