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Written by Double Dragon
Wednesday, 04 August 2010 10:19

THE INCREDIBLE HULK TV show

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Writing copyright D. S. Brown, images copyright Marvel, Universal.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK TV series aired March 10, 1978, ten years after THE FUGITIVE had left the air. HULK repeated THE FUGITIVE formula verbatim. David Banner (portrayed by Bill Bixby) who turns into the Hulk (portrayed by Lou Ferrigno) at convenient moments is blamed for a murder he isn't guilty of, just like The Fugitive. Banner was even a doctor in his former life, just like The Fugitive. Instead of Police Lt Gerard relentlessly pursuing him, Banner is chased by a reporter, McGee.

Banner has many of the same personality traits that Richard Kimble had. Banner is a less physical hero than The Fugitive, which is necessary to the Hulk transformation. Banner has to get beat up regularly, and lose for the Hulk rampages to be effective. Banner doesn't seek a one armed man, but rather is on a quest for a cure which takes many forms.

Bill Bixby was very adept at holding the audience and making what could have been an unbelievable show into a solid drama. He was required to play tragedy on more than one occasion and is riveting in his abilty to convey emotions. Despite having this range of ablity, he usually played the role very low key and quiet.

Lou Ferrigno did a good job when placed into the acting role that David Janssen mastered in The Fugitive. Just as the Fugitive had to convince people of his innocence, The Hulk is placed in a position of trying to overcome people's fear of him while grimacing through very heavy makeup.

Lou Ferrigno's style of acting incorporated bodybuilding poses and some stylized motions which if taken just a bit further would have looked formulaic but he managed to tread that line without crossing it.

The fourth season 1981 two part episode THE FIRST pays homage to old Universal horror films. The 'first' Hulk creature as acted by Dick Durock shows just how bad the series could have been without Lou Ferrigno's participation. Durock is a big guy but lanky and resembles the werewolf from the old Universal films. He was very successful as another comic book character Swamp Thing as well as playing bad guys, but as 'Frye's Creature' on the Hulk he seems almost a caricature.

Contrasting him to Ferrigno on screen you see just how good Lou really was in his role as the Hulk. Ferrigno's physique is well matched to the comic book series as well as providing an imposing presence on screen. Durock waves his arms back and forth and growls for emphasis without ever creating a sense of anger or danger. Ferrigno's compressed measured style retains a link with human emotion and never degenerates into 'monster movie mannerisms'.

The ablity both main actors displayed was important to the show's success. No matter how good the writing, if they hadn't been able to maintain a sense of reality in what is a fantasy concept the show would have vanished off the airwaves quickly. The grounded sense of reality allowed adults to enjoy the show along with the teens and kids watching for the superhero aspect of the show.

the-incredible-hulk-tv-tie-in-fotonvel-cover

The 'Fotonovel' books from the late 1970s initially printed each scene from a show or movie in full color on heavy glossy paper. As paper costs rose, the last few 'Fotonovels' released resorted to black and white images on lighter paper. The books phased out once most homes had access to videotape thus rendering the book format superfluous. The series was released on DVD with some nice packaging.

/incredible huilk season 1 dvd

The packaging for the DVDs was quite fancy. When turned into the light, superimposed images would allow you to see the progression of the Hulk transformation from Bill Bixby to Lou Ferrigno.

incredible huilk season 1 dvd back

David Banner's first personal car is seen in a flashback scene where he crashes with his first wife in the 1977 pilot episode. It's a nice looking white 1973 Pontiac Grand Am four door hardtop that experiences a flat and flips over catching fire. It seems that Universal studios had a Toyota sponsorship because Banner's personal car used in 'present day' shots for the 1977 premier episode is a light blue 1971 Toyota Celica which he destroys when he turns into the Hulk for the first time while changing a flat tire.

Several Toyotas get destroyed in various early episodes until Universal seems to have switched to a Chevrolet sponsorship and started destroying Camaros instead. In the 1978 episode RICKY David Banner steals the personal car of two nasty characters and drives it straight into a demolition derby to try and intervene on behalf of a mentally retarded man he was befriended. The car David stole? You guessed it: a pristine late 1970s Camaro.

 In the 1980 fourth season episode THE DARK SIDE, in a takeoff of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Banner becomes a primordeal being who revels in turning into the Hulk. Instead of pleading with people, "Don't do that! Don't make me angry!" He deliberately antagonizes people and sneers at his attackers knowing he will be transformed into the Hulk which is what he desires. In that episode in his Banner 'Hyde mode' he steals a blue late 1970s or early 1980s Camaro Z28 and races off at top speed, crashing into a lake. The Hulk tears the door off to rescue a trapped teen inside.

A yellow late 1970s Z28 is crushed in the fourth season 1980 episode DEEP SHOCK when an object is dropped on its hood. In the fourth season 1981 episode THE HARDER THEY FALL David Banner is temporarily paralyzed when a hit and run Camaro runs him over after suffering a blown tire and careening out of control. In a season four 1981 episode FAST LANE Banner is road tripping with a waitress in a drive-away vehicle unaware that it has mob money hidden in the trunk. They are pursued by a late 1970s Camaro Z28 which the Hulk manhandles at a rest stop.

The show followed THE FUGITIVE formula with the Banner character rarely driving a car once he becomes a fugitive. There are shots of him hitch hiking that were often recycled. One ending sequence showed a pale yellow 1965 Impala convertible passing him by on a mountain road. It first appeared at the end of THE ANTOWUK HORROR in 1978 and then became almost as used as the shot of Richard Kimble at the end of THE FUGITIVE where Kimble wears a dress shirt and tie hauling a very large suitcase with his suit jacket draped over his arm. Kimble may have left the previous scene wearing jeans and a windbreaker with no luggage but he always ended the episode in that suit with a giant suitcase hitch hiking at night. Similarly no matter how David Banner finished up an episode he was always hitching a ride with that yellow Impala.

Another re-used HULK hitch hiking sequence showed a Carousel Red GTO convertible heading past Banner. The GTO shot appeared for the first time at the start of the 1978 episode NEVER GIVE A TRUCKER AN EVEN BREAK and was used as an end title sequence many times. Speaking of stock footage, most of this episode was created by using stock footage from the Spielberg film DUEL where a rusty old truck menaces a red Plymouth Valiant. Bill Bixby replaced Dennis Weaver behind the wheel of the Valiant. The Valiants used for the movie were a 1970 with a 318, a 1971 with 225 and a 1972 with a 225.

BRAIN CHILD in the third season involves Banner destroying his beat up Chevy wagon in a police chase that ends in a field.

You would think that Banner would stop accepting rides from emotionally distraught women. He is involved in a major car wreck when a crazed woman picks him up in the desert and goes out of control in the season two episode MYSTERY MAN Part 1. In the 1979 third season opening episode METAMORPHOSIS Banner is once again picked up by a distraught woman one rainy night (McKenzie Philips) who immediately totals the Cadillac they are riding in.

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 04 July 2013 22:56 )