The Boob Tube #43: The Incredible Hulk
Once upon a time, The Incredible Hulk was my favorite TV show. I hated the David Banner scenes - they bored my ADD raddled mind to tears. If I'd had it my way, it would have been the Hulk for the full hour; beginning to end, wall to wall Hulk. The reality was that the show centered around Banner, and the Hulk was only in it for a few precious minutes (mid-episode and at the end). Yet, those two scenes were so damn awesome that it was still worth it. Perhaps, the boring Banner scenes added to the anticipation, and made Hulk's arrival all the sweeter.
What's really kind of sad is that, with my 2013 perspective, the Hulk actually seems kind of..... well, dumb looking. I mean, Ferrigno was ripped, but nothing like the comics or the modern day CGI Hulk. The giant Peter Gallagher eyebrows and goofy haircut don't help matters. Yet, when the show originally aired, it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen.
I think the original intent of the show was to demonstrate a real human drama with Bill Bixby and really play down the Hulk action. Indeed, to separate itself from the comic book, the producer, Kenneth Johnson, changed the name from Bruce Banner to David Banner (a symbolic gesture) and even wanted the Hulk to be red instead of green (but Stan Lee put his foot down).
But as the seasons wore on, things became a bit silly. Season 3 is arguably the best - the perfect equilibrium of seriousness and campy fun.
Despite it's transgressions, The Incredible Hulk holds up over time, and at the end of the day I'd have to say it's a damn fine show. I'd put it above both 21st century Hulk films. For all their CGI effects and bloated budgets, they were empty vessels. They didn't have the heart that this show had. So, while the effects of the TV series were perhaps lacking, and the storyline prone to silliness, it still drew the viewers in and made you care about the faces on the screen; something that the kabillion dollar blockbusters couldn't do.
(Note: I thought Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers did a fine job; but this wasn't a Hulk movie per se, so it would be wrong to draw comparisons.)
Here's a few more Hulk screen caps...
Remember the Michael Douglas movie, Coma? I remember seeing the movie preview which showed dozens of bald naked people hanging from the ceiling by string. The imagery gave me nightmares. I was an impressionable lad.
The Hulk and Loni Anderson - my dream combo.
Unlike many of its contemporaries, The Incredible Hulk didn't bombard you with cameos and guest stars. The Love Boat and Fantasy Island were the biggest perpetrators, but even shows like C.H.i.P.s and Wonder Woman were wall-to-wall with washed-up actors. You'd never catch Donny Most on The Incredible Hulk.
Although, you could catch Mackenzie Phillips playing a Gene Simmons type rock star (which is exactly what Donny Most played on the Halloween episode of C.H.i.P.s). Mariette Hartley turns up in an episode, as do Gordon Jump, Pat Morita, and Rick Springfield.... but that's neither here nor there.
One of the best things about the show was the variety it threw at you. Sure, it followed the same formula week after week of two, always exactly two, Hulk transformations. Yet, the plots were widely different thanks to Banner's nomadic existence. One episode is about boxing, another a haunted house, then a rodeo, a traveling circus, a hunter who hunts humans, truck driving, Vegas, voodoo, etc. The show never got stale until the 4th season when it started running out of ideas - by season 5 it was done.
This episode is one of my favorites, not just for the disco action, but it also contains a hilarious bit of gratuitous cheesecake. Our green hero inadvertently rips off the dress of a disco dolly....
The camera closes in on Hulk quizzically staring at the torn dress in his hand, and then pans over to the screaming defrocked damsel. They just don't make'm like this anymore.
|She's a-lookin' and she's a-likin'.|
|Buy every damn season|