CORPORATE LINE: Bruce Banner in the Animated version. Dr. David Banner is a brilliant scientist but, one day, a lab experiment that he is working on goes terribly awry. Since that time, whenever he is under extreme stress, his body undergoes a transmogrification and he morphs into ‘The Incredible Hulk.’ The Hulk is about seven feet tall, hugely muscular and powerful, and has bright green skin. After destroying whatever threatens Dr. Banner, he morphs back to normal human form with only amnesia and tattered clothing as evidence of what just transpired. As you can well imagine, this situation is quite troubling for Dr. Banner and causes him no end of problems.
THE REVIEW: As a kid this was a cool show. There is nothing cooler than a giant muscle bound green guy who goes crazy and kicks some bad guy ass. Certainly Lou Ferrigno will never be forgotten for his role as the Hulk—even when you see him on King of Queens its impossible not to think about him wearing green makeup and cut-off pants. He was much more enjoyable as the Hulk than the giant CG freak that we got from Hollywood. The biggest problem with this version of the Hulk is how every episode was just like the last—Banner comes to town a stranger, saves the day and then goes to a new town. Start the cycle all over again.
EPISODES: Disc One: There are two pilots. The first tells us how David Banner became the Hulk. The second starts the long series of trends where the Hulk helps someone.
01 – The Final Round – Series premiere: In his continuing quest for a cure to the strange malady that turns him into a monstrous creature whenever he gets angry, scientist David Bruce Banner finds himself in trouble in Philadelphia. There Banner is rescued from a pair of muggers by a down-and-out prizefighter. Banner is concerned when he discovers that his new-found friend is mixed up in a shady dope operation that could spell his death. The Rocky-like contender has his heart set on a championship, but it takes the Hulk to show him that he is not a contender. (Original airdate: March 10, 1978)
02- The Beast Within – Banner gets a job at a zoo and finds a lovely young scientist proceeding with the genetic research he had started before being forced to become a homeless wanderer. Banner’s interest in her experiments arouses unexpected suspicion, which is explained when he learns he has stumbled into the middle of a smuggling operation. (Original airdate: March 17, 1978)
03- Of Guilt, Models and Murder – Banner suspects he might actually be a killer after he emerges from one of his blackouts as the Hulk at the scene of a murder. Haunted by the fear that the Hulk may have killed a beautiful young model, Banner returns to the scene of the crime and gets a job as a playboy’s valet — and winds up a prisoner in a car headed for a trash compactor. (Original airdate: March 24, 1978)
04- Terror in Times Square – Banner’s search for a cure takes him to New York City, where he is unable to avoid his transformation after he gets involved in a Times Square skimming operation. While working in a Times Square arcade, Banner is warmly accepted by the owner and his daughter. But the relationship is short-lived after he has to resort to the Hulk to save his friends from a murder plot. (Original airdate: March 31, 1978)
05- 747 – Bill Bixby reunites with Brandon Cruz, his co-star on The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, in this story of a jetliner in trouble. The young Cruz plays Kevin, the only passenger on the plane with any knowledge of flying. He and the Hulk must try to bring the jetliner to a safe landing after the plane’s crew is disabled. (Original airdate: April 7, 1978)
06- The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas – While working in a Las Vegas casino, Banner aids an investigative reporter working on a gambling scandal and is put in the position of also helping his own nemesis, McGee. When the journalist is injured in a murder attempt, he asks Banner to pass his information on to his reporter friend McGee. Banner manages to avoid facing McGee, but, as the Hulk, ends up saving the dogged reporter’s life. (Original airdate: April 21, 1978)
07- Never Give a Trucker an Even Break – A highway duel between a woman truckdriver and a pair of hijackers pits the Hulk against a huge tanker rig in an episode that includes footage shot for Steven Spielberg’s classic telefilm Duel and owned by the studio, MCA/Universal. After Banner does a favor for an attractive girl, he finds himself in the middle of a vendetta she is waging to get her father’s tanker truck back from highjackers. When the girl and he are trapped by the criminals, Banner’s wrath transforms him into the Hulk for a confrontation with the huge diesel. (Original airdate: April 28, 1978)
08- Life and Death – Banner offers himself for experimentation to a doctor working with DNA research in the hopes that he will be cured of his Hulk affliction. When Banner meets a defensive and very pregnant young woman while on his way to the hospital for his volunteer research, he little suspects he will eventually have to resort to the Hulk to save both their lives. (Original airdate: May 12, 1978)
09- Earthquakes Happen – Banner impersonates a scientist inspecting a nuclear research facility to get access to its gamma ray equipment, but his attempts to reverse his own radiation are interrupted by an earthquake. At the nuclear plant, the subject of controversy because it is built over an earthquake fault, his masquerade as a safety expert is discovered before he can complete his experiment — but as the Hulk, he is able to save his and some of the staff’s lives when the earthquake hits. (Original airdate: May 19, 1978)
10- The Waterfront Story – Working in a small bar on the Galveston, Texas, waterfront, Banner becomes involved in a battle for control of the local dockworkers’ union as two men vie for the presidency. The young widow of the union’s last president, whose death remains a mystery, befriends David — and when her life is endangered, the Hulk surfaces to resolve the past and present problems. (Original airdate: May 31, 1978)
Commentary on original TV pilot movie The Incredible Hulk by writer/director/producer Kenneth Johnson. Finally there is a bonus episode from Season Two. Very slim pickings.
FRANKLY: Honestly, it was tough watching the first season in its entirety. This was more entertaining as a kid when you were easily convinced of the cliché bad guys and the lame storylines. Even the makeup is hard to deal with in modern times with all the leaps forward in technology. It’s great for nostalgia and major fans of the Hulk—but fans of great television shows won’t find this on their lists among the greatest.
+ Charlie Craine