Photos courtesy Universal Studios Home Entertainment
With the "The Incredible Hulk" smashing into theaters Friday, June 13, we take a four-part look back at the beloved live-action TV show starring Bill Bixby as David Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. Check out Part 1!
By Jim Beard
The first two seasons of the "Incredible Hulk" TV series proved successful enough to allow the show to continue in its adventures and in the next two seasons the producers delivered more of what their viewers craved: the Hulk! The main characters benefited from the scripts' further exploration and the Hulk's horizons expanded.
as David Banner
By the fourth season of the show, the cast and crew operated as a well-oiled machine and despite studio insistence that the show's budget be trimmed, the Hulk & Co. managed to deliver many a fine episode.
The Telling of Tales
as the Hulk
The show's themes continued to be a microcosm of the world around it, with many an episode that illuminated societal ills of the time. The usual conventions of television fiction presented themselves, of course, including rock concerts, prisons, rodeos, wrestling, motorcycles, and even a few forays into the strange world of psychic phenomena.
As a theme, crime and crooks ran giddily throughout the show, whether it be in the city or countryside. Anyone
could be involved in shady dealings, and if they existed David Banner somehow managed to stumble into their midst. One prevalent theme in these two seasons consisted of the corruption of elected officials; one might guess that the events of Watergate less than ten years before still carried a lot weight in the public psyche.
Behold the Man
The third and fourth seasons of "Incredible Hulk" focused on David Banner like never before. He of course found himself (and the Hulk) implicated for murder on more than one occasion, and as one might assume, this often stood in the way of his finding a cure. In one episode he even encountered that old bugaboo of popular fiction: an evil twin
. This allowed reporter Jack McGee to finally come face-to-face with Banner – or the man he thought
David also became blinded and paralyzed from the waist down - but not all in the same episode - and in a rare peek into his personal history, visited his family farm where he reunited with his sister and the father he had grown apart from. In a third season show David's arrested for vagrancy, while only a few episodes later he actually won the lottery! Too bad that our erstwhile scientist's records listed him as "deceased", which prevented him from claiming his winnings.
The Nature of the Beast
Hulk's really just
a big softie
The Hulk, David Banner's gamma-spawned alter ego, came into his own as a character in the third and fourth seasons. Attempting to sketch out more depth of feeling for the monster, the show at one point illuminated the Hulk's feelings toward Banner and in an effort to connect with the audience, painted his Hulk-ish frustration with a snarling traffic jam!
Perhaps one of the most fascinating explorations of Banner's Hulk came in an episode wherein the transformation grinds to a halt midway, which spawned a unique hybrid of the man and the monster. The being came across as so strange, so alien that the military mistook it for an alien! Also memorable is the time David's experiment in quelling his anger led to a Hulk that possessed none of Banner's compunction against killing, which led to a true rampaging, murderous Hulk.
Jack McGee, reporter for the National Register
, received some of his best bits in the third season of the show. Not only did we see a grudging respect that began to grow in McGee for the man-monster he sought, but also saw his very journalistic career threatened by another reporter—who, adding salt to the wound, learned about Banner before McGee!
Near-McGees with the Hulk and the Hulk's progenitor abounded, but it's the third season wherein McGee finally glimpsed the possibility that Dr. David Banner may have lived past the show's pilot, making the scientist the true target of his hunt.
And All That Jazz
Banner and lady
friend on the run
Rounding out our brief trip through Season Three and Four we should mention David's many new jobs (roadie, magician's assistant, taxi driver, department store worker, stage-hand, gardener), and his sadly short flings with amore
. Only a rock star and a psychic amounted to much in the romance department these times around – c'est la vie, Dr. Banner!
To Be Continued Friday, June 6…
Join us again in seven short days for a look at the final season of "Incredible Hulk" and an examination of the Hulk's funky-fun TV movies!
Need to catch up on your Hulk reading? Looking for the perfect stories starring the Jade Giant? Check out our list of the 10 Collections marked as required reading by any Hulk fan!
Read classic Hulk stories in Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited! Take pictures with a life-size Hulk statue at select theaters nationwide! Visit the official "The Incredible Hulk" movie site! Remember, "The Incredible Hulk" comes to a theater near you on June 13!