Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
Recommend this product?
Pity poor Doctor Richard Kimble (played by David Janssen), forever on the run from the law (personified by Lt. Philip Gerard, played by Barry Morse) after being sentenced to death row for a murder he didnt commit, forced to adopt a nondescript alias and toil at low-paying menial jobs until circumstances place him in positions where he would be forced to risk capture in order to help a deserving person he had met in his travels - and whenever he gets hurt or angry, he turns into a gigantic raging green behemoth that beats the crap out of everybody . . .
*stagehand leans in*
What? He doesn't?
You're kidding? I'm sorry - lets start again.
Pity poor Doctor David Banner (played by Bill Bixby), forever on the run from a nosey newspaper tabloid (personified by reporter Jack McGee, played by Jack Colvin) after being accused for a murder he didnt commit, forced to adopt a nondescript alias and toil at low-paying menial jobs until circumstances place him in positions where he would be forced to risk discovery in order to help a deserving person he had met in his travels - and whenever he gets hurt or angry, he turns into a gigantic raging green behemoth that beats the crap out of everybody around him.
There - that's better.
Okay, yes - the Incredible Hulk is amazingly derivative of the Fugitive - well, save for that whole 'turn into a giant green monster and beat the everluvin crap out of everyone' thing, and that instead of a forever chasing an elusive one-armed man, our Fugitive is forever chasing after an elusive cure for his 'beat the crap out of things' condition. But aside form that, it's pretty part and parcel the Quinn/Martin show with the serial numbers filed off.
You know what? Don't care. The show kicks mucho grande ass anyway.
Being a comic book fan from my youth (No? Really?), I was of course familiar with Stan Lee's Jade Giant - and despite the significant changes to the premise, I always thought that the show managed to capture the essence of what makes the Hulk who he is: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a hint of Frankenstein and a healthy dose of angst. Writer/director/producer Kenneth Johnson (the mastermind behind V, The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman) manages to find a balance between emotion, and character development with the need for big "Hulk Smash!" action sequences.
Emotional? Hell yeah - for example, the "Lonely Man" piano score as David walks out of town at the end of every episode is downright iconic to the point of parody now. A great deal of that emotion comes from Bill Bixby's remarkably convincing and subtle performance. Oh sure, everyone remembers Lou Ferrigno ripping his pants and whuppin the hell out of everyone in arms reach - but it's Bill that really carries the day here.
Oh sure the action sequences look a bit goofy now (just wait until season 2 when the Hulk wrestles a man in the most unconvincing bear suit ever seen in the history of film), and the show is pure formula - David arrives in a new town, takes a menial job (possibly related to finding a cure), and befriends a damsel in distress. The Hulk always makes two appearances in each episode, once about twenty minutes in and once again for the big wall smashing finale - but its fun!
When they do get away from the formula - such as The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas - the show really shines. Instead of showing up to chase Banner away, McGee is cleverly worked into the plot. He and Banner must work together to bring down a crooked Mob Boss, and David has to do it without letting McGee in on his identity or his secret. It's really some top notch stuff.
It's a damn shame that CBS didnt open up their pocket books a bit more for the show. In the aforementioned The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas, the Hulk rampages in front of a really obvious blue screen of downtown Vegas (although they did spring for a trip to New York for the episode Terror in Times Square which is worth watching just for the priceless footage of the Hulk running amuck through Times Square as bemused New Yorkers look on). Or that the series had to rely on stock footage from Universal's bigger hits like Earthquake, Airport! and Duel. The Episode Never Give a Trucker an Even Break apparently hacked off Spielberg so badly that he now insists that all his future contracts list a clause designed to protect his movies from being used as stock footage.
Still, sometimes this cheapness paid off. The episode where David is forced to fly a plane after its pilots are drugged in a botched attempt to steal the King Tut exhibit - using extensive Airport! footage of course - is pretty gripping as David struggles not to Hulk-out while in the process of landing the plane.
THE DVD -
Like most television shows from the seventies on DVD, you are not going to get blown away by the video quality here. The episodes look and sound just as good as they do in broadcast form. They get the job done, but it's nothing to write home about.
THE EXTRAS -
The four-disc, 12 episode set features only two extras, and both of them recycled.
The first - the best one - is a commentary recycled from the previous Hulk movie collection by Kenneth Johnson. I've always loved Kenny's commentaries - here and on the V mini series set, because he's prepared and thought out what he's going to say ahead of time. Because of that, the man is a fountain of insight and knowledge, and is very interesting to listen to.
The other one is a "bonus episode" from season two called Stop the Presses. Including these episodes from future seasons is a real waste of space for me and an annoyance, since I'm probably going to get ALL of the sets. This episode is especially annoying for me, since Stop the Presses was ALSO included in the best of boxed set from a couple years ago - meaning I have this episode THREE times now.
Gee, thanks universal.
The upside is that Universal doesn't appear to be as stingy in forthcoming sets. Season two has an interview with Kenny, seasons three and four have on-camera interviews with Kenny and producers Bob Steinhauer, Karen Harris and Jill Sherman Donner, and Kenny has recorded a commentary for Prometheus - one of the best episodes of the series.
THE BOTTOM LINE -
When you go back to a show you loved as a youth, you run the danger of finding out that the show was really crap and you had no taste when you were a kid. It's happened to me far too many times for me to count (I'm looking at you, Buck Rogers). Fortunately the Incredible Hulk is not one of those shows. It proves that a television series can successfully capture the essence of a superhero and make it fun to watch without resorting to the Adam West *POW* and *BIFF* goofiness.
Read more product reviews on Incredible Hulk - The Complete First Season
Write a Review
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older