Production: USA, 1977-81, 1988-90
Cast: Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Jack Colvin

This memorable serie about the giant green skinned super-hero was not very faithful to the original comic. But maybe its success was due also to that.
It is worthy recalling the original story of the Marvel character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
The story begun with atomic scientist Robert Bruce Banner who, experimenting the gamma-ray bomb, was accidentally hit by the
deadly radiations which transformed him in a brute giant with super-human strenght.
The transformation was not permament: in fact he could come back to his original shape after some time, ready to transform again, often at the right moment, just as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide. At first the transformation worked exactly as in Stevenson’s novel, Banner became Hulk at sunset and turned back to normal at sunrise, then he started to change every time he got angry or scared, which made possible for him to become Hulk in cases of danger or need.
Anyway, Banner’s life was a nightmare: always pursued by General “Thunderbolt” Ross, who considered him as a menace and tried all ways to kill him, and meeting, moreover, a large number of “super-villains” as in all Marvel comics (and a significant share of soviet ones: they were in the middle of cold war, and Banner-
Hulk was linked to military rules).
Of course, Hulk’s adventures on TV were less spectacular, due to budget restrictions.
In the show scientist David Banner (the name was changed because producer Kenneth Johnson didn’t like assonant names like “Peter Parker”, “Clark Kent” and similar), portrayed by Bill Bixby, is doing researches about gamma-rays and their effect on human strenght. Banner has an obsession for his wife’s death in a car accident: he had tried to save her from the burning car, but only a super-human strenght could have done that.
Then he loses control of his experiment and changes into the green giant (Lou Ferrigno).
This Hulk is very different from the comics one: for example he is “only” 6ft 6” tall (the original is more than 8 ft), his force is not unlimited (he can, at his best, overturn a car, while the original threw away tanks…), and is not invulnerable (in fact, in the last episode he dies in an air crash).
Ironically, Hulk is considered responsible for David Banner’s death… and he prefers to be considered dead until he hasn’t found a cure to get rid of the monster.
But hiding is not so simple: an insistant journalist, Jack McGee (Jack Colvin), is after him, and he is forced to a long run “on the road” across the U.S.A.
In every episode, David reaches a small village or a city, he finds some employment for a living (like taxi driver, truck driver, waiter or similar), often
chased by McGee who is almost never able to meet him. Usually David or one of his occasional friends finds himself endangered or in trouble (often menaced by criminal plots or similar) causing, every time, the transformation into Hulk.
The transformation sequence is well done, considering the low budget: at first we see David’s eyes becoming white, then, with very close shots, we see his clothes ripping as for a body’s expansion, and finally Hulk appears in place of David.
In every episode Hulk appears twice: the first time he makes the villains run, the second time he defeats them. But Hulk’s apparition forces David to move on, to prevent McGee in finding him.
So, at the end of every episode, we see David hitch-hiking with his bag hanged on his shoulder…
When the casting was made, there weren’t particular problems for the roles of Banner and McGee. Bill Bixby and Jack Colvin were popular on television and seemed suitable for their characters.
The real problem was Hulk himself: it was very difficult finding an actor with the right shape. The first try was Richard Kiel, the popular “Shark” from James Bond movies: but he was too thin. Another try was Arnold Schwarzenegger, but this time he was too short (although he’s 6ft 2”).
Finally Lou Ferrigno was found: a former Mr. Universe, 6ft 6” tall and with appropriate body structure: he wasn’t, of course, like the comics’ Hulk but was big enough for the role.
Another difference was that the TV Hulk did not speak but only made roars
and grunts, while the comics’one spoke in that particular way, mentioning himself as a third person.
The show was produced by Universal for the network CBS. Executive producer was Kenneth Johnson, known for other serials like “The six million dollar man”, “The bionic woman”, Alien nation” and “V: visitors”.
Whwn the first pilot episode was broadcast in 1977, everybody expected a trash product like the ‘60s “Batman”, otherwise the audience was touched by the humanity of Banner, his doubts and his difficult life due to the monster within him.
In year 1978 other two seasons followed. The show was a good success, anyway there were troubles: while the fourth season was shot, CBS wanted a lower budget, and Johnson had to fight to save money (the special effects, although very
poor, were anyway considered as “expensive”).
The fifth season, in 1981, wasn’t a finished one, because it was decided to fire the show despite of its good audience. The episodes were anyway poorer than the previous ones, and it wasn’t possible to make a final episode to close the story.
But in 1988 a TV movie was made, titled “The Incredible Hulk returns”. There was a new (not so brilliant) idea in it: taking Hulk back to the Marvel universe, so in that movie Hulk met the mighty Thor. The idea was not very coherent with the previous stories, which were, in a certain way, more “realistic”, and Thor himself was rather rediculous. But it was a success anyway.
In 1989 another TV movie was made, “Trial of the Incredible Hulk”, where Hulk met another super-hero, Daredevil. The result was rather similar, and Daredevil

was absolutely embarrassing, but also this movie was a good success.
Finally, in 1990 a third movie appeared, “Death of the Incredible Hulk”. Despite its unpleasant ending, this was perhaps the best of the three movies, with a good story, no rediculous super-heroes around and a strong conclusion for the serie.
But the conclusion was not really scheduled: the storyline for a new movie, “The Incredible Hulk’s resurrection”, was ready. But it was never made. Bill Bixby felt ill for a cancer and died in 1993. Without its popular star (because he was the really centre of the stories), a resurrection for the green giant became impossible.
Jack Colvin passed away in 2005.
The lone survivor from the cast is Lou Ferrigno, who appeared in other movies: he had a cameo in both the last Hulk movies, and had the main role in “Hercules” in 1983. He also dubbed Hulk in an animated serie.
In 2003 the Ang Lee movie was released. Thanks to CGI and to a high budget, it was quite more faithful to the comic, but audience was divided: some did not like the psychological plot, and some too would have liked Lou Ferrigno again in place of the digital Hulk (which was the only way to have a monster similar to the comics one).
In 2008 another movie was made: this time they tried to forget all what was done by Ang Lee and to make something more similar to the TV serie (for a while we can also hear
its musical theme…), but the result was even more disappointing…
Anyway, there’s a sort of promo in the final: in fact we can see Tony Stark/ Iron Man talking with general Ross, probably about the S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Avengers… Marvel Comics has taken over the production of super-heroes movies, so surprises could not be finished.

86 episodes, color, 60’ (except for 5 TV movies of 120' each)

TV movies (1977)

1)   The Incredible Hulk (2h)
2)   A Death in the Family (2h)

First season (1978)

3)   Final Round
4)   The Beast Within
5)   Of Guilt, Models, and Murder
6)   Terror in Times Square
7)   747
8)   The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas
9)   Never Give a Trucker An Even Break
10) Life and Death

11) Earthquakes Happen
12) The Waterfront Story

Second season (1978)

13) Married – part I
14) Married – part II
15) The Antowuk Horror
16) Ricky
17) Rainbow's End
18) A Child in Need

19) Another Path
20) Alice in Disco Land
21) Killer Instinct
22) Stop the Presses
23) Escape From Los Santos
24) Wildfire
25) A Solitary Place
26) Like a Brother
27) Haunted
28) Mystery Man – part I
29) Mystery Man – part II

30) The Disciple
31) No Escape
32) Kindred Spirits
33) The Confession
34) The Quiet Room
35) Vendetta Road

Third season (1979)

36) Metamorphosis
37) Blind Rage

38) Brain Child
39) The Slam
40) My Favorite Magician
41) Jake
42) Behind the Wheel
43) Homecoming
44) The Snare
45) Babalao
46) Captive Night
47) Broken Image
48) Proof Positive

49) Sideshow
50) Long Run Home
51) Falling Angels
52) The Lottery
53) The Psychic
54) A Rock and A Hard Place
55) Deathmask
56) Equinox
57) Nine Hours
58) On the Line

Fourth season (1980)

59) Prometheus – part I
60) Prometheus- part II
61) Free Fall
62) Dark Side
63) Deep Shock
64) Bring Me the Head of the Hulk
65) Fast Lane
66) Goodbye, Eddie Cain
67) King of the Beach

68) Wax Museum
69) East Winds
70) The First – part I
71) The First – part I
72) The Harder They Fall
73) Interview With the Hulk
74) Half Nelson
75) Danny
76) Patterns

Fifth season (1981)

77) The Phenom
78) Two Godmothers
79) Veteran
80) Sanctuary
81) Triangle
82) Slaves
83) A Minor Problem

TV movies

84) The Incredible Hulk Returns
85) Trial of the Incredible Hulk
86) Death of the Incredible Hulk


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