Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Discuss: The Incredible Hulk TV show

Karen: You wouldn't like him when he's angry...Care to share your feelings about the Incredible Hulk TV show?


Cease said...

Here's a big piece of many an American (and foreign!) childhood! I can only imagine what happened when certain little girls were told they'd gotten too big to "rip" their shirts off and play Hulk like the little boys could.
For me, at least, that became an even more convenient playtime bit of symbolism than safety pinning the proverbial towel around one's neck to go "flying" about!
Probably no single episode of the show stands out to fans I've encountered like the Frye Hulk. I found him very disturbing!

david_b said...

Unless my feeble mind is failing (..once again..), this seems to be the only Marvel character to successfully translate to the small screen..

Of all the characters to choose from, who would have thunk it..?

The Hulk.

It had tension, tenderness, and was done with the most love, despite the liberties taken (name changing, origin), which really in the long run, doesn't truely matter. It delved more into the classic 'Jekyll/Hyde' scenarios than anything actually heroic (no Leader stories..). Kenneth Johnson was smart to keep it rooted in the emotional/chase-type story-telling, and the theme music was stirring.

And Bill Bixby was a perfect choice for Banner.

Anonymous said...

I like the teevee movie where he meets Daredevil.

--Matt alias Anon

I also think CGI Hulks look like crap compared to Lou Ferrigno painted green abd wearing a wig.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I’m often struck by how far it penetrated the cultural consciousness, compared to the comic. I would say that a lot of the extent to which Superman, Batman, Spiderman and others have become cultural icons is to do with the comics, rather than just movies and TV series, but I think the extent to which the Hulk has entered the mainstream consciousness is entirely to do with the TV series. Phrases like ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ or ‘ it was career kryptonite’ owe their existence to the comics, but ‘you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry’ is straight out of the series, and the strange, sad lament that played over the end credits has been parodied endlessly, even by Stewie in Family Guy.

I think the Hulk is one of the hardest creations to transfer to the screen because he’s one of the simplest. They’ve had enough trouble coming up with plots for the comics over the years, and comics are entirely unhampered by budgets or reality in any form. The TV series I think was wise not to try to follow the comics, but rather to follow other TV series & literature, primarily the Fugitive, Jekyll & Hyde and Frankenstein.

I think Kenneth Johnson insisted that the Colvin reporter character was based on Javert in Les Mis rather than Philip Gerard from the Fugitive, but he doesn’t have any of the deep layers of moral complication or back-story that Javert has; he’s much more like Gerard.

David – I agree that Bixby was a great choice for Banner, but how much would you like to have been there when they told Arnie he wasn’t getting the Hulk role because he was too much of a short-arse? I bet they didn’t like him when he was angry!

Will be interesting to see what del Toro does with it.


david_b said...

Richard, the Stewie spoof of the Hulk opening was HILARIOUS..

So spot on, the music, everything:


Joe Bardales said...

One of my favorite shows from the 70s. I remember everyone watching (and liking) it too, even if they weren't in to comic books. It definitely stands the test of time - it's the only supers show from the 70s (and I loved them all as a kid) that I can still watch today and not cringe. Bixby was perfectly cast, and Lou Ferrigno made the Hulk believable and gave him the right depth of character - from all the rage to the gentleness within. And Jack Colvin did a great job with Jack McGee - what a relentless bastard!

david_b said...

One prevalent aspect of the show's success.. ALL the 'Hottest TV Sensation' lingo on the comic covers in late 70s, surpassing the Bat-Craze generated by the Dozer production.

I don't know what the sales figures were during the show's first year, but I'm sure it helped Marvel's business status along with Star Wars.

I've never been a Hulk reader ('cept for collecting some of the late Silver/early Bronze Trimpe issues..), so who here can answer just how influential the show was on the title's writing style..? I didn't think it had any effect, but perhaps someone could chime in for sure.

Anonymous said...

In my world of ideal forms, it's the teevee versions of the Hulk, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Batman & Robin, Shazam!, and Captain America that triumph! I like them better than most of their comics except for Spidey,

--Matt alias Anonymous again

david_b said...


Liking the Captain America television verion better than the comic..?

Wow, that's quite a claim, sir.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention taking the Batman TV show over any of the many different talents who have worked on the comics.

Anonymous said...

I find Cap in comics tends to be ill-served by writers who seem intimidated by the character, or feel compelled to be "political." I hated the whole Nixon supervillain storyline, the interminable "Cap No More," Nomad the man without a country, and the like. I can't comment on comics after the '80s as I haven't read them, but "Cap's Dead...For a While...in a Cynical Attempt to get a Temporary Sales Spike and Media Coverage" looked pretty awful and I understand Bucky didn't die in WW2 but rather is a murderous brainwashed Soviet now.

So yeah, give me the teeveeversion. That was fun.

--Matt Anon

Edo Bosnar said...

As a young fanboy, I was not too happy with all of the discrepancies between the comic book and the show, but I did grow to like the show and watched it pretty regularly. Bixby was definitely well cast - and one of my favorite, or at least most memorable, episodes is the one where he was re-united with "Eddie's Father" co-star Brandon Cruz, and, as the Hulk, piloted a commercial airliner to an emergency landing.

Anonymous said...

Batman comics never recovered from Frank Miller's influence on less talented writers. And you already know I don't like Neal Adams' art/"storytelling."

Anonymous said...

There was also an episode that re-united Bixby and his "My Favorite Martian" co-star, Ray Walston.

Anonymous said...

As I recall, the Rampaging Hulk (aka "The Hulk!") magazine was more influenced by the TV show than the regular comic books were.

humanbelly said...

Well. . . @ david_b: I daresay I may be the man to answer your question (majormajormajor Hulkophile)-- o'course, it'll be from my own biased perspective. The short answer is, yes, the success of the television show did indeed completely effect the direction of the book. There was a conscious and frankly admitted editorial mandate to format it to resemble the program as much as possible. Stories became much more self-contained one&dones; Bruce's existence became even more nomadic, with he (& Greenskin) wandering into town to save the Widow Dumpling's farm while winning her heart and the affection of her young son and then movin' off into the sunset (or something similar), staying one step ahead of. . . I don't remember. Ross? The law? Fate?

I found this period to be one of the book's lowest points, creatively, even though (of course) it was selling like gangbusters because of the tie-in to the show. This held sway for at least a year or so-- after which I'd have to check deeper to see what the next "big direction" was for the title.

I liked the show itself. . . but I honestly didn't love it. As a character, the Hulk's appeal for me had always been, foremost, following the exploits and growth of this elemental, impossibly-powerful man-child. The Hulk, as a person, was what I cared about the most. With a mute Hulk, the TV show completely (or nearly so) lost that fundamental appeal. It was still cool, sure, but to me it wasn't really, really the Hulk. It was just another, very cool version of The Fugitive (which I'd loved, too, mind you), and even as a teenager I realized that the premise couldn't ever be resolved until the end of the series. Bill Bixby was great, though, which helped a lot. Man, what a television icon that guy was-- MY FAVORITE MARTIAN; COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER; THE MAGICIAN; INCREDIBLE HULK; countless guest appearances and tv movies-- and he was always engaging and professional and highly watchable. Really lost him 'way too soon.


J.A. Morris said...

Does anyone else remember the issue of Marvel Two-In-One where Ben Grimm went to Hollywood because he thought he was more deserving of a TV show than the Hulk?:

Anonymous said...

AFAIR, the Hulk was the only Marvel super hero to have a successful TV series in the 1970's. (Spider-Man only had fourteen episodes in 1977-78, so it must not have even been broadcast weekly for a full season at a time. The TV movie pilots for Captain America and Dr. Strange evidently were not popular enough to result in a regular series for either one.) As another young fanboy, I was annoyed by the discrepancies from the comic, but later realized that (1) a weekly TV show's budget could not sustain a steady diet of the Hulk fighting monsters, aliens, robots, and the military, and (2) TV and movies have to appeal to a much broader demographic than comics do. Similarly, I think the Rampaging Hulk magazine may have been an attempt to appeal to people who did not usually read comics.

Anonymous said...

McGee and Lt. Gerard were both probably based on Javert. I seem to remember an episode where McGee explained his motivation for chasing the Hulk; I don't recall if "The Fugitive" ever explained why Gerard was obsessed with Kimble. (Sure, he was a cop and it was his job, but there must have been other wanted fugitives and unsolved cases, too.) The nemeses on other shows (Francis on Logan's Run, Fletcher on The Immortal, and the MP colonel on The A-Team) seemed to be employees doing their jobs rather than acting from obsession or any other personal feelings.

Garett said...

The Hulk tv show was my introduction to the character, and my favorite version of the Hulk.
Matt I also like the tv Wonder Woman and Shazam better than any of their comics (except maybe the Alex Ross Shazam book), but with Batman and Cap I'll go with the comics.

Karen said...

Wow, great commentary today people! I don't have much to add, except that I was a big fan of the show -at first. After a couple of seasons, my interest waned, as it seemed like every episode followed the same basic pattern, and you knew we'd never see cool monsters or super-villains. Still, it managed to be successful for a decent period of time. I can't help but think a lot of the credit should go to Bill Bixby, who portrayed banner as a very warm, likeable man. I've read that the makers of the Avengers film wanted to emulate that with Mark Ruffalo in the new film. I guess in a little over a week we'll know if they succeeded!

Rip Jagger said...

I liked it when it was on, surprisingly adult. I find I get bored watching it today, but there's no denying Bill Bixby's commitment to the character.

Rip Off

Inkstained Wretch said...

I liked the show a lot as a kid, more than the comics in fact. I always had a problem with the fact that the comics Hulk was (at the time) too dumb to really be a strong protagonist. The comic book plots always seemed too contrived to me. The series got the balance much better by putting the focus on Banner.

It's been quite a while since I've seen the series though, so I'm not sure how well it holds up.

I do remember coming across a website not too long ago that listed the circumstances from every episode that angered Banner into transforming into the Hulk. It got pretty silly as the series progressed. I mean, how many times can Banner get locked in a box?

Fred W. Hill said...

I watched the series semi-regularly, and thought it was all right but wasn't particularly ga ga over it. As Karen mentioned, it was too formulaic for my tastes. I wasn't familiar with The Fugitive series, so I couldn't compare it to that, but in the '80s I read several issues of Wein & Wrightson's early '70s run of the Swamp Thing and was struck by how similar the set-up was to the Hulk tv series, with a mostly mute monster presumed to have killed his own alter-ego and on the run from someone out to see justice done in the name of that alter-ego by bringing in the monster! The parallels weren't quite exact but close enough to make me wonder if the producers of the Hulk tv show took some inspiration from the old Swamp Thing stories as well.

William Preston said...

I loved the first two TV movies, but the series wore out its welcome with me after a year or so. I wanted it to do what the comic did, and what the firt two movies did, which was to explore and expand the narrative, but series had an unchanging and undeveloping narrative. Nothing ever stuck; unlike in the comics, a growing backstory and history didn't matter.

That was something ST:TNG learned from comics, I think: to allow characters to recall what had happened previously, even in the context of an adventure show. DS9 took that even farther.

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

I must of seen every episode twice. I did get all the DVD's a couple of years ago. The reason they didn't do the aliens and monsters was because Ken Johnson didn't have the money and didn't want to lose the audience.

They did have a few (sci fi themes ) with the older skinny Hulk played by Dick Durock of Swamp Thing fame. The skinny Hulk was the result of some type of Gamma scientist from the 50's. I forgot the title of the episode but it was in the third or fourth season.

There was another episode called "Prometheus" where the Hulk was captured by a large red dome and taken to holding cell that couldn't contain him. That was another favorite of mine that I only saw on DVD for the first time. I did miss a lot of them because I was going to High School at the time and got sick of some of the same themes in the episodes. However looking at them now a lot of them were better than I remember.

I was surprised that at first they wanted the same actor who played the villain "Jaws" in the James Bond movies as the Hulk. They ran a picture of him in green makeup in the Enquirer back in 1977 and I wish I saved it. I could never find it on the web. For all intents and purposes if he was the chosen the show would have failed.

If I remember Ricard Kiel didn't have the build that Ferrigno had. Kiel was just large and didn't have the bodybuilding and conditioning the character needed.

For all intents and purposes it was a solid show and I am surprised it isn't running on Sy Fy anymore. I did read on the web that new TV Hulk TV show in development ran into a few snags and has been delayed. I have to agree with the poster who said it won't be the same without Lou Ferrigno or a least a human being in the role of the Hulk. I did like the movies but the character was missing a vulnrability the TV version had.

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