The Incredible Hulk: The Original TV Pilot [DVD]
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The original feature-length pilot episode of the 1970s TV series based on the Marvel Comics character. David Banner (Bill Bixby) is a research scientist who exposes himself to high levels of gamma radiation in an effort to uncover physical powers he believes lay dormant within him. However, the experiment has an unexpected side-effect, transforming him into a muscle-bound beast (Lou Ferrigno) whenever he gets angry. The DVD edition also features the pilot episode to the second season, variously known as 'The Incredible Hulk: Married' or 'The Bride of the Incredible Hulk'.
Universal's Incredible Hulk: The TV Pilots will satisfy fans of the television series by offering the two-hour 1978 pilot, as well as the feature-length second-season opener, "Married". In bringing the Hulk to TV, series creator Kenneth Johnson decided to focus on its human alter ego, scientist Bruce Banner (here renamed David), rather than the creature's rampages. In the pilot, Banner (Bill Bixby) is haunted by the death of his wife and unleashes his untapped rage in the form of a monstrous creature (Lou Ferrigno) after experimenting with radiation. And in "Married", Banner falls for a researcher (Mariette Hartley in an Emmy-winning performance) who attempts to cure his "hulk-outs". Johnson's solid scripting and direction and fine performances from the leads made the series a critical and audience favourite during its network run. --Paul Gaita
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The pilot too is very good, showing us how David Banner first became The Incredible Hulk. The good news for UK fans of the series is that later this year, a series box-set will be released, containing 18 episodes of the series, including Prometheus (The Hulk is captured and taken to a military base), Dark Side (David/Hulk becomes capable of murder) and The First (The Hulk battles with an evil creature).
I'm sure that many people reading this - like me - will have memories of watching this series in childhood. The ripping shirt, the white contact lenses, Joe Harnell's haunting "Lonely Man" piano theme and the iconic line "Don't make me angry... You wouldn't like me when I'm angry!"
They're all here, of course. And so much more.
Something that is new for me watching this show as an adult - I am bowled over by the quality of writing and acting. Kenneth Johnson has taken one of Marvel Comics' most beloved creations, and respectfully given it a substance and heart that make this a story about people first and foremost. The action is secondary.
There are two feature-length episodes... the Pilot episode, and the premiere episode for Season 2 - "Married". The three-hour journey is a rollercoaster, boasting not only the origin of "the creature" and many moments that would be alluded to every week in the title sequence, but also an emotional journey that is at times unsettling in its intensity (no wonder I used to watch it through my fingers), and at times truly tragic.
Both episodes feature powerful performances from Bill Bixby in the lead, and from Susan Sullivan in the Pilot, and Mariette Hartley in Married. The commentary discloses that Mariette actually won an Emmy for this episode, and after watching it, I can say that she really earned it.
Perfect!! Full commentary on both episodes by Kenneth Johnson, who clearly has passion for the show. He shares his memories, and explains very clearly the vision he had for the series - even right down to pointing out what a certain camera angle represents. He also shares memories of working with Bill Bixby ("Bix"), and his frankness is refreshing. Bix comes across as a fascinating person, whose own tragedies almost parallel some of what you see on the screen. Well worth watching.
There's also a short intro by Lou Ferrigno - just so you can see what "The Hulk" himself looks like these days.
Definitely recommended. I bought it as an ex-casual viewer, and it's made a fan out of me.
The DVD was cheap and so I can overlook the flaw....this time.
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