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The Incredible Hulk - TV Series Pilot

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 185 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

When I think of my childhood, inexorably I come back to memories of television. One particular image seems burned into my very being, the image of Lou Ferrigno growling and flexing his muscles before a burning car, his clothes in ribbons as buckets of rain pour relentlessly out of the lightning filled sky. The Jolly Green Giant.

In this era of computer technology, The Hulk is now computer generated and looks a bit like Eric Bana, but back then it was a regular guy who could growl real good, Lou Ferrigno. Growling must have been his forte, but I shall get to that a little later...

"Mr Magee, donít make me angry. You wouldnít like me when Iím angry."

Dr David (not Bruce) Banner (Bill Bixby) is a mild mannered man living a tragic life. When his wife dies in a blazing car wreck that he canít drag her from, he starts studying why some people get superhuman strength in times of crisis and why he didnít when he needed it most.

Eventually he discovers something to do with gamma radiation and hits himself with a massive dose. The story is well familiar by now, but this version has slight differences above the studies and names. For example, Betty Ross is nowhere in sight. Bruce does have his ladies, and certainly turns on the charm with them (using the worst John Wayne and Charlie Chan impersonations this writer can ever recall) but they all seem to die on him. If only the common denominator could be discovered...

Containing feature length episodes including The Pilot (Season One, Episode One) and Married (Season Two, Episode One) this disc is sure to bring back those Hulk Night memories of childhood in anyone. For the kids unfamiliar with yesterdayís Hulk, this is an interesting and perfect vehicle with which to associate themselves with a real person playing the ever-loving green guy himself. The special effects are a little lame at times, the acting a little forced and the sets a little cheap, but they add together to take us back to a time when TV drama/comedy didnít use sarcastic zingers and canned laughter to sell cat food. I truly looked forward to watching this with relish as I immersed myself in a separate task I needed to do, but continually found myself watching and waiting for an ad break that never came (and ended up not getting anywhere near finishing the other task. Go Hulk!)

  Video
Contract

Well, television drama in 1976 was a special thing and itís a pretty special show that can look as good today as it did then. This probably doesnít look quite as good as it did way back then, but it still looks pretty darn good. Myriad artefacts abound, which may be unusual for a television series, but they arenít too large or obtrusive. Flesh tones are alright, but sometimes the green-skinned oneís epdidermis comes across as a faint grey or a low green. This is probably more to do with fading makeup on a 16 hour shoot though. Shadows and darkness suffer a little from compression, but itís fairly rare. The shadows do tend to lean toward the greenish at times, but hey, itís The Hulk right? Greenís the name of the game.

Naturally being made for television means the theatrical aspect doesnít exist and we get a plain 4:3 transfer. Also, being made in 1976 there are some awesome afros included which is great for authenticity as are some pulled up sports socks on Dr Banner. For the most part the picture quality is okay and certainly quite watchable, itís just the instances of cringe with '70s fashion that might have you wincing, particularly at one particular open-shirted, medallion-wearing, hairy-chested pick-up artist.

Wearing a wig.

  Audio
Contract

Dialogue throughout this feature tends to get a little garbled at times and Hulkís constant roaring gets a tad annoying. Itíd probably be cool though if you had a bunch of dudes over who watched this show as kids. As to be expected on a show working to a strict budget, there are several instances of stock sound effects, but these are tolerable for the most part and help age the piece correctly. Music is not too bad either, filling the spaces and lending emotion to particular scenes, never becoming dominant of the actors or action. It has been well balanced throughout and the levels are all fine. My only real gripe with the sound is the fact itís presented in mono, which is a shame. Even the sound on the 1997 cartoon Hulk I recently reviewed has 2.0. (Go here to see that review.)

  Extras
Contract

There's not a great deal on offer here, but naturally there are the standard Hulk Trailers that seem to be on everything these days. Oneís the Teaser Trailer, the other is the Superbowl Trailer which features more footage of the film. Then, as if that werenít enough, thereís a three minute Sneak Peek Featurette on Hulk featuring a couple of short sound bites from cast and crew and footage of the film. Itís not so bad and well made, at least allowing us to hear from Ang Lee for a change and not his older brother Stan. (That was a joke, by the way)

Lastly, my personal favourite of the extras, is everybodyís favourite extra, Lou Ferrigno. His Introduction will make you realise why they only ever had him roaring and growling in the show. This man, a convention favourite as he is, speaks as if his mouth is full of marbles and if youíre not careful heíll shoot one out at you and hit you in the cheek. Good luck figuring out what he says in his intro - I made out about 11 words all up from a four-minute piece. Finally, I should mention the Audio Commentary. I rarely mention this because they all sort of say the same thing, but in this writer/producer/director Kenneth Johnson gives a genuinely heartfelt and touching monologue about his show without any pretension whatsoever. He speaks with reverence about the cast, the crew, his successes, disappointments and failures with equal measure, and makes you see this as more than just a TV show, but a passion for the many people who made it. At the end he thanks us for watching on behalf of not only himself, but a long list of creators (some deceased) and this is particularly sweet and very endearing.

  Overall  
Contract

I loved this show when I was a kid and so I'm trying hard to be objective, but bear this in mind Ė recently I visited my brother who has cable and in a lull I was watching some old TV shows from back then and came across a couple of others that I loved as a kid (The A-Team is a good example that springs to mind). I couldnít believe how much I used to enjoy them then, considering their quality, and turned them off with a horrified frown on my face.

This DVD, however, had me hooked all over again and I was genuinely enjoying it. It ran a little long and had too many gaps between ĎHulkismí, but nevertheless I was hanging out to see those white eyes bring The Hulk out to play. For anyone else who loved this show, it withstands the test of time for the most part, and perhaps their kids will get hooked too. Who knows? (And lord knows why it has an M15+ rating.)

The extras are a little bit of a let down and seem to be a sell job for the new movie, and itís disappointing that there isnít more paraphernalia from the old series on board, but I guess we canít have it all. Oh well. Still a worthy addition for Hulk fans or anyone just feeling nostalgic.


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      And I quote...
    "Within each of us, oft times, there dwells a mighty and raging fury."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
          Diamond
    • Speakers:
          Diamond
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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