You wouldn’t think that a muscle-bound green guy with no shirt would make such a great TV show, but back in the 70s, THE INCREDIBLE HULK was the show to watch. With my youth being filled with comics and superpowers, I was glad to see a television network bring another character to life.
Bill Bixby played Dr. David Bruce Banner and Lou Ferrigno was his alter ego, The Hulk. The story was almost the same as the comic, with Banner being hit with gamma rays and always having to stay on the run because of his changes into the Hulk. But that’s where the similarities stopped. Instead of a general Ross and his daughter Betty, Banner was being chased by a reporter Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) and was in working with a fellow scientist named Elaina Marks, which he thought he killed as the Hulk.
I remember my friends and I being excited that they were putting The Hulk on TV. I wondered how they were going to make a green guy look so strong that he could smash and throw giant boulders and pick up 18 Wheeler trucks. And the nuclear gamma blast that turned Banner into the Hulk, that was going to be crazy to see. This kid was waitin’ with anticipation. So you can imagine how mad i was when, instead of a bomb, Banner got hit with gamma radiation from some experiment he was doing. And the Hulk wasn’t some huge towering guy, he was just some weightlifter with green paint. ”Wha’ The?” I can recall my nerdy friends and myself complaining that this wasn’t the Hulk we knew. He wasn’t even that strong.
But as much as I complained I couldn’t deny that I still thought it was cool they had Hulk on TV. The next week I begrudgingly tuned in for another episode. It didn’t take long for me to end up loving the show and Bill Bixby’s acting. I learned more about Lou Ferringno and how he was a deft. As I look back I still say this was one of the most dramatic representations of a comic book ever to be brought to television. If you have never seen the show, stream on it on Hulu or Netflix if you can. And if you’re a real fan, then you can pick it up on the link below at Amazon. Bixby and Ferrigno came back in 3 TV movies for the Hulk - The Incredible Hulk Returns, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk and The Death of the Incredible Hulk (I know, the hulk can’t die, but it is what it is). Sadly Bill Bixby died an untimely death from cancer in 1993. Many fans will always appreciate his contribution to bringing validation and depth to a character that originated from a comic.
Check out my previous Flashback Fridays that featured two other Classic TV shows based on comic characters – THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and WONDER WOMAN. Check in next week and see which show I feature for the last Flashback Friday this month.
image source: welcometoneko.com