This section of the site is dedicated to the 1970s television series, "The Incredible Hulk". It ran for five seasons, and starred Bill Bixby as Dr. David Bruce Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the green goliath. What's interesting is that, while the Hulk was called the Hulk in newspapers and such, but the Hulk himself was referred to as "the Creature". Jack Colvin also popped up as series regular Jack McGee, a reporter from The National Register newspaper who is constantly chasing after the Hulk from one city to the other and, later, is trying to find out the identity of the man who changes into the Creature. Everyone remembers the concept of the series: Scientist Dr. David Banner is trying to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have, and after an accidental overdose of gamma radiation, he changes into the green-skinned, mute Hulk whenever enraged. The series also spawned three popular TV films after it was cancelled -- "The Incredible Hulk Returns", "The Trial of the Incredible Hulk", and my least favorite, "The Death of the Incredible Hulk".
I mean, really, who LIKES seeing a movie where one of their favorite superheroes dies?
Several aspects of the 2008 film "The Incredible Hulk" payed tribute to "The Incredible Hulk" television series, including cameos by Bixby (at least, on TV in a clip from "The Courtship of Eddie's Father") and Ferrigno, and the very same gamma machine that Bixby used is featured in the film when Banner conducts an experiment on himself in the film's opening credits (although in the film, it's a more updated and high-tech looking version than the one David Banner used). Even Banner's x-ray of his skull that you see in the pilot and opening credits of the 1970s TV series is included in the movie's opening credits:
"The Incredible Hulk" television series is not only one of my favorite television series of all time, but it is how I was introduced to the Hulk. The series still holds a special place in my heart, and it is just as brilliant and enjoyable to watch today.
You will find comments on the television series and images here, including comparisons of the TV show to the theatrical film.
Those notes and other images, though, are coming soon. I hope you'll find the content worth the wait, though.
- Last Updated 11/11/2008
"The Incredible Hulk Returns" (1988)
Co-Starring: Tim Thomerson as Jack LeBeau, Steve Levitt as Dr. Donald Blake, and Eric Allan Kramer as Thor.
Believe it or not, this is how I was introduced to "The Incredible Hulk" series. I don't remember how I first learned of the Hulk. I think it was seeing videos of "The Incredible Hulk" 1980s cartoon series at my local video shops when I was a kid. When I was five, "The Incredible Hulk Returns" made its television premiere on TV...and I was officially hooked on the Hulk. Granted, the Hulk isn't my favorite superhero (Spider-Man has that honor), but this was arguably my favorite live-action superhero TV series...and still has that honor to this day.
In this telefilm, it has been two years since David has changed into the Hulk, whom he calls his own "Mr. Hyde". It looks like things are finally going right for Banner for once, as he has finally lost his long-time pursuer, reporter Jack McGee. Under the alias of David Banion, he has a great job at the Joshua Lambert Institute, is in love with his co-worker Dr. Maggie Shaw, and has come up with a new machine that may finally cure him of his gamma-powered alter-ego, the Gamma Transponder.
You see, the Transponder reverses gamma polarity and should cause complete remission in the gamma rays in David's cells. But when David decides to finally test his contraption on himself, he is visited by a trespasser - Dr. Donald Blake. Blake knows David because the thought-dead Dr. Banner spoke at a lecture at Harvard when Blake was a student and Blake calls Banner his "favorite scientist". Blake tells David of his own unique problem; that he found a cave that belonged to a Norse Viking warrior and king, named Thor. Upon finding Thor's war hammer in his coffin, he inadvertedly resurrects him and, in order to enter Valhalla (the viking version of Heaven), Thor must follow Don's lead for the sake of humility and also teach Don to be a hero.
When David thinks Blake was hallucinating, Blake summons Thor by using his hammer and shouting "Odin!" With a puff of smoke, some strobe lighting and 80's visual effects, presto! We get Thor, standing in the main lab in the flesh, and David clearly believes Blake now. Thor briefly meets with "Banner the warlock", but he takes back his hammer and wants to find something to drink. Instead, he unintentionally breaks open a control panel to the Transponder. Banner gets angry and shouts that Thor will wreck the lab, but has to calm himself down to keep from changing. Thor warns David of what he'll do if his "witchcraft" should hurt Blake. Banner tells Thor to go away and that he just doesn't know what could happen if he doesn't leave him alone. Thor sees this as "an insult than hospitality" and pushes Banner back. When grabbed by his collar, David tries to keep calm and warns, "Don't make me angry." Blake warns Thor to stop, but Thor pushes David again and smacks him by accident into a control panel. The panel shocks David until Thor pulls him off and tosses Banner away. When they go to check on the fallen Doctor, they are stunned to see David look at them with white eyes and, after two years of keeping his rage in check, Banner once again transforms into The Incredible Hulk.
Blake doesn't want Thor to hurt his friend and asks for Thor's hammer back, but Thor gladly heads off to brawl with the Hulk, shouting, "If he wants a fight, he'll get one!" After a brief fight in the lab and smashing some of the computers and control panels, Thor tosses Hulk with his hammer, electrocutes him with it and he knocks back into a control panel where he receives more shocks. In retaliation, a ticked-off Hulk tosses Thor out of a window and Thor calls a truce with the Hulk from one fighter to the other. Hulk simply roars with anger in response, jumps off the upper level down onto the sidewalk below without harm, and promptly runs off. Blake takes Thor's fallen hammer and makes him leave.
The next morning, Blake and Thor find David and are able to work things out in order to help each other out. Unfortunately, the "monster" incident in Los Angeles has gotten the attention of Jack McGee and he manages to work for the National Register again in order to cover the story. Meanwhile, Josh Lambert is in cahoots with a crook named Jack LeBeau and wants LeBeau to steal the Transponder and capture David. They agree and LeBeau's thugs try to steal the Transponder, but another Hulk out from David forces them to flee empty handed. LeBeau decides instead to capture David's girlfriend, Maggie, and holds her captive. With Maggie abducted, David barely manages to avoid a snooping Jack McGee and LeBeau has Zack shot when he tries to back out of their agreement when his friend Maggie is captured. Now, David, Don and Thor must work together to get Maggie back and stop LeBeau once and for all.
It's been six long years for viewers, but it's well worth the wait. The late, great Bill Bixby once again portrays Dr. David Banner.
Behold, the Gamma Transponder, in all of its glory. It is the device that David Banner has built to cure himself of the Hulk... Yeah, like THAT'S gonna happen.
Also after a six-year absence, Lou Ferrigno once again dons the green make-up to reprise his role as the Green Goliath.  Not surprisingly, his Hulk still looks better and more convincing than the computer-generated version from 2003's box-office flop "Hulk".
Eric Kramer guest-stars as Thor, who little resembles his comic counterpart - but still does a surprisingly good job with the role he's given.
REVIEW: Despite what many say, I actually love this telefilm. Granted, I'm a comic book purist and I hate most changes made to comic-based films. However, people also forget that this was made in 1988 and special effects for telefilms weren't exactly as impressive as they are today. Yeah, I don't really like that Thor is a viking instead of the God of Thunder. I also admit that I didn't care for the lack of a formidable foe able to be a considerable threat to the Hulk. But even so, this movie is surprisingly well-written, has great performances, and gives us a nice continuation on the journey of Dr. David Banner.
If nothing else, it's Bixby and Ferrigno that really make this project shine. After all this time, Mr. Bixby still knows how to show how smart, haunted and likable David Banner still is. While it's obvious that Banner wasn't actually going to get cured, it was nice to see Banner did make a machine that could've finally cured him. What makes it work even better is that Banner gives up his chance to cure himself to keep the transponder from becoming a weapon when his new girlfriend is held captive. Don't tell me you didn't get bummed out a bit when David laments that "it's back to square one" when it comes to searching for a cure and stares at his control panel while he destroys it.
Then there's Mr. Ferrigno's turn as the Hulk. There are really no words to describe how cool and just plain perfect Ferrigno was, and still is, as the Hulk. Just as Bixby was Banner, Ferrigno IS the Hulk. Whether it's tossing henchmen, and even Thor, around like rag dolls or charging at some gun-firing goons with a steel beam, Ferrigno's Hulk is just as mad, strong and fun to watch as ever. Mr. Ferrigno also does a heck of a job acting when he's not knocking the crud out of nameless goons. Just look at how he acts when the Hulk calms down around Maggie Shaw, the lady Banner loves. While I wish this series had included Betty Ross, Bruce's love interest and wife from the comic books, Maggie was a fairly good substitute. I mean, she was with Banner for nearly two years, making her one of Banner's longest love-interests in terms of continuity. Maggie herself is also an interesting character, and the actress Lee Purcell does a great job portraying her.
And then there's Thor. I actually love this version of Thor. While he's not the God of Thunder and son of Odin from the comics we know and love (and prefer), actor Eric Kramer still does a heck of a good job playing the role. His performance as Thor is very fun to watch, as he deals with life in a new century. Sure, I never thought I'd see Thor arm-wrestling with bikers and then driking beers with them afterwards, but Thor does manage to kick plenty of bad guys around most of the time, so I'll forgive it. I found it surprising how serious Kramer took the role of Thor. Just look at his speech about waiting to be summoned by Blake when needed for that. It's surprisingly effective. The only downside to Thor, really, is the costume. There's no cape, there's what looks like animal fur around his arms, and the wings on his helmet are frankly too small for my taste. Also, Thor's hammer Mjolnir (which isn't called such here) is wrong. Whoever lifts up Thor's hammer has to be worthy to pick it up. Here, anyone can wield it, as seen when David Banner promptly picks it up from Blake's bag as easily as he would pick up a water bottle. And the hammer itself is a bit small. If you were a viking ruler and king, don't you think you'd have a bigger hammer than what looks like a kids' toy hammer? Still, despite the flaws, Thor is the best of the new characters ever introduced on "The Incredible Hulk" series in terms of both writing and acting, and it's all thanks to Eric Kramer.
Then there's Donald Blake...who's just painful to watch. That's no offense to Mr. Levitt, as I like the actor okay. But Blake can be pretty annoying, and the fact that he's Thor's guide rather than his alter-ego isn't a good thing. The less we would have seen of Blake and the more they should have focused on Thor, the better off we would've been. Besides, when Blake does go all heroic in the finale by shooting bad guys, do you really buy him as a hero? And how is he not arrested for murder, since his fingerprints are all over the gun when he's shooting criminals with? Oy.
Thankfully, what Donald Blake lacks in appeal, we get two great adversaries, who share the same first name - Jack LeBeau and Jack McGee.
Tim Thomerson's LeBeau is clever, cruel and not above killing his own men. He even sends one of his men, Fouche (Charles Napier, who I'll forever know as the voice of Duke Phillips from "The Critic"), to shoot his inside man Zach Lambert! He's one of Banner's better villains, as he holds Maggie Shaw hostage in order to have Banner give him the Transponder as a weapon. When the Hulk beats LeBeau in the finale by tying him up with a metal pipe, it's just too cool for words.
And then there's the late, great Jack Colvin as McGee. I was a bit disappointed that Jack McGee is underused here, but when he's on-screen, he steals the show. Like Bixby and Ferrigno, you just can't wait to see him back on-screen. We even get to see McGee nearly catch Banner twice, once at his work (but he misses seeing his face when David runs off) and later at David's apartment. While I'm a bit puzzled that McGee didn't figure out "D. Banion" was "David Banion", since Maggie even calls out David's name in front of McGee, I'll forgive it. But the funniest part of the telefilm remains the scene where Thor pretends to be Banion and corners the startled McGee. Hilarious.
Granted, "The Incredible Hulk Returns" remains an imperfect Hulk film.  After all, I didn't like that the Hulk still had to hide behind tables or piles in the junkyard when LeBeau's men shoot at him with handguns.  Or that this will oddly be the last time McGee is ever seen or heard from again, as he's absent from the next two telefilms and his absence is SORELY missed.  Granted, it's a nice swan song for McGee as, ever after he's told no more Hulk stories will be printed at the National Register, he's still determined to get to the bottom of the mystery man who becomes the Hulk and once more leaves in pursuit for answers.
Even so, it is slightly better than its equally brilliant and fun to watch follow-up telefilm, "The Trial of the Incredible Hulk"... and is leaps and miles better than the final telefilm, "The Death of the Incredible Hulk".
THE VERDICT: 3 and a half stars out of 4 stars.  It could've been better, sure, but believe me, it could've been a lot worse too.  And bonus points for including Jack McGee, a factor none of the other Hulk telefilms possesses.
"The Trial of the Incredible Hulk" (1989)
Guest starring: John Rhys-Davies as Wilson Fisk and Rex Smith as Matt Murdock/Daredevil.
Look closely, and you'll see that this is the first (and sadly, only) time that Dr. Banner/the Hulk ever dons a pair of purple pants. Regretably, it's only for a dream sequence...but as you can see from the Hulk's rampage at the jury stand, it's a heck of a good sequence.
Rex Smith dons the costume of Daredevil. His portrayal of attorney Matt Murdock works well, and his characterization and origin story are surprisingly true to the comic books. Unfortunately, it's the black ninja outfit and matching blindfold that doesn't work out for poor D.D.
To say that this is a Hulk and Daredevil team-up film is misleading. This is the only time that the Hulk and Daredevil appear together, and the closest thing to a fight is when Daredevil puts his hand on Hulk's face, but only because he feels the metamorphosis from the Hulk back to David Banner.
Unfortunately, David Banner does NOT change into the Hulk in the finale. In fact, this is more of a Daredevil and Banner team-up movie than it is a pairing between Daredevil and the Hulk. Poor Lou Ferrigno doesn't even get to smash through Kingpin's lair during the telefilm's final minutes. But on the other hand, I kind of liked this aspect. The Hulk didn't end up being the hero in the finale by helping Daredevil, it was David Banner, and that is something we rarely got to see.  Not bad, Bix.  Still, we needed at least one more "Hulk Smash!" sequence before the end credits and it would've been fun to see the Hulk vs. the Kingpin.
Movie Review Coming Soon
"The Death of the Incredible Hulk" (1990)
Okay, so this image below isn't from the actual movie, but trust me: This movie really IS that bad, folks.
Movie Review Coming Soon

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