REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK RETURNS

CAST

Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian)
Lou Ferrigno (I Love You, Man)
Jack Colvin (Child’s Play)
Lee Purcell (Valley Girl)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
John Gabriel (General Hospital)
Jay Baker (April fool’s Day)
Tim Thomerson (Dollman)
Eric Allan Kramer (American Pie 3)

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Two years after the episode “A Minor Problem”, Dr. David Banner has been gainfully employed at the Joshua-Lambert Research Institute (as David Bannion) where he and a team of scientists are putting the final touches on a Gamma Transponder, which he intends to use to cure him of his ability to turn into the Hulk. He has not changed into the Hulk for two years since he met a young widow, Maggie Shaw, with whom he is romantically involved. By chance, he is recognized by a former student of his, Donald Blake. Blake claims that, on an expedition in the Norwegian mountains, he found an enchanted hammer containing the soul of Thor, an immortal Norse warrior banished by Odin to Earth to earn worthiness into Valhalla.
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Thor is reluctantly compelled to serve Blake, who is unnerved by this. Banner does not believe him, so Blake summons Thor into Banner’s laboratory. Thor damages equipment and angers Banner until he turns into the Hulk, who easily fights him off and leaves.Image result for the incredible hulk returnsIn the morning, Banner scolds Blake for setting back his experiment and demands that he and Thor make amends. Journalist Jack McGee, who once spent years chasing the Hulk, hears about the sightings of the Hulk and Thor and vows to expose them. Thor laments the misery of his banishment and he and Blake attend a tavern where he can fight, drink and embrace the company of women as he would do so in Valhalla. The two become friends and briefly entertain the possibility of Thor using his powers to fight crime. A criminal organisation within the Joshua-Lambert Institute seek to kidnap Banner and the Transponder, but the Hulk effortlessly dispatches them. The mob leader LeBeau targets Dr. Shaw instead of Banner. Mob members disguised as police officers ambush Banner and Shaw and kidnap Shaw despite the combined efforts of the Hulk and Thor.
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LeBeau blackmails Banner into handing over the Transponder in return for Shaw’s life. Banner sabotages the Transponder so it cannot be used as a weapon, essentially destroying his chance of curing his condition. Lambert, a mob informant within the company, outlives his usefulness and is shot, but asks to see Banner, revealing where Shaw is being held, in an abandoned warehouse. Hulk, Blake and Thor ambush the warehouse and fight off a small army of gunmen to rescue Shaw. McGee is once again the subject of ridicule for his obsession with the Hulk and now Thor. Blake and Banner both agree that Shaw has likely figured out that Banner and the Hulk are one and the same and that Banner should leave to protect her. Thor and Blake, now at peace with each other, say their goodbyes to Banner. Banner is forced to end his relationship with Shaw and, as ever, walks alone into the distance.Bill Bixby once again delivers nothing short of superb excellence in his performance as Dr. David Banner (or David Banyon to everyone around him).
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Lou Ferrigno was bigger and bulkier than ever as the Hulk and gave an outstanding performance. I enjoyed seeing Jack Colvin one more time as Jack McGee, but only wished he had been in there more. Noteworthy villains were Tim Thomerson and veteran Hulk guest actor Charles Napier. Lance Rubin was the right man to succeed Joe Harnell in the musical score and gave it a more technological late 80’s sound. What I didn’t care for was the addition of Thor and Donald Blake. This movie did not need that. But for what it’s worth, Eric Allen Kramer was fun and amusing as Thor, the Norse God and Steve Levitt’s Don Blake was pretty much a geek. It was like the Geek and the Jock as best friends.Image result for the incredible hulk returnsI would definitely recommend this reunion movie to anybody who has never seen it. Even though it’s a little more comic bookish in story than the old series, it’s still worth watching. I give it two thumbs up.

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1977) – SEASON 5

Starring

Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian)
Lou Ferrigno (I Love You, Man)
Jack Colvin (Child’s Play)

Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Brett Cullen (Ghost Rider)
Anne Lockhart (Battlestar Galactica)
Paul Koslo (Stargate SG.1)
James Saito (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: TNG)
Jerry Hardin (The X-Files)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th 8)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Mickey Jones (V: The FInal Battle)
Lewis Arquette (Little Nicky)
Faye Grant (V)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)

Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)After watching the fourth season it’s not too difficult to see why the series was cancelled early on in the fifth. With only seven episodes to its name, the final year is a sore spot compared to the earlier ones, which featured many highlights.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)The episodes here simply weren’t very entertaining, most were poorly written, and even the actors didn’t seem as invested in it. It’s a shame that the series couldn’t have found a suitable ending and that it ended with such a whimper, but while it lasted it was a comic lovers dream come true.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)Even if you weren’t into the comic, The Incredible Hulk was quite a show for the time it was released. The dark nature of the program coupled with Bixby’s acting skills and some “decent” writing presented a unique television experience that became an icon. While the later seasons of the show definitely weren’t the best, the first three seasons were rock-solid entertainment.Tuning in each week to see David turn into the Hulk was a hoot and reliving the show again thirty years later proves to be a nice nostalgic trip into the history of everyone’s favorite green giant.

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1977) – SEASON 4

Starring

Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian)
Lou Ferrigno (I Love You, Man)
Jack Colvin (Child’s Play)

Bill Bixby and Laurie Prange in The Incredible Hulk (1978)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Carol Baxter (The Curse of Dracula)
Rosemary Forsyth (Ghosts of Mars)
William Lucking (Red Dragon)
Robert F. Lyons (Roswell)
John Finn (Cold Case)
Christine Belford (Wonder Woman)
Billy Green Bush (Critters)
Dick Durock (Swamp Thing)

Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)Up through the third season the thing that really kept The Incredible Hulk going was solid character development. Though each tale was more or less episodic, traveling with David every week provided a much needed amount of humanity to counterbalance the hulking insanity.

Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)The third year started a slide in quality with more gonzo episodes leading the way. Unfortunately that trend continues with the eighteen episodes included in this season.Despite the overall lacking nature of the fourth season, there are still plenty of enjoyable adventures for David and his big angry friend.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)The most notable episode here is the season opener which is a two-part story that has David getting stuck mid-transformation. The military gets involved as they think David is actually an alien so they take him back to the lab for further examination. Another two-part episode in this season sees David tracking down another “monsters”. This one has plenty to appreciate for fans of the show and it even offers the Hulk something other than a thug, brick wall, or car to beat up on! Other than the extended episodes here this season more or less splits right down the middle in terms of quality.

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1977) – SEASON 3

Starring

Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian)
Lou Ferrigno (I Love You, Man)
Jack Colvin (Child’s Play)

Bill Bixby in The Incredible Hulk (1978)

 

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Katherine Cannon (Magnum P.I.)
Gary Graham (Alien Nation)
Marc Alaimo (Star Trek: DS9)
Robert Davi (The Goonies)
Ray Walston (Star Trek: Voyager)
Joan Leslie (High Sierra)
Scatman Crothers (The Shining)
Robert Alda (Secret File, U.S.A.)
Bob Hastings (Batman: TS)
Fred Ward (Tremors)
Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: TNG)
Guy Boyd (Bones)
Stanley Kamel (Domino)
Anne Lockhart (Battlestar Galactica)
Mark Lenard (Star Trek)
Allan Rich (Quiz Show)
Paul Koslo (Stargate SG.1)
Mickey Jones (V: The Final Battle)
Melendy Britt (She-Ra)
Gerald McRaney (Focus)
Henry Polic II (Might Max)
Sheila Larken (The X-Files)
Dennis Haysbert (Far From Heaven)
Peter Jason (Mortal Kombat)

Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)For the third season no multi-part episodes were included, so there really wasn’t much continuity here by comparison to the previous year. That serious tone that helped the series out in the second season was back for this one, but there were still some bits that just didn’t feel right. Having the Hulk freak out on an acid trip, party at a disco, and David fight his moustache wearing evil twin proved to be moments that were really hard to take. Little bits and pieces like this invaded just about every episode and some of the plots get downright ridiculous.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)Even so there were still some good episodes all around this season, but they were slightly harder to find.Of the good stuff “Homecoming” definitely stands out as one of the best here. In this episode David goes home to his family for Thanksgiving. While there he spends a little time trying to help out with a problem on the farm, but that’s not what makes this episode so entertaining. For the entire time we’ve known David, we haven’t really learned much about his history prior to being big and green. This episode provides plenty of opportunity for the writers to explore his character and some of his background.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)Another solid episode from this season include “The Snare” which has David being invited to an island where he’s hunted by a madman. “The Psychic” is an interesting episode that puts David’s morality on the line when he learns that Jack McGee is going to die. David’s life sure would be a heck of a lot easier if the nosey reported wasn’t around, but could he live with that? This episode really got into David’s head and we got a nice glimpse at how he ticks.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)Aside from these episodes, most of the other ones here are simply passable. In all honesty it seemed as though by this point the show had already begun to slip though it still retained most of the quality.

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1977) – SEASON 2

Starring

Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian)
Lou Ferrigno (I Love You, Man)
Jack Colvin (Child’s Play)

Bill Bixby and Mariette Hartley in The Incredible Hulk (1978)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Mariette Hartley (Encino Man)
Brian Cutler (Emergency!)
Rosalind Chao (Star Trek: DS9)
William Lucking (Red Dragon)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Myron Healey (Shadow on The Land)
Gerald McRaney (Focus)
Mickey Jones (V: The Final Battle)
Ned Romero (Star Trek)
Sally Kirkland (JFK)
Mako (Conan The Barbarian)
Donna Wilkes (Jaws 2)
Marc Alaimo (Star Trek: TNG)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Pat Morita (The Karate Kid)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Kerrigan Mahan (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Christine Belford (wonder Woman)
Billy Green Bush (Jason Goes To Hell)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Austin Stoker (Battle For TPOTA)
Carol Baxter (The Curse of Dracula)
Barbara Tarbuck (S. Darko)
Aline Towne (Highway 301)
John Fujioka (Mortal Kombat)
Fred Ward (Tremors)
Sherman Hemsley (The Jefferson)
Robert F. Lyons (Roswell)
Morgan Woodward (Cool Hand Luke)

Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)The second season of the Hulk starts out with David heading to Hawaii and getting married to a woman named Carolyn. Of course, being cursed as he is, things naturally don’t end well for the doctor. In the end though, this “Married” episode was interesting because it was more or less two parts and presented itself as a much larger story than we had become accustomed to.Bill Bixby in The Incredible Hulk (1978)The thing with The Incredible Hulk is that most every episode followed a strict formula and you could basically expect the same structure over and over again. Due to that fact it is always a nice thing when the mold is broken, which did happen from time to time with the series.That “mold” is broken again later in this season with a two-part episode entitled “Mystery Man”. This storyline features the very definition of a close call when David is involved in a car accident that renders him with amnesia. It is bad enough he doesn’t remember what happens when he’s the Hulk, but now he just plain doesn’t know what’s going on. Because of the accident his face is bandaged and he winds up spending a lot of time with McGee when they are involved in a plane crash together.You’re left wondering throughout the episode whether or not the reporter will actually put two and two together.Aside from these two breaks from the standard set by the first season, the rest of this year’s batch of Hulk episodes are formulaic. It works for many episodes, but there are others which just aren’t quite as sharp. “The Antowuk Horror”, “Alice in Disco Land”, “Killer Instinct”, and “Stop the Presses” all stand out as prime examples of the show at its best, while “Wild Fire”, “Vendetta Road”, and “The Disciple” are a few of the lower points.Lou Ferrigno and Mickey Jones in The Incredible Hulk (1978)All in all, the second season of The Incredible Hulk was much better than the first, but then again in the opening year the show was just finding its footing. We still see a little bit of that here though it’s safe to say that the show handles this material better than most science fiction programs of the era. Many of these episodes and plots are cliché beyond reason, but the series handles them seriously and with a hefty flare for the dramatic. This was definitely one of the feathers in the Hulk’s cap and because of that the series retains much of its entertainment value some thirty years later.

 

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1977) – SEASON 1

Starring
Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian)
Lou Ferrigno (I Love You, Man)
Jack Colvin (Child’s Play)
Bill Bixby in The Incredible Hulk (1977)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Charles Siebert (Xena)
Susan Sullivan (Castle)
William Daniels (The Blue Lagoon)
Gerald McRaney (Focus)
Martin Kove (The Karate Kid)
Loni Anderson (Stroker Ace)
Robert Alda (Rhapsody in Blue)
Pamela Susan Shoop (Halloween II)
Jennifer Darling (The Six Million Dollar Man)
Julie Adams (Code Red)
Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser)
Sarah Rush (Battlestar Galactica)
Sherry Jackson (The Breaking Point)
Sheila Larken (The X-Files)
Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1977)
The first season of The Incredible Hulk premiered with its pilot in 1977 and went on to run for eleven additional episodes. This is the one that started it all and in the opening moments of the series we are given a glimpse at Dr. David’s origins and how he came to possess the abilities of the Hulk. With the introduction out of the way the first season more or less hits the ground running as it established itself with some strong episodes and character development. Granted there are a few clunkers in between the good parts, but all around it was a solid start for Hulk.
Lou Ferrigno and Laurie Prange in The Incredible Hulk (1978)

“Death in the Family” is the first episode after the pilot and it’s a nice way to get the series going as it establishes the formula early on. This episode sees Banner making his way through California only to stop and help a handicapped girl after she faints in an orchard. It leads to David getting into the middle of a plot to kill the girl, so naturally only he and the Hulk can save her. When he’s done with California, David hitches his way to a new city where he befriends a wannabe boxer involved with some shady dealings. After that he moves on to working in a zoo in an episode that actually features the Hulk fighting a gorilla.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)Both of these episodes were kind of weak after the pilot and “Death in the Family”, but the season gets much better from here on out.One of the strongest notes comes from the fifth episode, “Of Guilt, Models, and Murder”. I found this episode entertaining due to the way it played with David’s amnesia after he becomes the Hulk. The episode starts out with the doctor waking up in a room with some dead fashion models, and naturally his mind heads down dark, guilty paths as he blames the Hulk for killing them. The rest of the episode sees him investigating the murders and trying to get the bottom to find out whether or not he was actually involved.From then on the first season has some ups and downs as it makes its way through the remaining seven episodes.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)Of the better episodes, “Terror in Times Square” stands out as it features David helping out an arcade owner who is being pressured by some people for “protection”. What better protection could you ask for than having the Hulk on your side for some good ‘ol fashion smashing? “The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas” was a great episode as well. I mean, just think about it, the Hulk running through the streets and casinos of Vegas! After these episodes the only other one that stands out in this season is “Earthquakes Happen” which has David /the Hulk attempting to stop a meltdown after a massive earthquake.