by Ryan Rigley
Joss Whedon’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” may be the latest live-action Marvel TV series to sweep the nation, but it is by no means the first. In the late ’70’s, families would gather around their televisions every Friday night at 9 P.M. to watch a show featuring everyone’s favorite not-so-jolly green giant. Starring the likes of Bill Bixby (as Dr. David Banner) and Lou Ferrigno (as the Hulk), “The Incredible Hulk” has garnered a loyal following of fans throughout the years.
In fact, “The Incredible Hulk” was so successful that recently there has been talk of a re-imagined take on the series, helmed by the great Guillermo del Toro. However, with promotion for “Pacific Rim” now underway and huge films such as “Pinocchio” and “Justice League Dark” currently on his plate, it doesn’t seem like del Toro will be getting to this passion project anytime soon. Still,”The Incredible Hulk” remains Marvel’s most successful live-action series to date. And rightfully so!
Broadcast Date: 1977 – 1982
Following the ever-depressed Dr. David Banner as he roams the countryside in search of acceptance, “The Incredible Hulk” was so popular that three made-for-TV movies were produced (by NBC) after the series was canceled in 1982: “The Incredible Hulk Returns” (guest starring Eric Allan Kramer as Thor), “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” (guest starring Rex Smith as Daredevil), and “The Death of the Incredible Hulk,” in which the Hulk falls out of an airplane and dies.
The CBS series itself was also full of Emmy-award winning guest stars, including the likes of Mariette Hartley, Kim Cattrall, Jack Kirby and, of course, Stan Lee. With bizarre storylines ranging everywhere from a mentally challenged boy competing in a demolition derby to the Hulk befriending a midget wrestler, the series’ immense success was clearly due to the fact that “The Incredible Hulk” had something for everyone. Check out the Hulk in action in the show’s opening credits. It does a pretty comprehensive job of explaining the show’s premise.
Getting stuck mid-transformation due to a strange radioactive meteorite, Dr. David Banner becomes the unwilling subject of government scientists who think him to be an alien from another planet.
A Child in Need
Taking on the controversial subject of child abuse, “A Child in Need” shows us a different side of David Banner as his custodial job at a local elementary school leads him to defend a young boy whom he suspects is being abused by his father.
After being locked up, David Banner befriends an insane man that believes himself to be Ernest Hemingway. Eventually transforming into the Hulk, Banner accidentally frees the insane man and must deal with the consequences before the convict brings harm to himself and those around him.
Searching for the cure to his ailment, David Banner meets Del Frye, a mean old man who had once been a Hulk-like creature himself. With Banner’s help, Frye once again becomes a terrifying rage monster leaving the Hulk to clean up after Banner’s mistakes.
King of the Beach
Lou Ferrigno plays a dual role in this episode: a hearing-impaired restaurant worker and the Incredible Hulk. Taking cues from Ferrigno’s actual life, David Banner and his hearing-impaired new friend, Carl Molino, are talked into entering a bodybuilding contest on the beach by a hustler named Mandy.
Still not convinced that “The Incredible Hulk” is worth a watch? Well then, here’s a clip of the Hulk throwing a grizzly bear:
This is Comics On TV, the column that celebrates the classic comic book TV series that blazed the trail for modern day hits like “Arrow,” “The Walking Dead” and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” If you have any favorite episodes of this week’s series, let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter!