The Incredible Hulk—Season 1

incredible hulk season 1 dvd review episode guide
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Classic comic book TV

Predictable episodes, so-so visuals

 
incredible hulk season 1 title card episode guide review

You won’t like me when I’m angry…

After the death of his wife, Dr. David Banner (Bill Bixby) is plagued by dreams of being unable to help her.  David makes a rash decision and experiments on himself…which leads to unlocking the hidden strength he has been seeking.  Unfortunately, the monster inside of David is out of control and the Hulk (Lou Ferrigno) is quickly accused of murder.  On the run, David must find a cure for his problem but finds staying away from danger is even harder.

The Incredible Hulk—Season 1 premiered premiered as a TV movie on November 4, 1977.  It was followed by a second two hour movie originally called The Return of the Incredible Hulk which was rebroadcast as “Death in the Family”.  The season returned for a partial season on March 10, 1978.

incredible hulk season 1 episode 1 pilot first hulkout bill bixby

…and so it begins

I loved The Incredible Hulk as a kid.  It was kind of scary but it was also a superhero.  It was kid friendly, but also adults could watch it.  Watching the series now, it doesn’t necessarily hold up, but it is a nice flashback to simpler TV.

The series plots are pretty basic.  The set-up is strong with the wandering man being pursued (a blend of Les Miserables and The Fugitive).  This allows a new set-up each episode and a new cast (besides Bill Bixby, Ferrigno, and Jack Colvin).  The stories are pretty basic with David always getting into trouble.  It is always a pleasant surprise watching the series when the set-up is played with like in “Of Guilt, Models and Murder” where the storytelling has a Rashomon aspect to it…if more episodes were like this, the series would hold up better (though it was still kind of obvious).

incredible hulk season 1 episode 7 747 hulkout bill bixby

So wait…now I don’t glow green?

Bill Bixby is strong as the morose and insanely helpful David Banner.  He always does the right thing and episodes where the Hulk is responsible for the problem (like “Earthquakes Happen”) are a bit more compelling than other episodes.  Ferrigno is perfect as the Hulk (especially after the make-up was toned down after the second TV movie) because of his expressive appearance.  Jack Colvin comes off as rather one-dimensional seasons since he simply shows up about halfway through most episodes.  The season has fun guest stars of the ’70s including Gerald McRaney, William Daniels, Andrew Robinson, Dabbs Greer, Loni Anderson, Jack Kruschen, Robert Alda, and appearance by Bixby’s The Courtship of Eddie’s Father co-star Brandon Cruz in “747”.

incredible hulk season 1 episode 6 terror in time square lou ferrigno nyc 1976

Guess they blew the budget here

The special effects are pretty weak (especially by today’s standards).  The “Hulk-Out” is of course the highlight of the series, but it is wildly inconsistent and often resorts to reusing footage (and even used footage from Steven Spielberg’s Duel for the “Never Give a Trucker an Even Break”).  The show has David hopping all over the country (once again with no order), but other than the NYC episode, it all manages to look like Southern California…and even resorts to chromachy for episodes like “The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas”.  Plus, you possible get one of the worst fake bears and a fake gorilla.

The Incredible Hulk will always be fun for the nostalgia factor, but I recognize it really isn’t that good.  In its defense, the show (like many) were meant to be watched, studied, and rewatched with the ability to pause and rewind events…it just always feels like The Incredible Hulk despite being fun needed better editing and creative design.  Even with these setbacks, the series is enduring for fans of it and shows the potential of the character which has struggled to find its place on the big screen with the other Avengers.

The Incredible Hulk—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

incredible hulk season 1 episode 1 pilot lou ferrigno

“The Incredible Hulk”

1.1       The Incredible Hulk Airdate:  11/27/77

After the tragic death of his wife in a car accident, Dr. David Banner (Bill Bixby) investigates why in moments of pressure, some people find the hidden strength to save loved ones when he couldn’t.  In a rash moment, David experiments upon himself by exposure to gamma radiation and unleashes a monster (Lou Ferrigno).  Now, teamed with his childhood friend Dr. Elaina Marks (Susan Sullivan), David must find a way to stop the monster as a reporter from The National Register named Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) dogs him for information.  David’s attempts to control the creature lead to tragedy and puts him on the run.

incredible hulk season 1 episode 2 death in the family bill bixby laurie prange

“Death in the Family”

1.2       Death in the Family Airdate:  11/27/77

David is on the run with the Hulk suspected in his murder and the murder of Dr. Elaina Marks.  With hopes of a new radiation treatment, David (as David Benton), encounters a sick young girl named Julie Griffith (Laurie Prange) who has lost the use of her legs.  When David suspects that Julie is being intentionally made ill by her doctor (William Daniels), he decides to remain at the family orange groves to discover who is behind the plot and her father’s murder…and makes himself a target of her boyfriend Denny Kayle (Gerald McRaney) and the killers.

incredible hulk season 1 episode 3 final round boxing lou ferrigno

“Final Round”

1.3       Final Round Airdate:  03/10/78

David rolls into Willingham, Delaware only to be saved from a mugging by aspiring boxer Henry “Rocky” Welsh (Martin Kove).  Getting a job at the ring, David (as David Benson) learns that Rocky’s boss Sariego (Al Ruscio) has some illegal activities, and Rocky’s high blood pressure could be a weakness for Rocky in the ring.

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“The Beast Within”

1.4       The Beast Within Airdate:  03/17/78

Getting a job at a zoo, David (as David Bradburn) connects with a fellow researcher named Dr. Claudia Baxter (Caroline McWilliams) who is working to isolate and stop the rage in animals.  Unfortunately for David, the zoo’s head doctor (Dabbs Greer) is part of an organized animal trafficking plan that cannot afford to be uncovered.

incredible hulk season 1 episode 5 of guilt models and murder david banner bill bixby

“Of Guilt, Models and Murder”

1.5       Of Guilt, Models and Murder Airdate:  03/24/78

When David wakes up to find a dead woman and the memory that the Hulk may be involved, he learns the Hulk is being blamed for the murder of the model wife of James Joslin (Jeremy Brett).  David’s memories are fuzzy, but he doesn’t believe he is the murderer.  Posing as David Blaine, David goes undercover as Joslin’s chauffer in the hopes of learning the truth from Joslin’s new model Sheila (Loni Anderson).

incredible hulk season 1 episode 6 terror in time square nyc 1977 lou ferrigno

“Terror in Time Square”

1.6       Terror in Times Square Airdate:  03/31/78

David (as David Blake) works in a Time Square arcade for Norman Abrams (Jack Kruschen) while helping Norman’s daughter Carol (Pamela Shoop) through medical school.  When David discovers that Norman’s “friend” Jason Laird (Robert Alda) is a member of the mafia, he must find a way to free Norman from Jason’s control.

incredible hulk season 1 episode 7 747 hulkout bill bixby

“747”

1.7       747 Airdate:  04/07/78

David has to get to Chicago to meet with a scientist about his condition.  Booking a flight from San Francisco, David (as David Brown) finds men trying to highjack a shipment of Egyptian goods on the plane.

incredible hulk season 1 episode 8 the hulk breaks las vegas lou ferrigno

“The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas”

1.8       The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas Airdate:  04/21/78

David (as David Benning) finds himself working in Las Vegas but finds himself caught up with a criminal casino owner and the only hope for exposing him could be Jack McGee.

incredible hulk season 1 episode 9 never give a trucker an even break lou ferrigno duel steven spielberg

“Never Give a Trucker an Even Break”

1.9       Never Give a Trucker an Even Break Airdate: 04/28/78

When David (as David Bradford) is picked up by a driver named Joanie (Jennifer Darling), he finds himself in a cross-country race involving a truck and stolen computer equipment.

incredible hulk season 1 episode 10 life and death hulkout bill bixby andrew robinson

“Life and Death”

1.10     Life and Death Airdate:  05/12/78

David (as David Bernard) meets a pregnant woman named Ellen (Julie Adams) while heading to the hospital for an experimental treatment from Dr. Stan Rhodes (Andrew Robinson).  Unfortunately, Dr. Rhodes is involved in an illegal child-selling scheme to finance his work.

incredible hulk season 1 episode 1 earthquakes happen bill bixby hulkout

“Earthquakes Happen”

1.11     Earthquakes Happen Airdate:  05/19/78

David has a plan.  Posing as a safety inspector named Robert Patterson, he’s infiltrated a research facility in the hopes of using their gamma radiation machine to killing the Hulk forever.  Unfortunately, an earthquake hits and David’s actions could lead to a meltdown.

incredible hulk season 1 episode 12 the waterfront story bill bixby sheila larken

“The Waterfront Story”

1.12     The Waterfront Story Airdate:  05/31/78

David (as David Barton) works at a Texas waterfront bar for a widowed woman named Josie (Sheila Larken).  As both Cliff McConnell (James Sikking) and Tony Kelly (Jack Kelly) try to win her endorsement for the waterfront union workers, David discovers that Josie’s husband’s death might not be an accident.

Related Links:

The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988)

The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989)

The Death of the Incredible Hulk (1990)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by

Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn’t afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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