Before Mark Ruffalo; before Ed Norton; and before Eric Bana; it was Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno who brought the Hulk to life.
Airing between 1978-1982, The Incredible Hulk TV Series ran for five seasons, with three TV movies completing the storyline, which had been left open-ended after the show was cancelled.
CGI was still just a glint in Marvel’s eye back then, so the Hulk’s appearance relied on the physical prowess of ex-body builder Ferrigno, along with mountains of latex and green body paint. Never-the-less, the show proved to be a huge hit and has maintained a firm fan-following in the decades that followed. And there’s a reason for that: the performances of both Bixby and Ferrigno, alongside superb storylines, that never shy away from the issues of the day. In fact, so engaging are the plots, that when the Hulk makes his inevitable appearance, it’s always a little disappointing. That’s no reflection on Ferrigno’s performance—simply that the stories are good enough to stand on their own with no sci-fi or superhero element.
Fabulous Films’ new 26 DVD set boasts all 80 episodes from all five seasons, the two original feature-length films and—for the first time ever—the three later TV movies – The Incredible Hulk Returns, The Trial Of The Incredible Hulk, and The Death Of The Incredible Hulk.
These are particularly interesting, including [SPOILERS] the first live-action appearance of Thor (Eric Kramer) who crops up in Returns, along with Donald Blake (Steve Levitt) who, rather than transform into Thor, exists as a separate individual. Trial is undoubtedly the pearl in the collection, however, with Rex Smith giving such a memorable appearance as Daredevil, that he makes you wish the (presumably) hoped-for spin off had materialised.
The Incredible Hulk won’t win any awards for effects, but the show will win your heart. And when Bill Bixby throws his backpack over his shoulder, and that Lonely Man theme starts up, you might even shed a tear or two.