The Incredible Hulk: How The Legend Began DVD Review

Sunday, June 8 2003

Posted on Genre Online

The following was originally posted on Genre Online:

Title: The Incredible Hulk: Original Television Series Premiere
Region: One
Genre: Comic Book Adaptation Dramatic TV Series
Stars: Bill Bixby, Mariette Hartley, and Lou Ferrigno

Writer: Kenneth Johnson

Based On “The Incredible Hulk” Created By: Marvel Comics

Director: Kenneth Johnson

Feature length: 95 minutes/97 minutes

Extras: Exclusive Sneak Preview Of “The Hulk” Motion Picture Directed By Ang Lee, Commentary On Both Episodes By Writer, Director, and Producer Kenneth Johnson, Special Introduction For “The Incredible Hulk” By Star Lou Ferrigno, Text Excerpt From The Movie Tie-In Novel Of “The Hulk,” Hulk Interactive Game Trailer, and Bonus Trailers

Languages: English Monaural Sound

Subtitles: English Captions and French and Spanish Language Subtitles

Packaging: Keep Case

Chapter Stops: 18 Each

Sound: Monaural Sound

Year of DVD Release: 2003

Home Video Distributor: Universal Studios Home Video

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Reviewer: Mark A. Rivera

There is no better way for me to celebrate the end of the 2002-2003 broadcast television season as well as celebrate the 2003 summer blockbuster theatrical film season collectively then by looking back at a classic TV series that just happens to be making the jump to the big screen and both are based on Marvel Comics’ “The Incredible Hulk.” “The Incredible Hulk” is arguably the best live action TV series based on a Marvel Comics character. Transferring comic book characters to the big and small screens alike is very difficult. On the big screen Warner Brothers was able to successfully develop feature film franchises for DC Comics’ “Superman” and “Batman” and both had previously enjoyed popularity on the small screen in the 1950s and 1960s respectively. However it wasn’t until “Blade” became the sleeper hit of 1998 that Marvel Comics began to materialize in a big way as fans might have hoped for. Now we have seen a “Blade” sequel, two “X-Men” features, and “Spider-Man” and “The Hulk” is about to join the pack on June 20, 2003. However back in 1978, the only other TV series based on a comic book character was “Wonder Woman,” which was also based on a DC Comics character.

Enter Kenneth Johnson, who had successfully brought “The Six Million Dollar Man” and other programs to the small screen and would later bring the original “V” miniseries to fruition in the early 1980s. Instead of going for a campy larger than life style that had been common in shows like “Wonder Woman” and “Batman,” Johnson fashioned “The Incredible Hulk” to be a more of a straightforward drama that just happen to feature a character with a larger than life affliction. “The Incredible Hulk” would air on broadcast network television from 1978 through 1985 and was one of the longest running television series based on a comic book character. Three made for TV films followed beginning with “The Incredible Hulk Returns” in 1988, “The Trial Of The Incredible Hulk” in 1989, and “The Death Of The Incredible Hulk” in 1990.

What the pilot and original TV series has that I think to some extent the follow-up TV movies did not have was a poignant quality that made the series feel more naturalistic and darker in tone. The late Bill Bixby, who played “Dr. David Bruce Banner” for the entire series as well as the TV movies, gives the show a great sense of dignity and I think the makeup effects for the pilot and the bonus two-part episode from the series entitled “Married” looks better than the subsequent TV movies produced by New World Television. Lou Ferrigno was cast fresh off of his career as a professional bodybuilder and actually replaced Richard Kiel because while Ferrigno did not have the acting experience that Kiel had, he had the muscle mass to bring the character to life. Richard Kiel would go on to play the memorable character of “Jaws” in the James Bond feature films “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker.”

Soon consumers will be able to relive the nostalgia of the premiere episode of “The Incredible Hulk” or discover it for the first time with this excellent DVD release coming from Universal Studios Home Video. Both the “Premiere” episode and the episode entitled “Married” are presented in their original (1.33:1) television broadcast aspect ratios with a clear and full two-channel English Monaural Soundtrack with optional English Captions for the hearing impaired and French and Spanish Language Subtitles encoded as options. The episodes are presented on a DVD-10 so each episode has it’s own respective side. The picture quality can be soft at times in part because of the style in which the shows were shot in the mid 1970s and sometimes one can notice a bit of grain, but all things considered I think these episodes look fabulous and will probably surprise those who view them with the level of clarity and detail that I do not think has ever been seen with these programs before. Both episodes feature optional episode length commentary by Writer, Director, and Producer Kenneth Johnson and he is very articulate with detailed screen specific comments throughout.

The other bonus features are found on the “Premiere Episode” side of the DVD and include a videotaped introduction with Lou Ferrigno (3:54) and Lou discusses the 3-½ hour makeup process he went through during the making of the series and how he fit in the bodybuilding to maintain the muscle size necessary for him to play the character. Then there is sneak preview of the upcoming Ang Lee feature film “The Hulk” (3:05), which features lots of scenes from the upcoming film in between various interview snippets that include Stars Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly as well as Director Ang Lee, Writer and Producer James Schamus, and ILM Effects Guru Dennis Muren. There is also a trailer for the upcoming “Hulk Interactive Game” (2:03) for Windows based PCs, Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft X-Box, and the Nintendo Game Cube. The game looks like a comic book page come to life and features various comic book villains for the Hulk to fight with as well. An excerpt from the Movie Tie-In novel by Peter David can be read onscreen and there are bonus trailers that include the theatrical trailer for Ang Lee’s big screen adaptation of “The Hulk” (1:13) with a full Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Soundtrack and other trailers for the upcoming DVD release of the pilot episode of “Monk” (: 33) and “Steven Spielberg Presents Taken,” which will broadcast again on the Sci-Fi Channel on September 28, 2003 before it makes its Region One DVD debut in October of 2003. A DVD trailer for “The Fast And The Furious: Tricked Out Edition” (: 33) precedes the premiere episode and there are box shots for other titles available now on DVD from Universal Studios Home Video that include “12 Monkeys,” “Jaws,” “Pitch Black,” “John Carpenter’s The Thing,” the remake of “The Time Machine” and the original “Tremors.”

The menus are standard interactive still frames that are easy to navigate. This is a terrific DVD that pays great respect to a classic genre TV series. “The Incredible Hulk: Original Television Series Premiere” will debut on DVD on Tuesday, June 3, 2003 from Universal Studios Home Video and is definitely worth checking out.

© Copyright 2003 By Mark A. Rivera
All Rights Reserved.

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