The Incredible Hulk

Season 1 Episode 0

The Incredible Hulk

Aired Friday 8:00 PM Nov 04, 1977 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
64 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


Dr. David Banner, a physician and scientist, is haunted by the death of his wife whom he couldn't save in a car accident. While he is researching the hidden immense strength of all humans, he discovers that super-human strength can be related to solar flares. In a dangerous experiment, he gives himself a dose of gamma radiation. However the dosage is accidentally set too high. Now under circumstances of extreme emotional stress such as anger, fear, rage, pain or frustration he transforms into a rampaging beast know as "The Incredible Hulk."


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  • Great show even after all these years!

    I have been watching a lot of shows I have grown up with since I was born in 1969. Knight Rider, Grizzly Adams, Fall Guy, etc. Some of them are very cheesy and for a show in the late 70's the Incredible Hulk does surprisingly well. I am on season 2 right now and I must admit - I remember it being more cheesy than it seems now. I am quite pleased with how the story has been written and the sadness for Banners situation as he struggles with his condition. I am really enjoying watching this classic and plan on buying the whole dvd series once I get some more money. Can only buy so many dvd's per month :) lol.

    Great show. Well written and not as cheesy as you would expect from something written in the late 70's. Camera work is done quite nicely also to add size to Lou Ferigno. Touching story line, very well appluaded in my opinion!moreless
  • A year after his wife was killed in a car accident, Dr. David Banner is researching inner human strength which could have saved her. An accidental overdose of gamma radiation turns him into a giant green beast whenever he becomes angry. A decent pilot...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    Ahh... 'The Incredible Hulk', what a strange beast (no pun intended of a TV series). Such a (with respect) far fetched premise, but played out in perfectly serious manner, rightly not camping it up (can you imagine 'Hulk' in the style of the classic 1960's 'Batman'?). We all tuned in mostly to see the Hulk and his impressive feats for that episode, but were also treated to some serious drama and soul searching (summed up by that classic, sad closing theme tune, 'The Lonely Man'). On paper, it probably shouldn't have worked. On screen, it did!

    Although I have always loved pop culture ever since my earliest years, and have always been a huge cult TV and movies fan, I've never really been into reading comic books, so personally I've never really compared the series to the comic book version. It does differ quite a bit (far beyond the changing of Bruce Banner to David Banner – the long-running rumour goes that producers felt that "Bruce" sounded "too homosexual"!!), and as such, some comic book aficionados did somewhat distance themselves from this TV series for some years. Thankfully, it has come to be recognised on its own merits.

    The series arrived on U.K. screens in 1978, the year I was born. Although I can vaguely remember watching very late episodes when I was about 4, it wasn't until ITV started to rerun the series in the later 1980s that I really started to discover it.

    I've always collected off-air recordings of such action / adventure shows, but when Channel 5 ran the whole series through on weekend mornings in the late 1990s, due to my unfocused life at the time, I attempted to record them all but ashamedly missed a few (due to waking up late and finding I had ran out of tape, or forgetting to set the timer!). So with the whole series now available on DVD, it's time to add it to my "classics to review every single episode of" project! I'm already looking forward to it, not taking to the horrible CGI Hulk of modern movies (ridiculous ability to leap for miles et al), much preferring "old school" creativeness of filming.

    Anyway, this Pilot itself... Although I wouldn't quite rank it as one of the great TV Pilot movies of all time, it certainly does the job. The first half, with David and colleague Elaina's research into superhuman strength (I particularly liked the black mother and son that they interview) and David's accidental gamma radiation overdose, leading to his first "Hulk-out", is very engaging and well told. It is a little slow in places, but that was often the case with feature-length / two-part TV shows of the era, that often had a little "padding"; the fact this is a Pilot and needs to give all the background details furthers this even more. But much of the cause due to the general changing direction of TV; back in those days, scenes tended to play out for longer, and the shorter run-time of shows nowadays (due to more commercials) has sped up pacing of episodes even further.

    David's first Hulk-out is executed well, and I like the beginning of the scene between the Hulk and the little girl by the lake, a nod to the classic 1931 version of 'Frankenstein'.

    Unfortunately, for the second half, the pace drops somewhat. Although I like the extra depth that these older shows had, much of the time it is too talky for its own good. The test of David in the enclosed lab is fairish, but – even though we get the point that Elaina seems to be the only person that can calm the Hulk – lacks the kind of adrenaline and excitement that the sequence needs. After a terrific first half, the second half of this Pilot does sadly let things down a little in terms of pacing.

    Of the cast, Bill Bixby is perfect as Banner, playing him (both pre- and post-Hulk afflicted) with a quiet dignity, bringing the necessary level of "believability" to the role. Jack Colvin is interesting as pushy newspaper reporter Jack McGee (for some reason, I always had a personal back-story for McGee that he was a recovering alcoholic, hence many of his colleagues not beliving his bizarre claims about the Hulk).

    The story doesn't have a villain; although in such series I usually enjoy a decent villain to be tackled, in this kind of Pilot, the story really didn't require one. The effects are obviously dated, but considering the era and the limited TV budget, to be fair they are passable considering what was technologically possible at the time. So with Elaina dead from the exploding lab, and McGee insisting that the Hulk is responsible, the stage is set for the ensuing TV series.

    Although I normally go for Region 1 DVDs, as the presentation is typically superior, with 'Hulk' I've settled for the Region 2 "ultimate collection" DVD set. Going from this Pilot, the picture quality is quite sharp and vibrant considering the age; the only thing that did niggle me (being a perfectionist) is that the act breaks crash on into the next act without a pause – but considering some of the ropey, and often horribly edited-for-time off-air VHS copies of such vintage TV shows I made do with for many years, I can easily forgive this.

    Anyway, all-in-all, this is a perfectly passable Pilot. As covered, my main gripe is that the second half is far too talky and slow paced, bringing my overall rating of the production down. But the first half is very strong, and coupled with a reasonable climax, I can still give this Pilot a reasonable 9 out of 10.moreless
  • As most two-parters go, a bit stretched out.

    The two-parter is adequate, but nothing extrordinary. I thought there would be something a little more complex to cause Banner to change into the Hulk than simply an overdose of radiation. No potions to swallow, pills, experimental solutions in addition to the radiation? The dialog is over-explanatory. For example in the last line when Banner said "I think you loved me, too." He then goes on to say, "although you never said it." That second part was entirely unnecessary because we got it that he never knew she said it from the first line. This immature dialog-writing runs rampant through the episode, and thankfully, the writers either smarten up, or are replaced by more experienced writers later on. The whole premise seems way too simplistic, but you have to start somewhere. I do, however, like the scientific dialog Elaina gives when witnessing the hulk in action. Very credible and professional, and she rendered it beautifully.moreless
  • An exciting start to an amazing series.

    As far as beginnings go this episode does a pretty good job laying down the origin of The Hulk. I believe the writers created a believable story line of how he came to be. Dr. David Bruce Banner is studying the secret behind people's hidden strength that comes out when a loved one is in danger. He is trying to find answers to why he was unable to unlock his strength when his wife was trapped in a burning car. Dr. Banner finds out that all the people who displayed such power used it on days when the sun had increased gamma radiation. He then uses the labs own radiology unit to submit himself to gamma rays (unknown to himself he gives himself much more exposure than intended). So no everytime he is angry he metamorphosis into a large, inhumanly strong, child-like monster. This back story provides a strong base to an amazing series.moreless
  • The Incredible Hulk is arguably the finest superhero series in the history of television. At its peak, the stories were compelling and Bill Bixby proved he was one of Hollywood's finest actors. This pilot is what started it all.moreless

    As a child, I loved The Incredible Hulk. The series which starred Bill Bixby, Jack Colvin, and Lou Ferrigno while somewhat cheesy at times, also was one of the most exciting programs on television in the late 70's and early 80's. If the Incredible Hulk had one flaw, it suffered from a lack of consistency. Some episodes were truly great, while others were truly bad. The pilot episode is an example of the Incredible Hulk at its finest. In this episode, we find out how David Banner became the Hulk. The pilot demonstrated a fine balance between the physical strength and aggression of the Hulk and the caring, softness of Banner. The pilot also introduced the world to Jack McGee, a reporter for a National Inquirer type of newspaper. As the years rolled by, we saw less and less of McGee and that was a shame. He was a key element to most of the great Hulk episodes. For those of you into comic books, you will also find it interesting that the series differed a lot from the comic book version.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Goof: When the Hulk is at the lake you can see the green on his hand is washing off.

    • When Jack McGee first arrives outside the labs and introduces himself to David Banner, the audio of his dialogue does not match with his lip movements; seemingly, it was redubbed in post production with the name of the newspaper that he works for, being changed.

    • When David has the flat tire right before his first transformation, he gets out, looks at the tire and the hub cap is missing , after he gets the jack and spare tire he goes to the front of the car and the hub cap is on.

    • Alias: none. David went by his own identity in this episode.
      Job: Reasearch Scientist, Phisician at Culver Institute
      City/State: Sacramento, CA

    • During the scene in which the Hulk smashes Banner's car, the headlights are off in one scene, back on again in another.

    • Look carefully when the Hulk jumps down into the burning Lab when he goes to rescue Elaina Marks, it is not Lou Ferrigno!! A Stunt Double was used but you can tell it's not Lou's Body!!

  • QUOTES (15)

    • (McGee asks to come inside Elaina's home for an interview)
      Elaina: I'm afraid not. To be quite honest with you, I don't particularly like your newspaper, or its reputation.
      (Seeing a reflection of David's tattered state in Elaina's bedroom mirror)
      McGee: Yeah, well yeah. "Reputation's" a very important thing. Uhh, I won't bother you, since you're, uh, otherwise "involved."

    • Elaina: David?
      David: Mmhmm?
      Elaina: Look, I think we should put this particular interview off for today.
      David: No, no, we're going to do it. So...why don't you bring them in while I go buy a doughnut?
      Elaina: Why don't I go bring them in while you go buy a doughnut?

    • Elaina: (carrying a very thick book) Well. We've got the myoglobin analysis back. I tell you, I think that computer ought to run for Congress. You ask it a simple question, it gives you back a ten-pound answer, takes you a month to decipher.

    • Ben: Hey, a reporter named Jack McGee called.
      Elaina:Yeah, he's from The National Register, wants to interview us.
      Ben: Oh, National Register is not exactly The Washington Post.
      Elaina: No, not exactly. That's why we've been ducking him.

    • Elaina: As I told you on the phone Mrs. Maier, what we're trying to learn is how to tap into that really incredible reserve of human strength that all of us have and only use about twenty percent of.

    • Elaina: How can you hope to examine a medical phenomenon with a cool scientific objectivity...
      David: If I keep losing my cool. You know, my mother always used to tell me getting angry doesn't help.
      Elaina: Well, I always liked your mother.

    • David: Do you think we will ever find where that strength comes from?
      Elaina: I don't know.

    • (Talking about David's research.)
      McGee: My newspaper's very interested.
      David: Mr. McGee, your newspaper is only interested in reporting murder, rape, horoscopes, UFOs, and Farrah Fawcett. I don't happen to fit into any of those categories, and I wish not to be interviewed.

    • (Talking to David about his alter ego.)
      Elaina: How this... this creature is an outgrowth of David Banner. It's his... it's his primitive emotions run wild. It may be undisciplined, It may tear the hell out of a pressure chamber, but it won't kill because David Banner won't kill.

    • (Talking about a large footprint.)
      McGee: There's a girl and her father over at the lake, who say that they saw the thing that made this.
      Elaina: Did they? Well, what was it? Bigfoot?
      McGee: Sounded more like the Jolly Green Giant. Only I wouldn't call him too jolly. Big hulk, about seven feet tall, greenish tinge to the skin. Pretty mean-looking.

    • (Elaina talks to the Hulk.)
      Elaina: Oh, God. My poor David. Who will take care of you now? It's okay, it's okay, it's okay. I don't know if you can understand me, but I want you to know something. Dear David, I have loved you for such a very long time. And I always will. And I always will. (Elaina dies.)

    • David: (About his love for the late Elaina Marks) I Love you Elaina, I think you Loved me too, although you never said it.

    • Policeman: (to Jack McGee about the first sighting of the Hulk) We have no proof that those footprints are real and we do not want to start a panic.

    • David: (describing what his eyes looked like the first time he is changing back into himself) My Eyes Were White.

    • David Banner: Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

  • NOTES (7)

    • As well as doing the narration for the series, Ted Cassiday also did the Voice/Growl of The Hulk, and did so for 2 seasons until he passed away.

    • The scenes of the Culver Institute, where Drs. Banner and Marks do a majority of their research, were filmed at the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) campus in Valencia, CA. Cal Arts was the first institution in the United States to confer degrees for the visual and performing arts. Funded in large part by Walt Disney, Cal Arts is the school of merit for many of the current animation giants working at Pixar.

    • David´s mother is spoken of in the past tense, implying that she is deceased. This would later be confirmed in the episode "Homecoming."

    • Richard Kiel was originally cast as the Hulk, but as production on the pilot began, he didn't appear bulky enough to the producers. Although Kiel's scenes were re-shot with Lou Ferrigno, there is a brief shot of Kiel as the Hulk as he looks up a tree before he rescues a drowning girl.

    • As with several TV Pilots in the late 1970s (Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers In The 25th Century being two other cases), this pilot film was slightly re-edited and shown in cinema theatres in some countries.

    • Official feature-length and two-part versions of this story exists; with the two-part version containing a narration from Bill Bixby previewing scenes of part two at the end of part one; and a re-cap of part one's events at the start of part two.

    • Originally the 2 hour pilot movie, but shown as 2 part episode in syndication.


    • The scene where Hulk meets the little girl at the lake is a reference to the infamous deleted (but later restored) scene from Frankenstein where Frankenstein's monster sees a girl at a lake.