Get a load of this: Bruce Banner was standing at a set of traffic lights next to this woman, and he suddenly got really angry, and turned into The Incredible Hulk, and his trousers burst open, and the woman freaked out and ran across the road and got hit by a bus and was instantly killed. The moral of this tragic tale is: "Don’t cross when the green man flashes, no matter what you’ve been taught by road safety advisors". It’s a sad, true story, and was related to us by one Uncle Ricky Dinkle, a childrens’ entertainer at a holiday camp in Dimchurch, wherever that is. Actually, it probably isn’t a true story now that we think about it, but when we were nine it caused us to have a nightmare wherein The Hulk chased us with his revolting floppy green cock slapping against his thigh. We still suffer the occasional flashback wherein his emerald pubes bear down on us...

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Of course, The Incredible Hulk was originally the creation of Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but it is the character’s television incarnation which concerns us today. Debuting on US TV back in late 1970s and early 80s, The Incredible Hulk starred Bill Bixby as the newly-named "David" Banner (network executives felt the name Bruce to be too closely associated to those evil homosexuals), and floppy-titted body builder Lou Ferringo as his green-hued alter-ego. The show differed from the comic in several respects. Firstly, The Hulk was somewhat weaker than his paper-based counterpart. Whereas the Marvel character was capable of lifting mountains, the Ferringo Hulk could just about lift the tail end of a VW Beetle off the ground. Also, whereas Bruce Banner gained his unwanted ability to turn into the monster when angered, via a gamma bomb explosion, David Banner’s powers came about as a result of an accident during experiments into human feats of physical prowess.

In the comic The Hulk was pursued by General "Thunderbolt" Ross, and his Hulkbuster team. In the TV series The Hulk was pursued by hack reporter Mr McGee. The TV series dealt with burning issues of the day, such as child abuse, and mental illness. The comic dealt with such burning issues as "Who is stronger: The Hulk or The Thing?"

Two considerations lead to this peculiar approach: ratings and budget. The show’s producer Kenneth Johnson, acting upon orders from CBS, kept Banner’s transformations to a maximum of two per show, while attempts to appeal to adults as well as kids, resulted in a relatively low-action, plot-driven format.

Each week, David Banner would wander from town to town, finding himself in a new job (most usually as a caretaker), under an assumed name ("Bruce Danner", "Bryce Banno", "Druce Tanner" etc.). He would then get beaten up by local thugs after sticking his nose where it wasn’t wanted, his drubbing resulting into his anger-induced transformation into The Hulk. His clothes would fall off, he’d steal some more from a washing line (though, because he was a good man, he’d peg some money to the line), and he’d move onto the next town, having inadvertenly sorted out some local problem by having The Hulk kick the crap out of the toughs. "Life sucks, but violence solves everything, and always make sure you pay for your stolen clothes" was the lesson learned from The Incredible Hulk, and to drive the point home the show’s end title music was a mournful piano refrain which dared you not to burst into tears.

The show lasted a respectable four and a half seasons, but returned in the late 1980s during the US networks’ remake boom (which also saw a well-fed Lee Majors dragged out of Burger King for a couple of Six Million Dollar Man movies). The three Hulk TV movies - The Return, Trial and Death Of The Incredible Hulk - toyed with the format established by the series, introducing other Marvel Comics characters as test beds for possible spin-offs. The higher action and humour levels effectively condemned the show: The Incredible Hulk had burst through his last wall. Within a couple of years, Bill Bixby was as dead as his alter-ego, ending the last hope of it ever returning. Unless the proposed motion picture gets the go-ahead, of course.

While probably the most grown-up and mature of any comic book-to-TV make-over, The Incredible Hulk was, nevertheless, mind-numbingly tedious. You’d find yourself sitting through forty minutes of Bill Bixby’s houlier-than-thou moralising and angst, before you caught your first glance of his swollen, jade other half. Even then, The Hulk’s appearance was usually a disappointment: he’d chuck a couple of cowboys into a bush, before knocking over a table or two, and then turn back into Banner. Why couldn’t he have a fight with a load of monsters, or punch a tractor into outer space, or something?

We’re glad it was axed. Stupid programme.


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1. Which of these "bodybuilders" turned down the role of The Hulk?

2. Which of these Marvel super-heroes did not appear in The Incredible Hulk TV movies?

3. Which physical disability did Lou Ferringo suffer from?

4. How long did it take to apply Lou Ferringo’s make-up for his transformation into The Hulk?

5. What else happened in that dream we had about The Hulk?


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