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Incredible Hulk Season 1 Episode 4 – The Beast Within Review

A job at a zoo introduces David to a female scientist who is conducting genetis research that may help him gain a better understanding of his own condition.

Bill Cole goes for a Hulk KO
The Beast Within
Season: 1
Episode: 4
Air Date: March 17, 1978
Director: Kenneth Gilbert
Writer: Karen Harris,
Jill Sherman Donner
David’s Alias: David Bradburn
Hulk-Outs: 2
•Attacked by a gorilla
•Tied up, about to be poisoned

The second regular episode of The Incredible Hulk TV series, The Beast Within is the first regular episode showing David (Bill Bixby) going undercover in the search for a cure that can rid him of  the Hulk (Lou Ferrigno) .

In an article of Anthropology Monthly David read about the research of Dr. Claudia Baxter (Caroline McWilliams) into the root chemical cause of animal aggression.  Her goal is to find an antidote to aggression in animals, and David thinks it may help aggression in humans as well.  David takes the job as a janitor at the zoo where Baxter works and approaches the scientist, claiming to have had a couple years of pre-med as well as experience in animal husbandry.

As Baxter must have needed a tiger masturbated she decides to show David around the lab and bring him up to speed on her research, but waiting in her lab is sexual harasser Carl (Richard Kelton).  Offering grant money in exchange for a date, Baxter coldly turns him down.  We find she’s more interested in animals than humans as she is disappointed by most of the people she’s met.  But she has full trust in her animals, even allowing a gorilla named Elliot to wander free in the lab.

There’s a wonderfully funny moment where Dr. Baxter presents David with “the work of Dr. David Banner–a brilliant, if long-winded, scientist” who’s work Baxter wants to continue.  Bixby plays that moment perfectly, bemused to hear opinions on his own work in that way.

She has continued Banner’s work and created AGD-4, a drug that seems to stop the aggression in animals, but then causes an after effect of severe aggression in the animals.

But Baxter’s work is in danger of losing her grants due to the death of several animals due to infection.  We find this out from Baxter’s boss Dr. Malone (Dabs Greer, best known as Reverend Alden from Little House on the Prairie) who cracks the whip saying if they had more people like David working there the zoo would never be clean.

Which is true, actually.  We have many, many scenes of David, a janitor, flirting with Dr. Baxter, performing experiments, and buying hot dogs for the comely scientist.

If we didn’t already suspect Carl and Dr. Malone of being evil, it’s confirmed the next scene where Carl is seen carrying a chimp that he and Malone declare dead.  David examines the chimp and think it is just in a “comatose state”.  And we soon discover the depths of the plot when Carl and Malone meet with a South African diamond smuggler named Joe.  The zoo is using the animals to smuggle diamonds into the United States, and killing the animals to remove the diamonds.  This makes me wonder, if they have to autopsy the animals to get the diamonds out, how are they getting the diamonds in the animals in the first place?  More animal husbandry?

It’s a ludicrous plot that is strained even further when we see Malone having second thoughts, and Joe and Carl conspiring to kill David, fearing the janitor may “know too much”.  Rather than kill David obviously Carl decides to inject Elliot the gorilla with the AGD-4, then locks David in the cage with the enraged ape.

Hulk-Out #1:  With Elliot beating David, David starts his transformation and beats on the gorilla.  While the fact that Elliot was a guy in a suit worked okay during the early scenes, in the fight with the Hulk the costume’s limitations become obvious.  Ferrigno flexes and growls, and so the gorilla throws some lab equipment at Hulk and we can actually see the gorilla suit wrinkle.  The fight continues all in slow motion, Lou’s pecs jiggling, the lab being destroyed, until Elliot retreats into his cage.  But at the last minute Dr. Baxter comes in to see the giant green Hulk, so Hulk breaks through the wall and runs off following a sign that humorously says “To the Animals.”

In most episodes this is where the Hulk-Out would end, but this one continues for many more scenes of Hulk flexing and growling at zoo attendees, giving plenty of eye-witnesses to Hulk’s escapades.  But, lest the younger members of the audience be frightened by the rampaging green man, Hulk also has a tender moment with a little girl who feeds peanuts to Hulk.  Of course, Hulk eats them shell and all.   It’s a mash-up of two scenes from the pilot movies, but it is there to gently remind the audience that Hulk is friendly to children.

After the girl’s shrieking mother frightens Hulk off he finally he hides in the tiger den.  There, petting a baby tiger, the Hulk finally change back into David.  And once human, David is quite scared of all the giant cats around him (though I’m not sure why; if a tiger attacked I’m sure he’d just change back into the Hulk).

The Hulk’s appearance has upped scrutiny on Dr. Malone and the zoo, and Malone plans to use Hulk as a scapegoat for all the dead animals.  Malone suspends Baxter from the zoo, but as she’s packing, David returns and notices some of the AGD-4 compound is missing and a blood sample shows that it was the cause of Elliot’s attack.

But with all these eye witnesses to Hulk’s appearance, the police and Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) are out in full force trying to capture the creature.  And we get a funny moment when Baxter asks David to get rid of Mr. McGee as she doesn’t want to deal with the press.  David is unsure what to do and gives Baxter a character-building speech about how she can’t hide from people forever and she should start with McGee.  It is a manipulative move on behalf of our hero.

Additionally, with The Incredible Hulk’s pilot episode fresh in my mind, and the havoc McGee caused the last time he tried to get a news story about some scientists, it was funny to see McGee snooping around another scientist’s lab.  His methods have improved, though, as here McGee tries to lure Baxter into an interview by saying the press can help her research or hurt it.

After Baxter brushes off McGee, David and Baxter realize all the dead animals are South African, and deduce from a newspaper headline that they must be used for smuggling diamonds.  But Carl overhears their talk, and takes the two hostage at gunpoint.  They tie up David and Carl plans on throwing Baxter into the lion’s cage, while Malone goes to inject David with a lethal dose of AGD-4.

Hulk-Out #2:  Before Malone can inject David, the janitor Hulks out, snapping his ropes.  Hulk knocks Malone aside, and punches through an aluminum wall, running to the Lion’s cage to rescue Dr. Baxter.  Carl is just about to throw Baxter in the cage as Hulk approaches, and Carl just drops Baxter and tries to make a run for it in his jeep.

Here we see the Hulk’s most impressive feat of strength since the pilot:  Hulk picks up a jeep and starts shaking it until Carl is thrown from the driver’s seat, then Hulk throws Carl in some water.  As it’s the 70’s, the rules of television clearly state that if someone is in water they are completely immobilized and unable to either flee or attack, and this gives Hulk a tender moment with Dr. Baxter as police arrive.  Then Hulk runs off into the night, as police arrest Carl, leaving me disappointed we didn’t get to see the Hulk battle a lion.  He’s fought a gorilla and a bear, a lion seemed the next logical step.

And in the denouement we see that Dr. Malone, Carl, and Joe were arrested and Dr. Baxter’s name cleared.  More, she is promoted to director of the zoo.  But despite her asking David to stay on and continue her anti-aggression research, Mr. McGee’s sniffing around forces him to move on.  So with a tender first and last kiss with Dr. Baxter, David dons his tan windbreaker and walks down the road to The Lonely Man theme.  But we see he left one final clue, signing Dr. Baxter’s cast to try the effects of gamma rays on DNA overlap as she continues her research.

This episode was very formulaic and did not change the status quo any from what we’ve seen in previous episodes.  The plot of zoo animals being used to smuggle diamonds from South Africa was a bit silly, but yet very inventive.  And despite the bad 70’s effects and costumes, the Hulk/gorilla fight was rather fun.  A middle of the road episode, this gets a mild recommend.

 Read my other Incredible Hulk Series Reviews



March 1, 2012 Posted by | Comic Books, Movies, Reviews, Television, The Incredible Hulk TV Series Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Incredible Hulk Season 1 Episode 3 – Final Round Review

A boxer comes to David’s aid when he is mugged and then finds him work at a gym, but the gloves are off when it’s discovered that the boss is also a drug dealer.

Bill Cole goes for a Hulk KO
Final Round
Season: 1
Episode: 3
Air Date: March 10, 1978
Director: Kenneth Gilbert
Writer: Kenneth Johnson
David’s Alias: David Benson
Hulk-Outs: 2
•Trapped in a cage
while his friend is about
to have a heart attack

In November, 1977 CBS aired two pilot films of The Incredible Hulk TV series.  The first was the pilot movie telling the origins of how David Banner became The Incredible Hulk.  The second, called Return of The Incredible Hulk, and renamed Death in the Family for syndication, was the first episode showing the formula the rest of the series would follow.

When those two TV movies were a hit in the ratings, CBS ordered a full pick-up of The Incredible Hulk as a weekly TV series, but since no regular episodes of The Incredible Hulk were made pending Return of The Incredible Hulk’s ratings, fans had a long wait before the green Goliath would again grace their television screens.

Finally, in March of 1978, the first weekly episode of The Incredible Hulk was broadcast:  Final Round.

It’s lucky The Incredible Hulk had the preceding two TV movies before it, because as a first episode this one is quite ridiculous, and incredibly dumb.

It begins with David Banner (Bill Bixby), on the run, and arriving in Wilmington, Delaware…or a reasonable Universal Studios back-lot facsimile thereof.  A quick Google search tells me Wilmington has a very high crime rate, something David finds out pretty quickly as he is mugged within minutes of his arrival in the city.

The three gang members drag David into an alley and start to beat him, and I am expecting a very early episode Hulk-Out.  But series creator and episode writer Kenneth Johnson played me well!  Before David’s transformation can begin a stranger clad in a gray sweatsuit comes to David’s aid.

The stranger is Henry Welsh.  Calling himself “Rocky”, Welsh wants to be “a contender, like all those other Rockies”.  The problem is–he can’t fight.  His girlfriend Mary knows it, the other fighters at the gym know it, everybody knows it but Rocky.  In a clumsy scene where someone’s car just so happens to have broken down we’re shown Rocky does have a talent for fixing engines, but his dream of a heavyweight belt has him rejecting a job at a garage owned by Mary’s brother.

Welsh is played by Martin Kove, best known for his role as The Karate Kid‘s evil sensei John Kreese.  Before he played the Karate teacher for rich kids of Reseda, Kove played an aspiring boxer in The Incredible Hulk and it’s amusing to see him try to put on a bad fake accent here.  Less believable than the accent is Rocky’s behavior.  In the first five minutes of seeing this character, I hate him.  I hate him because he makes me feel dumb.  First, he invites David back to his apartment, and his every word and action sell him as being a boxer.  He can’t walk back to his apartment–he has to bounce like a fighter the whole way.  And he can’t be named Hank.  Despite there having been Hank Armstrong, Henry Hank, and many other boxers named Henry, this Henry wants to be “Rocky”.  Why?  Not because of Rocky Marciano specifically but because of “all those other Rockies”.  Like Balboa?  Who was in theaters the year before?

So it has hit me within Rocky’s first few lines that this script is lazy, but like an uppercut it’s hammered home when, during the run back to Rocky’s apartment, there just happens to be someone outside with a dead car that Rocky fixes instantly.  Immediately this entire story’s arc is completely evident.  I know every “what” and just need the “how”.

The laziness continues as Rocky, for no apparent reason other than he’s a good guy, offers David both a place to stay and a job.  While I do like David’s cover story of having been a medic while serving in Viet Nam, it’s far too convenient a way to integrate David into Rocky’s everyday life.  Through David we learn that Rocky is a terrible boxer but a really nice guy, and that gym owner Mr. Sariego is using Rocky to deliver mysterious packages across town.  Rocky thinks the packages are gambling related, but we find out the truth.

Hulk-Out #1:  David is keeping Rocky company on one of the deliveries, and they are ambushed.  The muggers from the first scene found out where Rocky worked and they wanted revenge.  They beat up David and push him into some garbage, then turn their back and gang up on Rocky, allowing David to conveniently transform unseen.

The transformation is very primitive compared to later seasons.  We get the white eyes, but they color Bill Bixby’s face with an animated green glow as they did in the pilot films.  Then the Hulk (Lou Ferrigno) stands up–wearing very different pants…no seam down the front.  Hulk is still in his green wig and makeup with the large forehead and eyebrows as seen in the pilot, a look that evolves as the season goes on.

After knocking down the muggers, Hulk then leans over Rocky and starts to growl.  It’s an odd scene as the Hulk has never before threatened to any of David’s friends, but here are left to we wonder what Hulk might do.  But one of the muggers attacks from behind, and Rocky is left alone, save for the bag Hulk stepped on revealing Rocky has been transporting heroin for Mr. Sariego.

The rest of the Hulk fight is fairly entertaining.  The Hulk throws one guy through a car roof, crushes a garbage can lid, and then when the thugs try to run Hulk chases them through a brick wall!  It’s a shame the DVD shows so clearly that the bricks were just stacked, not mortared in any way, but my memory of Hulk is always running through walls and this is his first full-on Kool-Aid Man moment.   (Yes in Death in the Family he knocks out part of a wall, but that’s the part next to a window.)

After the fight we see Hulk transform back  into David with some fades, bad false eyebrows on Bixby, and the green glow again.  After returning to his human form, David sees the white powder on his feet, and has a memory of the Hulk stepping on Rocky’s bag.  So here we see that David at least retains some memories of what was done as the Hulk, in contrast to what we saw in the pilot movie.

Rocky doesn’t want to be used to run drugs, but in a moment that makes the character less sympathetic he refuses to go to the cops immediately.  First he decides to leverage this knowledge.  He confronts Sariego, who then offers Rocky a championship fight against champ Bill Cole–a fight that not only Rocky thinks he can win.  Worse, Sariego intends for the fight to actually kill Rocky. In the most silly plot twist yet, Sariego went to his heroin supplier to get a liquid that, when mixed with Rocky’s water, will cause Rocky’s already high blood pressure to spike.  That, combined with the exertion of the fight, will cause Rocky to have a heart attack and Sariego will be minus one snitch.

David overhears this nefarious and inane plot, so Cole, working for Sariego, knocks David out with one punch.  That was actually a twist I liked–we’ve seen David has to be beaten quite a bit to transform, so a boxer who can deliver a one-punch K.O. shows that David is not invincible.  When unconscious he could be hurt or killed without transforming.

But that one good idea for the plot is then quickly undone as the criminals first decide to wait until after the boxing match to kill David, and then think the only good place where they can hide their captive is, of course, in a wrestler’s cage hung in the rafters above the boxing match.  Not a closet, not the basement, not an office, but out in the open in a room filled with thousands of people.

Thousands of people, including Mr. Jack McGee (Jack Colvin), reporter for the National Register.  After the initial Hulk sightings, McGee came to Wilmington.  Due to the Register’s impressive sports section he ends up being convinced to cover Rocky’s fight.  Sitting next to an annoying boxing promoter, McGee shows no interest in the fight until

Hulk-Out #2:  David awakens in his cage, tied up above the fight.  Rocky is taking a severe beating and, knowing Rocky will die, David begins to transform.  This time we get the button-popping, seam-ripping transformation (but still the green blob on David’s face).  The Hulk then rips the bars off the cage and leaps into the ring in the best scene of the episode.

Colvin’s facial expression is priceless during these Hulk scenes.  While everyone else around him thinks this is all part of the show, Jack shows fear and recognition.  A smile plays across his face as if he can smell the riches he will get by breaking this story.

Cole, who knocked David out with one punch, hits Hulk in the ribs, and is slapped off his feet, into the air, out of the ring, and lands in the lap of McGee and the fight promoter.  While subtle, this is great comedic use of the Hulk, undermined only by repeated shots of Hulk mugging and growling into a fish-eye lens.

Sariego and his goon Wilt flee, and the Hulk goes after, but is stopped by the boxing promoter who wants to sign Hulk for a show.  For his enthusiasm, Hulk throws the promoter up in the rafters to dangle from a bar, which seems a bit extreme given the offense, but I think this is all now being played for comedy not action.

But Colvin again steals the scene.  Sitting next to the promoter he is always in frame, and Hulk even flexes and growls at McGee.  Colvin’s facial expression is not one of fear; he’s downright giddy to be seeing the creature again.  When Hulk runs after Sariego, everyone sits stunned except McGee, who chases after the Hulk.

Hulk knocks a door down on Wilt, and throws Sariego across the room, and by the laws of 70’s television that means the fight is over.  And truthfully I feel a bit bad seeing an old man beaten up by a bodybuilder, even if the old man was a heroin dealer.  It looks like Hulk may smash the man further, but they are interrupted by McGee, Rocky, and a dozen others who think they have the Hulk trapped in Sariego’s office.  So Hulk jumps through the window in a great shot, and runs off down an alleyway into the night.

The episode concludes the next day with David packing to leave and saying goodbye to Rocky and Mary.  In the chaos the police found out about Sariego’s drug dealing, and gave Rocky immunity in exchange for testimony.  Also, having faced a champ, Rocky realizes he’s no boxer.  He takes on the name of “Henry” and accepts the job as a mechanic.  But with Mr. McGee sniffing around, David must say his goodbyes.

So with McGee coming in one door of the gym, David walks out another as the Lonely Man theme plays.

For a first episode this sets the bar fairly low.  Plagued with silly plot twists, cartoonish characters, and a complete aping of the movie Rocky for a plot, this show is the epitome of what I consider 70’s television cheese.  But both Hulk-Outs are fulled with well shot action, and Jack Colvin steals the show (in slo-mo) with his performance here as McGee.  The final boxing scene is a lot of fun, but I can’t get past the set-up so I give this episode a mild not recommend.

 Read my other Incredible Hulk Series Reviews



February 29, 2012 Posted by | Comic Books, Movies, Reviews, Television, The Incredible Hulk TV Series Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Incredible Hulk – Pilot TV Movie Review

In this thrilling two-hour movie, Dr. David Banner inadvertently exposes himself to a high amount of gamma radiation and is horrified to discover that in moments of frustration and anger he is transformed into the incredibly powerful Hulk. Susan Sullivan guest stars.

Hulk smashes a car in the pilot movie
The Incredible Hulk
Season: 1
Episode: 1
Air Date: November 4, 1977
Director: Kenneth Johnson
Writer: Kenneth Johnson
David’s Alias: None
Hulk-Outs: 3
•Frustration changing a tire
•A Bad Dream
•Seeing his friend caught in
a fire

The Incredible Hulk has been a staple in Marvel Comics since his first appearance in 1962, but to many The Hulk is less known for his comic book persona than his portrayal by Lou Ferrigno in CBS’ hit prime time series The Incredible Hulk. Starring Bill Bixby as David Banner, a scientist who overdoses on gamma radiation, the series ran for five years, and it’s impact can still be seen through references in both the Eric Bana and Edward Norton Hulk film adaptations. Now, as Now Playing starts its next leg of it’s Marvel Comic Movie Retrospective, leading up to The Avengers, Jakob, Arnie, and Stuart are reviewing the television movie that started it all–The Incredible Hulk. Does this incarnation of the green giant make our reviewers angry? And would you like them when they’re angry? Listen to find out!


 Read my other Incredible Hulk Series Reviews

February 28, 2012 Posted by | Comic Books, Movies, Reviews, Television, The Incredible Hulk TV Series Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments