On November 4, 1977, US TV Network CBS commissioned the release of the first TV Movie of "The Incredible Hulk", which starred the late and great Bill Bixby as Dr. David Banner, a scientist who accidentally bombards himself with gamma radiation that turns him into a giant muscle-bound green monster whenever he's in stress. The creature (played by world famous bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno) is driven by rage, and is wanted for a murder he didn't commit. Presumed dead to the world, Banner travels around as a nomad, desperately searching for a cure, and a way to tame the monster within him. The TV pilot proved a success, and after a couple of more TV Movies, a TV series was commissioned the following year, which ran for 82 episodes and lasted from 1978-1982.
Developed by TV producer Kenneth Johnson and adapted from the comic book series of the same name created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, The Incredible Hulk, for its time, was an iconic look at the character and how a good man literally struggled with his inner demons, which usually ended up becoming a tragic hero in a sense, trying to do good while being continuously persecuted, hunted, and misunderstood by the public eye. Lou Ferrigno is particular became synonymous with the role for his portrayal of the jade giant, having his entire body colored in green and wearing yellow contacts to give his eyes that monstrous look. Bill Bixby gave that timid and desperate performance of a good man trying to control his other side, but circumstances force the beast out, and he is helpless to stop it from being unleashed.
Celebrating its 34th anniversary this year and despite its age, The Incredible Hulk continues to serve up bouts of nostalgia and enthusiasm for those who have been fortunate enough to catch this series when it was televised or through reruns via syndicated networks. As a kid, I've always been fascinated with the character and the various ways he's been portrayed, and the Bixby/ Ferrigno take remains a cult classic to this very day. In fact, the influence of the show has branched out even further through the years in the history of popculture. Shows like Dexter Laboratory and Family Guy have recreated the scenes and lines when Bill Bixby utters the infamous words "You wouldn't like me very much when I'm angry" prior to his painful transformation. Here's the clip from Family guy recreating the intro:
As for the Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno got to appear in cameo roles in the two Hulk movies that were released in the 2000's, so there's a lot of respect and tribute going around for his contributions.
Because of the TV Series and the comics from Marvel which it was based from, the legacy of The Incredible Hulk has endured for many years, and countless adaptations of the character have made their mark through cartoons, games, toys, books, and movies. After Eric Bana and Edward Norton's stab at the role, Mark Ruffalo will be doing the transforming into a green big monster come May 4th next year, when tthe live action adaptation of Marvel's The Avengers rolls into theaters. That's not all though, as Marvel has commissioned the production of a new Hulk TV series in the future as well. Time will tell how that will turn out. Right now, the memories of the beast have been unleashed... So remember the name and Hulk Out!