Incredible Hulk Seasons 3 and 4, The (US - DVD R1)
Most people don't even like Gabe when he's happy, let alone when he's angry...
Dr. David Banner: physician, scientist; searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have. Then an accidental overdose of gamma radiation alters his body chemistry. And now when David Banner grows angry or outraged, a startling metamorphosis occurs. The creature is driven by rage and pursued by an investigative reporter. The creature is wanted for a murder he didn't commit. David Banner is believed to be dead, and he must let the world think that he is dead, until he can find a way to control the raging spirit that dwells within him.
I remember spending every weekday of the summer break between my Junior and senior years of High School making time for Sci-Fi re-runs of The Incredible Hulk. I wasn’t a child at the time, and I didn’t grow up on the series (I wasn’t born until the third season was running), but for some reason the show simply ‘did it’ for me. Obviously The Incredible Hulk ‘did it’ for a whole bunch of other folks too, because the show was largely popular during its initial run from ’77 to ’82, in syndication, and the seasonal DVD releases sell pretty well.
Looking back here in seasons three and four, the show doesn’t really ‘do it’ for me anymore. Interestingly enough, the reasons for my waned interest are probably exactly the same as those that ‘did it’ for me, and millions of other folks the first time around. The Incredible Hulk is a very, very formulaic series, which was common for television at the time. ‘70s and ‘80s audiences could depend on seeing Lee Majors running at the bad guys in slow motion, Henry Winkler hitting a broken jukebox, Alan Alda making glib remarks about the Korean War, and the Incredible Hulk transforming twice an episode. Bill Bixby will invariably find a place to stay with some people he likes, have some kind of accident that causes him to Hulk out, Jack Colvin (as Jack McGee) will show up and while solving some poor sap’s problems Bixby will invariably Hulk out again. Rinse, repeat.
When in the mood for a lazy summer veg-out, an hour of Incredible Hulk action does the job, but when the show is offered in entire season sets, totalling some thirty-plus hours, the show gets really old. In the greater scheme of things this is a pretty good series, despite its repetition, considering how well most era shows stand up to realistic scrutiny, but I don’t think it’s meant to be watched in this manner. These collections are also later seasons, when the writers were running out of ideas, though the Hulk-out induced by LSD is pretty hilarious.
Wow, based on this image quality you’d think that the Incredible Hulk was filmed in the 1970s for television. The OAR 1.33:1 frame looks a bit better then the cable TV compressed showings, but it’s still pretty dirty and grainy, and the flickering white artefacts are hard to miss. Details are plenty sharp, even if the frame’s a bit on the soft side. Colours bleed a bit, and faces are a bit on the rosy side, but the overall vividness of the hues is very nice. The transfer’s problem above all is the inconsistent brightness that flickers throughout most of the episodes. Your eyes get used to it, but it’s a little jarring at first.
Jeez, this sounds like it was recorded using microphones from the pre digital era with a menial postproduction budget. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is all fine and dandy, with only a hair of distortion on really high sound levels (like shrieking strings). The track is audibly flat, not unexpectedly, and is vocal heavy. The voices end up over saturating the flimsy sound effects and music sometimes, but not totally. The memorable though dated score still comes through smashingly, though without a whole lot of bass or warmth.
Between the two sets we don’t have a lot of extras in volume, but the behind the scenes features are charming and sweet natured. The writers, producers, and various other crew are all quite affecting as they recall the series in the form of two retrospective featurettes. The first retrospective, on the final disc of season three, is entitled ‘Remembering an American Classic’, and is a general overview of the creation and filming of the series. The second, on the final disc of season four, is entitled ‘Creating an Iconic Character’, and covers more specifics about the Hulk himself, the actors that were considered to play him, the actors who did play him (one voice, one physical), and the special effects that brought him to life. It’s a shame they couldn’t get Lou Ferrigno to share some thoughts on the character, and I’m eternally grateful that the increasingly demented Stan Lee is nowhere to be found.
There is one audio commentary for one episode on the season four set. Prometheus is a particularly epic and comic book inspired episode, and I understand a fan favourite, so it’s a good choice for commentary. Ken Johnson is our sole commentator here, who happened to also direct this particular episode. Johnson is filled to the gills with information about every single shot, right down to the actor’s names and histories, and the specific day and hour things were filmed. I was particularly interested in Johnson’s pointing out of some of the stock footage shots, including one from The Parallax View, which he had also used in The Bionic Woman. A fine track.
Both collections feature the same behind the scenes EPK concerning the new Hulk film, The Incredible Hulk, which I am to understand has more in common with the series than the Ang Lee film. Like the trailers, this more or less appears to spoil the entire plot of the film. Also on the season four set is a collection of stills from behind the scenes of the episode Prometheus. Things finish up with Incredible Hulk, Wanted and Hellboy 2 trailers. And each set comes with a ticket to the new film, so now I have two.
He’s big, he’s green, and he’s still lovable after all these years. Unfortunately it’s kind of a chore to sit through so many of these episodes in a row, because the basic plot and outcome is the same every time. Fans should be happy with the solid, if not splashy A/V quality, and will find some minor satisfaction in the new extras. I wasn’t planning on seeing the new The Incredible Hulk film until the video release, but with two free tickets I can’t say no. It better be good Louis Leterrier (shakes fist).
Review by Gabriel Powers
Release Date: 1st January 1995
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono English
Extras: Remembering an American Classic, Creating an Iconic Character, Stills, Director Commentary on 'Prometheus', Behind the Scenes of The Incredible Hulk, Movie Money
Easter Egg: No
Cast: Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno
Length: 1947 minutes
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