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The Incredible Hulk - The Complete First Season


TITLE: THE INCREDIBLE HULK - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: July 18, 2006 (Universal Studios)
Color/1977 - 1978
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 10 (plus 2 original feature-length films)
Running Time: Approx. 11 hours, 32 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English, Subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Special Features: "Pilot" Episode Commentary by Writer, Director and Producer Kenneth Johnson; "Stop The Presses" Preview Episode From Season Two


Introduction:

"...Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." Mild-mannered research scientist David Banner (Emmy nominee Bill Bixby) finds he must offer this heroic warning after exposure to gamma radiation transforms him into the terrifying and enraged Hulk (Lou Ferrigno). Bursting from comic book pages into this 4-disc DVD set, the Complete First Season of The Incredible Hulk boasts all ten heart-pounding episodes, the two original feature-length films, a preview episode from Season Two, and in-depth commentary from producer Kenneth Johnson. Intense. Immense. Incredible!


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The Incredible Hulk began with two two-hour pilot movies on CBS. The first pilot movie, "The Incredible Hulk," aired on November 4, 1977. The second pilot movie, "Death in the Family," was broadcast on November 27, 1977. It began as a series on March 10, 1978 with "The Final Round." A total of 83 episodes (plus 2 pilot movies) were produced over the show's 5 seasons. Bill Bixby starred as David Bruce Banner. Lou Ferrigno played The Incredible Hulk. Jack Colvin played investigative reporter Jack McGee. Ted Cassidy did the narration in the opening credits and provided the growls and roars of the Hulk. The show became an instant hit, with a 19.9 rating for the first season. That was good enough for 26th place. From 1979-1981, it aired on a popular Friday night lineup with The Dukes of Hazzard and Dallas. Following the series' cancellation in 1982, three TV movies were produced: The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988), The Trial of The Incredible Hulk (1989), and The Death of The Incredible Hulk (1990).

Although the first season only ran for 10 episodes plus the pilot movies, there were a number of memorable episodes. In the thrilling two-hour pilot, 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. While searching for his mysterious condition's cure, David doesn't shy away from battling a wealthy and powerful ranching family, a grizzly bear and, most importantly, his own temper in the action-packed "Death in the Family." The picture isn't pretty when David awakens in a room next to a dead model "Of Guilt, Models and Murder." Terror soars to new heights when David and a young boy must land an airplane after the flight crew is disabled in "747." The stakes are high when David takes a job in a Las Vegas casino and agrees to help a reporter who's working on a piece about a gambling scandal in "The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas."

Notable guest stars included Susan Sullivan as Elaina Marks in the "Pilot." William Daniels played Dr. John Bonifant and Gerald McRaney was Denny Kayle in "Death in the Family." Martin Kove appeared as John "Rocky" Welsh in "The Final Round." Caroline McWilliams guest starred as Dr. Claudia Baxter and Dabbs Greer was Dr. Malone in "The Beast Within." Loni Anderson played Sheila Kantrel in "Of Guilt, Models and Murder." Jack Kruschen appeared as Norman Abrams and Robert Alda was Jason Laird in "Terror in Times Square." Brandon Cruz ("The Courtship of Eddie's Father") reunites with Bill Bixby as Kevin in "747." Kene Holliday played Paul in "Earthquakes Happen." Helen Page Camp was Sarah in "The Waterfront Story."


Packaging:

This set has some very cool packaging. It has a lenticular cover that has 3 different pictures (David Banner, Mid Transformation, and the Hulk) that change when you turn the box in light. You can see the metamorphisis packaging here. The back of the box has 4 small photos of Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby and includes a short summary of the set, a listing of the bonus features, and the DVD specs. Four slim cases slide out from the right of the main box. Slim case #1 has a shot of Bill Bixby, #2 has Bill Bixby about to transform, #3 has Bill Bixby on one side and Lou Ferrigno on the right, and #4 has Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. The backs of the slim cases have the same photo that is on the cover of slim case #3. Episode titles and short summaries are listed. I would have liked to see more detailed summaries and the original airdates listed. Inside slim case #1, there is a sheet that promotes some other Universal TV DVD releases and the new Sci Fi Channel original series "Eureka." There is just blank, white space inside the slim cases. I would have liked to see some additional photos, trivia, or quotes used in this space. The actual discs have The Incredible Hulk logo at the top and some green dots (gamma rays?) on them. The same design is used on each disc. Disc 1 has the two pilot movies. Disc 2 has episodes 3-6. Disc 3 offers episodes 7-10. Disc 4 rounds out the set with episodes 11-12 and the preview episode from season two: "Stop The Presses."


The Incredible Hulk - The Complete First Season DVD Menu

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus look very good and are easy to navigate. The discs open with some scenes of David Banner about to transform. This leads to the main menu where various clips from the episodes are shown in a rectangle box in the center of the screen. An instrumental version of the theme is heard in the background, with various sound effects like Hulk's roars. At the top of the screen, they have the David Banner/Hulk transformation photo that is used on the back of the box. The Incredible Hulk logo is glowing in green at the top of the screen. At the bottom of the screen, there are options for Play All, Episode Index, Bonus Materials, Languages, and Sneak Peeks (only on Disc 1). There is a yellow box next to the option that you highlight that turns red upon your selection. The episode sub-menus feature a photo of the Hulk on the left. They have various green-toned backgrounds, and there is a still image from each episode. The still image has a yellow border when you highlight it, and it turns red upon starting an episode. The other sub-menus feature various photos of the Hulk. There are chapter stops within the episodes but no separate scene selection menus.


Video and Audio Quality:

These episodes are nearly 30-years-old. Considering the age of the episodes, they look surprisingly good. I've watched the show quite a bit on the Sci Fi Channel over the years, and the prints on the DVDs look much nicer. Since the show was shot on film, there is some dust, grain, and other digital artifacts. The Incredible Hulk used a large amount of stock footage, so those scenes have a lot more dust and grain on them. Series creator Kenneth Johnson made the episodes look like movies and the lighting they used was always very good, so the colors look very bright and vibrant. The episodes are well spread out with no more than 4 per disc, so there are no compression issues. All episodes appear to be unedited, running around 49-50 minutes in length. The two pilot movies originally aired as 2-hour broadcasts, and they are presented that way here. They run 1 hour, 34 minutes each. You are seeing about 6 minutes of footage on these DVDs that you don't see on the Sci Fi Channel. They even have the opening teasers for all of the episodes that originally had them.

The audio is your typical 1970's Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track. The volume is at a good level, and the dialogue is easy to understand. There isn't a lot of hiss that I've heard on some other shows of the era. Subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing are available for all of the episodes. One of favorite parts of the show was Joe Harnell's theme and music in the show. I really think his music added a lot to the episodes. Who could forget The Lonely Man theme? One of the best TV themes of all-time in my opinion. There was a CD soundtrack for The Incredible Hulk that was released a few years ago. You should check for it on eBay as it is definitely worth a listen.

Here is the episode breakdown by disc, including the running times:

Disc 1
---------
1. Pilot: The Incredible Hulk (1:34:27)
2. The Incredible Hulk: Death in the Family (1:34:20)

Disc 2
---------
3. The Final Round (50:01)
4. The Beast Within (49:58)
5. Of Guilt, Models and Murder (49:39)
6. Terror in Times Square (50:01)

Disc 3
---------
7. 747 (50:01)
8. The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas (50:02)
9. Never Give a Trucker An Even Break (49:19)
10. Life and Death (50:01

Disc 4
---------
11. Earthquakes Happen (50:02)
12. The Waterfront Story (49:01)


The Incredible Hulk - The Complete First Season DVD Menu

Special Features:

As a big Incredible Hulk fan, I would have like to see a few more special features. "Death in the Family" is listed as a bonus feature, but that has always aired as part of Season 1 in syndication. The main special feature on this set is a commentary by Writer, Director and Producer Kenneth Johnson on the "Pilot" episode. This is the same commentary that was used on Universal's 2003 release of the "Pilot." This season one DVD set lacks the special introduction by Lou Ferrigno that was on the Ultimate Collection.

Pilot Commentary by Writer, Director and Producer Kenneth Johnson - This commentary was recorded on March 25, 2003. The volume is at a good level (I actually had to turn it down a bit), and he he can be heard loud and clear. Although it was previously available on Universal's release of the Pilot, this was my first time listening to it. I also need to listen to his commentary on "V," which I'm sure is just as informative. He goes into quite a few details here, and there aren't too many pauses where he's not speaking. I'm sure even die-hard fans would have learned something new hearing this commentary for the first time. Mr. Johnson must have kept his production notes, or he has a very good memory as he is able to mention a lot of specific filming dates and point out where various scenes were shot. Many topics are covered, such as: how he wanted the opening titles to be unique; the use of yellow in the opening scenes with David Banner's wife; the casting of Bill Bixby; how various characters were named; some of the 70's throwbacks like the camera zooms, hair dos and clothing; Joe Harnell's music; how the show was created; Jack Colvin and his credits; why David Banner's name was changed to David from Bruce in the comic book; the casting of Lou Ferrigno and his desire to make the Hulk a color other than green; the use of contact lenses for Bixby and Ferrigno; the shooting of the pilot and their budget; the voice of the Hulk; how they built the building and blew it up at the end. I liked that he was able to criticize his own work and talk about how he would have done some shots differently. I would have loved to hear some more commentaries from him on other episodes. He has nice things to say about the entire cast and production team. I'm sure Universal will include his previously recorded commentary for "Married" on the Season 2 DVD set.

Stop The Presses - Preview Episode From Two - They list this on the packaging as a preview episode from season two, so that sounds like a good sign for another release. I'm a bit surprised with their selection of this episode. It had previously been included on their "Ultimate Collection" DVD set in 2003. I would have liked to see "A Child in Need," which was actually produced for the first season but didn't air until season two.

Sneak Peeks - These are promos for some other Universal TV DVD releases. They run 7 minutes, 31 seconds total. The promos included Monk, Columbo, Magnum P.I., The A-Team, Knight Rider, The Rockford Files, seaQuest DSV, The Office, Battlestar Galactica, and Sleuth.

For season two, I think they could include more special features. I'd like to hear 3-4 episode commentaries by Kenneth Johnson or other people involved with the show. A trade ad said that this first season set would include a gag reel, so maybe they are saving it for a future release. I would like to see a new interview with Lou Ferrigno and maybe a documentary on a future season set.


Final Comments:

It's about time for a complete season release of The Incredible Hulk! The original pilot movie was available, a decent "Best of" set included 17 episodes, and the 3 TV movies were released in recent years. Some people will say they already bought the Ultimate Collection, why should they double dip and buy this set? Well... the Ultimate Collection set contained only 1 Season One episode ("747"). So other than the "Pilot" and "747," all other episodes on this first season set are available on DVD for the first time.

Overall, I think Universal did a decent job with this set. The packaging is cool and the episodes look to be unedited and in surprisingly good shape. Thankfully there are no double-sided discs. I've always been a fan of Bill Bixby. I think he was such an underrated actor. Hopefully they will include some more special features for Season 2. Universal had better release season two soon, or I will be angry... and you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 1.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 07/25/06

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000FDDYPA/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=178745


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