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The Incredible Hulk Volume 3
cast: Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, and Jack Colvin

directors: Kenneth Gilbert,
Sigmund Neufeld Jr, and Chuck Bowman

141 minutes (PG) 1978
Universal Playback
DVD Region 2 + 4 retail

RATING: 4/10
reviewed by Tony Lee
Developed for TV by Kenneth Johnson, based on a Marvel comics' character, it was necessary to drastically reduce the superpowers of the Hulk. As one of the mightiest (and probably the dumbest) antiheroes in Marvel's universe, the Hulk - created when a scientist is irradiated by gamma rays from a nuclear test - was a child-like demigod with green skin, who was practically invulnerable, capable of leaping a distance of miles, and had a habit of toppling whole mountains on his foes. For the small screen, his prodigious strength becomes merely superhuman, though Johnson wisely retained the Hulk's recuperative vigour, and his uncanny instinct for identifying the bad guys.
   Here, the wandering scientist, David Banner (his first name was Bruce in the comics. Perhaps US mainstream TV wasn't ready for a hero called Bruce?), is a fugitive wanted by authorities for a crime he didn't commit, and stalked by a reporter (Colvin) who thinks his tabloid story about this creature is the hottest ticket since Bigfoot. David's regular transformation into the Hulk (bodybuilder Ferrigno, who went on to play Hercules in an Italian fantasy) is achieved by simple lap dissolve camera tricks in conjunction with various makeup effects. In addition to reviving the basic format of Quinn Martin's 1960s' manhunt drama, The Fugitive (which was no more than a clever variation on the classic western, Shane,) this occasionally effective SF show frequently invoked the genre spirits of Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde.
   Of the three episodes collected in this third DVD volume, none are exceptional and only one is particularly interesting. In Rainbow's End, much-troubled David visits the track, where a crazy racehorse is being treated with a Native American's herbal remedy. Could the same medicine tame the Hulk? The Antowuk Horror is a neat inversion of Jaws, and openly refers to Bigfoot legends. Can a failing resort town attract tourists by staging a Hulk hoax? Escape From Los Santos rehashes a standard B-movie plot about the corrupt Arizona sheriff (remember him?), and a stranger in town - yes, it's our hero - who's framed for murder.
   Now, with a big screen adaptation in the works boasting (if reports are true) an entirely digital version of the Hulk, this creaky old TV series is inevitably doomed to relegation from the live action superhero league tables.