THE INCREDIBLE HULK:
THE INCREDIBLE HULK is one of those television series that debuted during my early teen years and one that I still have fond memories of watching. Not having had the opportunity to view the series in recent years, I was excited when I learned that the first season of THE INCREDIBLE HULK was making its long overdue debut on DVD. Based upon the Marvel comic book character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, THE INCREDIBLE HULK features a modified premise for the Marvel superhero, which is strangely reminiscent of a classic television series known as THE FUGITIVE. In this Kenneth Johnson produced version of the comic book character, we find that the innocent green skinned alter ego of a scientist is accused of a murder he did not commit. Now on the run, a tabloid reporter relentlessly pursues the hulking creature. While at the same time, the scientist seeks, instead of a one armed man, a cure for the raging spirit that dwells within him.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK stars Bill Bixby as mild mannered physician/scientist Dr. David Bruce Banner, who seeks a way to tap into the near superhuman strength that ordinary individuals sometimes exhibit when they find themselves in crisis situations. While his research initially shows no connections between the individuals that have exhibited this trait, David discovers an environmental factor common to each occurrence- background gamma radiation levels were unusually high. Using himself a human guinea pig, David doses himself with gamma radiation; however, he quickly discovers the lab equipment modified and that he received a tremendous overdose of gamma radiation. Now whenever David Banner grows angry or outraged, a startling metamorphosis occurs… one that transforms him the hulking green skinned creature of the series title. The cast of THE INCREDIBLE HULK also features Lou Ferrigno as the title character and Jack Colvin as tabloid reporter Jack McGee who chases the green skinned creature across country.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($40) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features the two TV movies pilots, plus all ten episodes aired in the series first year. The TV movies pilots and ten featured episodes are as follows: Pilot, Death In The Family, The Final Round, The Beast Within, Of Guilt, Models, And Murder, Terror In Times Square, 747, The Hulk Breaks Las Vegas, Never Give A Trucker An Even Break, Life And Death, Earthquakes Happen, and The Waterfront Story.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made the two TV movies, plus all ten episodes that comprise THE INCREDIBLE HULK: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. Both TV moves and all the episodes presented in this set look really good on DVD. Considering that THE INCREDIBLE HULK was produced for television in the late 1970’s, I would imagine these to be fresh transfers of the film materials that have been given a bit of digital tweaking to make them appear as good as they do. Image quality is pretty strong, with everything appearing quite crisp and rather nicely defined. Colors are pretty accurate and surprisingly vivid, especially coming from 1970’s vintage television film stocks, which had a tendency to be somewhat sallow in appearance. Blacks are pretty deep and the whites are stable. Contrast is fine, although has some of the inherent TV lighting flatness. Grain is noticeable much of the time, but is never bothersome. Occasional blemishes crop up, though these too are not significant. Digital compression artifacts are usually well camouflaged.
All of the episodes that constitute THE INCREDIBLE HULK: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON, come with Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks that sound quite good for their age and production limitations. Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves everything fairly smooth sounding. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. Fidelity has some limitations, but the track holds up well enough most of the time. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English subtitles are provided.
The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as a running audio commentary track with series producer Kenneth Johnson on the pilot TV movie, plus a bonus episode from season two.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK is long overdue making its DVD debut in season sets, which is certain to tickle fans, as are the fine looking presentations. THE INCREDIBLE HULK: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON definitely comes recommended.
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