I was watching the Sci-Fi channel not to long ago, and was reminded of how much I miss Bill Bixby and the television series “The Incredible Hulk”. As a kid, I remember watching the series in syndication and being awestruck at how a small guy like David Banner could turn into a 7 foot tall, green power house. My dad would explain to me that is was actually 2 guys playing each part, but I wouldn’t have any of it. Everything I saw on TV was real, and no amount of explanation would change that.
Everything in that series seemed larger than life. The opening credits, no matter how many times I saw them, always had my complete and undivided attention. Not many opening sequences can captivate you the way “The Incredible Hulk” did, and still does. Every episode was packed with action, suspense and just the right amount of drama.
The duality of the character was not lost upon me. I understood that if David got hurt, or angry, his pent up rage would manifest itself in the guise of the Hulk. Unlike the comic book Hulk, the TV incarnation was able still do good, even if he was misunderstood. I attached to this Hulk more than I did his “Hulk Smash” counter-part.
The three made for TV movies that spun off the series are still some of my favorites. My first viewing of “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” is the most vivid memory I have of these three movies. Seeing David in prison and not feeling all that bad about being there was something of a shock for me. I thought the Hulk protected the innocent. It never crossed my mind that there might be innocent bystanders, or that the Hulk would go too far. I was dumb founded.
In strolls (carefully) a blind lawyer by the name of Matt Murdock, better known to me as Daredevil. I couldn’t believe what I was watching. The Hulk and Daredevil teaming up against the Kingpin! I was in pre-adolescent fanboy heaven. True, the show was anything but faithful to the comic versions of these characters, but I didn’t care. Once again Bixby made me believe.
Bill Bixby died on November 21, 1993. I remember reading about his death while my mom paid for groceries. I was 7 days shy of turning 12.
We all associate actors with the characters they’ve portrayed. Sean Connery is James Bond. Adam West is Batman. Bill Bixby will always be that little guy with Lou Ferrigno living inside him to me.
We all know that “The Hulk” is coming to theaters on June 20. I recommend you go check it out. It will once again redefine the Hulk for a new generation of growing comic fans. Who knows, maybe they’ll find their own Bill Bixby.