Sunday, January 11, 2015

Not Really Off-Topic: Why THE INCREDIBLE HULK Is the Best Superhero Tv Show EVER!

I'm re-watching the old Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno television series THE INCREDIBLE HULK. And man, does it hold up. I'd put it up as the best superhero television series ever. Why? For quite a few reasons:

1) It Breaks the Mold- this television show really doesn't follow the formula of most superhero shows. There is no cast of characters that has to be teased out. It was similar to shows like QUANTUM LEAP, in that it was ultimately about one guy's character, the kind of character that pushes him to make the world a better place, in spite of his own overwhelming problem. You watch the show and you get the sense that it is like few other shows ever, and so it has a refreshing feel to it.

2) The Acting- this is all about Bixby and Ferrigno, though more the former than the latter. Bixby was great at capturing the core of Banner while expressing incredible subtlety in various situations. He meets a young girl, only 16, who falls in love with him, and he captures this air of wanting to 'get the hell out' of the situation while still not being able to abandon her to her problem. From the comedic to the deadly serious, Bixby's acting is simply beyond compare. Ferrigno of course has no speaking parts, but he captures the core of the monster well with his body language and facial expressions. When you watch these two do their thing you can't help but feel we're getting a lesser quality of television actor these days.

3) The Themes- The Doctor Jekyll/Mr. Hyde theme is played out beautifully. David ostensibly wants to get rid of his other half, but not really so. He is braver and bolder than he would be without his problem, constantly putting himself in situations where he knows he will transform, because once he is the monster, he has nothing to fear. Fear itself is a central theme. David knows fear and knows how to use rage to overcome his fear. Sin has an apparent power to it none of us can deny. Even as we fight against it, part of us is darkly appreciative that it is accessible to us. It is like our darkest nature is something we keep in our back pocket, for when all our pretense is no longer useful. This may be the most insidious part of sin. One can argue that the Hulk is not exactly sinful, and I probably would do this, but what is sinful is David's hypocrisy. He loves the power the Hulk brings him, and even as he tries to use it for some kind of good there is something very wrong in all of that. There is so much powerful subtext throughout the show.

Additionally, there is the theme of vagrancy. David is homeless, and so the show really centers around the life of a homeless man. The only other show like that was the FUGITIVE. David must rely on the kindness of strangers, which he often receives, but he is also exploited, and used in various ways. It is, I think, on this level where the show reaches its highest heights. At its most basic, it tells the life of a homeless man with a big problem in a world that seems sometimes sympathetic and sometimes indifferent.


No comments:

Post a Comment