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The Incredible Hulk is an American television series based on the Marvel Comics character the Hulk. The series was originally broadcast by CBS from 1978 to 1982, with 82 episodes over five seasons.

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The Cast 

The series starred Bill Bixby as David Banner, Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk, and Jack Colvin as Jack McGee.

The Story

David Bruce Banner, M.D., Ph.D., is a physician and scientist employed at the Culver Institute who is traumatized by the car accident that killed his beloved wife, Laura (played by Lara Parker). Haunted by his inability to save her, Dr. Banner, in partnership with Dr. Elaina Harding Marks (Susan Sullivan), who also works at the Culver Institute, conducts a study on people who, while in danger, summoned superhuman strength in order to save their loved ones. After months of work, the only significant common factor they can find between the subjects is an abnormally high percentage of the adenine/thymine combination in their DNA—an insufficient explanation, since Dr. Banner has even higher levels of adenine/thymine than any of the subjects, yet was unable to summon the strength he needed to save Laura. Working late one night, Banner hypothesizes that high levels of gamma radiation from sunspots contribute to the subjects' increase in strength. Studying a chart of gamma activity, he confirms that all the subjects performed their feats during periods of high gamma activity, while his wife's death occurred during a period of low gamma activity. Impatient to test his theory, Dr. Banner conducts an unsupervised experiment in the lab, bombarding his own body with gamma radiation. Unknown to Dr. Banner, the equipment has been upgraded, causing him to administer a far higher dose of radiation than he had intended. Despite this, he exhibits no immediate increase in strength, and leaves the lab in frustration.

Driving home in a heavy rainstorm, Dr. Banner's frustration peaks when his car has a flat tire and he injures himself trying to change it. This triggers his transformation into the Incredible Hulk, a 7-foot-tall (2.1 m), 330-pound, green-skinned savage creature, with a sub-human mind and superhuman strength. The Hulk destroys his car and wanders off into the nearby woods. As the sun rises, the Hulk stumbles upon a girl and her father camping. In the ensuing confusion, the Hulk is shot by the girl's father, and responds by breaking his rifle and throwing him into the pond. Leaving the area, the Hulk eventually transforms back into Dr. Banner, with little memory of his time as the Hulk or the events immediately before and after. Wounded and confused, he visits Dr. Marks. Her amazement at Dr. Banner's healing powers (his gunshot wound is nearly healed) is replaced by shock and horror when Dr. Banner tells her that he bombarded himself with gamma radiation.

Drs. Banner and Marks relocate to a laboratory isolated from the rest of the Culver Institute but still on its grounds. They lock him in an experimental pressure chamber designed for deep underwater use and simulate the conditions which preceded the hole in his memory. When this fails to induce a transformation, Dr. Banner lies down to sleep. He has his recurring nightmare of his wife's death, which causes him to transform. The Hulk breaks out of the chamber. Terrified but compelled by scientific fascination, Dr. Marks takes a blood sample from the Hulk's wounded hands and guides him to a couch, where he calms down and reverts to Banner. They conclude that the Hulk has a very high metabolism and healing rate and that the transformation is caused by strong negative emotions, such as anger.

While Drs. Banner and Marks try to reverse the process, reporter Jack McGee of the tabloid called the National Register, investigating the campers' sighting of the Hulk, intrudes on the lab. While the scientists plead ignorance, McGee suspects they know something and sneaks into the lab, hiding in a cupboard. Dr. Banner catches McGee hiding, and the startled reporter knocks a chemical off of a storage shelf. As Dr. Banner takes McGee outside, the spilled chemicals set off a fire. Dr. Banner rushes back into the lab to save Dr. Marks. Seeing Dr. Marks injured and in grave danger triggers another transformation into the Hulk. The Hulk carries Dr. Marks away from the inferno into nearby woods, but she dies from injuries sustained in the explosion. McGee witnesses the Hulk carrying her away, and surmises that the Hulk killed both Banner and Marks. Although the authorities are skeptical of the existence of the creature McGee tells them about, he publishes a front-page headline in the National Register that proclaims, "Incredible 'Hulk' Kills 2". Dr. Banner, now presumed dead, goes into hiding while trying to find a cure for his condition.

In a manner vaguely similar to the popular series The Fugitive, this forms the basis of the TV series: Dr. Banner endlessly drifts from place to place, assuming different identities and odd jobs to support himself and sometimes to enable his research. Along the way, Dr. Banner finds himself feeling obliged to help the people he meets out of whatever troubles have befallen them. Often Dr. Banner's inner struggle is paralleled by the dilemmas of the people he encounters, who find in Dr. Banner a sympathetic helper. Kenneth Johnson stated, "What we were constantly doing was looking for thematic ways to touch [-on] the various ways that the Hulk sort of manifested itself in everyone. In Dr. David Banner, it happened to be anger. In someone else, it might be obsession, or it might be fear, or it might be jealousy or alcoholism! The Hulk comes in many shapes and sizes. That's what we tried to delve into in the individual episodes."[3] Despite his attempts to stay calm no matter how badly he is treated, Dr. Banner inevitably finds himself in situations that trigger his transformations into the Hulk.

Meanwhile, McGee continues to pursue the mysterious monster, whom he believes got away with a double murder. Towards the end of each episode, Dr. Banner almost always flees the town, scared that publicity over the Hulk's rampages will eventually bring unwanted scrutiny of him from the local authorities or McGee; Banner explains in "Death in the Family", the second made-for-television film, "The creature is wanted for murder—a murder which I can never prove he or I didn't commit".

The episodes usually end with Dr. Banner hitch-hiking down some outbound highway or road, with the series theme song, "The Lonely Man", playing as the ending credits visualize.


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