Three hundred channels and nothing on television to watch this weekend? Before John Wesley Shipp played Barry Allen on the original series The Flash, Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno starred in the best superhero television series since The Six Million Dollar Man in The Incredible Hulk. For five seasons, from 1977 to 1982, The Incredible Hulk broke new ground on television, an early step in the history of superheroes coming to life on the screen. This weekend Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network is hosting a marathon of the entire series run.
Originally airing Friday nights on CBS 40 years ago, The Incredible Hulk would be nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards, winning one for Mariette Hartley’s performance as Dr. David Bruce Banner’s wife. Years before Scott Bakula’s Sam Beckett would wander the map attempting to help people in need on Quantum Leap, David Banner was doing similar good deeds, hitchhiking across the country, a lone scientist trying to find a way “to control the raging spirit that dwells within him,” caused by exposure to gamma radiation thanks to the mind of writer Stan Lee and pen of Jack Kirby.
Look for plenty of early performances by actors that would later appear in well-known genre roles, like Simon & Simon’s Gerald McRaney, Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Diana Muldaur and Mark Lenard, Deep Space Nine’s Marc Alaimo, Robert O’Reilly, Andrew Robinson, and Rosalind Chao, Lassie and Battlestar Galactica’s Anne Lockhart, Ghostbusters’ Ernie Hudson, Creature from the Black Lagoon’s Julie Adams, Castle’s Susan Sullivan, and WKRP in Cincinnati’s Loni Anderson and Gordon Jump.
Other actors with guest roles on the show include Star Trek’s Sherry Jackson, The Right Stuff’s Fred Ward, Swamp Thing’s Dick Durock, Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country’s Kim Cattrall, Alien Nation and Enterprise’s Gary Graham, and fan-favorite genre character actors Brion James, Mako, Ray Walston, and Robert Donner.
The Incredible Hulk is airing now on the El Rey Network. You can also pick up the hard to find entire series on DVD here at Amazon.