THE INCREDIBLE HULK:
THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
(Universal, $39.98) What a relief to learn that the raging spirit still dwells within “The Incredible Hulk.” In memory, the drama had become high kitsch, a childish fixation dominated by Lou Ferrigno’s mold-colored flesh and mad-clown wig. But the existential hollow once created by the sight of the lonely Bill Bixby and the sound of those stagflation-era piano notes: it comes flooding back with the DVD’s of the first season.
The cerebral Kenneth Johnson, who created the series from the comic book of the same title, says he went to great lengths not to “demean the project,” in which he set out to dramatize a cursed life — the kind chronicled in the novels of Victor Hugo, Robert Louis Stevenson and Mary Shelley.
The low camera; the clean, well-lighted shots; the multiperson frames: it looked far more sophisticated than ordinary network television. “The Incredible Hulk” also let children in on the horror and splendor of adulthood without condescension. Over the course of the series, Mr. Ferrigno got the Hulk’s misplaced tenderness right. And Jack Colvin as Jack McGee, the journalist Javert to Bixby’s Valjean, is superbly menacing and unstoppable.
But Mr. Bixby is indelible as David Bruce Banner, the irritable widower-scientist with a green streak. How the actor brought so much gorgeously submerged pain to the set day after day it’s hard to imagine. Mr. Bixby, we love you when you’re angry.