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.

VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN
The New York Times...