Is it a case of a wrong time, wrong place for the Incredible Hulk….?
After a cosmetics model is murdered, that incredibly green superhero is suspected of murder. But has he been framed?
Of Guilt, Models and Murder Part 1, Hulk Fan
It’s been a wee while since I reviewed those superheroes, so I’m going back to those TV shows of the seventies for this post on The Incredible Hulk (1977- 82). This is for an episode called Of Guilt, Models, and Murder and found in S01E05. This show has one of my favourite instrumental TV themes from the 70s, titled The Lonely Man. This theme is more soulful but infinitely less dramatic than my favourite theme from The Visitor (1979).
Now onto The Incredible Hulk show premise. This was nattily shown and narrated in the credits in a baritone voice by Ted Cassidy. Cassidy was 6ft 9 and played Lurch in The Addams Family (1964-66). Cassidy surprisingly did not play the Hulk with this honour going to Lou Ferrigno. This casting confused my head a bit, as for years, I thought it was Lorenzo Lamas for years and obviously had not read or noticed those opening credits as a kid.
The narration mansplains with scenes of Hulk’s alter ego David Banner, a mild-mannered Bobby Ewing haired and flared trousered wearing scientist. After carrying out some experiments, he finds that he turns into a ginormous green creature when he gets angry or annoyed. This green creature was believed to be a murderer and so Banner is now on the run with a journalist after the Hulk, and sadly it’s not Lois Lane but it could be. This would be the ultimate DC and Marvel crossover.
Banner was played by a 1970s mum’s pin-up Bill Bixby. Bixby plays Banner as much more troubled and vulnerable than those who played this character after that. For me, it will always be the much more convincing Bill Bixby than Mark Ruffalo or Eric Bana as the man for this role. I only see Ruffalo and Bana as the convincing love interest types in romantic films (cue my rant when watching Shutter Island (2010)=.
Mark Ruffalo’s Banner – now called Bruce (as apparently one of the crew wanted to name him after his son, in an A I Artificial Intelligence (2001) type move) – hooked up with Black Widow on the big screen in those Avengers films. But ideally, Black Widow should have gone for a fling with happily married Hawkeye, as we all thought she would after Thanos killed his family in Thanosgate.
Black Widow could have had at least had a mild flirtation with Captain America. This was after his girlfriend became older than Maude in Harold and Maude (1971) and then died in Captain America’s Civil War (2016) and… then Cap unceremonially copped off with her niece. And we all know what happened after that…
A wee bit more on this Incredible Hulk episode’s guest stars. Loni Anderson was last spotted as one of Three on a Date (1978) and more recently in Valerie, A Portrait of Valerie Perrine (2019). And representing Britain, and the actor community… cue fanfare, was the man who defined Sherlock Holmes. No, not that TV Movie one in The Return of the World’s Greatest Detective (1976) – that was Texan Larry Hagman despite his “English” accent. Or that film one in Murder by Decree (1979) – the more compelling Christopher Plummer and he was a Canadian – but that authentically British one, Jeremy Brett.
Anyway on with the review, it all starts with some random shots from the episode to entice you to watch. Which it did obviously, but these scenes do spoil the suspense a bit. Then it all starts in a darkened house, where Banner’s eyes are looking a bit spaced out and he finds his clothes are ripped up, so it’s hinted that he was the Hulk minutes before. He then goes through to a room and finds it trashed and there is an unconscious blonde model, Terri Ann (Deanna Lund) lying on the floor. He discovers she’s dead after checking her pulse.
He then gets flashbacks of seeing this blonde woman scream for help at a window, and then he believes he ran to help her. Then after turning into the Hulk, he fought off the Doberman dogs and then kicked them into orbit (as Darlin Husband brilliantly riffs)… Then things go a bit weird as he – and we – start hearing disembodied voices and then see another flashback of another woman, Dr Elaina Marks (Susan Sullivan).
Marks tells Banner he’s not a murderer and ergo neither is the Hulk. Still, Banner runs from the scene – grabbing his man satchel on the way – after having more flashbacks about the blonde than Yvette Mimieux had about Charlton Heston in Skyjacked (1972). A car passes him, just before he leaves the drive.
Things get even crazier after he passes a shop selling TVs and then he watches the news with a young hitchhiker. Banner and this hitchhiker hear every word of this bulletin despite these TVs obviously being behind glass. The TV bulletin shows cosmetics magnate, James Joslin (Jeremy Brett) – also with a baritone voice – tearfully telling the Press about the events of the night before.
Joslin tells how his girlfriend, Terri pretended to scream for help at the window. Then this green monster howled and broke into the house. Then the Hulk came in trashed the room and killed her by crushing her in his green arms. Joslin is then consoled by a pretty girl. Banner decides to confess to the cops…
By chance, Joslin is employing a valet as the other one, Sanderson (Ben Gerard) left abruptly the day of the murder. Joslin picks Banner immediately out of those ever hopeful men – as Joslin appears to be the cosmetics equivalent of Hugh Hefner and hangs out with fit models all the time – as he saw him leaving the grounds the night before and recognised him.
Sanderson left his suit, which Joslin demands Banner to wear. Banner finds some matches in the pocket advertising Sanderson’s brother’s scrapyard. He introduces Banner now David Blaine to Sheila Cantrell (Loni Anderson), the woman seen consoling Joslin earlier. Sheila – after doing her karate themed photoshoot montage – then sides with Banner, as she says Joslin is evil incarnate and killed Terri Ann. She suggests he talk to Sanderson, the old valet who witnessed this murder with her.
Meanwhile, Joslin’s getting money hassles from Sanderson, who needs to be paid. Joslin then asks his henchman, Elkin (Rick Goldman) to load up a gun with a silencer…But who’s the killer is it Joslin, the mild-mannered Banner’s alter ego or someone completely different? Tune in to find out…
It is really hard not to tell you the full story for this episode. I did like this storyline with a tormented Banner believing he was a murderer. The idea of having three flashbacks versions of the murder story was imaginative and made the episode a compelling whodunnit.
But it did get silly at the end, with the sudden confession from one of the characters which felt a bit of a cartoon cop-out. This was especially since a fourth character – who didn’t get a flashback but should have – seemed more of a possible killer. So as I don’t tell you the whole plot, I’ll leave you with these character descriptions and you can guess who it is or cheat and watch the episode on a video sharing site.
Was Sheila telling the truth, when she “helps” Banner, and appears to be a possible damsel in distress who fears the evil Joslin? She tells Banner, how she and Sanderson couldn’t move after they saw Joslin kill his girlfriend and then trash the room, as they looked on… as you don’t. Or was it the Hulk as he feared or was it Sanderson who made a sharp exit after the murder?
Finally, was Jeremy Brett’s Joslin responsible for the murder? He was choked up and tearful as he told the Press about his girlfriend’s death at the hands of the Hulk. Brett could easily have won an Emmy for his superior acting skills in this scene and was commended for his acting. He naturally thought this was the Hulk after seeing him in his house? His story about his girlfriend calling for help to see if anyone would “save” her, which led to the Hulk trashing the room and then freaking her out did sound a wee bit stupid though.
After looking at my previous reviews, Brett was reviewed in a horror film with Richard Burton, with Burton in his second-most caustic (after Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)) but infinitely more evil in The Medusa Touch (1978). And as also seen in one of his early roles, Brett appeared as the hopeful Freddie hoping to Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady (1964).
And his role in this musical film and this episode were discovered after just a wee bit of detective work… But as Darlin Husband suggested just where is the Murder She Wrote and The Incredible Hulk? That dream episode, I suspect would be one the Hulk could kill for… and then call the Banner out as no longer a lonely man.
Weeper Rating: 0 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂🙂🙂🙂 🙂🙂🙂🙂 /10
Hulk Rating: /10
The Jeremy Brett Month 2021, No 34
This review was added to Musings of an Introvert Jeremy Brett Month. Other reviews with this cast include Jeremy Brett in The Medusa Touch, The Love Boat, My Fair Lady and Hart to Hart. Bill Bixby directed Loni Anderson in Three on a Date and they both starred in Loni Anderson starred in guest roles in Fantasy Island and The Love Boat. Bill Bixby stars in Murder is Easy. Lou Ferrigno in The Fall Guy. Jack Colvin in The Bionic Woman. Deanna Lund in Batman. Rick Goldman in Adventures in Babysitting and The Man from Atlantis.