Friday, October 21, 2011
To understand The Incredible Hulk you have to first know that everybody on the show was nuts. Some were nice nuts. A few, not so nice. And others bounced back and forth like green balls of silly putty with no notice whatsoever.
It also helps to understand that the very premise of the show was schizoid, with this wimpy little doctor-type guy (played by Bill Bixby) transforming into a big green monster (played by Lou Ferrigno) when somebody kicks sand in his face and pisses him off.
Put another way, scripting for the Incredible Hulk was like writing for Kabuki theater. As Chris said, "one frigging thing out of place and everybody and everything goes apeshit."
The writing experience could be frustrating, agonizing and drive you just plain bonkers. On the other hand, of the hundred and fifty odd shows Chris and I worked on, it was one of the most fun and satisfying. Once you got the formula down pat, you could write just about anything you wanted. More importantly, what you wrote went on the screen, so you didn't hesitate to open up and address broader themes than one might expect in a show about a comic book character.
It was a bit like the old Black Mask Magazine days, where some of the 20th Century's great writers, like Chandler and Hammett, practiced and perfected their art and still kept the mag's thrill-seeking editors and readers content.
Created by Stan Lee and his buddies back in his Marvel Comic days, The Hulk was turned into a long-time hit TV series by Ken Johnson, who would go on to create top SF shows like V and Alien Nation.
The premise of the comic book and the TV series were different in many ways, but the important thing is that the Hulk is big and green in both venues.
Although, it should be said that Kenny at first wanted make the guy red - I don't know why - but was overruled by Stan Lee. Also, Stan's comic book Hulk could (sort of) talk, but Kenny's could only roar. (Roars provided by Ted Cassidy, then Charles Napier). In Stan's version, the Dr. Jekyll-like character was named Bruce Banner, in Kenny's it was David Banner.
Later, when we wrote a couple of scripts for Stan's "Defenders Of The Earth" series, he told us that the guys in the Black Tower thought "Bruce" sounded too gay and made Kenny change it. With that wry grin of his in place, Stan noted that it was the handsome young David with the slingshot who had a mad affair with King Saul, and not a guy named Bruce, but what the Hades, maybe the Black Tower boys knew something he didn't.
Another bit of trivia: Arnold - the ex-Governator - Schwarzenegger supposedly first read for the part but was rejected for being too short.
Kenny's main man on the show was the late Nick Corea (1943-1999), one of the best sheer story talents in the business. He was a master at adding interesting twists and turns and inspiring people to put real substance into their stories. Added to this brew were Karen Harris and Jill Donner (Jill Sherman when we first met) - a writing team when we met them - and Andy Schneider.
Over several seasons, Chris and I wrote multiple episodes of the Hulk - so many that some people thought we were on staff. There were a lot of MisAdventures in between those encounters with the Hulk gang, so for clarity's sake (hah!) I'm going to tell what happened over several back-to-back chapters.
So stay tuned until next Friday Gentle Reader when I present:
NEXT: SHOWDOWN AT THE INCREDIBLE HULK:
CHRIS BRINGS A 'MACHINEGUN' TO THE MEET!
THE COMPLETE MISADVENTURES: IT'S A BOOK!
THE VITAL LINKS:The MisAdventures began humbly enough - with about 2,000 readers. When it rose to over 50,000 (we're now knocking at the door of 110,000) I started listening to those of you who urged me to collect the stories into a book. Starting at the beginning, I went back and rewrote the essays, adding new detail and events as they came to mind. This book is the result of that effort. However, I'm mindful of the fact, Gentle Reader, that you also enjoy having these little offerings posted every Friday to put a smile on your face for the weekend. So I'll continue running them until it reaches the final Fade Out. Meanwhile, it would please the heart of this ink-stained wretch - as well as tickle whatever that hard black thing is in my banker's chest - if you bought the book. It will make a great gift, don't you think? And if you'd like a personally autographed copy you can get it directly through my (ahem) Merchant's Link at Amazon.com. Click here. Buy the book and I will sign it and ship it to you. Break a leg!
THE STEN COOKBOOK & KILGOUR JOKEBOOK
Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.
EMPIRE DAY 2012 - A COMMEMORATIVE EDITION
Relive the fabulous four-day Stregg-laced celebration. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. New recipes from the Eternal Emperor's kitchen. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. Sten's thrill-packed exploits at the Emp's castle. How to make your own Stregg. And, did I mention, Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever?
Posted by Allan Cole at 7:18 AM