Saturday, June 28, 2008

Are You Ready for the Summer?

I guess I'm asking this question a couple of weeks late, but better late than never. By now, everyone is out of school, people are working their summer hours schedule and making their weekend, or weekly, sojourn to the recreational destination of their choice. To help foster that summer spirit, see below.

For the majority of folks, the beach is the ultimate summer getaway. Relaxing, fun-filled, exciting yet peaceful. Unless you're John Candy in the film Summer Rental.

One of the pleasures of the beach is lying under the sun while listening to your favorite tunes on the radio. This is one of mine: "If This Is It" by Huey Lewis and the News (I'm a child of the 80s, after all).

The beach can be a place for work and play, if you're a lifeguard. It sounds like a good option for the rock group Blotto:

The Ramones immortalized a famous Queen's, New York beach: Rockaway Beach, that is.

Of course, the beach isn't always a safe place, and I don't mean the water!

(I love that the movie opened in January.)

OK, maybe the beach isn't your thing after seeing that clip. There's always the great amusements parks, such as Disneyland, Six Flags--and Wally World.

Of course, this is all based on the assumption that you've successfully completed your studies and haven't been left back in Summer School.

The pool has always been a place to enjoy the summer season. The Cars find it to be a place of "Magic."

If nothing else, you can always create your future summer memories at camp (the namesake of this post).

However you spend your summer this year, be safe, and make it great. Mungo Jerry knows how to do that.

Have fun!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lou Ferrigno

As a companion piece to my Bill Bixby tribute, I thought it appropriate to pay homage to the other person that made The Incredible Hulk TV show one of my favorites: the man behind the beast himself, Lou Ferrigno. Notable not only for his physique, but also for his amazing ability to function so well with so little hearing, Lou has had a successful career and life.

Here is a quick clip of him working out from the famous 1977 bodybuilding documentary Pumping Iron.

After the Hulk, Ferrigno tackled another mythological "superhero" in the film Hercules. I've never seen this film, but after seeing this clip, I have to. You have the son of a Greek god, outer space, lasers, giant animal robots, hot chicks, and a rainbow light saber. What more could you want from a movie?

Later on, Lou re-entered the world of bodybuilding competition, and in this interview he discusses the differences between the time he first entered the sport compared to the time of his comback.

More recently, Lou became a recurring character on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens playing--himself! Lou moves next door to the Heffernons and the daft Arthur Spooner, played hilariously by Jerry Stiller. Here, Arthur tries to persuade "Lou" to help Arthur sell his bizarre screenplay.

Finally, the reason most of us know Lou is, of course, The Incredible Hulk. I've already shown clips from the show recently, so instead of doing that again for this post, I'm including a scan of an article than ran in the Hulk full-size magazine that Marvel Comics published during the same time as the TV show. This format featured a lead Hulk story, usually with a more sophisticated tone than the all ages comic, with several other featurettes. This article appeared in issue 24 in 1980, and gives a behind-the-scenes look at Lou getting into his Hulk makeup.

And there you have it, the last of my Hulk articles; I hope you enjoyed them.

I'm going to take a break from comic book-related posts, at least for a couple of weeks anyway, until a certain Caped Crusader makes his latest appearance in the public consciousness. That may disappoint some of you, and cause others to breathe a sigh of relief. Let me know where you fall in the comments section.

I'm not taking a break from blogging, however. I have some fine non-super hero stuff on the way. Until then...peace!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bill Bixby

In going through Hulk material for the blog, I began to think about one person who doesn't get enough recognition for not only his contributions to Hulk history, but for his body of work in general--TV's David Banner, Bill Bixby. In the midst of all the Hulkery of late, I've decided to give the late Bixby his due.

On The Incredible Hulk, Bixby gave the David Banner character a nobility, an everyman quality that people could relate to, and an earnestness that endeared him to viewers who hoped he would find the cure that would set him free of the Hulk. He was the right actor at the right time. Of course, there is plenty more to Bixby than the Hulk.

Here is the pilot episode of his first major starring role, as Tim O'Hara in the 60s sitcom My Favorite Martian:

Circa 1969-1970, Bixby appeared in a sitcom adaptation of the Frank Sinatra film The Courtship of Eddie's Father along with newcomer Brandon Cruz. Here are the charming opening sequence and a clip from the show:

Here Bixby discusses Courtship on The Arsenio Hall Show, along with a surprise guest (the audio is very low, so you'll need to crank it up to hear it):

His next series was The Magician, in which he played a crime-solving presidigitator. It lasted only 20 episodes in the 1973-74 season:

This, of course, brings us to the Hulk. See Bixby's work as Banner in the episode "Blind Rage." In this episode, David temporarily goes blind, giving Bixby a bit of a challenge here.

In the spring of 1983, Bixby costarred with real life friend Mariette Hartley in the CBS sitcom Goodnight, Beantown, about a male and female TV news anchor team in Boston that both sparred with and loved each other. Growing Pains star Tracey Gold appeared as Hartley's daughter. I watched this show when I was a kid specifically because Bixby appeared in it. This would be the last regular series for Bixby. No footage appears online, alas.

He even was a pitchman for Tandy computers (remember them?) in the early '80s.

He would spend the rest of his career as a guest star on other series, in the Hulk reunion TV-movies, or as a director, most notably on the NBC sitcom Blossom, where he worked at the time of his death.

Here is Bixby's last TV interview, with Entertainment Tonight. Please bear with this clip, as there are Spanish subtitles and an emergency alert that goes off halfway through, but it's well worth viewing.


UPDATE ON 6/21/08: Many thanks to the I'm Learning to Share blog, featured in my favorite links section, for giving a shout-out to this post and the whole blog! If you haven't been there, I'm Learning to Share is a great blog, better than mine, written by The In Crowd (you have to love someone whose first name is the word "The"). Thanks TIC!

UPDATE ON 7/15/08: Thanks also to Renee Tufo for correcting me on the star of the original Courtship of Eddie's Father film. Glen Ford was indeed the star of that film and not Frank Sinatra. I believe I confused Courtship with Sinatra's film A Hole in The Head, in which he plays a widower with a young son.

Ms. Tufo has also informed me of the movement to have Bixby inducted into the Emmy Hall of Fame. Right on! Take a look at for more information and all things Bix. Thanks again Renee, and I hope you stay tuned to the blog!

Monday, June 16, 2008


Sorry for the week-long delay between posts, it was not anticipated.

The Incredible Hulk had a respectable weekend, if not earth -shattering. Here is the lowdown from Entertainment Weekly:,,20206822,00.html

And here are some Hulk-related links I've found, as promised:

Marvel Comics' Hulk movie Web page:

Marvel Comics' Hulk character biography:

The Incredible Hulk Engine of Destruction, a Hulk character fan site:

Dave's Incredible Hulk Comic Page:

Ratchet's Hulk Collection, another fan site for all things Hulk:

The Leader's Lair, a Hulk fan site told from the point of view of The Leader, one of the Hulk's arch enemies:

Bryan's Incredible Hulk Page, a site devoted to the classic Hulk TV series, with a lot of audio and video. The author of this site uploaded the Mister Rogers clip featured in my previous post:

The Incredible Hulk Television Series Page, another fine Hulk TV show fan site:

Lou Ferrigno's official site:

The Incredible Hulk 1982 Cartoon Web Page, a site devoted to, well, the Incredible Hulk 1982 cartoon:

That's the best of what I found. All of these sites have links to other sites that I haven't tried, so let me know in the comments section if you find a cool site.

I promise I'll post again within the next few days, and certainly by the end of the weekend. Until then, go green!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

Unless you've managed to totally dodge the marketing blitz lately, you are well aware that the opening of the new movie The Incredible Hulk happens this Friday. The Hulk is one of my absolute favorite comic book characters of all time, and it's an adoration that goes back literally as far as I can remember. Please step into the Wayback machine with me as we take a look at the original Hulkster's illustrious past.

Well, maybe not always illustrious. Here is the first appearance of the Hulk outside of comics, as a feature on the dreadfully animated Marvel Superheroes Hour. This episode is a faithful adaptation of his first appearance in Incredible Hulk #1 back in 1962.

Crappy theme song, isn't it? Here's something much better:

Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about! The famous CBS TV series ran from 1978 to 1982 and starred TV veteran Bill Bixby (R.I.P) as tortured scientist David Banner and young bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno as his alter ego. This was, and is to this day, one of my favorite TV shows ever. Friday night at 8 was my weekly highlight during those years. I was devastated when it was cancelled.

Ah, but forward to 1988 or so, and NBC resurrects the Hulk for three reunion TV-movies. Here is a clip from the first, Return of the Incredible Hulk, guest starring another Marvel mainstay, the mighty Thor!

During the series' run, the set greeted a very special visitor--the one and only Mr. Rogers! The meeting was taped for an episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood--which I'm happy to feature right here. I've been looking for this forever, and now I've found it. The video quality is not great, but it's worth it to see this rare treat!

Right after the demise of the CBS series, NBC aired an animated version that went back to the source material of the comics. A good show, with better music than the atrocious 60s cartoon:

In the 90s, the UPN network (remember them?) aired yet another animated adaptation, more slick and mature (?) than previous versions. Great thing about this show: Lou Ferrigno was the voice of the Hulk--sweet! If you have digital cable TV, the Toon Disney channel will begin airing this version as part of its Jetix line of action cartoons beginning June 21st (check local listings). All I could find on the Web from this series was the intro to a foreign package:

In 2003, the first ever theatrical appearance of Hulk was released. Although this film was not critically praised nor well received at the box office, I feel the need to defend the movie. I was pleasantly surprised by it. It used a couple of plot points that I wouldn't have used if I were making the film, but I appreciated the film's style and its attempt to bring the comic book version of Hulk to life. I also liked the design of the Hulk, although most people I know disagree with me on that. Still, I recommend you give the film a chance and place it on your Netflix list. It's an underappreciated film.

If you have seen the first film and were disappointed, you might have like it better if it were more like this:

All of this of course brings us to the brand new film. I like what I've seen so far, although I wonder if William Hurt might not get General Ross's crustiness right (Sam Elliot was excellent as Ross in the 2003 movie).

In addition to the clips I've showcased here, I'll try to gather Hulk related sites in the next few days and post them this weekend. Until then, HULK SMASH!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Happy 70th Birthday Superman!

Since I'm still in a comic book mood, I'll keep the theme going. In looking for comic book blogs, I came across one called Comic Book Coverage, authored by Mark Engblom, a great place to read about classic Marvel and DC comics. Mark pointed out something I was completely (and shamefully) unaware of: this month marks the 70th anniversary of the first appearance of Superman! Superman is the prototype for all modern day superheroes, so for a supposed comic book fan like me to miss acknowledging this event would be a crime. Therefore, move faster than a speeding bullet to the following destinations!

First off, there's the aforementioned Comics Coverage blog, which is celebrating Superman@70. It's a monthlong celebration of all things Superman, with a Superman related post every day in June:

Another fantastic place for Superman fans is the Superman Homepage, a tribute site that's been existence since 1994 (practically a century in Internet years). Anything and everything you would possibly want to know about Supes is right here, including some episodes of the legendary Superman radio show, which was as much responsible for Superman's early success than the comic book was:

This week, June 12-15th, it's Superman Celebration in Metropolis (Illinois, that is), a big festival in honor of the big guy. Guests include Allison Mack of Smallville and Ned Beatty of the 1978 Superman movie!

Would you like to read Action Comics #1, the comic that featured the first Superman story? Say no more, click here:

Here is the first in a series of cartoons animated by the legendary Max Fleischer studios in the 1940s. They are amazing!

Of course, there is also the famous TV series starring the late George Reeves. Here is a compilation of his "greatest hits"--literally!

In 1966, writers Charles Strouse and Lee Adams created a Broadway musical called "It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman," which turned out to be a flop, closing after 129 performances. The two creators would have much greater success years later with another Broadway comic adaptation--"Annie."

Here are clips from a 1975 TV presentation of the musical. This aired only once, at 11:30pm.

The 1960s also brought a new animated series of Superman, this time for TV courtesy of the (in)famous Filmation studios. Bud Collyer, the voice of Superman in the original Fleischer cartoons and the classic radio show, provided Superman's voice.

And of course:

Superman became animated once again for CBS in 1988, his 50th anniversary:

The producers of the blockbuster films also produced the syndicated exploits of Superboy in the late 80s; judging by the quality of episodes like this, I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did:

ABC gave us "Lois & Clark" in the 1990s. The first two seasons were decent enough; seasons three and 4 sucked.

Kids WB gave us yet another animated Supes in the 1990s:

Finally, from October 2001 to today, there is the popular WB/CW program Smallville, which takes an unconventional look at Clark Kent's adolescence:

I'm sure I've only covered a sliver of what Superman stuff is out there. Log on to your favorite search engine and take a look for more. Up, up, and away!

I'll see you again midweek, when I'll showcase another comic book great. And just in time for his next Hollywood adventure. I'd better do it right, though. I don't want to make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Justice League Fan Made Movie Trailer

I've been following comic books this year after a decade-long hiatus. I'm a lifelong fan of comic book superheroes, as well as their movie and TV adaptations. The following clip showcases the most popular heroes of the medium in one epic movie--that doesn't exist.

Some fan or fans out there with some decent desktop editing know-how put together this surprisingly good trailer for a movie based on DC Comics' Justice League, using clips from Superman Returns, Batman Begins, The Flash TV series, and other film and TV projects. Very well done and quite effective, as it inspired me to see the whole film--which again, doesn't exist.

See you this weekend!

P.S. If anyone can recommend some good comic book blogs for me, especially ones that will help me get caught up with Marvel and DC events of the last ten years, let me know in the comments section.