Dr. David Banner (Bill Bixby) roams the lonely roads and often stumbles across problems that can be solved by a huge green monster. It wouldn’t be a good show if Banner just walked around and never got mad and never beat up bad guys as the hulk, right? In the 1977 episode “DEATH IN THE FAMILY,” Banner stumbles across a young girl, Juliet (Laurie Prange) at a grave, stumbling around on crutches and having a hard time. She is in a daze and Banner, being the good guy he is, wants to help. He assists her back to her mansion, where her stepmother, Margaret (Dorothy Tristan), is waiting.
It becomes obvious that Juliet has many medical problems. She is basically bedridden and has constant medical care. Banner, being schooled in medicine, smells a rat when one of the nurses is shooting Juliet up with a drug. If the drug is what the nurse claims it should be, it would be clear, but it wasn’t. Banner elects to stick around and investigate. Juliet informs him that her father died in an explosion and she barely made it through it herself, being pulled to safety by a stranger. She lost the usage of her legs for the most part and has some disease that could be terminal. Her personal physician, Dr. Bonifant (William Daniels), keeps pumping her full of the strange medicine, and Banner has enough and reports it to Margaret, but she is in on it! Now Banner is a marked man.
Bonifant is played by William Daniels. He was the voice of K.I.T.T. in KNIGHT RIDER, another great show. He was also Mr. Feeney in BOY MEETS WORLD. Daniels has been around and his distinctive voice got him a lot of work. Although he was a nice guy in KNIGHT RIDER, he plays a prick much better, as he did in this INCREDIBLE HULK episode and that flick BLIND DATE. He just looks like he’d be an asshole, doesn’t he? Sometimes you can just look at somebody and say: “I bet that he’s a prick,” and you are usually right! Even if you’re not right, isn’t it a fun game just to look at somebody and guess what they’re like?
William Daniels isn’t the only star power in this bad boy. We also have Gerald McRaney, playing the hired hand, Denny. I would never want to be a “hired hand.” Can you imagine your boss saying: “I’m horny. I need that hired hand of yours.”? McRaney was in that horrible yet popular show, MAJOR DAD, and is married to Delta Burke. When he married her, she was relatively attractive. She was actually a playboy bunny and then turned into a playboy elephant. McRaney must have been pissed! Imagine him bragging to his buddies: “Yeah, I’m marrying a playboy bunny…” Then they see her a few years later and chuckle. “Brag now McRaney. Oink. Oink.” I guess Burke has lost weight and has started a line of fat women clothing or something like that, but the point is, in Hollywood there is a world of personal trainers and Slim Fast is always looking to pay celebrities to lose weight, so there is no excuse to squash Major Dad in the bedroom. Am I right?
Margaret sicks Major Dad on Banner. Major Dad has a hard on for Juliet and sees the new guy in town as a threat to his chances to score with the hot disabled chick. You get the feeling that he was thinking: “I hope this one doesn’t get fat.” Do you think that Major Dad can kick the shit out of Banner? Maybe, but when Banner turns into the Hulk, it’s on. I think that Banner is lucky that he’s got this “problem.” He gets the hell beaten out of him on a regular basis and if he wasn’t the Hulk, he would never get revenge. Well, when Major Dad and his boyfriends beat the shit out of him, they all pay dearly. Hulk spoke for the first time in this episode, stating: “Fuck you and your fat wife,” as he threw Major Dad through a wall. It was inappropriate and confusing if you didn’t know all of the facts, but I still liked it. Then again, I may have just imagined it or yelled it while watching the episode. I often yell while watching the Hulk series. I really have a good time watching it.
Banner finally convinces Juliet that her stepmother and Mr. Feeney aren’t working in her best interests and are trying to kill her and they make a run for it…well, Banner is carrying her. She has a hard time walking. With the money that Margaret has access to, they make it very difficult for Banner to get away. As they go through the woods, they are being hunted by dogs and there is a helicopter monitoring him. If that wasn’t enough, they have to deal with quicksand and wild animals, leading to one of the best scenes in Hulk history. A big angry grizzly bear goes after Banner. They are territorial.
The battle between the bear and the Hulk is great, and we discover just how strong the green monster is. He launches that bear across the lake, throwing it about 100 feet or so. Obviously wild animals are no match for Hulk and neither are dogs or helicopter or Major Dad or Mr. Feeney or anything else. He is just bad ass.
DEATH IN THE FAMILY is a great episode. I really enjoyed the Hulk fighting a bear and the conniving stepmother. There was a drunk, homeless character that annoyed me, but other than that, it was a very good episode.
RSR Rating: 7.5/10. Hulk is smarter than the average bear.