Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Incredible Hulk (70's TV Show)

If you have never seen a Kenneth Johnson series, you are no child of the 70's. From The Six Million Dollar Man to The Bionic Woman to The Incredible Hulk (not to mention V and Alien Nation) Kenneth Johnson was responsible for the greatest TV myths of my childhood. They were stories filled with loss, deception, pathos and real heartbreak. In fact, I think I owe Ken a strange debt for bringing the "tragic hero" to life in front of my awestruck eyes.

Of course you are too young to process what you are being taught - precisely why I think we should be very careful what we set before our children - you just swallow it down, eager to see heroic fantasy come to life before your eyes.

Ken was primarily a producer and developer, but did put a few scripts in now and then, after the initial movies or "pilots" were made. He got the ball rolling so to speak. And the reason I am menioning this is because I watched The Incredible Hulk TV pilot last night, with his commentary (starring "Bix" and "Lou" as he would say) and was deeply touched by it.

Below is the familiar clip of the opening. It is wonderful in its execution - the first time viewer grasps the story he is entering in a mere 60 seconds, and the regular viewer has the drama and power of the tragedy laid upon them anew. [Side note: this is an amazing bit of film - as good as the montage for opening of The Six Million Dollar Man. I'd forgotten Ken had done both. What talent!]



[NOTE: I had to search for an HOUR to find this semi-decent clip; just watch the first 60 seconds with Ted Cassidy's voice over!]

Last night was very cathartic for me - with my German heritage and Irish romanticism, I have learned to shut off my feelings before they harm people. Like David Banner I know that when I am angry, I do incalculable damage. Its not healthy to do this consistently - and for me to cry or express sadness, I usually have to do it by proxy. What's that line from Conan the Barbarian? "He cannot cry. So I cry for him."

So we have this sad scene in the end of the movie where the dying female doctor tells David she always loved him. But because he's transformed into this monster, he cannot comprehend what she is saying. He can only lift her lifeless hand to his face again and again. Once his primal brain grasps she is no more, he lets out a bellow of rage at the world, at the darkness, at anything and anyone who can hear - and it is heard for miles.

Unlike the latest film, this incarnation is more benevolent, and its grief must be deep for the monster to go beserk. While I appreciate the technical acumen of both films, with the latter being superior in some respects, Lou Ferrigno, who had never acted before, did an amazing job of being the Angry Child Giant. He said the response to him for doing that 5-year show worldwide has always been amazing.

Also last night, we studied Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Before you click off your imagination, I want you to see the emotional pain, frustration and heroism Jesus had.
Mark 14:32-42 (New International Version)
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

Returning the third time, he said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"


Jesus is in great emotional distress -abandoned by neglect by his closest friends, his disciples. Their flesh has conquered them. By the end, however, Jesus has prayed through to victory -he REFUSES to run away when he sees Judas. In fact, he points him out: "Well, looks like its time to get with the program. Here comes my old buddy, Judas!"

You see, its no sin to have deeply felt emotions -but never let them keep you away from your mission. One of the ironies of The Incredible Hulk is that UNLESS David Banner is unjustly hurt and/or abused by the villains, he will not have the power to defeat them. He cannot avoid conflict -even though he's tried many times.

When the battle comes, David Banner gets mad, becomes an unstoppable force, and dishes out some well-deserved justice.

Christ was hurt by his disciples, betrayed by Judas, unjustly abused and mistreated by the relgious and political leaders of the day, was beaten and despised and killed.

At his death, and his transforming resurrection, He was given the power over life and death. We who believe understand Jesus did not just die, but rather paid for the sins of the world. "He who knew no sin, became sin for us." We also see the love of God and the extreme justice of God.

But it cost Jesus a broken heart. It isolated him. It cost him his regular life as a man to save his bride, the Church. I think at this point he'd gotten "accustomed to her face", if you know what I mean.

Maybe like me, you cannot cry easily. You've been hurt so many times or simply cannot open that door to the dark places of your heart. Maybe like me, you have to see another cry out in deep emotional distress so you can release.

For the first time, I felt the pain of Jesus as someone with all this power, yet a great emotional need. I saw the same in the Hulk as the creature weeps over a love lost, not understanding mentally, but feeling it all the same.

I guess what I am saying is: know your heart.

Your strength is tethered to it, whether you admit it or not.

If Jesus Christ can cry in such great emotional anguish that the capillaries in his face burst to mingle with his sweat glands, and still remain true and sinless, it follows that we can express our deepest emotions to God without reservation or fear of recrimination.

Maybe like me, you cannot share your feelings publicly. That's OK.

But share them with God - and find a way with Christ, to "control the raging spirit within."

He understands. He really does.

Amen.


p.s. Below is the "Lonely Man" theme by Joe Harnell that ended each episode of The Incredible Hulk. Press play and re-read the scripture above. It will surprise you how well it fits.

No comments:

Post a Comment