It's Friday, let's watch some TV! And since I mentioned The Incredible Hulk the other day, I'll bet you can guess what today's selection is, can't you?
The first few seconds of this, with the flashing red light, big intimidating machine powering into place, and the urgent tinkle of a piano, still raise the hair on my arms, and the line "don't make me angry... you wouldn't like me when I'm angry" is, of course, a classic catchphrase that still lives in the pop-cultural zeitgeist. But what I really notice watching this sequence now is how bloody long it is. Many TV shows these days don't have any opening titles at all, of course, but even by the standards of the late '70s and early '80s -- the heyday of cool opening title sequences, in my not-so-humble opinion -- this one must be a contender for the longest. (The person who posted this clip on YouTube does note that this is the original version of the opening and that it was cut down somewhat for later episodes, but even losing 20 seconds, this thing still runs over a minute!) I also like how it explains through the voice-over exactly what the show is all about. That's not so critical on a typical drama about cops or doctors, but genre series often fail because newcomers have a hard time getting up to speed if they don't see the first episode or three. Would it have made a difference if the much-lamented, dead-before-it-had-a-chance series Firefly had had some kind of opening narration every week to explain why people in that show were riding horses and dressed like extras from Little House on the Prairie while spaceships thundered by overhead? Maybe, maybe not -- Firefly had a lot of cards stacked against it -- but it probably wouldn't have hurt.
As I said in my previous Hulk entry, this show wasn't one of my favorites -- I'll be honest, I don't remember any specific storylines or scenes the way I do from other series, even ones I saw when I was very little -- but I was a fairly regular viewer of it, and I did enjoy it. One aspect of the show that did make a huge impression on me was the typical episode ending, in which David Banner walked away from the camera along an (often) deserted road, occasionally putting his thumb out to try and hitch a ride, while an incredibly melancholy piano tune (appropriately called "The Lonely Man Theme") played in the background. I was a sensitive kid, keenly aware of the suffering of others, and these endings always struck me as unbearably sad and horrible that poor David was all alone like that. I remember my eyes welling up on more than one occasion as I sat on our living room hearth with the fire hot on my back, the TV on the other side of the warm, bright room, and my parents in their chairs (no doubt wondering why the hell their weird son was crying over the friggin' Hulk), and imagined what it must be like to have no friends or allies, no home, no destination, just the open road and a gathering thunderstorm up ahead. As lame as it sounds, that damn piano still makes my eyes burn a little: