TV Theme Songs: The Incredible Hulk
"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale" of a time when television shows began with awesome TV Theme Songs. "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name" and sometimes you want to go back to when TV Theme songs were special. "Here's a story... of a lovely" time when TV Theme Songs served to identify, distinguish and set the stage for the television program that followed. "You take the good, take the bad, take them both and there you have" what unfortunately has become a lost artform. "Believe it or not", sadly it seems no effort or pride is taken in the TV Theme Song ever since Seinfeld proved a short synth-bass riff could be used instead. “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” This regular feature may not "make all our dreams come true", but it will remember some of the best TV Theme Songs from years past (with a focus on the '80s decade). "Come aboard, we're expecting you."
This time we will cover the theme song for The Incredible Hulk. The show's 2-hour pilot premiered in November of 1977 and then the series ran for five seasons starting in 1978 and crossing over into the '80s ending in May of 1982. It is based on the Marvel comics character who was portrayed by Bill Bixby when he was Dr. David Banner and Lou Ferrigno when he was the big green guy. I remember this as must watch television for my brother and me when it aired on the same night as The Dukes of Hazzard.
Music for the series was composed and conducted by Joe Harnell who had previously worked with series creator Kenneth Johnson on The Bionic Woman. He had once been Peggy Lee's full-time accompanist and his Bossa Nova arrangement of "Fly Me to the Moon" was a hit in 1963 winning him a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Harnell would later write music for the TV movie V, which he received an Emmy nomination for in 1983, as well as the theme music for the NBC daytime soap Santa Barbara.
The opening theme is not very memorable because there is spoken dialogue explaining the show's premise as the primary focus. That narration was provided by Ted Cassidy who might be best known as "Lurch" on The Addams Family in the mid-60s. Here is the opening for The Incredible Hulk...
The song from the show that I find much more memorable was usually played during the closing credits and is a sad solo piano tune called "The Lonely Man". It usually showed Dr. Banner leaving town and often hitchhiking to his next location. It really does invoke feelings of sympathy and sadness and allows for a nice transition to the following week's episode. Here is the ending of an episode of The Incredible Hulk featuring "The Lonely Man" theme song...
Some of the series' music was much later collected into an album titled The Incredible Hulk: Original Soundtrack Recording released in 1999.
Hope you enjoyed tuning in for another "episode" of TV Theme Songs!