Dark Side - The Incredible Hulk Classic TV Series.

David Banner, stealing some Prolixin after hours.
David Banner, stealing some Prolixin after hours.

The thieving border

David Banner works at Devlin Chemicals, where a controlled substance called "Prolixin" is stored. One night after hours, David steals some of the Prolixin in the hopes of creating a serum to help contain the beast within.

When he's not working at Devlin, David is living as a boarder with a family in which the dad has just returned from many months of working on a ship at sea. It is revealed that he is often away for long periods of time and his daughter, Laurie, resents him for it.

Laurie is a recent highschool grad and has developed a crush on David. This does not go unnoticed by either her dad or David, which creates much friction in the house. David, for his part, likes Laurie and thinks that things might be different if he were 18 again... but he's far from 18 and anything that could be called a normal life. He politely rebuffs Laurie's barely veiled passes and focuses on his work.

Dr. Jekyll hard at work
Dr. Jekyll hard at work

His "work" these days consists of attempts to create a serum with the Prolixin that he hopes will target the primitive part of his brain and suppress the rage that powers the creature. Something inevitably goes wrong and he awakens the very primal portion of his personality that he was attempting to suppress.

What follows thereafter is like an excerpt from the diary of a madman.

David's face becomes contorted into a malicious smirk that sometimes becomes a full-blown evil grimace. He laughs like a maniac, eats chicken like a savage and drinks wine out of the bottle, letting the excess run down his chin and onto his shirt - physical manifestations of him becoming more primitive. He starts to call Laurie "Laura." He explains, "Laurie is a girls name...Laura is a woman's name" and he eventually drags Laurie off to be his bride, after a conflict with her dad.

Laura also happens to be the name of David's deceased wife, so there's something a bit Freudian going on here on that front as well as others.

Dr. Jekyll , I presume?

OK, so parts of this are clearly overdone, and there are plot issues too. For instance, it makes little sense for David to be a boarder. He's spent much of his life (post gamma accident) struggling to hide from people and suppress the creature, yet he's going to hunker down and live closely with a family? It doesn't make sense for him to put himself in a position where his comings and goings will be noticed, and where he is expected to dine with the family every night. Besides, he's got what looks for all the world like a 19th century chemistry lab set up in his bedroom! The mother never found that odd?

Laurie jokingly calls him "Dr. Frankenstein", but Dr. Jekyll would be more accurate.

And here we come to the strange beauty of the episode.


It is very much a nod to Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (Incidentally, this is a nice continuation of a theme last referenced in Married, during the conversation between David and Caroline ). What makes this a standout episode is again a great performances by Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno.

Bill Bixby's portrayal of the David Banner we know and love as he struggles to control his primitive, primal personality - a personality that exists somewhere in the shadow between Banner and Hulk - is great drama.

It can be humorous at time, albeit darkly humorous.

At one point, David actually starts a fight in a nightclub and chuckles as he delivers a variation on the iconic line: "don't touch me again... I might get angry...You wouldn't like me when I'm angry! hehehe"

Lou Ferrigno is also in top form as he represents a truly menacing version of the Hulk that actively pursues others with malice as he embarks on a crusade of mayhem through the night club.

David starts a fight!
David starts a fight!

This Hulk is primal and pissed off!

After the nightclub incident, David hypothesizes that if he doesn't create an antidote, his primal episodes will increase in both frequency and intensity. Only problem is that he needs more Prolixin.

Throughout the second half, David is at his breaking point and in danger of losing himself at any moment.

David wants to get Prolixin and find a cure, but his dark side (Mr. Hyde) wants to thwart him. Toward the end, he struggles with himself - literally - in a climactic scene in which David's dark side is driving a car while David's good side is attempting to inject himself with a cure.

Ferrigno's interpretation of an aggressive Hulk is truly menacing
Ferrigno's interpretation of an aggressive Hulk is truly menacing

The Dark Side isn't really one of the best episodes, but it is a pretty good one. The Jekyll and Hyde premise could have been developed more and done so more subtly, but it would probably have taken a 2 hour episode.

Besides, the Jekyll and Hyde theme is a major, underlying theme of the series, so this episode is perhaps best viewed as an exclamation point on that theme. It's an in-your-face explosion of the Jekyll and Hyde aspect and it gives Bixby an opportunity to broaden his range within the character of Banner. It also shows how good Ferrigno is because he shows the effects of the serum convincingly while not being able to speak.

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Comments 2 comments

David Barber 19 months ago

I really dig this episode. Offered something new and intriguing to the Hulk stable, featured great performances from Bix and Lou and was intensely gripping. The only thing missing was Jack Colvin as McGee.


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M. Beck 19 months ago from Parts Unknown Author

I totally agree, David.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment... it means a lot. I hope you get a chance to read my thoughts on some of the other great episodes.

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