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Thursday, July 31, 2008


The Incredible Hulk: Pilot/A Death in the Family
Music by Joe Harnell
JHCD 24 (US)
25 Tracks 68:16 mins

The late composer Joe Harnell was most closely associated with TV giant Kenneth Johnson, scoring his 1970s & 80s shows Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Cliffhanger, V, Alien Nation and of course The Incredible Hulk, which starred Bill Bixby as the tortured scientist David Banner and Lou Ferrigno as his rampaging alter ego, The Hulk.
Harnell may be with us no longer, but it's good to see that his website at is continuing to release his music, the latest disc being this pairing of both the pilot episode of The Incredible Hulk and the episode "A Death in the Family."
Undoubtedly Harnell's most famous composition was written for the show. His "Lonely Man" theme is instantly recognisable, a poignant piano solo, played by the composer himself, that closed each episode. Understandably then, this piece opens the album and the subsequent score tracks for the pilot, presented here. The show's "Main Title" theme first appears at the start of the "Death in the Family" selections, a typically poppy and rhythmic '70s affair, incorporating snippets of the composer's returning main themes.
To address the two episodes, much of the pilot's early scoring is rather on the dissonant side, tense and difficult to listen to. It's not until "Growing Anger" that the trudging, ever intensifying transformation theme, that is also to become a staple of the show, appears. The Hulk in action is accompanied by this theme, with punchy brass and timpani adding to it at its most powerful, as in "Chamber Hulk-Out." Typically sneaky music accompanies Banner's reporter stalker, McGee, throughout (played by Jack Colvin) and is introduced in "McGee Snoops, combining with the Hulk theme in "The Hulk to the Rescue," as the reporter first witnesses the power of the green giant. The final cue, "Graveside Farewell/The Lonely Man Theme" brings the score to an emotional close.
For "A Death in the Family," after the aforementioned "Main Title" theme, the music opens with variations on the "Lonely Man" theme, sad at first, then propulsive. Harnell introduces his "Love Theme," another attractive composition that is a staple of the show in "Girl Collapses," giving it urgency in the subsequent "David Sympathetic." A rhythmic action theme accompanies the bad guys in tracks like "Redneck Rumble," and of course the familiar Hulk theme and Lonely Man vie for attention in competition in subsequent battles. The "Love Theme" returns gloriously at the opening of "Hulk Saves the Day," but is eventually overwhelmed by the "Lonely Man" theme as Banner is, as always, forced to go on his lonely way. A reprise of Harnell's piano performance of the theme closes the fine slice of nostalgia that is this album.
The disc is accompanied by an informative booklet, featuring notes by Randall D. Larson on the show, the episodes featured and of course the composer and his music. Order your copy from


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