A job at a zoo introduces David to a female scientist who is conducting genetis research that may help him gain a better understanding of his own condition.
The second regular episode of The Incredible Hulk TV series, The Beast Within is the first regular episode showing David (Bill Bixby) going undercover in the search for a cure that can rid him of the Hulk (Lou Ferrigno) .
In an article of Anthropology Monthly David read about the research of Dr. Claudia Baxter (Caroline McWilliams) into the root chemical cause of animal aggression. Her goal is to find an antidote to aggression in animals, and David thinks it may help aggression in humans as well. David takes the job as a janitor at the zoo where Baxter works and approaches the scientist, claiming to have had a couple years of pre-med as well as experience in animal husbandry.
As Baxter must have needed a tiger masturbated she decides to show David around the lab and bring him up to speed on her research, but waiting in her lab is sexual harasser Carl (Richard Kelton). Offering grant money in exchange for a date, Baxter coldly turns him down. We find she’s more interested in animals than humans as she is disappointed by most of the people she’s met. But she has full trust in her animals, even allowing a gorilla named Elliot to wander free in the lab.
There’s a wonderfully funny moment where Dr. Baxter presents David with “the work of Dr. David Banner–a brilliant, if long-winded, scientist” who’s work Baxter wants to continue. Bixby plays that moment perfectly, bemused to hear opinions on his own work in that way.
She has continued Banner’s work and created AGD-4, a drug that seems to stop the aggression in animals, but then causes an after effect of severe aggression in the animals.
But Baxter’s work is in danger of losing her grants due to the death of several animals due to infection. We find this out from Baxter’s boss Dr. Malone (Dabs Greer, best known as Reverend Alden from Little House on the Prairie) who cracks the whip saying if they had more people like David working there the zoo would never be clean.
Which is true, actually. We have many, many scenes of David, a janitor, flirting with Dr. Baxter, performing experiments, and buying hot dogs for the comely scientist.
If we didn’t already suspect Carl and Dr. Malone of being evil, it’s confirmed the next scene where Carl is seen carrying a chimp that he and Malone declare dead. David examines the chimp and think it is just in a “comatose state”. And we soon discover the depths of the plot when Carl and Malone meet with a South African diamond smuggler named Joe. The zoo is using the animals to smuggle diamonds into the United States, and killing the animals to remove the diamonds. This makes me wonder, if they have to autopsy the animals to get the diamonds out, how are they getting the diamonds in the animals in the first place? More animal husbandry?
It’s a ludicrous plot that is strained even further when we see Malone having second thoughts, and Joe and Carl conspiring to kill David, fearing the janitor may “know too much”. Rather than kill David obviously Carl decides to inject Elliot the gorilla with the AGD-4, then locks David in the cage with the enraged ape.
Hulk-Out #1: With Elliot beating David, David starts his transformation and beats on the gorilla. While the fact that Elliot was a guy in a suit worked okay during the early scenes, in the fight with the Hulk the costume’s limitations become obvious. Ferrigno flexes and growls, and so the gorilla throws some lab equipment at Hulk and we can actually see the gorilla suit wrinkle. The fight continues all in slow motion, Lou’s pecs jiggling, the lab being destroyed, until Elliot retreats into his cage. But at the last minute Dr. Baxter comes in to see the giant green Hulk, so Hulk breaks through the wall and runs off following a sign that humorously says “To the Animals.”
In most episodes this is where the Hulk-Out would end, but this one continues for many more scenes of Hulk flexing and growling at zoo attendees, giving plenty of eye-witnesses to Hulk’s escapades. But, lest the younger members of the audience be frightened by the rampaging green man, Hulk also has a tender moment with a little girl who feeds peanuts to Hulk. Of course, Hulk eats them shell and all. It’s a mash-up of two scenes from the pilot movies, but it is there to gently remind the audience that Hulk is friendly to children.
After the girl’s shrieking mother frightens Hulk off he finally he hides in the tiger den. There, petting a baby tiger, the Hulk finally change back into David. And once human, David is quite scared of all the giant cats around him (though I’m not sure why; if a tiger attacked I’m sure he’d just change back into the Hulk).
The Hulk’s appearance has upped scrutiny on Dr. Malone and the zoo, and Malone plans to use Hulk as a scapegoat for all the dead animals. Malone suspends Baxter from the zoo, but as she’s packing, David returns and notices some of the AGD-4 compound is missing and a blood sample shows that it was the cause of Elliot’s attack.
But with all these eye witnesses to Hulk’s appearance, the police and Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) are out in full force trying to capture the creature. And we get a funny moment when Baxter asks David to get rid of Mr. McGee as she doesn’t want to deal with the press. David is unsure what to do and gives Baxter a character-building speech about how she can’t hide from people forever and she should start with McGee. It is a manipulative move on behalf of our hero.
Additionally, with The Incredible Hulk’s pilot episode fresh in my mind, and the havoc McGee caused the last time he tried to get a news story about some scientists, it was funny to see McGee snooping around another scientist’s lab. His methods have improved, though, as here McGee tries to lure Baxter into an interview by saying the press can help her research or hurt it.
After Baxter brushes off McGee, David and Baxter realize all the dead animals are South African, and deduce from a newspaper headline that they must be used for smuggling diamonds. But Carl overhears their talk, and takes the two hostage at gunpoint. They tie up David and Carl plans on throwing Baxter into the lion’s cage, while Malone goes to inject David with a lethal dose of AGD-4.
Hulk-Out #2: Before Malone can inject David, the janitor Hulks out, snapping his ropes. Hulk knocks Malone aside, and punches through an aluminum wall, running to the Lion’s cage to rescue Dr. Baxter. Carl is just about to throw Baxter in the cage as Hulk approaches, and Carl just drops Baxter and tries to make a run for it in his jeep.
Here we see the Hulk’s most impressive feat of strength since the pilot: Hulk picks up a jeep and starts shaking it until Carl is thrown from the driver’s seat, then Hulk throws Carl in some water. As it’s the 70’s, the rules of television clearly state that if someone is in water they are completely immobilized and unable to either flee or attack, and this gives Hulk a tender moment with Dr. Baxter as police arrive. Then Hulk runs off into the night, as police arrest Carl, leaving me disappointed we didn’t get to see the Hulk battle a lion. He’s fought a gorilla and a bear, a lion seemed the next logical step.
And in the denouement we see that Dr. Malone, Carl, and Joe were arrested and Dr. Baxter’s name cleared. More, she is promoted to director of the zoo. But despite her asking David to stay on and continue her anti-aggression research, Mr. McGee’s sniffing around forces him to move on. So with a tender first and last kiss with Dr. Baxter, David dons his tan windbreaker and walks down the road to The Lonely Man theme. But we see he left one final clue, signing Dr. Baxter’s cast to try the effects of gamma rays on DNA overlap as she continues her research.
This episode was very formulaic and did not change the status quo any from what we’ve seen in previous episodes. The plot of zoo animals being used to smuggle diamonds from South Africa was a bit silly, but yet very inventive. And despite the bad 70’s effects and costumes, the Hulk/gorilla fight was rather fun. A middle of the road episode, this gets a mild recommend.