It was Art Metrano's birthday earlier this week, so this reviewer is looking at 7 guest starring roles from the 70's & 80's by the man also known as The Great Metrano. Today is day five: The Incredible Hulk: Stop the Presses.
Yes indeed, true believers, on November 24 1978, Art Metrano became the first and only man in history to be thrown around by two different TV superheroes from separate publishing houses on the same night and on the same network. First he faced DC's Wonder Woman (see yesterday's entry in this week of reviews) and immediately after that, he went up against Marvel's Green Goliath, the Incredible Hulk. Unfortunately for this reviewer, Art's part only lasts for about half the episode, so this might be an extra short review...
At least T.G.M. is front and center in the first shot of the show, bothering our favorite Hulk hunter Jack McGee at work: the New York offices of the National Register (established 1860). Our Art is 'Charlie' and he makes a buck selling pictures to the Register. But McGee knows Charlie likes to sell the same photos to different reporters and get paid twice. So tells him to stick to working with Joe Arnold, a young, unscrupulous newsman who likes to bend the truth to make his articles juicier.
Joe and Charlie's modus operandi is certainly unusual. They visit Bruno's, a promising new Italian restaurant run by two women and an Asian cook called Fred (Pat Morita, who else?). There they throw some firecrackers in the dumpster at the back so Fred and the new dishwasher (a certain David Banner) run out. While the staff is distracted, Joe and Charlie enter the kitchen, Charlie dumps garbage everywhere and Joe takes pictures. I thought Art Metrano (Charlie) was supposed to be the photographer here, but I guess reporter Joe didn't want to get his typing hands dirty.
Naturally Jill & Karen, the two girl owners (named after writers Jill Sherman and Karen Harris) are upset that a the health scare is about to be reported about Bruno's. Meanwhile dishwasher David is especially worried because Arnold managed to snap his picture. Strange character, that David. Clearly overqualified to be a mere dishwasher and much better at fixing the girls taxes and liquor license. But J&K don't want to see him leave because they both really fancy him.
For some reason Arnold and 'Cockroach' Charlie don't feel like they've done enough damage at Bruno's so they return for round two. But this time David is there. Unfotunately for him, Charlie used to be a wrestler and in no time David is face down in the food and thrown under the table. Somehow that happens to him in every episode. The baddies and bullies always dump Bill Bixby somewhere out of their eyesight for a few minutes so he has time to change places with Lou Ferigno. Then Lou comes out as the Incredible Hulk, pushes the entire kitchen counter at Art, picks him up and throws him out the door. Unfortunately that's the last we see of Art Metrano in this episode, as well as Pat Morita's Fred. They both decide to leave town after the first Hulk-out.
There are a few more things worthy of mentioning about this episode, because Karen & Jill (the writers, not the restaurant owners) keep throwing out more far fetched plot fabrications. David finds a snapshot made by the girls just before the fist garbage incident which just happens to have a newspaper with a readable date visible on it, as well as a clock showing the time. This is proof that Arnold (the reporter, not Pat Morita as he was known in Happy Days) came in later with other people's garbage.
But the evidence means nothing as long as they don't have Arnold's original negatives. So they have to sneak into the newspaper-building and dark haired Jill has to distract the guard by wearing a slinky black dress. The three of them manage to get the negatives, but then Jill, who earlier on mentioned that she briefly worked at the Register, figures out by looking at a 'runsheet' hanging on the wall that some of the pictures have already been duplicated and are at the presses, about to be printed. And of course one of those photographs shows David's face.
So, David sends the two women home and goes down to the presses. It's unclear what he was hoping to achieve on his own, because it sure doesn't look like he planned to get his denim jacket caught in the spinning press, causing him to Hulk-Out faster than usual and smash the entire printing press to pieces. I guess the Hulk must have retained a bit of Banners intentions this time around.
But the fun's not over yet. In another subplot, Jack McGee had just acquired a big game hunter's riffle and while he was just sitting at his desk after hours, admiring his weapon, he gets word the Hulk is on the premises. But McGee proves himself even clumsier with his rifle than Banner was with his jacket: he shoots a tranquilizer dart into his own leg. And that's how we get a scene of David Banner, (transformed back into Banner faster than ever) face to face with his hunter Jack. Only Jack is too groggy and woozy to make out David's face.
What a silly comic book episode this was. It must also be mentioned that a lot of scenes obviously had lines dubbed in at a later stage, whether it's a scene the two girls walking down the street or The Great Art wisecracking 'I Ain't gonna wrestle this guy' during his far too brief confrontation with the Hulk.
7 out of 10
The Great Metrano week will continue tomorrow with another classic: The A-Team: Uncle Buckle-Up
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