Posts Tagged ‘The Incredible Hulk’

“The Lonely and Tragic Life Of Dr. David Banner”



Hey what’s going on Heroes, it’s your old pal Charlton Hero back at ya with another installment of the Mighty Marching Super-Blog Team-Up!! If this is your first time stopping by let me fill you in on what the mighty SBTU is all about! We are a collective of like minded bloggers, podcasters and content creators who come together 4 times a year to collaborate on a single topic event and put our own unique spin on the selected theme! Then we all release our content on one defined day and share in the community that is comics and pop culture. This time out our theme is “The Doctor Is In”. This event is a celebration of “The Doctor” characters in all forms throughout Pop Culture. From the Sci-Fi World of Doctor Who, The Mystical realms of Doctor Fate to the super badassery of Motley Crews Dr. Feelgood! Doctors have existed in multiple versions and personas and are a staple of any genre. We at Super-Blog Team-Up deep dive some of the most famous Doctors all the way to to the super obscure practitioners as we let the Blog-o-Sphere know that “The Doctor Is Indeed IN!!”

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For this installment the Satellite has tracked activity in our veritable time scanning probe to the late 70s where we will encounter an old friend of ours working on an experiment on Gamma radiation that will not go particularly well for our subject today Dr. David Banner… aka The Incredible Hulk!! More specifically we are discussing the 1977 Television Series The Incredible Hulk!! We will deep dive this amazing series and walk through Dr. David Banners TV Origins, Its importance to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its overall place in the lore of The Incredible Hulk story as a whole. At the end I will provide you with my top 5 recommendations of the very best “Bill Bixby-David Banner” episodes of the series!!  

Lets not wait anymore strap into the Satellite Heroes we have a Monster to catch!! 

Transmission Date : May 12th 2021

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There are things in life that you can remember the exact time and date of where you were and who you were with and as we get older sometimes these memories fade into the time. Then there are those things are are as vibrant in your memory as the day you experienced it. This is my experience with the 70s Incredible Hulk TV Series. I stumbled upon the series as a child in the very early 80s staring at a 13” Black and White TV set or if I was lucky a nice color version at my Grandmother’s house. We had two glorious channels both amazingly 100% Canadian in CBC and our local network NTV. Its all I knew and my knowledge of pop culture was limited to this tiny box to view the world through. There was no on demand, heck there weren’t even any VCR’s to watch your recording later. You had to be there!! If not these shows existed only in conversation the next morning at school. 

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The show was from the mind of Kenneth Johnson (yes he of “V” fame) and of course was based on The Marvel Comics Character created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee! He first appeared in the pages of his own title The Incredible Hulk in May 1962. His origin differs slightly than his Television Origins in that Robert Bruce Banner (Not his TV persona David Banner) is exposed to Gamma radiation while saving his best friend Rick Jones from the explosion of a Gamma Bomb. The effects of this exposure alters Bruce Banner’s life forever. When he is subjected to great amounts of stress or anger Bruce transforms into the Rampaging Hulk. As history had it Bruce is altered into the giant Grey monster The Hulk. Against his will when the moment strikes Bruce when triggered becomes the out of control rampaging monster who at times is part hero and part public menace. The Hulk was always a fixture of Stan Lee’s vision of Marvel and one of the top projects he pitched to studios around Hollywood. Spiderman and The Incredible Hulk began proceedings with their own televised series in 1977 but would be followed by an ill fated Doctor Strange TV Movie in September of 1978 on CBS followed by  two Captain America live action TV Movies The January 1979 self titled Captain America and its sequel in November of the same year Captain America 2: Death Too soon! None of the shows or movies listed had the impact or cultural importance of Johnson’s The Incredible Hulk TV Series. 

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I recall being very unsettled by the opening scene of the TV Show as a kid at about the age of 7 or 8. Take a look at that opening and tell me this would not scare the living bejesus out of any kid seeing this for the first time. The rain, the dark, the car accident and that insidious transformation into the monster. This was a game changer for me. My childhood heroes were alive and on my screen and for once they were taken dead serious. Don’t take my word for it see for yourself! Satellite Initiate Viewing Screens for our Heroes:

The Opening:

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https://youtu.be/M7Hh063ZtsA

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“Dr. David Banner, Physician/Scientist,searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have.

Then an accidental overdose of gamma

radiation interacts with his unique

body chemistry.

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And now, when David Banner grows angry

or outraged, a startling metamorphosis

occurs.

(HULK GROWL) RRRRRRRRAAAAAAA!

Narrator:The creature is driven by rage

and pursued by an investigative reporter.

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BANNER: Mr. McGee, don’t

make me angry. You wouldn’t

like me when I’m angry.

(HULK GROWL) RRRRRRRRAAAAAAAA!

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Narrator: An accidental explosion

took the life of a fellow scientist

and supposedly David Banner

as well. The reporter thinks

the creature was responsible.

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McGee: “I gave a description to all

the law enforcement agencies. They got

a warrant for murder out of it.

Narrator: A murder which David Banner

can never prove he or the creature

didn’t commit. So he must let the world

go on thinking that he too is dead,

until he can find a way to control the

raging spirit that dwells within him.

(HULK ROAR) RRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAA!!!”

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The TV Origin!

Dr. David Bruce Banner your lead character in the show was played by the incredible (Pardon the pun!) Bill Bixby. Bixby appears in 82 episodes of the show. After the shows cancellation Bixby would even reprise his roll of the nomadic Doctor/ Monster for three made for Television movies with the 1988 “The Incredible Hulk Returns” followed the next year by “The Trial Of The Incredible Hulk” wrapping the trilogy with the 1990 The Death Of The Incredible. The following is as much as I could gather from various sources detailing the origin of our TV David Bruce Banner!

Dr. David Bruce Banner was born in Trevorton, Colorado, in the first half of the 1940s. His father, D.W. Banner wanted David to stay on the family farm and take it over from him someday—D.W. went so far as to tell David that he would pay his son’s entire way through any agricultural college of his choice. David, the son of a farmer ,had always wanted to be a doctor, as young as the age of 5 years old. For background it was noted that David’s sister, Helen, walked in on him performing a play surgical procedure on one of her dolls. David suffered trauma early in life after discovering his mother dead in her bed as a child. He harbored a sharp resentment for his Father whom he placed blame for the death of his Mom which made him want to leave his hometown to make it on his own and live his dream as a Doctor David eventually did attend medical school. It was here he met his future colleague and fellow classmate  Elaina Marks. Following school David would go on to marry Laura Banner who horrifically perished on a cold rainy night during an electrical storm. The story originates when Dr. David Banner and his wife Laura are riding in their car when a tire blows out. The car rolls over. David gets thrown out, but his wife does not. He tries to save her by lifting the car to get her out, but was unsuccessful. 

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David’s grief and loss was overwhelming  years later Elaina went on to become his colleague at The Culver Institute of California. They were working on intense research around  the mystery of the enormous physical strength that all humans possess when under stress or extreme circumstances.. The loss of Laura and his inability to alter her fate changed David’s daily existence. He became motivated to discover the secret of superhuman feats of strength that the body has the ability to access and the interviews he conducted with Elaina of people who also had had loved ones in as much life-threatening jeopardy as Laura had been in, but were able to tap into that well of enormous strength to save, accomplished little more than to make grief, resentment and frustration a major part of David’s everyday existence.

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During David’s case study he concluded that the cause of accessing  super human strength was in an elevated adenine-thymine level of a person’s  DNA. This was not possible organically so David concluded there was some other force at work, some external factor introduced into these humans to get this elevation in strength namely Gamma Rays! Dr. Banner predicted that bursts of gamma-radiation on the surface of the sun were able to reproduce the exact effect of enhanced human strength ability in a laboratory setting!  Banner went as far as to  strap himself into the Institutes  radiation emitter and subjected  himself to Gamma Radiation for 15 seconds. Unbeknownst to Banner the device had been updated to emit up to 6 times the amount of Gamma rays beyond what is considered the maximum exposure a human was said to be able to endure!! 

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With this extreme exposure Banners level of adenine-thymine was elevated beyond any normal means which as a result caused a massive transformation into the huge musclebound Monster, The Incredible Hulk which in the future would be triggered at moments of great stress or anger. 

Wow…that’s a lot to take in right? The show was actually a simple concept. Dr. David Banner on his search for a cure to his inner monster In each individual episode, Banner wanders from town to city, using false aliases  and getting by doing odd jobs to stay afloat and to continue funding his research. Each episode he is faced with a dilemma where he feels compelled to help the people he meets get out of some sort of predicament . It’s the old monster of the week design that we all know and love and with the exception of a couple of two part episodes, each show can be considered a one and done and viewed on its own merits. Of course as David attempts to help out folks many times he is triggered with anger or intense situations and metamorphosizes into the Hulk. These Monster sightings have gained the attention of Investigative Reporter and TV show bad guy, Jack McGee who is Banner’s foil for nearly the entirety of the series.The Hulk usually rages on the side of good and generally helps out those in need yet at the end of each episode he is forced to hit the road to the ominous tones of the song “Lonely man” to move on to the next town in search of one day finding a way to silence the Monster. 

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This show was staggering to me as a kid. Not only was it an opportunity to see my heroes on the small screen every week in my living room but it was a different time. Super Hero fare was not the norm like it is in 2021 where the amount of comic book related shows and movies often outweigh regular shows on every network. It was scary and electric. It was also tragic. Bixby as David Banner was a revelation. Outside of all the “Green Monster” fun and the “Hulk Smash” moments the story of Dr. David Banner trying to find himself always spoke to me. The plight of the lonely man misunderstood by society and battling his own large green skinned demon who in the end only wants to make things right speaks to me personally. Despite its differences to the source material this show is well above the grade of what was being aired at the time. These days the Marvel Cinematic Universe is hitting us on all levels with big budget blockbusters like Avengers: Endgame which broke records all over the world, to Netflix producing gritty street level beat cop style shows with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, the Punisher and more. Don’t forget DisneyPlus giving us cinematic quality series such as Wanda Vision, The Falcon and Winter Soldier, and Loki! We are spoiled as an audience. Picture yourself in 1977 with NOTHING else to judge it against and then you were given The Hulk!! It would be a Loooong time before Marvel would even come close to the hemisphere of beating the sheer quality of the show. 

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Let’s be fair..it debuted in the pre-CGI era and kids watching today may think that old “Big Green’ may look a little cheesy but it was the actual writing on the show that made this thing more than a show about a big green monster. You got to know the MAN…David Banner. There were many episodes that held off on the Monster side of things and dealt with Banner himself and really built the human element of the show which really spoke to me as a kid viewer who tuned in for the “Hulk Smash” but stayed for the human element. 

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First we can start with just the amazing casting Bixby and the Hulk himself. Lou Ferrigno evolved into their characters to the point I could not see anyone else in their roles. Lou was perfect as the Hulk. As said before there was no CGI but Lou a world class bodybuilder didn’t need computers to be larger than life on screen as he was an absolutely immense man of size and muscle. With a questionable wig and green oil paint Ferrigno WAS The Hulk and no one questioned his legitimacy in that role.Now that you casted the Monster now you had to find the MAN! None better than the very first choice for the role Bill Bixby who was already an accomplished actor in such roles in My Favorite Martian , Rich Man Poor Man, The Twilight Zone, Fantasy Island, The Magician and many many more. Bixby WAS Bruce Banner!! They needed someone who could project as an actor to show intensity, torment and rage but yet be likeable. I am sure if you watched the show its hard to argue that Bixby didn’t pull off everyone of those criteria! He was the everyman that you could relate to and that is what made this show sing to TV audiences all over the world.

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If you were a kid in that era you always did “The Quote” you know the one… “Don’t Make me Angry..You Wont Like Me When I’m Angry”. Seriously if you were a kid of the 80s and into comic books someone at some point got levied that particular ditty their way! 

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All you had to do was watch the opening and closing of the show and you “Got” what the show was. There does not exist a more appropriate intro and outro for a show that sets you up with all you need to know from drama and intensity. The outro in particular always stuck with me with a song titled “The Lonely Man Theme” as a song that nearly netted an Emmy award for the Incredible Hulk in 82!. If you listen carefully they even do a variation on that in the Hulks 2008 Cinematic entry!!

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The Incredible Hulk show was also unique from everything else at the time in that Marvels iconic Figurehead Stan Lee who was trumpeting Marvel in Live Action as hard as he possibly could was said to have only liked the Hulk outside of the other Marvel small screen adaptations up to that point namely The infamous Dr. Strange Movie and The Amazing Spider Man show. Calling the productions a Nightmare he was all in on the Hulk fortunately!

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 Interviews of the day saw Lee boldly and giddy expound his appreciation for the show as well! Heck as famous as the “Stan Lee’ cameos were in the MCU it was the Trial Of The INcredible Hulk TV Movie that featured his first onscreen movie cameo!! Keep in mind Lee would be waiting a LOOOONG time following the Hulk and its follow up movies before Marvel would give us another attempt at cinema in the 1990 Captain America basically direct to video release which Lee considered a step backwards again and a disappointment! 

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The show itself would be considered a big hit in the ratings for Marvel in the ONLY hit it would see until the  X-men Trilogy would release many moons later. We can argue that “Blade” was a hit but when you consider the criteria of a Superhero film Blade falls in the category of a stand alone horror film which in my mind disqualifies it as the “First SuperHero” film to be a “hit” for Marvel. 

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The Incredible Hulk Tv Series and its three follow up Made For Tv movies would begin the idea of Superhero crossovers on screen! Now we had seen shows cross over in the past but minds were blow when the likes of Thor and Daredevil made their appearances with Bixby and Ferrigno further cementing the franchise as a historically significant happening for Marvel in a time they were trying to find their way along the path to what would become the Box Office Juggernaut known as the Mighty MCU!

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Consider what Superheroes graced the screen in the past. Yes the serials produced excellent fare such as TVs Superman starring George Reeves, The Green Hornet, Flash Gordon, Batman, and  we also got Shazam and not to mention Isis on Saturday mornings! Of course the pinnace of all Super-Hero television was the 1966 Batman live action show starring Adam West and Burt Ward which up to that point was the measuring stick for comic book onscreen success! The issue was most of these were popcorn fillers and not particularly taken serious. A serial in the theaters was not considered high theater at the time, and certainly West’s Batman was intended to be tongue and cheek. The Incredible Hulk was the first show to be taken seriously and when you stack up all the others our show stands like a giant above all the others.

Now that we get the big picture on how this show was received we need to get into our theme this time round for Super-Blog Team -Up and that being “The Doctor Is In”. With all that said these are what I consider the best “Dr. David Banner episodes of The Incredible Hulk. These shows are lighter than normal on the “Big Green Monster” aspect of the show and more character pieces that flesh out the struggle of our good Doctor as he attempts to shed his Inner monster.

Top 5 Doctor David Banner Episodes Of The Incredible Hulk

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5. “Married” Our good Doctor finds himself  in the warmth and sun filled beaches of Honolulu where he goes in search of someone who may be able to “Cure” him or at least let him control his inner  Monster, a one Dr. Caroline Fields. Fields struggles with a life threatening disease of her own and David sees an opportunity to help her as he knows he possesses a healing factor that exists when he transforms into The Hulk. It’s a very touching episode as it allows Banner to have a very rare few minutes of actual happiness as he is able to fall in love again and even remarry!!. Not to spoil things but this one ends tragically. This is the one episode where David nearly gets a chance at happiness in his life again and can almost forget about the big green monster inside him. Heartwarming and tragic.

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4. “Pilot”: No better beginning than the first episode. We get everything we need to understand the tragic existence of one Dr. David Banner. Banner is grieving after the loss of his wife Laura whom he did not have the strength to save from a terrible car accident. He sets out to find out the secret to unlocking hidden human strength and decides to experiment on himself with Gamma rays…which of course is the beginnings of his eventual tragic transformation into the monster that would haunt his life forever afterwards. If you are just starting the Hulk series this is your starting point! You can mix and match episodes afterwards but this one is your base!

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3.”The First” (Parts 1 and 2). This is cheating because this is actually a two part episode but this is my blog and ill include both because I can! Deal with it!! Doctor Banner stumbles upon the news that there were “Hulk” sightings that are happening around a small town years BEFORE Banner became the Hulk!. Is it possible that there is ANOTHER Hulk on the loose?? David is determined to find out! He sets out to the small town to find out that a scientist who embarked on a similar road as David has passed away leaving an incomplete set of notes leaving his trail empty…until we meet town local Dell Frye who catches Banner transforming exposing his secret!! Frye swears himself to secret but is interested in helping David find the previous scientists notes to assist him in finding his cure. What a nice guy right!! WRONG. No deep spoilers here but Frye has his own agenda and all I will tell you is that this episode features the first Hulk vs Hulk battle ever put to film!! Go out of your way to see this one!!

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2. “Homecoming” This season 3, episode 8 show was a “Special” Thanksgiving Episode! Remember when we had “Special ” Holiday episodes!! Well Hulk fans who were expecting a super sized Green Monster episode would be disappointed as this is one that deals with most David “Going Home”. He stops , for the moment anyways, his journey and visits his Father and Sister! It’s here we see the effect his mothers death has had on him and how that fractured his relationship with his father. This one really gives us that background into who David Banner was Pre- Green Monster era took control of his existence.

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1.”Prometheus” (Season 4 Episodes 1-2).This episode opens season 4 and is another 2 parter!! See I am cheating again but these are two of my absolute favorites and very Dr. Banner heavy episodes. In this set of episodes David meets a blind woman just before a meteor strikes the location where they are at. This situation nearly triggers a Hulk transformation however something unique happens here as Banner’s transformation into the Hulk stalls midway leaving him as half man and half monster!! (Basically bulkier with green eyes!!) He is later tracked down and captured by the government who are convinced this “Man-Monster” is born of Area 51 and an alien!! Of course eventually David is able to complete his transformation, escape and disappear into the world again to start the 4th season. This set of episodes hit at the outright tragedy of the character. Instead of trying to control the rage monster inside him now the Doctor was stuck in physical limbo as he is even more tragically now part monster on the outside and tracked down like an animal. This ones hits at the heart of the Hulk character.

The Incredible Hulks Television Shows Place in Marvel History.

The Television series swings away from the established continuity set up by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in the 60s but offers its own important contributions to the Incredible Hulk Mythos.



Its the first introduction to the Green Eyes during the transformation into the Hulk. This was the audiences cue that s*** was about to get real! The show used this to its absolute perfection. Horrifying and effective when David turns to the camera the start of the epic transformation into the Monster was on!! No matter how old I get I always LOVE this part of the transformation!

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It’s also introduced us to the Hulks antagonist ace reporter Jack McGee!! The ever present McGee would track Banner’s Hulk throughout the series and appears in 56 of the series 82 episode run and eventually makes his return in 1988s Return of the Incredible Hulk where he relents on his chase of the Hulk finally and begins chasing Thor appearances!! The name Jack McGee would resurface once again in the 2008 Hulk movie as a character of the same name is introduced as a student at a school. A nice wink and a nod there!!

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One would be remiss that this show also is the official introduction to the name “David” being added to the Bruce Banner name. Mythos has it that show producers thought the name Bruce was too closely associated with the gay community which sadly in the late 70s was still struggling for acceptance and as a result those with say fought to have it changed and were successful and thus was born the new and improved (??) “David” Bruce Banner was born. Sigh…a real sign of the times with that one. I could not find official confirmation of this but this has been the lore forever. I’ll give the showrunners the benefit of the doubt and leave this one as a myth for the benefit of all involved. Origins aside I did dig the name David being added to his name especially when he needed to disguise himself in the show. 

As you can see this show not only had a huge impact on me but definitely made its mark in the eyes of the fandom and was an early brightspot for Marvel in the infancy of the live action genre. With that said this draws our discussion to a conclusion 

Well that’s all Satellite fans!! I truly hope you have enjoyed our visit to the late 70’s rediscovering the magic and vision of Bill Bixby’s Incredible Hulk show I know I have but wait…we have plenty of more Pop Culture Doctors to discover as Super-Blog Team Up keeps on rolling with “The Doctor Is In!!” Check out all of our amazing contributors below.Till next time Satellite Subscribers..

Transmission Ended…

VISIT THE REST OF OUR AMAZING TEAM!! “THE DOCTOR IS IN” Continues BELOW!!

Between The Pages Blog: The World’s Most Popular Football Holder & Psychiatrist – Lucy van Pelt https://www.betweenthepagesblog.com/2021/05/the-worlds-most-popular-psychiatrist-lucy-van-pelt.html

Daves Comics Blog – The Immortal Dr. Fate https://davescomicheroes.blogspot.com/2021/05/immortal-doctor-fate.html 

Magazines and Monsters: Doctor Voodoo  https://magazinesandmonsters.com

Comics Comics Comics -The Power Of Podcasting and Doctor Who https://comicscomicscomics.blog/2021/05/12/super-blog-team-up-the-power-of-podcasting-and-doctor-who/

Radulich in Broadcasting Network – Doctor Doolittle 1998 & 2001 https://www.spreaker.com/user/wrestling2themax/long-road-to-ruin-sbtu-edition-dr-dolitt

Metal Hammer Of Doom: Motley Crew: Doctor Feelgood https://www.spreaker.com/user/wrestling2themax/metal-hammer-of-doom-sbtu-edition-moetle

SuperHero Satellite-  The 1970s Incredible Hulk Television Series: The Lonely and Tragic Life Of Doctor David Banner https://charltonhero.wordpress.com/2021/05/12/the-1970s-incredible-hulk-show-super-blog-team-up-the-doctor-is-in/

Asterisk51- Doctor Bong: For Whom the Bell Tolls https://asterisk51.blogspot.com/2021/05/doctor-bong-for-whom-bell-tolls.html

Pop Culture Retrorama- Dr Thirteen The Ghost Breaker. https://popcultureretrorama.com/2021/05/12/super-blog-team-up-doctor-thirteen-the-ghost-breaker/?fbclid=IwAR0xoP8ZxP1bCNzb48N-46ghO0iLqSkiAJnxJ5jh9hzl1JeDXOH6qeDfZ4A