Once a Hero (TV Series 1987– ) Poster

(1987– )

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Great series that died much too soon.
Chuck Rothman (crothman)24 October 1998
"Once A Hero" was a clever show about super-heroes and the line between fiction and reality. Captain Justice, an old-fashioned super-hero, comes into the real world, where things aren't as neat as in the comic strip universe he came from.

The show's sensibility is best summed by the fourth (unaired) episode, in which an actor who played Captain Justice on TV is upset because he is so identified with the role he can't move on to anything else. The character was to be played by Adam West.

The show was filled with clever touches like that. For instance, Captain Justice has to come up with a name for the real world, so he uses the last name "Kent." When the reporter shows skepticism, Gumshoe says "Lois Lane, you're not." When someone reports that Justice's arch enemy is going to blow up the dam, Justice is delighted -- he just bet the others that it would be the plan. And the third episode was one of the few times on TV when the hero gave up and told the villain he had won. The person who sends people to the real world is called "The Great and Powerful" and, when gets a bit too bombastic, is told, "Save it for the munchkins."

The show was extremely good and well written, but, most likely due to poor advance press, it was not picked up by all affilates, and the concept sounded unpromising (it certainly is hard to explain). After three weeks at the very bottom of the ratings, ABC pulled the plug. Ironically, the four hours broadcast made a nice mini-series.

But the show deserved much more.
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A fine show, within its niche
bobbuethe24 February 2004
As I see it, the main reason that "Once a Hero" failed was that it was aimed at too narrow an audience. If you're not a comic book fan, you'd probably find it a cute, fluffy, "unreality" sitcom, not unlike "Batman" or "Mork and Mindy" in mood, but without the creative spark that made those shows stand out. If you ARE a comic book fan, but were born after 1960 or so, you'd probably think that this show was making fun of you. But if you love the comic books of the 1950s and '60s (especially Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman), the so-called Silver Age of Superheroes, then there's a good chance that you'll love this program.

Granted, it's a caricature rather than an honest depiction of comic book superheroes; but the show embodies the difference between the superheroes of the past (noble, square-jawed, perfect in every way all-American boys) versus those of the present, or the '80s (grim, gritty anti-heroes dealing with vicious, violent criminals on their own terms). The stories acknowledge that the latter may be more "realistic," more "modern," but in the end it comes down firmly on the side of the former.

The point of "Once a Hero" was that there's still a place for innocence, honesty, and heroic idealism in today's world. But it was canceled way too early to get its message across.
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