Ralph Hinkley was minding his own business, a teacher on a field trip with his high school students, when the bus he's driving mysteriously drives itself out into the desert. A startled Ralph is soon visited by aliens, who had decided to endow him with superhuman powers to fight the battle against injustice and crime. To this end, they gave him a special suit and an instruction manual. Unfortunately, Ralph managed to lose the instruction manual, and the aliens have a nasty habit of never being around when you need them.Written by
Murray Chapman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory (2007) sometimes wears a "Greatest American Hero" t-shirt among his collection of dozens of superhero t-shirts, even two to three decades after the show was cancelled. See more »
During the opening credits of the pilot "Greatest American Heroine", the three-note NBC theme is heard as the letters "i-n-e" appear one at a time on screen. (An in-joke as NBC was the network the series was being pitched to at the time) See more »
In 1986, three years after the series ended, a pilot film entitled "The Greatest American Heroine" was produced which reunited the original series cast. The pilot was not broadcast, so the film was reedited as an episode of "Greatest American Hero" (complete with original opening credits) for syndication. It was also included on the 2005 DVD release. See more »
If you aren't familiar with "The Greatest American Hero" you owe it to yourself to get the DVDs... you won't be disappointed. I used to watch the show as a kid and I loved it... they used to play it on Saturday mornings after the cartoons had ended and I never missed an episode. Flash forward twenty years and I'm amazed at not only how well the show has held up but at all I missed the first time around.
Ordinary schoolteacher Ralph Hinkley is given a supersuit by space aliens... when wearing the suit he has all the powers of a superhero. The trouble is he lost the suit's instruction book in episode one and has to figure out how it works as he goes along. He's partnered with crusty, by-the-book FBI agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp) and gets lots of help from his gorgeous girlfriend Pam (Connie Selleca). If you think this is a broad, goofy comedy or kid's show you couldn't be farther off... if you think it's kitschy nostalgia you'd be wrong as well. The Greatest American Hero is nothing short of one of the greatest TV shows of all time.
The concept of the everyman becoming superman allowed the show's creators and writers to examine different aspects of human nature... there's so much going on in every episode that getting the bad guy is almost secondary. In one of the best episodes "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys," Ralph is forced to examine what it means to be a hero while Bill wrestles with having to arrest his OWN hero, a veteran police officer who has turned to a life of crime. The show was unbelievably human, and the three leads are a perfect triangle... Robert Culp grounds the show by not pulling any punches as the skeptical, impatient fed; his disbelief at the premise only serves to make the premise more real.
William Katt as Ralph is excellent, completely believable as a man trying to balance his roles as boyfriend, father, teacher and superhero. Connie Selleca is not just beautiful... she's a confident, funny actor, putting more into Pam than was on the page. This show is also wonderful as a time-capsule piece, a reminder of when TV could appeal to everyone and still be intelligent, dramatic, and FUN. (Today so many dramas open every episode with a corpse it's all but become the rule.) "GAH" is also one of the BIGGEST TV shows ever made... by that I mean its visual look and style of direction is grand, cinematic. If you get the DVD's you'll see that every episode is a mini-movie. You'll also see that it's one of the best transfers EVER done. The show, twenty years later, is more bright, clean and vivid than anything on TV today. And you also get the memorable theme song, which still gives old-time fans like myself instant nostalgia whenever we hear it.
In conclusion I highly recommend "The Greatest American Hero" to everyone... you will love it, your kids will love it, and it will stimulate your imagination, make you laugh and make you think. What more could you ask for?
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