Tuesday, April 8, 2014
G is for : The Greatest American Hero!
What happens when you mix a school teacher, a gung-ho F.B.I. agent, space aliens, and a super suit that lets its user do almost anything?
Why, you get The Greatest American Hero, of course.
Starring William Katt, Robert Culp, and Connie Selleca, this was another creation by the prolific Stephen J. Cannell, who also brought us The Rockford Files and The A-Team.
The series centered around special education teacher Ralph Hinkley (Katt) who was chosen by aliens, from an unknown planet, to save Earth from itself. We're never told, exactly, where the aliens come from only that their world was destroyed due to environmental hazards. Ralph was given a red suit...complete with cape...and told to by the aliens (usually by them spinning car radio dials and switching stations to string pieces of the audio together into sentences) to help save the planet. The "little green guys" pair him with F.B.I Agent Bill Maxwell (Culp) in order to get some insight as to what global threats are out there.
When we meet him, Ralph is going through a messy divorce but, luckily, his divorce attorney Pam Davidson (Selleca) is there for him and they're "an item". She's the only person Ralph tells of his recent acquisition from the space aliens and she's, initially, not quite sure what to make of the whole situation. She, eventually, comes to grips with it and starts helping the two out on cases as the show progresses.
Ralph's "little red jammies", as Maxwell calls them, lets him do all sorts of amazing things. He can fly, run at super speed, stop bullets, is super strong, turn invisible, find information about someone by holding a belonging of theirs and, basically, whatever the script called for that week. The only thing is, Ralph's not really good at any of this....especially flying and landing......because he lost the suit's instruction manual.
Yep, a suit that allows its wearer to do almost anything comes with an instruction manual. Which Ralph manages to lose....twice. Once, that night in the desert when they give him the suit the first time and another when the aliens make contact again and he asks for a replacement. They also tell him not to lose this one because they only have two. And, to compound the silliness, you have to punch numbers into the suit's instruction manual like a calculator to get it to really work as intended. Seriously? The second time Ralph loses the manual is when he tries it for the first time and shrinks down to the size of an ant. He sets the manual down on a "boulder" before growing back to normal height and the team realizes that boulder was a grain of sand. Anyway, hilarity ensues as Ralph tries to figure out how to use the suit without blowing his cover, while he and Maxwell put away Cold War Era bad guys....it was the 80s, you know.
Anything Ralph manages to do with the suit, he learns by trial and error. Mainly error.
I think this was one of the few shows, that I know of, where the theme song might have been more popular then the actual show. After it's initial cancellation,they tried to revive the show with a woman taking over the lead role as The Greatest American Heroine. It was never picked up and, if you've ever seen the pilot, you could see why.
doing comics and still selling GAH merchandise.
Believe it or not.
Tune in tomorrow when we discuss why there can be only one...
Honorable Mentions: Get Smart, Gomer Pyle USMC, Gargoyles