The Greatest American Hero (1981-83)

the greatest american hero

William Katt is high school teacher Ralph Hinkley. Robert Culp is FBI man Bill Maxwell. Connie Sellecca is Pam Davidson, Ralph’s lawyer girlfriend. One night in the desert aliens give Ralph and Bill a red suit. It only works for Ralph. They team up with Pam to fight the bad guys. The suit has an instruction book. Ralph loses it and has to figure out how it works.

Pilot episode: March 18,1981 – “The Greatest American Hero” w/Michael Pare and G.D.Spradlin. Ralph’s class contains nothing but troublemakers. One of the biggest is Tony Villicana (Michael Pare). He challenges Ralph to go a couple rounds. They’ll do it tomorrow. Today it’s time for a field trip to the desert.

They stop at a diner and Tony mouths off to a customer. It’s Bill Maxwell. Tony pulls a knife. Ralph pulls a gun. Tony backs off and saves face. That night in the desert the bus loses power. Ralph walks towards a gas station a mile away and almost gets run over by an out of control car. The driver is Bill. He says he doesn’t know why he lost control.

Thye spot two spheres in the sky and then….the mothership. They jump back in the car and the doors lock. He hears his deceased partner John Mackie talking to him. He comes out of the ship and says they’re supposed to defend the planet and hands Ralph a special suit with a book of instructions. Bill drives off leaving Ralph behind. Ralph walks back to the bus and it runs. He doesn’t know he lost the instruction book.

That night Vice President Adam Taft is on TV. He’s bought and paid for by multi-millionaire Nelson Corey (G.D.Spradlin). Ralph is in a custody battle with his model ex wife for their son.  His son is watching “Super Friends” and he decides to try on the suit. He feels ridiculous. His lawyer girlfriend Pam calls and reminds him about the next day’s court date.

The next day at school he’s told a friend of his is sick in the mens room. It’s Bill. He got drunk because of the night before. Later Ralph and Tony duke it out to a draw. Now he’s late for court. He decides to put the suit on in a bathroom on the way to the courthouse A father and his young son walk in and quickly back out. Out in the alley he tries to fly. Nothing doing. The kid from the bathroom tells him how the superheroes do it. He actually flies…..into a wall.

While lying there a man who had been following him in his car takes some Polaroids. Turns out he’s a P.I. working for his ex. The pictures are for court. The cops show up and take Ralph to the hospital. They strap him down to a table because they think he’s crazy. Ralph sees through the wall. Bill is being taken away by some cult members. He hears where they’re going. Pam comes in. She thinks he’s crazy.

Ralph grabs her car keys. She catches up to him and they take off. The end up at Corey’s mansion which is loaded with the cult members. After having a lot of problems with the suit Ralph uses his powers to rescue Bill. They escape in Pam’s car. She’s sick of their arguing, stops the car and gets out. Ralph proves his powers by picking up the front of the car with one hand.

Back at Ralph’s they hear a radio bulletin and then turn on the TV and see riots have broken out in L.A. The President is on his way. Bill says there’s a plot they have to stop and that means going back to Corey’s mansion. It’s up to Ralph to save the President.

Good opener. For what it’s worth is features several songs from Joey Scarbury who had a big hit with the theme.

Michael Pare played Eddie Wilson in 1983’s “Eddie And The Cruisers.” He’s making the movie “The Killing Time” due for release in 2015.

About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
This entry was posted in Comedy, Science Fiction, TV-Comedy Shows, TV-Science Fiction-Horror Shows and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Greatest American Hero (1981-83)

  1. Joseph Nebus says:

    This was just about my favorite TV show of all time the year it was on. I still think it’s an excellent premise, especially for an audience of people who suffer from that ‘impostor syndrome’, where you may have a pretty sweet position but fear deep down that you don’t really belong there.

  2. vintage45 says:

    In rewatching the series you realize there’s a lot going on here. Those that put it down as some quasi teen idol type show should give it another try. Some great humor along the way too.

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