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  The Greatest American Hero

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> Description 
The Greatest American Hero is an American television series which aired from 1981 to 1983 on ABC. It premiered as a two hour movie pilot on March 18, 1981. It starred William Katt as Ralph Hinkley, Robert Culp as Bill Maxwell, and Connie Sellecca as Pam Davidson.

The series is a superhero drama-comedy. In it, Hinkley is a schoolteacher who encounters aliens who give him a special bright red suit which endows him with superhuman abilities. The novelty of the show was based on Hinkley's inability to properly learn to use the suit other than by trial and error, due to his having clumsily lost the instructions. However, the underlining drama is the struggle of a trio of ordinary people to cope in superhero adventures in the real world. The show is typical of producer Stephen J. Cannell's style of character-driven quirky drama where the plot is secondary to the relationships between the characters.

The suit's powers were substantial, so much like those of the character Superman that DC Comics threatened a plagiarism lawsuit. However, the premise's core concept of a human receiving an alien costume/weapon to fight evil is closer to the Silver Age Green Lantern. In practice, Hinkley's superhero is more akin to a Buster Keaton-style clown. For example, sequences where he flies through the air under his own power usually show him flailing his arms and legs, instead of adopting the Superman "arms extended, legs together" pose. In fact, his first flight results in a terrifying experience of him hurtling out of control until he rams head first into a building wall. The basic powers outside of flying included super strength, resistance to injury, invisibility, precognition, telekinesis, fast running, seeing through walls and getting "vibes" through objects that people have touched.

Maxwell is an FBI agent who partnered with Hinkley on most adventures to help the schoolteacher use the suit (which he called the "red jammies") to fight crime. Davidson is Hinkley's girlfriend, and they later married.

The series was produced by Stephen J. Cannell, and the theme "Believe It or Not" was composed by Mike Post (music) and Stephen Geyer (lyrics) and sung by Joey Scarbury. The theme song became a popular hit during the show's run.

In 1986, the original cast reunited for a pilot film for a new NBC series that was to have been called The Greatest American Heroine. The pilot reveals that several years after the final episode, Hinkley's secret identity was finally revealed to the public. This upsets the aliens who gave him the suit, and they charge Hinkley with finding a new hero to wear the costume and use its powers for fighting evil. Hinkley finds a young woman (Mary Ellen Stuart) who spends her time looking for lost kittens and teaching young children, and most of the episode deals with her learning how to use the suit under Bill Maxwell's guidance.

The Greatest American Heroine did not result in a new series, and the pilot was never broadcast by NBC. Ultimately, the pilot was reedited as an episode of the original series (complete with original opening credits and theme), and added to syndication packages of the original series, where it airs as the final episode.

In 2004 it was announced that a motion picture based upon the television series was in the planning stages.

A North American DVD release of the first season occurred on February 15, 2005. Special features in the three-disc set include extensive interviews with the original cast members, and the Greatest American Heroine pilot episode. Season 2 was released on April 5th, 2005 with interviews with Mike Post and Cannell.

The main character's name was originally Ralph Hinkley, but after the assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr. the writers changed the character's name to Ralph Hanley or simply just "Mr. H". After fans got in an uproar about the change the name was reverted to Ralph Hinkley.

Show Description Credit: Wikipedia
 
> Airing History & Information 
Last Airing Feb 03, 1983
Premiere March 18, 1981
Episodes 44
Network ABC
Format/Time Color / 60 Minutes
Country United States
Upcoming Airs Not currently airing
 
> Cast 
Benny Medina....   Chaffey (3 episodes)
Robby Weaver....   Coach Ray Buck (4 episodes)
Jesse D. Goins....   Cyler Johnson
Brandon Williams....   Kevin Hinkley (1981)
William Bogert....   Les Carlisle / Norm Carlisle (11 episodes)
Anthony Charnota....   Mike / Mike Christopher (3 episodes)
Connie Sellecca....   Pam Davidson Hinkley
Don Cervantes....   Poco Rodriguez
Edward Bell....   Principal / David Knight (4 episodes)
William Katt....   Ralph Hinkley
Faye Grant....   Rhonda Blake
Michael Pare....   Tony Villicana
Robert Culp....   William 'Bill' Maxwell

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> DVD Releases & Reviews
Season 3 (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
(August 9, 2005) Buy It (USA) (Canada)
 


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