One of my favorite Halloween costumes was one my mom made me, and frankly it’s on the level with some of the costumes I see at conventions. That’s not bad considering it was a sweatshirt, sweatpants, a homemade cape, fake belt, and some iron-on fabric cut to resemble the alien symbol on the front. That’s because we were both fans of The Greatest American Hero, a superhero action comedy from the early 1980s airing on ABC from 1981-1983. We had the theme song on small record, and…there really wasn’t much else in the way of merchandise at the time beyond the usual lunchbox and maybe some coloring books. No action figures, no comic until a reboot in the 2000s, though it did get a bunch of home video releases in the DVD era.
Teacher Ralph Hinkley is chosen by aliens (that communicate through radios and corpses…in a family show) to use a pair of “magic pajamas” to save the world. FBI agent Bill Maxwell is chosen to find the missions that require a secret superhero. Caught in the middle is Ralph’s attorney girlfriend Pam Davidson. In the pilot episode we see how our team is formed together to stop a bunch of skinheads from killing the President. Funny when you remember that they supposedly changed Ralph’s name for a few episodes after someone did try to kill the president.
Too bad the son disappears from the series a few episodes into the first season. I’m curious what he would add to the team. Ralph, Bill, and Pam are a great team (I’m always in favor of civilian support as beneficial to a superhero) and the humor, mostly coming from the lost instructions and Ralph getting lucky to learn new powers, didn’t take away from the serious cases they worked with, and we soon learned more about the aliens and why they’re interested in helping our little planet.
Attempts to make a sequel series have fallen short. While both of them started a female lead, one of them a reboot, I don’t think that was the problem. While I don’t know what would have happened with the remake, the original pilot for The Greatest American Heroine wasn’t very good for a number of reasons. I’d like to see this come back if it could be done right because I really enjoy the concept.
I know William Katt, who plays Ralph, has been trying to get the show back, and was behind the comic I mentioned earlier. There are some great episodes of this show and as long as FilmRise has this up on one of their YouTube channels I may come back to this show. It’s also available on numerous streaming services and it’s a show more people should watch.