TV Review – “The Greatest American Hero: Season One”

Believe it or not, it’s on DVD.

Cast and Crew

William Katt as Ralph Hinkley/Hanley

Robert Culp as Bill Maxwell

Connie Sellecca as Pam Davidson

Michael Pare as Tony Villicana

Faye Grant as Rhonda Blake

Complete information is available from this IMDB page.


Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Past TV reviews can be found here.

Original Airdate


This season originally aired in 1981.

Synopsis

A high school teacher and an FBI agent happen to meet shortly before aliens give the teacher a suit that grants him superpowers. Unfortunately, he loses the instruction book, which makes it difficult to use the suit properly or consistently.

High Point

“The Hit Car” really sets up Bill Maxwell and the characater dynamic, as well as bringing a genuine surprise into the mix.

Low Point

The pilot to “The Greatest American Heroine” is included in the set. It’s easy to see why the spinoff never made it to the air.

The Review

Superheroes aren’t original, but a superhero this lousy at it is. This spoof was played for comedy from start to finish. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects are awful. There’s just no other description. Really bad effects fit the tone of the show, but they’re still very, very bad. I give it 1 out of 6.

The story was good. Things were funny, particularly Culp, and the conventions of the genre are well manipulated. (The phone booth scene is a classic.) I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting ranges from very good (Robert Culp) to decent (William Katt) to just plain bad (Connie Selleca.) They all have their moments with well delivered lines, but there are times when things are just horrid for Selleca and Katt. I give it 3 out of 6.

The emotional response is wonderful. This is still a very funny show. It’s probably the lightest superhero fare I’ve seen. Highly enjoyable, even if you didn’t see it the first time around. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production is poor. It was lit like a sitcom, with little or no use of shadow to add character, and a lot of location shooting. The direction and editing wasn’t always the best, either. The theme song is still great, but that’s about all that really impresses today. I give it 3 out of 6.

Overall, it’s flawed, it’s cheap, and it’s corny, but that fits the tone of what they were trying to do very well. I still recommend it. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, The Greatest American Hero: Season One recieves 24 out of 42.

Additional Notes and Comments

The second season reaches DVD on April 5, 2005, and the third on August 9, 2005. I’ll try to budget for them and review those, too.

10 replies on “TV Review – “The Greatest American Hero: Season One””

  1. Babbster says:

    Good Memories
    I was 9 when I saw this first-run and I remember enjoying the heck out of it. My mom liked the show, too, always reminding me that Robert Culp was in I Spy and William Katt’s mom (Barbara Hale – Della Street) was on Perry Mason. She liked the TV history angle and thought the show was pretty funny, while I liked super powers. :)

    As I recall, the first half of its run was pretty good but the show got progressively more heavy which, as a corollary to Fiz’s comments on the acting, wasn’t going to work even if the writing was there.

    The only really bad memory I have from the series is that the theme song is permanently etched into my brain and comes to the fore WAY too often. This is partially from the show and partially because whatever radio stations I listened to at the time played the song a LOT (it actually reached #1 on the pop charts!). Mike Post has a lot to answer for…

  2. dcheesi says:

    Musical Chairs
    Just a note here, apparently they replaced some of the in-episode music for licensing reasons. So if any of it seems particularly out of place in a scene, that may be why.

    • fiziko says:

      Re: Musical Chairs

      Just a note here, apparently they replaced some of the
      in-episode music for licensing reasons. So if any of it
      seems particularly out of place in a scene, that may be
      why.

      I don’t know about later seasons, but the songs in these
      episodes match those listed in the closing credits.

      • dcheesi says:

        Re: Musical Chairs

        I don’t know about later seasons, but the songs in these
        episodes match those listed in the closing credits.

        I haven’t actually seen it; I was just relating what I read on another site (The Digital Bits’s review). Maybe they changed the credits to match? BTW, “Rocket Man” was one of the songs mentioned, is it in there?

        • fiziko says:

          Re: Musical Chairs

          I haven’t actually seen it; I was just relating what I read
          on another site (The Digital Bits’s review). Maybe they
          changed the credits to match? BTW, “Rocket Man” was one of
          the songs mentioned, is it in there?

          It’s not in this collection, but then, the episode in which
          he faces off against rockets is a different season. It
          could well be that the couldn’t afford the big name songs
          in the first season, but starting picking them up when the
          show became popular later on, and can no longer afford to
          reclaim the rights.

  3. Damien says:

    Have to find space in the budget for it..
    I simply loved that show, I saw it when I was six-or-seven and wanted to be a “hero” when I growed up. I even asked my mom to make me a cape, which I promptly donned and jumped around the house. Good times.

    Damien

    • fiziko says:

      Re: Have to find space in the budget for it..

      I simply loved that show, I saw it when I was six-or-seven
      and wanted to be a “hero” when I growed up. I even asked
      my mom to make me a cape, which I promptly donned and
      jumped around the house. Good times.

      Damien

      I was three when this premiered. It had already been on
      the air a while when I started jumping around the house and
      over furniture myself, wearing my blanket as a cape and
      listening to the theme song on the little 45 record I had.
      I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I played that
      record. I ran it repeatedly for a minimum of an hour a day
      for at least one entire summer. I vaguely remember doing
      this daily during school, too. (Kindergarten in the
      morning, then home in time for Spider-Man and
      Inspector Gadget over lunch, before putting on the
      record and “cape” for the rest of the afternoon…)

      • hitch says:

        Re: Have to find space in the budget for it..

        I simply loved that show, I saw it when I was six-or-seven
        and wanted to be a “hero” when I growed up. I even asked
        my mom to make me a cape, which I promptly donned and
        jumped around the house. Good times.

        Damien

        I was three when this premiered. It had already been on
        the air a while when I started jumping around the house and
        over furniture myself, wearing my blanket as a cape and
        listening to the theme song on the little 45 record I had.
        I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I played that
        record. I ran it repeatedly for a minimum of an hour a day
        for at least one entire summer. I vaguely remember doing
        this daily during school, too. (Kindergarten in the
        morning, then home in time for Spider-Man and
        Inspector Gadget over lunch, before putting on the
        record and “cape” for the rest of the afternoon…)

        I can’t tell you all how happy I am to know that I wasn’t the only one.

        on the other hand…does this demonstrate a direct correlation between greatest american hero and geekiness?

  4. Trekkie says:

    Heh.
    My memory of this show is that my mom wouldn’t let us watch it growing up.
    I believe the reason was he said ‘damn’ every time hi hit a wall or something,
    so other than seeing the premiere I don’t know anything about the show.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: Heh.

      Um, I was in high school. I was talking on the phone to my girlfriend when this premiered and she had the tv running. She kept laughing every time that idiot hit the wall. On the plus side, I figure he was a lot how I’d be if I ever inherited super-powers.

      Awhile later, as I recall, a certain other Hinckley tried to kill the president of the U.S. and suddently they started calling the guy in this show “Mr. H.”

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