Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Geek TV: The Greatest American Hero!

greatestamerican1Concept: High school teacher is given a red suit by aliens that gives him super powers, but he loses the instruction book, and then teams up with an FBI agent and his girlfriend to fight crime.

Total Episodes: 44

Original Air Dates: March 18, 1981 – February 3, 1983

Original Network: ABC

Geek Factor: 8


Ralph Hinkley/Hanley (William Katt): The title character, he hates wearing the suit, and his attempts to use it often lead to comical results. At least during the first season, when Ralph would crash while flying, he'd simply say, “Damn.” His last name was changed after the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, although this was only temporary, returning to Hinkley in the second season.

greatestamerican2Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp): FBI Agent who ropes Ralph in to use the suit to help solve his cases. He doesn't have a lot of respect for Ralph or his teaching, and would prefer that Ralph use the suit full time.

Pam Davidson (Connie Selecca): Ralph's lawyer girlfriend, she actually handled his divorce. By the end of the series, they're married. It's amazing she's able to continue practicing the law, given how often she's helping Ralph and Bill.

Paco Rodriguez (Don Cervantes), Rhonda Blake (Faye Grant), Tony Villicana (Michael ParĂ©), Cyler Johnson (Jesse D. Goins), and Les Carlisle (William Bogert): Ralph's students, all unaware of Ralph's other “job.”

Geek Guest-Stars:

Bob Hastings guested in a few episodes, he was Hal on Captain Video and His Video Rangers, guested on Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, had several roles on Dennis the Menace (1961-1963), voiced Superboy on those segments of The Superman-Batman Hour and variations thereof, voiced the Raven on The Munsters, guest-starred in The Twilight Zone, I Dream of Jeannie, Batman, The Flying Nun, Nanny and the Professor, voiced Henry Glopp on Jeannie, D.D. On Clue Club, did assorted voices on Challenge of the Super Friends, guested in The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, played the Phantom of the Opera in The Munsters' Revenge, and later, achieved new fame among geekdom for voicing Commissioner James Gordon in Batman: The Animated Series and the spin-offs. Oh, and in his youth, he voiced Archie on the Archie Andrews radio show!

greatestamerican3James Whitmore Jr. guested in a number of episodes, earlier he'd guested in a Battlestar Galactica, and later, guested in a Knight Rider, and in three episodes of Quantum Leap. His directing credits include 15 episodes of Quantum Leap, episodes of The X-Files, Nowhere Man, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Strange World, The Pretender, Angel, Roswell, Dark Angel, Star Trek: Enterprise, Dead Like Me, Witchblade, and Cold Case.

Glenn R. Wilder also guested in a number of episodes, he'd previously guested on The Green Hornet, Batman, Mission: Impossible, The Magician, Logan's Run, and Planet of the Apes. He later guested on Swamp Thing. His stunt credits include Ice Station Zebra, Planet of the Apes (TV series), Logan's Run, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, TRON, My Science Project, The Last Starfighter, The Adventures of Superboy, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Swamp Thing, Edward Scissorhands, and many others.

Three-time guest star Kurt Grayson had also guested on The Six Million Dollar Man, Mission: Impossible, and The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. Chip Johnson had guested in three episodes of Battlestar Galactica, appeared in the TV movie Captain America (1979) as well as an episode of The Amazing Spider-Man (1979), an episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, two episodes of The Incredible Hulk, and later appeared in Real Genius.

greatestamerican4Multiple guest star Red West had been seen in Journey to the Center of the Earth as well as the Elvis Presley movies Blue Hawaii, Follow That Dream, Kid Galahad, Girls! Girls! Girls!, Fun in Acapulco, and many others, because he was part of Elvis' “Memphis Mafia.” He also can be seen in The Navy Vs. the Night Monsters, two episodes of Mission: Impossible, an impressive 30 episodes of The Wild Wild West as various henchmen and thugs, episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man, Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider, and The Twilight Zone (1986).

Guest star Melvin F. Allen had previously appeared in The Return of Dracula, as well as guesting in episodes of Shazam!, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Incredible Hulk, Time Express, and The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. Benny Medina, who played Chaffey in three episodes, also guested on a Shazam! Anthony Charnota, who guested thrice, had earlier appeared in a pair of The Amazing Spider-Man episodes, playing Quinn in the two-parter “The Chinese Web.”

June Lockhart played Pam's mom in two episodes, and of course, you'll remember her as Maureen Robinson from Lost in Space, as well as a bunch of other roles that I'll cover when we get to her main show.

Geek Pedigree:

William Katt's other geek credits include guesting on Kung Fu, starring in Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend, playing Roger Cobb in the movie House (a horror film, not the medical show), voicing Zowie in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, voicing the Green Guardsman in two episodes of Justice League, guesting on Andromeda, House M.D., Alian Vs. Hunter, Heroes, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold (voicing Hawkman).

Robert Culp had guested on The Man From UNCLE, a few episodes of The Outer Limits, and a Get Smart. Of course, he also starred opposite Bill Cosby on I Spy. He also starred in the TV movie Spectre (a Gene Roddenberry pilot), guested as Mr. Darryl in two episodes of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, voiced Halcyon Renard on Gargoyles, played a businessman in Spy Hard, and lent his voice to a stop-motion Bill Maxwell in an episode of Robot Chicken before he passed away in 2010.

Connie Seleca was married to TV Buck Rogers Gil Gerard, but that's just trivia. She had starred in Beyond Westwood, and appeared in Captain America II: Death Too Soon.

Faye Grant, who played Rhonda on the show, also guest-starred in episodes of The Incredible Hulk, Voyagers!, and Tales of the Gold Monkey. After GAH, she played Julet Parish in the original version of V.

DVD Release: Boxed sets of each season.

Website: is a nice fan site.

Notes: In 1986, the original cast reunited for a pilot called The Greatest American Heroine, in which it was revealed that Ralph's identity was revealed to the public, making him a celebrity, and so the aliens make him give the suit to someone else, and then erase all memory of Ralph's exploits. The new hero is Holly Hathaway (Mary Ellen Stuart), an elementary school teacher. The pilot was not picked up, and the pilot was edited into a regular episode and added to the syndicated package. As of this writing, a feature film version of the show is planned for release in 2013.

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