Where's the Greatest American Hero

I was just talking to some coworkers about the Greatest American Hero, and they don’t know what I’m talking about. They do, however, remember the theme song.

For those of you who don’t know, it was a tv show about a school teacher who received a superhero suit from some aliens, but he didn’t have the instructions for the suit. He would often fly into billboards and have ugly landings.

Anyhoo, why is it that this is not in syndication? I can’t believe that sci fi or TVLand wouldn’t pick this up. Does anyone have any insights?

Doesn’t it get aired on some of those oddball channels like FX or the Action Channel?

The only reason I know this is someone was posting episodes on the net obviously ripped from broadcast (complete with cable station logo in the corner), so it must have aired recently. Unfortunately I’m not in a place where I can check and find out which it was.

The Greatest American Hero was a Stephen J. Cannell show. I love almost all of his shows (The A-Team excepted), but many of them were short-lived and didn’t have quite the cult following of other Sci-Fi adventure shows. Only 44 episodes of The Greatest American Hero were ever produced, which probably explains why it hasn’t gotten more exposure. Syndication packages used to only want shows with at least 100 episodes.

In more recent times, cable networks have been buying up shows with extremely short runs, so if there is enough interest, the show may reappear.

According to this site the show is airing in Western New York, Greece, and on Canadian satellite TV. They also have a petition to bring it to TVLand.

I keep hoping that the sci-fi channel will air it.

Look at what’s happ’n to meeeee
I can’t believe it myself
suddenly I’m up on top of the world
shoulda been somebody el…se
(The above was from memory)


Believe it or not, he’s walking on air…

Wow, my first chance to name-drop.

I recently worked with Mr William Katt, the actor who played Ralph Hinkley, aka The Greatest American Hero. He’s doing ok, and to answer your question, he lives in LA somewhere. Glad I could help.


Moving this to Cafe Society.

As soon as I can find the damn instruction book.

I loved that show, but it only lasted two seasons; syndicated shows typically hung in there for five seasons or more.

One reason it was so short-lived was a very unfortunate happenstance: The main character’s name was Hinckley, and the show was current when Reagan got shot by another Hinckley. Changing his name to “Hanley” was too little too late. Plus, storylines in the second season got real creaky real fast.

Part of the problem, I think, was that the core concept was “superhero who doesn’t know what he’s doing”. This is funny for a short time, but soon becomes ridiculous as the character gains experience… you start to think “He STILL hasn’t figured out how to land? What a moron!”

I’ve got both the “Walking on Air” ringtone on my cell phone, and the extended version of the theme with extra verses. :smiley:

I remember that was one of the few problems I had with the series, he didn’t seem to improve any with time and practice.Then again even as a kid that’s what I hated about the D&D Saturday morning cartoon. But I loved GAH overall.

It’s one of the few TV series that I think could be decently remade since we’ve had so many post-modern and self-aware takes on superheroes and the supernatural lately (Smallville, Buffy, Angel, The Invisible Man). Forget Battlestar Galactica, this show always seemed like its mix of action and comedy could work in a new series with a new cast. It’s fondly, if vaguely, remembered by most, but not so well that there’s a huge cult audience to piss off with a new version.

Or do I just sound like the world’s worst TV excutive wannabe?

I watched it mainly for Connie Selleca and Faye Grant.

Damn, whatever happened to Faye Grant?

Faye Grant

One of the great shameful memories of my youth was instigated by a very unusual grant from my parents–my brother and I were allowed to pick one 45rpm record to purchase. I was 8, my brother 4.

He selected: “Start Me Up”, Rolling Stones; sports rock anthemness aside, a very solid choice by a 4 year old.

I selected a song about a man who never thought he could feel so free, ee, ee. Who could it be, you ask? Believe it or not, it’s just him.

That kind of shame never really leaves you.

I’ve always liked the idea of a new series as well, but instead of a remake, I’m thinking a sequel. The aliens return and give another guy the suit, or maybe someone finds the suit that the orignal GAO used. How did the series end? The cop that helped him could be the aged holder of the suit and find someone new to use the suit.

My least favorite episode was the one where he actually got his hands on the damn instruction book. That was all good and cool at first. He was using all of these new powers like being able to see through cards at a casino. Then he figured out he could shrink himself so he and the book shrink down smaller than a blade of grass (Honey, I shrunk the Greatest American Hero!). He’s looking around like “Wow, cool!” when a couple giant ants attack. He quickly returns to normal size to save his life, but then realizes he left the instruction book shrunken. he can’t figure out how to reshrink, so he basically lost the book in the same episode he found it. Son of a bitch. This guy would fit right in on Gilligan’s Island!

DaLovin’ Dj

Huh, so it is on. Now I need to schedule some vacation time, bring out a vcr, and try to catch a marathon weekend of GAH.

After a little research I see that the series ended with the government and the media finding out about the suit and thanking him for his years of service. He becomes famous and loves it - he even gets an agent. Ralph than gets picked up by the aliens who are pissed and basically fire him. They tell him he has to give the suit to someone else (but they won’t give him another instruction book because they already gave him 2). He picks a woman to be the new Greatest American Heroine. It seems like the aliens want someone to have the suit at all times. So creating a series with a new GAH makes perfect sense. Whoever uses the suit must find a replacement if they quit or get fired. I would imagine that the aliens would find someone themselves if the wearer ends up being killed.

What powers did the suit have? I remember that it let the user. . .

  • Fly

  • Remote view, spider sense style. He could see when and where danger was striking.

  • See through walls and cards.

  • Super hearing.

  • Super strength.

Anything else? Was he bulletproof too?

DaLovin’ Dj