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The Greatest American Hero (S1)
DVD disk
02.16.2005 By: JoBlo
The Greatest American Hero (S1) order
Director:
Various

Actors:
William Katt
Robert Culp
Connie Sellecca

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A popular 80s television series based on the premise of a regular school teacher being given a superhero suit by aliens and told to use to “solve the world’s problems”, alongside a gung-ho FBI man. Each episode features the “Odd Couple” duo fighting baddies, along with a cute hottie named Connie Sellecca. A pretty damn fun show ensues.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
This is one of those TV shows that I “kinda” remember watching when I was still sucking on my mom’s teets (sadly, I was in my late teens at the time). I wanted to review the series to see if it was still as cool as I remember it being, or if it was just a matter of nostalgia (and said “teets”) shining a bright light on my childhood memories. Well, color me impressed as the show came through, not only in the basic arena of entertainment, but considering the crap on TV nowadays (other than the shows on HBO, of course), the more impressive area of originality, for which the show should be greatly applauded. Can you imagine a television series about a school teacher named Ralph who is given a “supersuit” by aliens and asked to “figure it out” with the help of an old school FBI man, given a chance on TV nowadays? (did I mention that he loses the “instruction manual” to his suit and has to figure it all out, as he goes). No way.

Fortunately for you, you can rent or buy this very fun series which manages to bring plenty of imagination to the table, along with various goofy scenarios in which the bickering duo attempt to figure shit out on their own, fight the baddies and string along a very cute and Lois Lane-ish Connie Sellecca (pre-John Tesh), for the male demographic of the show. Now before you actually go out and take my word for this show’s “fun factor”, remember that it is still quite cheesy with obvious badly dubbed lines showing up here and there, an ongoing subplot about the teacher and his “bad apple” students wasting time in certain episodes and the CGI featuring our “regular guy” hero sucking as badly as in the original SUPERMAN movie, if not worse (that reminds me, the show tosses plenty of superhero one-liners out there, which are cool for any fan of comic books).

Basically, don’t expect the state of the art in terms of a television production (the action sequences are sprinkled throughout and serviceable), but do expect very imaginative plotlines with two interesting characters leading the way (Robert Culp’s gun-totting, ultra-conservative Fed is particularly gritty and enjoyable to watch), plenty of fun superhero scenarios, as well as humor, touches of drama, action and over-the-top storylines. Oh, and did I mention one of the catchiest opening songs in TV history? (remember how George from “Seinfeld” used it a version of it as his outgoing message on his answering machine?). Yes, it’s nostalgic, but it’s also a lot of fun. Contemporary television programmers should take more chances on concepts such as this one! PS: Pay close attention and you’ll note a pre-LETHAL WEAPON Danny Glover in one of the episodes as a patrolman.
THE EXTRAS
The Greatest American Heroine – Pilot episode (45 minutes): Other than the show’s original pilot and 7 episodes from it first season, this set also includes the pilot episode of a follow-up show entitled “The Greatest American Heroine” in which the suit is passed off to a woman for continuity purposes (that show was thankfully never picked up). The episode actually blows, particularly when compared to the superlative pilot from the original show, and features an extremely unlikable, jolly, Valley Girl-like heroine who likes making turnip shakes and saving the fuckin’ whales! No joke. Other than a fun training sequence and the consistently hard-ass nature of the impenetrable Robert Culp, this show really sucks. That said, if you can avoid it, knowing full well that it features a hottie chick in a tight spandex outfit, you’re a better man than I am.

Interviews (75 minutes): For anyone interested in seeing how the whole gang from the show is doing nowadays, including our hero with the blonde, puffy beach-hair William Katt, creator Stephen J. Cannell, the great Robert Culp, the lovely Connie Sellecca and the man who thought he was Marlon Brando in the show, Michael Pare, check out this packed featurette of interviews. Cannell passes along some great info on the film’s development (he was not a fan of superheroes before writing this show) and how they’re actually developing a “motion picture” based on the show at Disney right now (now that, I would look forward to!), while Katt lets us in on the fact that he and Culp actually never got along in real life and that he is still remembered fondly for his portrayal of the Peter Parker-esque lead hero.

Culp speaks at length about his fondness for his character of Maxwell and admits that he actually “brought him home” with him, over the show’s 3-year run (upsetting the wife somewhat). Michael Pare also shows up to talk shop with Connie Sellecca and to gush about how much total fun he had on the series (this is also where I found out that he’s the dude who played “Eddie” in EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS).

Booklet (8 pages): The 3-disc set also includes an 8-page booklet in which we are told about the show’s beginnings (created and written by Stephen J. Cannell, the man behind the shows like THE A-TEAM and WISEGUY), as well as some trivia and background info on everyone involved.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
A short, fun 3-disc set that could be enjoyed by young and old, particularly those who appreciated the original show in the 80s or anyone looking for an original slant on a superhero television series. The interviews included on this set will also be appreciated by anyone who wants to know more about the show’s background, and the look at “The Greatest American Heroine” is a gas, if only for its awful-ness. PS: Robert Culp’s Maxwell rocks!!
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