The Greatest American Hero (TV Series 1981–1983) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
63 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
The TV gods had it in for this show
POKOLAUQ20049 September 2004
The Greatest American Hero was an excellent action-comedy series from the early 1980s that unfortunately seemed to be a victim of bad timing and fate.

I'd say about 70-80% of the story lines were good to excellent, and even the mediocre or few bad episodes were carried by the strength of the charming lead actors. William Katt played a high school teacher named Ralph Hinkley who was given red power suit by peaceful aliens only to be teamed up with a neurotic FBI agent named Bill Maxwell played by Robert Culp. Connie Sellecca offered the human touch as Ralph's girlfriend Pam Davidson. Katt's character lost the instruction book to the power suit in the pilot episode, leading to a very original and hilarious version of the ever familiar superhero story. But right from the start this series was plagued with problems such as a silly lawsuit from DC comics, who asserted that Stephen J. Cannell stole their Superman character. Cannell won the landmark case, but many potential merchandising companies were scared off by DC and Warner Bros. studios who still held a grudge against GAH. Then mere weeks into the show's 1981 debut, President Ronald Reagan was shot by a would be killer named John Hinckley...it just so happened that the main character's name on GAH was Ralph Hinkley. The ABC network even went so far as to dub over "Hinkley" with "Hanley" in a couple of early episodes. Speaking of ABC, they were probably Cannell/GAH's worst enemies. The network gave the show late starts in all 3 seasons, while other shows began their season rightfully in September, GAH would be forced to debut as late as October or November. ABC also consistently pre-empted GAH with other events (like major league baseball) during the 2nd season.

ABC then put GAH in a hole that could never be dug out of, the network drilled into the publics mind that GAH was nothing but a campy children's series that wasn't worth bothering with. The network nearly always promoted the series with shots of series star William Katt being silly and crashing into walls. GAH did have moments of camp and silliness, but it was written on an adult level and played straight so it was by no means an Adam West type camp series. There was more to this series then Ralph simply being an inept Superman. Sometimes ABC wasn't even close in it's promo ads to the plot of an episode, billing it all as Saturday morning kiddie fare. The series never recovered from this type of grossly unfair advertisement. It seemed like a lot of people just never understood the concept behind GAH, and no matter how many times you valiantly explained the premise of this show to people, it simply didn't matter. The damage was done. This was seen as simply an idiot children's series by way too many folks out there. Unfortunately that was the nail in the coffin. No TV show was going to survive being up against such odds. After 3 very short seasons and 44 episodes, The Greatest American Hero was cancelled by ABC in the spring of 1983...only to be replaced with two flimsy sitcoms that received even lower ratings and ultimately bombed. GAH has earned a "cult classic TV" status over the years, which is quite an accomplishment for a show that has barely been rerun in the continental United States since the 80s. Yet GAH could have been even more then that had the playing field been not so ridiculously lopsided against the show. There's a much anticipated DVD release coming around the corner, hopefully it will finally give this series justice and the fair handshake it never got.
98 out of 102 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
heartwarming
hamm396110 April 2004
I can still recall, quite fondly, watching the pilot episode of The Greatest American Hero. It can be corny and silly at times... but it was also humorous, warm, and uplifting. A group of people suddenly thrown into a situation where they have to "save the world". And working together (more or less :) ) they do it. From saving little kids, freezing in the wilderness to "baggin' bad guys" on the streets of L.A. My life is pretty dull and uneventful... oh but what I wouldn't do if suddenly >I< had a super suit. And while I'm old and getting gray now... I still dream, every now and again, of flying around in the sky... (and over the years I've gotten better at landing on my feet). Ralph wasn't the best... but he always gave it the old team try. You gotta love him for that!
45 out of 48 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
One of the Greatest American TV Shows
Bolesroor19 April 2005
If you aren't familiar with "The Greatest American Hero" you owe it to yourself to get the DVDs... you won't be disappointed. I used to watch the show as a kid and I loved it... they used to play it on Saturday mornings after the cartoons had ended and I never missed an episode. Flash forward twenty years and I'm amazed at not only how well the show has held up but at all I missed the first time around.

Ordinary schoolteacher Ralph Hinkley is given a supersuit by space aliens... when wearing the suit he has all the powers of a superhero. The trouble is he lost the suit's instruction book in episode one and has to figure out how it works as he goes along. He's partnered with crusty, by-the-book FBI agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp) and gets lots of help from his gorgeous girlfriend Pam (Connie Selleca). If you think this is a broad, goofy comedy or kid's show you couldn't be farther off... if you think it's kitschy nostalgia you'd be wrong as well. The Greatest American Hero is nothing short of one of the greatest TV shows of all time.

The concept of the everyman becoming superman allowed the show's creators and writers to examine different aspects of human nature... there's so much going on in every episode that getting the bad guy is almost secondary. In one of the best episodes "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys," Ralph is forced to examine what it means to be a hero while Bill wrestles with having to arrest his OWN hero, a veteran police officer who has turned to a life of crime. The show was unbelievably human, and the three leads are a perfect triangle... Robert Culp grounds the show by not pulling any punches as the skeptical, impatient fed; his disbelief at the premise only serves to make the premise more real.

William Katt as Ralph is excellent, completely believable as a man trying to balance his roles as boyfriend, father, teacher and superhero. Connie Selleca is not just beautiful... she's a confident, funny actor, putting more into Pam than was on the page. This show is also wonderful as a time-capsule piece, a reminder of when TV could appeal to everyone and still be intelligent, dramatic, and FUN. (Today so many dramas open every episode with a corpse it's all but become the rule.) "GAH" is also one of the BIGGEST TV shows ever made... by that I mean its visual look and style of direction is grand, cinematic. If you get the DVD's you'll see that every episode is a mini-movie. You'll also see that it's one of the best transfers EVER done. The show, twenty years later, is more bright, clean and vivid than anything on TV today. And you also get the memorable theme song, which still gives old-time fans like myself instant nostalgia whenever we hear it.

In conclusion I highly recommend "The Greatest American Hero" to everyone... you will love it, your kids will love it, and it will stimulate your imagination, make you laugh and make you think. What more could you ask for?

GRADE: A+
47 out of 51 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
So much potential wasted…with one of the greatest American theme songs EVER…
14jade7 February 2002
`The Greatest American Hero' is a textbook case of a television show being a victim of `the powers that be.' I was in grade school during the time of its run, but I remember most of the behind the scenes drama. Though its initial debut was well received, it wasn't long before the show met an ill-fated course. First, it was an unfortunate victim of the 1981 Reagan assassination attempt, resulting in the horrific `Hinkley/Hanley' overdub. This event, followed by constant time changes, late season debuts, pre-empts, and the never-ending lawsuit with Warner Brothers and DC comics over its supposed `Superman-like' premise, kept it from reaching its full potential with viewers. Then, like those aliens in the desert, the show disappeared without a trace.

There are several theories as to why this show never reached its full potential. I personally think Warner Brothers and DC Comics made ABC executives nervous, hence the delays and time changes. While I can certainly understand their motives (the Superman movies were popular at the time) I considered each character to be a separate entity. I never thought William Katt was an exact clone of Christopher (or George, for that matter) Reeve's famous role. Superman (I thought) was a strong, supernatural hero from another planet who masqueraded as a human being. The Greatest American Hero was just an ordinary guy who stumbled upon good fortune and tried to utilize it in the best way he could to help mankind. It could have been anyone that night instead of Ralph Hinkley, for all we know (the lyrics of the theme song attempted to explain this). Katt simply provided a handsome, lovable example of the `imperfect hero.'

My mother and sister absolutely loved this show. I was the youngest, so I watched it mostly because they did! `The Greatest American Hero' did grow on me, though…so I, too, have fond memories. I was in love with the theme song, however, from the debut! Even if you didn't like the show, you have to admit that the theme song, `Believe It Or Not,' sung by Joey Scarbury, is one of the greatest of all time. The earlier comments were correct. `Believe It Or Not' is awesome.

Absolutely awesome!
47 out of 52 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
The "Katt" was Cool!
happipuppi1322 July 2005
I'll keep the review simple,10 stars! Loved it! Have nothing bad to say about this show! (Heck,I still have the 45rpm record of the theme song with the original picture sleeve and Joey Scarbury's album!)

I wasn't too crazy about the fact (at the time) that I had to watch the debut at a local hospital(visiting my grandmother ). I was still 12 when the show debuted and had looked forward to it's premiere and I certainly wasn't disappointed!

William Katt,a dramatic actor who got no respect from critics in the forgotten yet wonderful 1978 dramatic/surfing film "Big Wednesday",didn't get much more respect here but..to all of us who watched this show,he was cool and the "greatest". I'm sure he was just glad to be working...and with "I Spy" vet Robet Culp yet! Not to mention Connie Selleca. (Ralph must've used some smooth line to land her!)

Even though the "green screen" effects are obvious,it doesn't take away from the action one bit. I'll never forget watching Ralph stop a nuclear missile from being launched by simply holding it down with his hands! Pretty darn great effect for that time,not to mention just for TV! It makes me glad to see this come out on DVD,despite the fact there's no conclusion to the series.

I agree,it was unfair to call this kiddie-TV. This is a kind of satirical look at what would really happen if someone on earth got to be a hero. Wheather they asked to be or not. Not surprisingly,choose an earthling....lose the instruction manual! Get the DVD,you wont be sorry (unless you have no sense of humor.)
23 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Warmth and 80's magic...
deaconjguy25 May 2004
The Greatest American Hero was one of the best concepts for a TV show that I have ever seen, and certainly the most unique take on the superhero genre. The show had charm, lighthearted fun, and was full of 80's magic. I can still remember watching this show back in the early 80's and when Ralph first tried to fly that red suit. He couldn't get it, and some little kid that saw him struggling gave him some advice. Now see, that's the kind of magic that TV shows in the 80's had. TV wasn't afraid of putting out a hero that got advice on how to fly from a goofy little kid. Ralph Hinkley (played by William Katt) was just a regular guy, a young high school teacher that wanted to make a difference. Then one night he is approached by aliens out in the desert, teamed up with a gung-ho FBI agent, and given a spectacular red suit styled in the classic superhero design of cape and longjohns.

Unfortunately poor Ralph promptly loses the instruction book to the suit, and must learn the suit powers through trial and error. Connie Sellecca played Hinkley's girlfriend Pam, I seem to recall later in the show they were married. I also remember that Ralph got another instruction book, only to lose it again. And if I remember correctly, this show was only on for a brief 2 years and had 3 seasons. I don't know why the network prematurely cancelled this series, the show sadly never got to live up to it's full potential. I think it only clocked in around 44 or 45 episodes because the network pulled the plug on it so soon. The low episode number is probably why we don't get the luxury of seeing TGAH on Sci-Fi channel, WGN, TBS, or TV Land. Even with only 2 years of episodes, this series is still fondly remembered by many as a part of 80's magic.
20 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Smart and Entertaining...
Heather_Chiles12 September 2004
I remember The Greatest American Hero, I adored this hilarious series about ordinary guy Ralph Hinkley getting a magical supersuit from aliens (little green-guys) back in the 80's. Conceived by the legendary TV giant Stephen J. Cannell, this is the kind of show that when you think back on it gives you all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings inside. It just makes you feel good and reminds you how wildly imaginative and cool television was in the 80's. I'm glad to see I'm not alone in remembering this show that was cut down way too early. 2 years on the air just wasn't enough. The Greatest American Hero was made in the early 80's, when the trials and tribulations of the 1970's were still somewhat fresh on peoples minds. After the Vietnam War, high gas prices, Nixon-Watergate, and two more lousy presidents, the very idea that a man in underwear and flaky cape could run around saving the world like Superman or Batman was seen as a complete joke. This was an original and great idea to explore. One word to describe the way the series approached this idea would be "smart", like Star Trek this show seemed to have a definitive intelligent and creative force behind it. It was more of a human drama/comedy then a straight up conventional superhero show. What would happen to a regular person if they were given a magical superhero outfit? What would happen if they lost the instruction manual and didn't know how to use the goofy looking costume? The way people treated Ralph (they thought he was a nut) when they saw him in his super suit is probably the way people would react in real life if they came across a man dressed as a superhero. This series never seemed to get its just dues back in the early 80's, OK so The Greatest American Hero wasn't Mozart or The Great Gatsby. It was middle brow entertainment like many other crime and adventure shows, but it was very well made middle brow entertainment. It was smart and the witty dialogue in this show rivals any of the "more adult" TV shows from it's time. I do remember getting grief from my older siblings and cousins who never got the joke of The Greatest American Hero for liking it, they would purposefully sing the theme song 'Believe it or Not' off key to annoy me, "Look at what's happened to me...". I so wanted to hit my older sister when she did that. Ralph wasn't a wimp he was an ordinary man put into extraordinary situations, so he reacted like a regular guy would. Hence his screaming like a banshee would he couldn't control the suit in mid air. Others here have pointed out the many problems The Greatest American Hero had to put up with during it's brief 2 years on the air, one I would like to mention was it was constantly yanked around on its schedule. It may be cliché to repeatedly call ABC or any other network 'villains' when talking about how they shafted a particular TV series, but in this case it really is true. In the beginning the series was perfectly aired on Wednesday nights, but then for whatever reason the network moved it to Thursday nights, and then finally it was shifted to the death slot of Friday nights were it was beat up in the ratings by the real kids shows like The Dukes of Hazzard and Knight Rider. The Greatest American Hero was written with children in mind but was not soley targeted at kids. Without a teenage to adult audience to sustain it, the series died a quiet death at the hands of ABC. I hope that one day we see a return of The Greatest American Hero.
21 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The superhero who couldn't fly straight
hcalderon124 April 2005
I really wish this show was done today, because I just watched it on DVD, and found it incredibly entertaining, and very funny. The story begins with Ralph Hinkley(William Katt) a high school teacher, is lured out in the dessert, comes across FBI Agent Bill Maxwell(Robert Culp) and they are approached by a UFO, and is told they must work together as a team, they give Ralph a suit that has magical powers whenever he wears it. The funny part comes when Ralph loses the instruction book on how to use the suit, he keeps getting in trouble, because he does not use the power too well. But he seems to make the best out of the bad situation. I enjoyed the show, I still wish it was made today.
17 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Excellent spoof of the superhero genre.
TxMike22 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I remember 1981 well. My children were growing up, the youngest was 5 and the oldest was 12. One of the TV shows we always tried to see each week was "The Greatest American Hero." This was a time in American TV when shows were still "light" and the emphasis was on entertainment. TV shows focusing on crime or politics or "reality" were not even a twinkle yet in the producers' eyes. This show, "American Hero", was a spoof, or parody, of the superhero genre. What made the main character so endearing were his flaws. He was a mild-mannered school teacher. He was not strong looking, and his only "power" came to him when he put on his special suit which allowed him to fly like Superman. And, since he had not grown up with flying, and had no special training, his landings were always awkward, often tumbling into the shrubs or garbage cans to stop his momentum. But he had a good heart, he took his "mission" seriously, all which made this a delightful and entertaining show.

William Katt played the unlikely hero, Ralph Hinkley/Ralph Hanley (name change related to a real life Hinkley in the news). Co-stars were Robert Culp as Bill Maxwell and pretty Connie Sellecca as Pam Davidson/Pam Hinkley. Katt is somewhat of an enigma, he has made perhaps 40 to 50 movies since this series, and I don't recognize any of them. It is as if he purposely avoided being in any popular movie. That's a shame, because he was a very watchable actor.

The DVD of the first season is set to be released in February 2005, and Amazon has it at a very attractive price. I look forward to watching all these old episodes again, after almost 25 years.
13 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Loads of Fun for Everyone!
Eagle12807 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I remember watching this show when I was a boy (a special ed student age 15-16 back in 1981-82) and I always enjoyed this concept. Character Ralph Hinckley, a Special education teacher is suddenly paired with an FBI agent and given by aliens a Super Hero Outfit that bestows all sorts of superpowers. Together they and their friends attempt to solve crimes, protect the USA and perform otherwise good deeds. I loved the Sci-Fi angle as a child and now that I am a grown up Special Education teacher in a public high school I can definitely relate to the story premise. Sometimes I wonder when the alien spaceship is going to descend on me with my own suit. This show is marvelous fun for all ages and there is no blood gushing gore or otherwise raunchy lovemaking so prevalent in TV shows today. The theme song for the Greatest American Hero actually hit the Pop Top 40 chart in 1981 and always makes me smile when I hear it. I highly recommend this show and hope all who reads this enjoys it. Look for Markie Post, Danny Glover, Ed Winter and other well known actors and actresses in various supporting or cameo roles. The Greatest American Hero is great family entertainment.
11 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
A feel good TV series from the early 1980's
AlsExGal29 October 2016
This show did a great deal of changing over it's three year run. Starting as a spring replacement show, it starred relative newcomer William Katz as the tragically named Ralph Hinckley (I'll get to the tragedy in a minute), a high school teacher with lots of troubled kids in his class. Hinckley is in the middle of a custody suit with his exwife, and is falling in love with his lawyer, Pam Davidson (Connie Sellecca).

Things are looking OK for Hinckley until one night, in the California desert, he encounters aliens who give him a suit that endows upon him superpowers when he wears it. Then he loses the instruction manual. Nothing can throw a monkey wrench into your divorce/custody/employment plans like running around in what looks like red footie pajamas with a cape claiming you are saving the day. Ralph is instructed by the aliens to work with FBI agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Kulp), and this part is easy because Maxwell is there when the aliens give them the suit in the person of his recently deceased partner, who is going with the aliens but gives Bill the "live long and prosper" hand movement through the car glass window a full year before "The Wrath of Khan". Hmmmmmmm.

Thus Bill and Ralph form this sort of good cop/bad cop duo, except Ralph is no cop. Bill is the formal law and order type. Ralph is the give peace a chance type. For all of his super powers, Ralph didn't seem to notice that his son, who brought him and Pam together in the first place, disappears after four episodes, never to be mentioned again. Maybe this invisibility was inherited from the ex-wife, because we never see or hear about her again either.

The tragic naming of our protagonist that I mentioned? Well 12 days after this show debuted President Reagan was shot by John Hinckley. In a typical case of overreacting, the show had Ralph renamed "Hanley" or "Mr. H" for the rest of the first season, as though just being named Hinckley somehow made you an untouchable. Then, he magically went back to Ralph "Hinckley" at the beginning of the second season.

As for the "bad kids" in Ralph's class, among them there was Michael Pare in his first role, and apparently a role that got him noticed because he was making movies at a pretty frenetic pace for the rest of the 1980's, though he stuck with the show for the rest of its run. There was also Faye Grant as Rhonda, who is supposed to be a troublemaking rather loose girl. Hey, it was 35 years ago and double standards still applied.

The first season was a delight, as was part of the second season, but then the network suits wanted to advertise it more as children's fare over producer Steven J. Cannell's objections, and it never could escape that pigeon-holing. Overall though, I remember it fondly.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Season Three
xallisterx27 July 2005
After a short first season, and a full length second season, GAH's problems stemming from a lawsuit with DC comics finally brought enough pressure to convince ABC execs to pull the plug.

The Greatest American Hero is one of, if not, the most underrated shows of the 1980's. Slapstick, family friendly humor, and a nod to the comic book crowd.

The third and final season DVD collection includes four episodes that were never aired on ABC (the show went to syndication in the early 90's, and FX did in fact air the four episodes) with guest appearances ranging from Andre the Giant, to Bob Saget, and a strong natural chemistry with William Katt, and Connie Selleca, as well as Robert Culp, who once played Kelly Robinson in the series I Spy.

GAH is highly recommended, not only for adults who grew up with the series, but also their children, it's a refreshing look back at the more wholesome family entertainment that dominated the 1980's culture.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Greatest American TV Series--Coming to the Big Screen?
michaelf9527 February 2005
One of the most under-rated TV shows of all time. I keep hearing rumors about a new movie version. It seems to be in the early days of planning. The old series is now out on DVD (thank ya Lord...). Been waiting' for that for a long time...

Here is my take on who would be great in the new movie version:

Ralp: Steve Zahn. Bill: Billy Bob Thorton. Pam: Jennifer Conelly.

The series only ran from 81-83 and I guess there was a great deal of tension between Cannell and ABC over the creative direction. But Cannell thankfully won and though the series was too short, what was aired is fantastic!

If you've never seen the old series pick up or rent the DVD! Holds up very well despite being 25 years old...
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Very Underated
Thor200021 April 2001
This show took a comic book idea and made it real. For every guy who wanted to hide behind a costume and save the world, this series showed the pros and cons of superheroics and dual identities even if it had to use a UFO to do it. William Katt was basicly your All-American good guy with a gorgeous girlfriend played by Connie Selleca. Robert Culp was the gungho F.B.I. Agent, a role he played to the hilt. Supported by Faye Grant and Michael Pare, this show lasted a brief but memorable two years before we lost it. Even an attempt was made to pass the premise to a lovely young actress, but by then, the original appeal of the show had faded away.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Got Better Over Time
Sargebri18 July 2003
This was a pretty good show, especially when it got to its second season. This was a decent send up of all the super-hero shows such as Wonder Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man and the Superman movies. The only thing that I didn't like about it was that during the first season it tried too hard to be a send up of those shows especially due to the fact that Ralph lost the instruction book and had to wing it. However, by the second season it begun to hit its stride. Ralph could even fly better, although he still had trouble with the landings. Also, the chemistry between William Katt, Robert Culp and Connie Sellecca was what helped to make this a cult classic.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
I really Like this show
minerals14 July 2006
Since I was too young to remember this show when it originally aired all I had seen of it before the DVDs came out was the pilot episode my dad had purchased over the years on a VHS tape. One thing I can say is since the DVDs have came out and I have watched the first two seasons I do believe that those people of DC comics and Warner Brothers had some screws loose in their heads trying to accuse Stephen Cannell of copyright infringement on superman. The main thing that shows the difference between the two is Superman is an allien who looks like a human from another planet. This show has a normal High School teacher who is approached by an alien spaceship and is given a special suit with unearthly powers. Plus with the good it shows in the episodes of where the stop some crooks and how on one of the first season episodes it shows Ralph Hinkley using the suit to clear the name of one of his students. Then on the second season it shows how he has to deal with how some men are trying to hold Bill and his students hostage over a gold mine.

One thing myself I think it was dishonest of ABC to put it on at a time when people could not watch it. Compared to the garbage that ABC is airing on TV now in my area I think I would much rather see reruns of this show on instead of those stupid reality shows or all those courtroom shows that air between 7 P.M. and 10 P.M. eastern time. I would much rather have some of today's teenagers watching Ralph crashing while trying to fly around as to have them watching these bad shows that have some people only wearing minimum coverage clothing while trying to win money. It is bad shows like those reality shows like that survivor, fear factor and that big brother that are causing some of today's children to grow up being so disobident because of how they see grown ups acting so foolish with each other just over some money. When I grew up we had from 7 P.M. to 10 P.M. eastern time some good shows like this one and other good shows like Bill Cosby, Family Matters, Full House, and other action comedy shows like the original Dukes of Hazzard, Airwolf, and The A Team on instead of the garbage they are passing along as TV shows now. I say this show deserves to reair on TV so that people who can not afford the costs of the DVD players and Disk sets can watch the show again. Also this can prove that the younger generations might like this show better because i have noticed that children who are under 10 years old are liking shows their Grandparents grew up with in the 1950's better than the shows that are on TV now.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Most viewers missed show's complexity
JBrannon5 February 2006
The most prominent clue is that Bill Maxwell is playing a turn on his "I Spy" Kelly Robinson fifteen years down a dead-end road, where his Cold War battles have apparently led him to be mired in eroded ruts.

The very opening sequence implies the murder of his long-time black partner.

In fact, the entire series -- from the pilot movie -- onward is a witty investigation of the uses and abuses of power, from the roles and capabilities of women (contrast/compare Connie Sellaca's attorney with Rhonda's confused teenager struggling for esteem) to the limits of American adventurism against the continuing threats of the Cold war. Here is a man of conscience chosen by Higher Powers to right wrong who struggles to be a decent father, lover, friend, and inspire kids by his "ordinary" example.

My favorite episode is "Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell", where Emmy-winning writer Robert Culp reveals in the Season 2 finale the depths and intelligence of the Bill Maxwell character.

Cannell wrote the pilot in an atmosphere of the Iran US Embassy hostage situation and a cultural dearth of idealism. Many viewers saw the red suit comedy and missed the morally ambiguous complexity lying beneath.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Welcome Back, Hinkley.
Son_of_Mansfield21 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Well, they tease him a lot because he wears red jammies. This show is kind of a cross between Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Welcome Back, Kotter without the monsters of the former and the quipish nature of both. This is a show with a great central idea: What would an average person do with a silly suit that gives them super powers? The show was a hit, but died due to the network not buying into the concept. As the show goes on, the body count rises and the innocent feel of the first season is left behind. Also, The writers clearly ran out of ideas for the kids to be involved, making every other episode a field trip. William Katt(goofy), Robert Culp(Grumpy), and Connie Sellecca(Sexy) make an amusing trio when given the chance to work together. The show wouldn't have survived as long as it did without them.

P.S. This is ripe for a movie adaptation. My Cast. Paul Bettany - Ralph Hinkley. Jennifer Connelly - Pamela Davidson. Paul Giamatti - Bill Maxwell.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
An enjoyable action-comedy show.
DarkVulcan2917 February 2005
You think Ralph Hinkley couldn't have enough problems in his life, He is a High School teacher trying to teach a bunch of misfits(similar to the SweetHogs from Welcome Back Kotter). He is divorced, going through a bitter custody battle for his young son Kevin. But these things are gonna seem minor. When he is lured out in the desert, then suddenly disgruntled F.B.I. Bill Maxwell drives up to him, and can not remember how he got there. Then the two see a flying saucer, and both become scared. But the aliens tell Ralph and Bill they must work together to make the world a better place. They also give Ralph a suit to wear, that possess amazing superpowers when Ralph wears it. But when Ralph unwittingly losses the instructions, he is left to figure out to work the suit. His Legal Eagle girlfriend Pam Davidson comes along for the ride.

William Katt is very funny as Ralph, an ordinary everyday kinda guy who is drawn in an Unordinary situations, at times he had a Peter Parker like complex, Ralph didn't really want to be a superhero, but then realized that with great power, came great responsibility.

Robert Culp and Connie Sellica were also great has Bill Maxwell and Pam Davidson.

I'm amazed on how the effects were so great, they didn't look cheap one bit. This show had great action and great humor. I believe it will live on forever.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Great show. Every episode was a winner. Culp & Katt perfect pair.
trouble1316 January 2005
This was one of my favorites. It had everything, drama, comedy, adventure and suspense.

A space ship landed on earth and left a suit with special "super powers" for William Katt. Robert Culp, the "know it all secret agent", is sent by the government to control this great new weapon. With secrecy of the utmost importance, Culp couldn't even brag to his fellow agents about his fabulous assignment. Part of his job was to keep the suit out of the hands of foreign powers. Because of his "superior" training, he felt he should be allowed to use the suit himself. He constantly projected "senerios" on how it should work and how William Katt should use it. This was high-lighted, in one episode, with Culp trying to use the suit when Katt couldn't. He then learned that the suit was a one man suit.

Katt was secretly proud of the job he did but his lack of confidence and fear of heights and flying caused problems. Though he was super, when wearing the suit, he couldn't keep from ducking bullets. If he lost his confidence while flying, he'd fall from the sky and crash into buildings.

Connie Sellecca acted as referee when the two went at each others throats during disagreements.

It's a great treat in my book. These are great actors with a great story line. Don't miss it.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Absolute classic
bulldogsports7 December 2004
Not sure what the previous subscriber has been watching, but from his comments it cannot have possibly Ben TGAH. Robert Culp was excellent as the FBI agent coming up with different 'Scenarios'. A cross between Superman and Ace Ventura, this series gave a great Platform for William Katt with his all American Boy Looks and excellent timing. Great Escapisim which was harmless and time less. Connica Sellicca provided the glamour and the balance between Robert Culp and William Katt which kept the show on track for all the series. I am now 50 and can't wait for the DVD to be released, as I'm sure my two boys , 9 & 16 will enjoy this time-less classic. Compared with quality of todays programmes which 26 strong wrtitng teams are delivering , this product was and still is 10 out of 10.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Back when TV shows were fun....
oznickolaus2 August 2004
I remember this show from my childhood, and they are very fond memories at that. William Katt was adorable in the lead (I met him in person once and he was even MORE adorable in the flesh!), Connie Sellecca was (IS) Gorgeous, and the theme song still makes me sing along with it on the radio! I never understood why this show didn't last longer than it did. I'm also surprised, with the latest fad of turning old TV shows into movies, that a big screen version of this hasn't appeared yet!

I certainly hope someone releases this series on DVD soon!

Too bad TV shows today are either reality based crap or sex filled soap operas!

John
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Zero the Hero
Johnny_West22 June 2019
Robert Culp had a very unpleasant personality. He was the co-star of The Greatest American Hero, and every couple of minutes his punchline is to tell William Katt that he lost the instructions to the magic superhero suit he wears. I have tried to like this show for 40 years. Everyone thinks it is so funny. I have never been able to watch more than five minutes of any episode. It is annoying.

William Katt flying into walls every episode, while his creepy uncle character Robert Culp fights with him over who is in charge. It is not funny to me. I never liked William Katt either. He was the missing member of the Partridge Family in my humble opinion. I am always hoping he breaks his neck when he flies into a wall, and Robert Culp can announce the death in his own uniquely unpleasant way, and the show ends there. But that happy ending never happened, as far as I know.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Early 1980's Comedy With A Crash
DKosty12324 December 2006
William Katt proved in this series he could act. His adventures with the suits are a group of mishaps & plot twists without equal in super hero history. This show is definitely a time piece that is not for the younger kiddies now.

Robert Culp is amazing as Bill Maxwell. We know from his days opposite Bill Cosby in I Spy that he could do comedy, but his character here is an even funnier off-shoot of his FBI agent routine. He is always looking for help from those green guys.

Connie Selleca, even though she was pregnant during this shows filming, was eye candy & easy to fall for. She always seemed to help set the mood for the shows she had a major role in.

The kids in the cast were just that, the kids. William Katts mom, Barbara Hale does a couple of guest shots along with June Lockhart. Some other notables guest starred too.

The best episode is called You Don't Mess Around With Jim. The plot is not only well thought out, a sort of Howard Hughes clone who dies under mysterious circumstances, but the show has a couple of great special effects stunts that make you wonder, how did they do that? This is by far the best episode. Sometimes, the writing on this show lacked sound logic. You didn't mind if you like the cast, which a lot of us did.

Some of the other shows are pretty good too. Tung-in-cheek humor, Ralph Hinkley style.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed