Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Greatest American Hero, The

US tv series (1981-1983). Stephen J Cannell Productions/ABC. Pr Alex Beaton, Babs Greyhosky, Frank Lupo, Christopher Nelson. Exec pr Juanita Bartlett, Stephen J Cannell. Dir Robert Culp and many others. Writers Bartlett, Cannell, Culp, Greyhosky, Lupo and many others. Created by Cannell. Starring William Bogert (Carlyle), Don Cervantes (Paco Rodriquez), Culp (Bill Maxwell), Jesse D Goins (Cyler Johnson), Faye Grant (Rhonda Harris), William Katt (Ralph Hinkley), Michael Paré (Tony Villacona), Connie Sellecca (Pam Davidson). 2hr pilot plus 43 1hr episodes. Colour.

Ralph Hinkley, a mild-mannered schoolteacher, encounters a UFO in the desert. The alien visitors give him a bright red suit, complete with tights and cape, and claim it will give him superpowers; they tell him he should use these for the good of mankind, then pair him with Bill Maxwell, a down-on-his-luck FBI agent. Unfortunately, Ralph loses the suit's instruction manual, so the putative Superhero and his sidekick undergo several chapters of accidents.

When the show finished, the producers tried to launch a new version by passing the suit on to a woman, but The Greatest American Heroine failed to fly (though the pilot has been included in the Greatest American Hero syndication package). A proposed animated version for Saturday mornings fared equally poorly.

Largely because of a lawsuit from DC Comics, TGAH failed to generate any merchandise or novelizations, but the theme song, written by Mike Post and Stephen Geyer and sung by Joey Scarbury, was a major hit in 1981. [BC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.