The Greatest American Hero

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The Greatest American Hero is an American TV series which aired for three seasons from 1981 to 1983 on ABC. It premiered as a two hour movie pilot on March 18, 1981. It starred William Katt as teacher Ralph Hinkley ("Hanley" for the latter part of the first season), Robert Culp as FBI Agent Bill Maxwell, and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson. The show chronicles Ralph's adventures after he is given a red suit from a group of aliens, which gives him superhuman abilities. The series is a superhero drama-comedy. Hinkley is a schoolteacher for "special students". Determined to get through to them, Ralph took them on a "geological survey" field trip to the desert. Coming back from the field trip later that night, the school bus breaks down. Ralph starts to walk back through the desert to get help and he encounters a swerving car driven by FBI Special Agent Bill Maxwell (Culp) that stops just in time to avoid hitting Hinkley. Maxwell insists that he could not control the car. Then two bright purple lights appear in the sky and they both jump in the car and try to get away, but the car will not start and the doors lock by themselves trapping them inside. They are surprised to find that the lights come from an alien spacecraft. The alien tells Ralph and Bill (by way of the car radio) that they are to work together to save the world and Ralph will be given the power to change it. They are given a black case. Later Ralph opens it and finds a red suit (with cape) which endows him with superhuman abilities. Bill runs off from fear, but later contacts Ralph, leading to an awkward partnership as the two try to use the powers of the suit (which Bill calls the "magic jammies") to fight crime. The novelty of the show is based on Ralph's inability to learn to use the suit properly, and even learn the use of its various capabilities, other than by trial and error, because he lost the instruction manual in the desert. A recurring gag involves Ralph clumsily trying to strip off his outer clothes to activate the suit before the enemies can get away. In addition the show spends quite a bit of time developing the friendship between Ralph and Bill Maxwell as well showcased in "Lilacs; Mr. Maxwell". This episode delves deeply into the personal feelings between the two, as Ralph is painfully forced to get Bill to realize his love interest is actually a KGB spy who was specifically recruited to romance Bill and find out the secrets of his sucessful investigations. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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