Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Greatest American Heroine (1986)

The 1980s produced many iconic television shows-Far too many to list here even slightly. All I'll say is that The A-Team is by far my favourite! One notable series during this time was The Greatest American Hero. Well received and running a respectable 3 seasons, it's most famous for its amazing theme song,

Regular guy Ralph Hinkley has spent the last few years living out adventures beyond his wildest dreams. After having been gifted a magical suit by benevolent aliens, he became a superhero, working anonymously to protect the innocent. However, his secret is now out, and displeased at the attention he's getting, as well as the change in his personality, the aliens insist he retire, and find a successor...

The Greatest American Heroine started out as a standalone pilot, but is often just counted as an additional episode on DVD sets, which is a fine status. It was meant to jumpstart fresh blood into the series, but also acts as a perfectly fine finale too. I begins with a solid introduction/recap of the overall series, and this acts as a very nice tribute to everything fans know and love from the classic series.

The plot is fairly decent for the most part, though some things irk me a little. It seems mean of the aliens to erase everyone's memory of Ralph and co. By all means retire him if you feel it's best for your hero to go anonymous, but people knowing who the old hero was won't mean anything for the new one's identity. I suppose it helps for their own anonimity, but still! Also, the exposure of Ralph at the beginning is a bit strange. How was a plan like this arranged between citizens, reporters, police, and even the goshdarn president, and yet this was kept a total secret?!

I don't really like that the choice to retire  is taken out of Ralph's hands, though I'm happy at least that he gets total freedom to choose his successor. Swinging back to the negatives, has he really lost the second instruction manual offscreen? Dope! And how come the aliens can't give him another? I get not wanting to give butterfingers here another when he's lost two already, but what about the new hero, poor Holly??

I like that Ralph and Pam make their goodbyes at the halfway point, as it gives the new heroine breathing room to develop, and make an impression on the audience, rather than be the fourth wheel.

The climax is the only part of the episode with a proper conflict to resolve, and it's handled half and half. The first half is fun, with heavies, barfights, and more, but the second half...doesn't exist. The entire plotline is then resolved offscreen! *sighs*

Ralph is a likable lead, and we get a real sense of comraderie with he and his friends. Whether longtime fans approve of the fame getting to his head is understandable, but he's never portrayed badly, just a little misguided, and he's still a good guy. His girlfriend Pam is nice, while ever grumpy Bill Maxwell makes for an amusing sidekick.

New protagonist Holly is a bit overly saccharine and cutesy at first, but once she gets going as the lead, she steps into the role well. She's still super chirpy, but handles herself well. Lastly, there's Sarah! Holly's adopted daughter, Sarah is the cutest girl imaginable! Sweetly precocious, funny, and a little devious, she's a great presence.

I appreciate Holly actually telling her family her identity (rather than keep it a secret all the time, leading to awkward moments), and that she does want her help, meaning Sarah would've been a member of the main cast had this become a series! Great, now  I'm pissed that it never came to fruition!

The actors here all do fine jobs. The main trio (William Katt, Robert Culp, and Connie Sellecca) share a lot of chemistry, from crotchety or acerbic moments, to the heartfelt goodbye. Mary Ellen Stuart is a bit boisterous, but enjoyable, while Mya Akerling does a great job as Sarah. And lastly, the aliens are a fun addition, amusing with their serious deliveries and dialogue.

The soundtrack here is pretty packed for a tv episode! I guess they wanted to really make it as monumentous an occasion as they could, and they succeeded = enough. We get a = tune over the montage at the beginning, during the goodbye scene, and Holly's training. All are sung by =, giving a nice sense of connection. I don't know if they were tailormade for the episode or show, or if they were just cribbed from ='s latest album or something, but it's effective nonetheless. As for the rest of the scoring, it sounds like every 80s tv show ever, namely The A Team. This is a very good thing!

Despite a few teething troubles to begin with, The Greatest American Heroine really comes into its own by the end, and is plenty of fun all the way through. As both a homage, and a door for a potential follow-up/sequel, it does what it sets out to do perfectly, and this is one slice of 80s tv I would've been happy to see more of...

car ship, 10:05, 14:15, 25:15, 30:20, =, 35:39

1 comment:

  1. Ralph did not lose the second instruction book off screen. He was given a second book in the Season 3 premiere, Divorce Venusian Style. At the end, he was experimenting with it and discovered he could shrink down to ant size. When he returned to his normal size, he forgot to bring the book with him.