Friday, March 29, 2013

Bigass Review 2- The Greatest American Hero.

So, along with the bigass Hulk boxed set (which I just reviewed), for X-mas, I got all of "The Greatest American Hero", so, let's look at that too.

I watched these as I was watching all the Hulks.
Whenever I got Hulk burnout, I alternated with this.
And, vice-versa.
So, it's all a bit of a blur, so, reviewing these will sift apart my memory if nothing else. we go.

Season 1

"The Greatest American Hero". (Pilot)

Ralph Hinkley, a special ed schoolteacher, meets FBI agent Bill Maxwell on a field trip to the desert.
Then, they encounter a UFO which tasks them with a mission, and gives Ralph a superhero costume with real superpowers.
But, Ralph loses the instruction manual.

Great pilot, a nifty little every-man superhero movie the likes of "Super", and "Hero At Large", in its own right.

Series lead, William Katt, of course was also in "House", "Super", "The Man From Earth", and, had a brief music career.

And holy CRAP is Connie Sellecca a little hottie.
I kept exclaiming this throughout the whole rest of the show.
Excellent job by the producers making her a regular cast member, rather than a one time guest.

Oh, and Robert Culp is great too.
I've said elsewhere, wanna see new adventures of aging Han Solo?
Bill Maxwell's the same guy.

Oh, hey, yeah, "Carrie", had the same casting session as "Star Wars", so, in an alternate universe, Billy Katt could have been Luke.
Well, there you go.

Guest stars- Richard Herd (everything ever).

"The hit car".

Ralph's class prepares to do a Shakespeare play, while Ralph and Bill protect a female FBI informant.

..didn't stick to my memory.
Must have been mediocre.

Oh, quick random tidbit, one of Ralph's students is Michael Pare (from "Eddie and The Cruisers", "Streets of Fire", and "The Philadelphia Experiment".), and another is Faye Grant (from "V", and the episode "Slaves", from Hulk).
They're even in the main credits of every episode.

Guest stars- No one that rings a bell.

"Here's Looking at You, Kid".

Ralph is helping Bill find a top-secret military aircraft (that we'd call a drone today), Ralph discovers his invisibility power, Ralph's students get one of their own to run for class president, and Pam's (Sellecca), parents fly in to meet Ralph.

Decent episode.

Guest stars- June Lockhart (She-Wolf Of London, Lassie, Lost In Space), Bob Hastings (Batman:TAS, Hulk), James Whitmore Jr. (Quantum Leap, Knight Rider, NCIS).

"Saturday Night on Sunset Boulevard".

FBI agents, and Russian killers are after this couple for convoluted reasons, Ralph's students are disillusioned, and thinking of dropping out, Bill is given a lie detector test that he fails due to his adventures with Ralph, causing him to be suspended, and Bill comes up with a plan to solve the big FBI case to get himself reinstated.
Ralph involves his class to build up their self-esteem.

Decent episode.

Guest stars- Alexa Hamilton (Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike), Kai Wulff (see "Just another three ring circus").

"Reseda Rose".

Ralp and Pam's plans are put on hold when Rhonda's (Faye Grant, see "The hit Car"), mother is kidnapped by Russian agents.

"Meh", episode.

Guest stars- Simone Griffeth (Death Race 2000, Hulk), Nicholas Worth (Bruno from Swamp Thing).

"My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys".

Ralph hangs up the suit after causing a near-tragedy, and Bill desperately needs his help to stop a robbery planned by corrupt cops masterminded by his old war buddy.
Ralph's reminded of his heroic responsibilities by The Lone Ranger.

Excellent, one of my favorites.

Guest stars- John Hart (The Lone Ranger).

"Fire man".

Tony (Michael Pare), is accused of arson, and Ralph and Bill have to clear his name.

Pretty good one.

Guest stars- Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, Predator 2) (he's only in it for a few seconds).

"The Best Desk Scenario".

Pam and Ralph get promotions, Bill begins to feel left behind, and worry about his age, and Pam's boss is a crook, and Bill and Ralph have to expose him.

Excellent, one of the best.
Great one for season 1 to go out on.

Guest stars- Duncan Regehr (90's Zorro, Monster Squad), Michael Ensign (TNG, DS9, Voyager, ENT, Ghostbusters, House (aha!)).

Season 1 overall- Tricky to do, because even the "average", episodes are great because of the main cast.

This show is more character than plot based, much like "Firefly", or "Tenchi Muyo", so, once the cast found their rhythm, and you fall for them as a viewer, the show has its hooks in, and you're a fan.
So, from that perspective, the show maintains a pretty even keel across the board. 
This applies to all three seasons, IMO.

Anyhoo, standouts include "The Greatest American Hero", "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys", and "The Best Desk Scenario".

Season 2

"The Two-Hundred-Mile-an-Hour Fast Ball".

Arms dealers hurt a star baseball player in order to bet against his team, and Ralph uses the suit to win the game, blatantly using his powers for fame and gain.

This radically contradicts the aliens taking the suit away in "Greatest American Heroine", under similar pretexts.
But, the least said of that mess, the better.

Anyway, actually a pretty good episode.
A better baseball episode than Hulk's "The Phenom", that's for sure.

Guest stars- Markie Post (Night Court, Hulk), Mike Douglas (as himself), Bruce Kirby (Stand By Me).

"Operation Spoilsport".

The aliens come back, and flat out tell Ralph and Bill they have to prevent WWIII.
So, yeah, none of this penny-ante stuff as far as the aliens are concerned, Ralph and Bill are supposed to go for the gusto, and land the big fish.

Anyway, a general has gone all "Dr. Strangelove", and they have to stop him blowing up the world.
The title comes from the name of the US's plan to rain death on everything if Russia ever wiped us out, the mentality being "if you win, you'll rule over a cinder", hence, "spoilsport".
It's the automated system that's supposed to do this that the nutty general has hacked.

Anyway, really good one.

Guest stars- John Anderson (TNG, Hulk), Robin Riker (Get A Life).

"Don't Mess Around with Jim".

Ralph and Bill are kidnapped, and brought to an old millionaire (who's supposed to be dead) who knows all about the aliens and the suit, and needs them to get his will back from his crooked doctor.

Later, he reveals he used to have a suit, and he and his confidant operated as a team much like Ralph and Bill, but the power corrupted him, and he used it for personal gain, amassing his fortune and destroying his enemies with it, until finally, the aliens took the suit back.

He could tell them exactly how the suit works, but he tells them that not knowing is probably what keeps Ralph honest, and from ending up like him, and he's probably better off.

Another really great one.

Guest stars- Joseph Wiseman (Dr. No).

"Hog wild".

A biker gang learns of Ralph and the suit, and try to force him to get back at the sheriff for them.

Meh, kinda silly, but I liked it.
About on par with the Hulk biker episode (also featuring Paul Koslo) "Long Run Home".

Guest stars- Paul Koslo (Robot Jox, two episodes of Hulk), Tony Burton (Apollo's trainer in all the Rockys, Hulk), Dennis Fimple (Hulk), Dennis Burkley (Principal Moss on King Of The Hill).

"Classical Gas".

Ralph's class forms a rock band, and rehearses for a show, but the promoter plans to release nerve gas into the crowd.

Good episode.

Guest stars- Edward Winter (Porkys II, M.A.S.H.), Blake Clark (Shakes The Clown).

"The beast in the black".

A really cool spooky episode, and a divergence from the usual formula.

Bill is possessed by a woman's spirit, and Ralph discovers the power of traveling into the ghost dimension, but once there, his suit won't function.

Above average, one of my faves.

Guest stars- Christine Belford (two episodes of Hulk), Jane Merrow (one episode of Hulk).

"The Lost Diablo".

Ralph, Bill, & Pam take Ralph's students on a field trip to find a lost goldmine that used to belong to a friend of Bill's.

They're accosted by homicidal claim jumpers, and hi-jinks ensue.

Wavey hand.

Guest stars- Bill Quinn (Archie Bunker's Place, Star Trek V).


Some militia nuts have gotten their hands on smallpox, and Ralph and Bill have to stop them.
Here, we discover that the suit can shield Ralph from plague.

Decent episode.

Guest stars- No one that rings a bell.

"Train of thought".

Ralph smashes full force into an oncoming train, and gets amnesia.

Also, terrorists want to release nuclear waste on a  town.

Despite being the hackneyed premise of "the amnesia episode", actually, not too bad.

Guest stars- Dabs Greer (Little House On The Prairie, The Green Mile, Hulk).

"Now you see it".

Ralph discovers a new power to see into the future, and it's a total interactive vision, like "Dead Zone", on the verge of time travel, and he can bring Bill into it by touching his shoulder.

Anyhoo, the future calamity he has to prevent is the crashing of Pam's plane.

A pretty cool one.

Guest stars- Jon Cypher (Masters Of The Universe, Major Dad).

"The Hand-Painted Thai". 

The operator of a Vietnamese prison camp hypnotized prisoners there into sleeper agents like "The Manchurian Candidate", and now, he's the CEO of a chain of Thai restaurants, and he's re-activating the agents for...I dunno, hi-jinks.

Also, Bill is accidentally implanted with a suggestion by a stage hypnotist which causes shenanigans.

Wavey hand.

Guest stars- No one who rings a bell.

"Just Another Three Ring Circus".

Bill is looking for a missing circus clown, and Ralph infiltrates the circus as a human cannonball.

Wavey hand.

Guest stars- Tony Cox (Bad Santa), Kai Wulff (see "Saturday Night on Sunset Boulevard").

"The Shock Will Kill You".

While rescuing a space shuttle, Ralph is electrocuted, and hyper-magnetized.
He spends most of the rest of the episode attracting all metallic objects.

The source of the massive charge turns out to be this extraterrestrial squid-ish blob monster that they keep scary by never letting you see all of.

On the one hand, it dances the edge of how much you'll buy into with this show, but, on the other hand...Ralph is a superhero, and super powered comic book heroes always fight a monster.

I liked it.
A decent fun episode that temporarily broke the formula, like "The Beast In The Black".
You wouldn't want 'em to do episodes like this all the time, or It'd become a kiddie show, but a couple times a season, why not?

Guest stars- Soap and guest star folk.

"A chicken in every plot".

Ralph, Pam, Bill, and Ralph's students go to Haiti, and run afoul of voodoo!

A much better voodoo episode than Hulk's "Babalao", for damned sure.

Lesson learned, don't go to Haiti.
Between this, and "The Serpent and The Rainbow", yeah, just don't go.

Decent episode.

Guest stars- Ron O' Neal (Superfly), Lincoln Kilpatrick (Soylent Green), John Hancock (TNG, Hulk).

"The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea".

Ralph, Bill, and Pam go to Bermuda, Bill is trying to get Ralph to help him with a case, and Ralph believes in sea monsters, and wants to use the suit to find them.

Of course, Billy Katt would go on to star in "Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend ", about a lost dinosaur.

Eh, kinda goofy, but the sea monster stuff never derails the rest of it.
A really crappy fake sea monster head pokes out of the water at the very end.
You can kinda pretend it didn't happen.
Although, if they had the alien blob in "the shock will kill you", how can I really bitch?

Guest stars- Jeremy Kemp (again), Glynn Turman (Gremlins, Freddy's Nightmares).

"It's all downhill from here".

Ralph goes undercover to help a Russian skier defect.

About average.

Guest stars- William Lucking (two episodes of Hulk), Sandra Kerns (also two episodes of Hulk), Stefan Gierasch (one episode of Hulk), Bob Hastings (again).


Bill needs Ralphs's help looking out for a parolee who wants revenge, and Ralph is busy trying to help the dreams of his coworkers come true, starting with a janitor getting his board game sold to a toy company.

A really sweet one, and I liked the song.

Guest stars- Nicholas Worth (again).

"There's just no accounting...".

Bill is suspended for losing a kidnapping ransom, Ralph is being audited, and everyone in sight is harassed by the IRS.

A good 'un.

Guest stars- Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat from DS9, three episodes of Hulk). James Whitmore Jr. (again), Jerry Douglas (Mommy Dearest, Hulk, The Young And The Restless).

"Good Samaritan".

Ralph is tired of just going after criminals, and decides to try helping people, starting with helping a man who's being forced out of his home.


Guest stars- Keenan Wynn (Winter Warlock in "Santa Claus Is coming To Town", Captain Cully in "The Last Unicorn").

"Captain Bellybuster and the Speed Factory".

A man who plays a superhero for a hamburger chain discovers the stores are a front for drug dealers, and calls on Ralph for help.

One of my all time favorites.
Love, love, love it.
Probably mostly for the guest star (see below), but I happen to think it's a fun episode even if you don't know who he is.
Just fucking great.

Guest stars- Chuck McCann (Blinky and Pinky in "Pac-Man", Leatherneck in "G.I. Joe", The Beagle Boys in "Ducktales", Duckworth in "Ducktales", Baron Von Clawdeitz in "Ring Raiders", various voices in "Gummi Bears", Mayor Grody in "Toxic Crusaders", Dumptruck in "Talespin", Beefsteak in "Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes", various voices in "King's Quest 6", Blizzard in "Iron Man", The Thing in "Fantastic Four", The Thing in "The Incredible Hulk", (90's), The Thing in "Silver Surfer", The Ameoba Boys in "The Powerpuff Girls", and countless others).

"Who's Woo in America".

Ralph's mother comes for a visit, and she's engaged to a much younger man with a shady past.
Also, Bill is kinda crushing on her a little.


Guerst stars- Barbara Hale (Perry Mason), Tom Hallick (a buncha famous stuff I never watched).

"Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell".

Bill breaks Ralph into the FBI archives, and use his holographic vision to solve a bunch of cold cases.
This puts him on the radar of a female KGB assassin.


Guest stars- Dixie Carter (Designing Women).

Season 2 overall- Same rant as season 1. 

Standouts include "Operation Spoilsport", "Don't Mess Around with Jim", "The beast in the black", "Now you see it", and "Captain Bellybuster and the Speed Factory".

Season 3

"Divorce, Venusian style".

Ralph and Bill get into a big fight, and Ralph quits, and leaves the suit behind.
Neo-Nazis gain possession of the suit, and critically wound Ralph.
The aliens come back, and fix Ralph, and give him another chance.

We see the aliens face to face for the first time, and, we're left to assume Ralph has extra lives, theoretically unlimited, with their medical technology for backup.

Of course, they brought Bill's dead partner back to life in the pilot, so, this was always a possibility.

They also give Ralph a new instruction manual.

When everything's back to normal, Ralph tries the manual out, and gains a shrinking power, but leaves the manual behind on a speck of sand, and loses it again.
*Comedy trumpet*

Pretty good episode.
Oh, what the Hell, let's say, above average.

Guest stars- Jeremy Kemp (Picard's brother on TNG), Frank Doubleday (Escape From New YorkHulk).

"The Price Is Right". 

Ralph attends his 10 year high school reunion, and one of his classmates, the wife of a famous pro football player, is kidnapped to force the player to lose.

Ralph gets involved with another sport, like in "The Two-Hundred-Mile-an-Hour Fast Ball".

A better episode than Hulk's "Killer Instinct", but, the class reunion stuff is better than the football stuff.


Guest stars- Dick Butkus, Bob Hastings (third time).

"This Is the One the Suit Was Meant For".

Ralph and Pam's relationship is in trouble, so Ralph convinces Pam to go on a vacation without Bill, or the suit.
Bill shows up with the suit anyway.
Hi-jinks ensue.


Guest stars- Eh, nobody who rings a bell.

"The Resurrection of Carlini".

Carlini, a magician, is though to be dead, and Bill is summoned to his will reading.
Another magician turns up dead, and it's realized the killer is still on the loose.
Eh, come on, the title gives it away, it's Carlini.

Freaky scenes of Ralph holograph-ing in on Carlini's fucked up memories.
It almost has a "Red Dragon", flavor to it.
Pretty grim stuff for family-friendly 80's TV.
I dig it.
Above average.

Guest stars- Andrew Robinson (Garak from Deep Space Nine, the dad from Hellraiser, the punk from Dirty Harry, an episode of Hulk).

"The Newlywed Game".

The day of Ralph and Pam's wedding approaches, when what appear to be government agents show up claiming to know about Ralph's suit.


Guest stars- June Lockhart (again).

"Heaven Is in Your Genes".

Bill is believed to be dead, but after the funeral, Ralph still sees visions of him, and tracks him down to Mexico, where he's been kidnapped by a mad scientist who wants to see what makes him such a successful agent.

André the Giant plays the "monster", the scientist created with his gene splicing efforts.
Ralph fighting André is the closest thing to a Ralph vs. Hulk fight as you're likely to get.

So-so episode.
Needs more André.
They save him for the very last couple minutes or so.

Guest stars- André the Giant (WWF, The Princess Bride).

"Live at Eleven".

While foiling a plutonium heist, Ralph is exposed, and gains the power to mentally influence people.

Shenanigans ensue when he gets hooked on using it on Pam.

Fun, above average episode.
The premise allows for great character interplay.

Guest stars- Eh, no one that jumps out.

"Space Ranger".

A hacker going by the handle "Space Ranger", is poking around in Russian satellites, and giving the info to the CIA.
Now, the KGB wants his ass.
"Space Ranger", turns out to be one of Ralph's students who accidentally ended up in the wrong class.

Nice little 80's time capsule of the pre-Bill Gates era, before the titans were titans, and just the class dweebs.

Would be average, except I personally dig the nostalgic accidental hindsight peeks at the future, and the hindsight-less haplessness of the young boomers.
Above average.

Guest star- William Zabka (Stock jock asshole stereotype in Karate Kid, European Vacation, Back To School, etc, he's only in this episode for like, 3 seconds).

"Thirty seconds over Little Tokyo".

Ralph and Bill have to protect a Japanese guy from the Yakuza who are after his...disintegration raygun.

All right, I can buy into the aliens, and the suit, but the Japanese mob having a frikkin' raygun?

While all this is going on, Bill tries to keep his job, and Ralph tries (and fails) to get tenure.

Below average, but still watchable, and kinda dumb-fun.

Guest stars- Mako (Conan The Barbarian, Samurai Jack, Hulk), Christine Belford (again).

"Wizards and Warlocks". 

An Arab prince disappears from the US college he's attending, and Bill and Ralph learn he was playing a game called "Wizards and Warlocks", (an obvious ripoff of D&D), and Ralph and Pam  have to decode the byzantine rules of the game to find clues of his whereabouts along with the creator of the game himself.

Basically, the same comments I gave on "Space Ranger", being an 80's generational time capsule, except here, instead of computer geeks, we've got D&D geeks.

Loved it.
Above average.

Guest stars- Bob Saget (Full House, How I Met Your Mother, The Aristocrats), David Paymer (City Slickers, Mr. Saturday Night, Quiz Show, Nixon).

"It's Only Rock and Roll".

A bomb threat is called on a rock band's private jet, and Bill has to protect the lead singer from a biker gang that feels he owes them a slice of his fortune...pretty much forever.

Eh, despite being yet another neat 80's time warp, average.

Guest stars- Judson Scott (Khan's right hand man from Wrath Of Khan, and "The Phoenix").


Federally protected wild horses are getting round up by rustlers, and Ralph left his suit behind.

It's got a nice song in it.

Guest stars- John Vernon (Animal House, Heavy Metal, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, Batman:TAS, The Incredible Hulk (90's))

"Vanity, Says the Preacher". 

Written and directed by Robert Culp, and featuring his son.

Bill is invited to a Latin-American country to be honored as Man Of The Year for helping them establish a democratic government years before.

But corrupt treasonous forces close to Bill's friends want to topple that democracy.

Above average, a good one to go out on.
A shame that it did go, though.

Guest stars- Joseph Culp.

"The Greatest American Heroine".

A failed pilot for a reboot, that got folded into some syndication packages as an extra episode.

Embarrassingly awful.
It's not included in the DVD set, and I'm thankful.

You can watch it on Youtube....but I'd strongly advise against it.
I only include it for the purpose of warning you off it.

Guest stars- N/A

Season 3 overall- Same rant as season 1 again.

Standouts include "Divorce, Venusian style", "The Resurrection of Carlini", "Live at Eleven", "Space Ranger", "Wizards and Warlocks", and "Vanity, Says the Preacher". 

The series overall, well, pretty much my review of the pilot, and my recap rant of season 1.

All the standouts-
"The Greatest American Hero", "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys", "The Best Desk Scenario", "Operation Spoilsport", "Don't Mess Around with Jim", "The beast in the black", "Now you see it", "Captain Bellybuster and the Speed Factory", "Divorce, Venusian style", "The Resurrection of Carlini", "Live at Eleven", "Space Ranger", "Wizards and Warlocks", and "Vanity, Says the Preacher".

And, all the "average", and "decent", ones are great too, because the show maintains an above-average average.

And, that's the end again.

1 comment:

Diacanu said...

Added Nicholas Worth (Bruno from Swamp Thing) to "Reseda Rose", and "Dreams".

knew I missed somebody.

Blog Archive