A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Greatest American Hero Remembered

Stephen J Cannell, writer-creator of hit tv shows like The Rockford Files, The A-Team, 21 Jump Street, and The Greatest American Hero succumbed in his battle with melanoma some time in the last two days. Tributes are pouring in for this most prolific of television producers and many of us Gen Xers can remember being glued to our tv sets in our impressionable years watching something or other created by Stephen J Cannell.

The Greatest American Hero brings back pleasant childhood memories. TGAH was a likeable, funny tv series about an ordinary man, Ralph Hinkley, who is unexpectedly given a superhero suit by space aliens that imbues its wearer with extraordinary abilities. As no superhero works alone, Hinkley has an FBI agent and Hinkley's gorgeous lawyer girlfriend, Pam to help him nab the bad guys. The show had a catchy and almost souful theme song which my classmates and I cheerfully learnt and committed to memory... as silly schoolgirls do. There was no internet in those days so we had to, as you can imagine, do it the hard way. Yeah, we were committed. Shallow but committed.
The slapstick moments of the show came largely from attempts by our eponymous hero to use the suit. Unlike Kal-El from Krypton, Ralph Hinkley, the school teacher, lacks dexterity and finesse. One of the major arcs/running gags of the series sees him learning how to do superhero stuff, flying in particular, without doing permanent damage to important body parts or his manhood. Unfortunately for our man, he inconveniently misplaced the accompanying instructional manual in the desert and part of the character builiding aspects of the show has him work out the kinks by trial and error.
Greatest American Hero invokes the superhero themes and turns them on their head. My favourite runnning gag saw Hinkley searching desperately for inconspicuous locations to get in and/out his outer garments. Bedroom, bathrooms, toilets, broom cupboards, cars, nooks, crannies... that sort of stuff.

If you don't object too strongly to 80s style hairdos and fashion, it's a very entertaining, witty show.

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