In 1981, The Greatest American Hero hit the airwaves and it was pretty good. Actually, in that ’80s “dramedy” kind of way, it was played mostly for amusement as the lead character Ralph Hinkley bumbles his way through using a super-suit that aliens gifted to him and for which he immediately lost the instruction manual. It was a fun show, notable for star William Katt’s unruly mop of curly hair, questionable special effects, and, no hyperbole*, the greatest TV theme song of all time. And now? It’s coming back, at least for a pilot episode, in a modern update.
This time, the hero is a heroine, and she’s of Indian-American decent. But, curiously, it’s not the first time a woman’s been slated to wear the fabled, power-granting super suit. Full tale? Read on . . . after a quick listen to that glorious theme song, “Believe It or Not, “courtesy of composer Mike Post, writer Stephen Geyer, and the velvet tones of Joey Scarbury:
First, the details of the new show: ABC has ordered a pilot episode of this refreshed version of The Greatest American Hero, from writer-producer Rachna Fruchbom (Fresh Off the Boat). The protagonist is Meera, who’s more into drinking tequila and singing karaoke than finding a meaningful life, let alone saving the world.
It’s intriguing to see an effort at a more diverse version of a fun show — but the truth is that the original ’80s version tried to follow up the first series with a female-led sequel, naturally called The Greatest American Heroine. The original cast got back together for a made-for-TV movie/pilot that saw Katt’s character granting the super-suit to a young woman named Holly Hathaway (Mary Ellen Stuart). While the pilot/movie never aired as intended, they did chop it up and include a version of it for syndication and into collections of The Greatest American Hero.
At this point, it’s redundant to say “everything old is new again” (She-Ra? Animaniacs? Sabrina? He-Man? The Crow?), but at least some of the stuff they’re reviving was pretty good the first time around. The show seems intriguing and, hey — maybe they’ll do a proper, worthy update of that classic theme song.
(*Okay, perhaps a touch of hyperbole)