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Entries in Pilot (1)


Thar B Spoilers TV Review: "The Greatest American Heroine"



March is Women’s History Month and I wanted to review an interesting film or tv series that focused on well, women.   What to tackle though?  “Mahogany”, “Bratz”,  the aborted “Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Animated Series”, “Vampire Academy”, “The Stepford Wives” remake(oh you’re day is coming just you wait movie…mumble grumble grumble)?  Well, while watching an episode of MOVIE NIGHTS(hosted by Alison Pregler)she reviewed an episode of “The Greatest American Hero” and my nostalgia alarm went off.  I remember watching this show as a kid(before I went to bed halfway through any episode!)and after a quick google search I found a heading of “GREATEST AMERICAN HEROINE”?  Okay internet, now I’m intrigued.




One day while driving thru the desert high school teacher Ralph Hinkley runs into a bunch of aliens.  As you do(because of course!).  They give him a special super-suit with various powers.  Also in the desert was special agent Bill Maxwell.  The aliens want them to use the suit for good.  They’re even so nice that they give Ralph a how to book on using the suit.  Which he promptly loses(well it is a comedy)twice.  Along the way they run into obligatory love interest Pam Davidson and wackiness and shenanigans ensue.  



This episode was used as a proposed (backdoor) pilot(sort of) for a spin-off series that never happened.  It’s been years since I’ve seen the series and I’m only focusing on this episode so I might overlook any continuity issues this episode has to the rest of the series.  Just like FOX does with the X-Men films(LOGAN included!).  If that irritates you well just keep in mind that “I don’t care”.


The episode begins with a white haired Bill Maxwell re-caping the events from the series:  How he met Ralph Hinkley, the aliens and so on.  Then he says one day the unthinkable happened…Ralph’s secret identity was revealed to the public.  BALDERDASH!!!  He never had a secret identity!  He didn’t wear glasses like Clark Kent or a mask like the Flash.  I had this problem when I watched the show as a kid.  How exactly is he a secret superhero when he doesn’t hide his identity(face)?  Well, anyway about 30 seconds after his non unmasking, the world’s worst Ronald Reagan impersonator(president) arrives and thanks him.  I’m not sure how he knew he was there and got to that exact spot so quickly though.  


Ralph quickly becomes a celebrity and the fame all goes to his head.  The aliens eventually find out and aren’t happy.  They saw him on the Dick Cavett show and “force”(fire) Ralph to give up the suit but he has to first find someone else to take up the role.  I did find it interesting that the aliens said everyone in the world (except Ralph, Pam and Bill) would forget everything once the suit is on someone else.  Where was this deus ex machina earlier in the series?!  We then get a montage of Bill and Ralph trying to find a new suit wearer(no, we never see Ralph explaining the situation to him)with the song “Greatest Love Of All” playing.  No, I don’t know why.  Is this going to be a thing where this episode will have songs with the word “greatest” in them?  I say that they both try to find someone but it’s really only Bill.  Ralph just stalks this really nice lady with a fluffy mullet named Holly around town.  It starts to get a bit creepy.


Ralph then asks her(Holly Hathaway) a very important question “How do you look in red?”.  Sorry that’s still creepy.  Later on Pam & Ralph meet Bill and break the news to him.  The new suit wearer is a woman.  WHA?  Bill doesn’t take it well.(21:08)  A GOIL?!  THAT’S MADNESS!!!  “You Picked a skirt!”  Ah, that Bill, so progressive and forward thinking.  Well, Holly arrives and I think we know one reason why Ralph picked Holly.  I mean c’mon he was stalking her for a reason.  After a bittersweet goodbye(26:00) we have a Bill and Holly go through a training montage and I gotta admit I’m starting to fall in love with both Holly and the idea of this spin off.  Holly has such an upbeat fun personality and she feels that having these powers and the thought of helping people is both exciting and the best thing in the world.  Holly reminds me of MARVEL Comics “Gwen Poole”.  Gwen is a comic book fan from the real world that suddenly travels to the Marvel Universe and she just geeks out at everything.  It’s fun to see how Gwen interacts with other Marvel superhero’s and villains.  I get that same feeling with Holly and I’ve only seen her for a few minutes so far.  Great job show!


Awhile later Holly calls Bill over because she came up with there first mission.  To go save the whales in Newfoundland.  Wait did the writers get the idea of the plot from STAR TREK IV?(WAITAMINUTE this did come out the same year as THE VOYAGE HOME!*)  Bill tries to talk some sense into her but it’s pretty obvious who’s in charge here.(35:35) After a quick stock footage clip Bill & Holly try to go undercover at a seedy bar to find out what happened.  Holly isn’t very good at it(well the pilot only has 10 mins left so we do have to pick up the pace!).  

She blows their cover but she has a plan Holly:“I’m the only woman here, Bill”.  Hmm…this episode is in danger of going from PG to R in a heartbeat!  Oh, no she just want’s to arm wrestle in order to get the info.  It doesn’t go the way she expected and the men at the bar wind up stripping her clothes off anyway.  Yet we still have the PG rating.  Bill get’s the crap beaten out of him and Holly slaps some guys around.  They end up bumbling their way to victory.  So it’s basically like every episode of the show?


The episode(series) ends with Bill eavesdropping on Holly as she tells her foster child the secret.  Bill’s heart grows a bit(like the grinch) after hearing the earnests coming from Holly.  Hey!  Here’s to another long run with the new gang!  Oh, wait… 





So was this good.  Yes.  Quality wise it was just above a normal episode of the show.  I liked the new character Holly(at least I think she’s new).  She gave off a bit of different energy than Ralph when he first got the suit.  The dynamic she had with Bill in this episode was funny.  They had good chemistry.  Bill is hardnosed, cranky and a stickler to the rules and Holly is upbeat, straightforward and goes more on emotion than analytical planning. On paper a character like Holly could get grating real fast.  A Good natured, tree hugging, seaweed drinking kindergarten teacher?  Bleh!  However the actress Mary Stuart Allen gave Holly a fun vibe that offset Bill’s curmudgeonly ways.  That said It would’ve been nice to see more ways being outed effected Ralph though.  All we got was him and Pam driving in a car talking to his agent on the phone.  I see that as a bit of a nit pick since this episode was more about Bill and Holly than Ralph.  Also adding in another scene or two would’ve effected the pace of the episode. 


A quick side note.  So once again someone uses the suit in front of a bunch of people and nothing happens?  Holly could’ve at least put on a wig before entering the bar.


I’m disappointed this never went to series.  There was great potential in this pilot.  




Only 40 episodes of “The Greatest American Hero” were ever aired.  The last four weren’t but are on the dvd collection of the series.  What about the 45th episode?  That’s a bit complicated.  Three years after the series ended it was decided to make a spinoff.  A pilot was made but not picked up.  It also was never aired.  Then sometime later that pilot was re-cut so now the pilot for “THE GREATEST AMERICAN HEROINE” is now the series finale to the “GREATEST AMERICAN HERO”(got that *clip).  After all of this and then years of nothing happening you would expect that the “Greatest American Hero” property would just fade away right?  Well, not when you have comic conventions and content sharing sites like Youtube.  In the years since it’s cancellation the property has had a minor revival with a comic book series and mentions on retrospective shows like the “VH1 I Love The 80’s” series.  Also I’ve seen re-runs on HD over the air channels(I believe it was called “HEROE’S”)as well.


Online there was even a Greatest American Heroine fan made web series.  I guess something clicked because with all of this exposure in February 2018 it was announced that the series is coming back.  Only this time as “The Greatest American Heroine”.  I admit, I’m a bit intrigued.  There’s just so many questions I have for this.  Will this a comedy/drama just as the previous series or will it be only a drama?  That’s a mistake they made with the 2000’s “Knightrider” and “Bionic Woman” series.  They were too serious and weren’t any fun.  They both missed the point of the original series(s).  What network will this appear on?  Will this be on a streaming service?  This probably wouldn’t work on network tv.  It could work on basic cable or streaming(but since I don’t have any streaming services I don’t care about that).  Will any of the characters or living actors from original series appear in this series?


Well we’re going to find out soon.  The Reboot is set to come out later this year.



* Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home came out in November 1986 so unless the pilot was made in December this is most likely just a coincidence*

* Mary Ellen Stuart played Holly Hathaway



Greatest American Hero Theme

Action Hero

If I Had A Chicken