I did a search of SHH before making this topic. The last topic about TGAH in the TV forum was back in 2006, and the last topic about the show period was in the Bat-forums pitting the star against Batman. Other topics related to a possible movie and are roughly 5 years old, so I felt justified in making a new one. But if any moderator wants to merge, feel free. At any rate, I sometimes get curious about TV shows (animated or not) which I was technically alive for but which I never watched when I was younger. One of them was the "DUNGEONS & DRAGONS" cartoon of the 80's, which I rediscovered a few years back and liked. After stumbling upon the very catchy theme song "BELIEVE IT OR NOT" by Joey Scarbury (composed by Mike Post and Steve Geyer) on YouTube, I found the series released as a box set by Mill Creek online for roughly $22, which is a good price for a 43 episode series. Like a lot of Mill Creek releases, it was something which was a re-release from a prior, spiffier box set from years earlier with fewer extras. But I didn't know that and for the series itself, it's a good way to grab it without being a pirate. Being as the show was canceled in 1983 when was I had turned a year old (and I'm 30), perhaps a summary is in order. The late 1970's into the early 1980's was actually an era where major networks had been experimenting with live action superhero TV shows with varying degrees of success. Naturally the most successful was "THE INCREDIBLE HULK" starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, which aired on CBS and NBC for 5 seasons from 1977-1982 and spawned a few TV movies up until 1990. The second hottest was "WONDER WOMAN" from 1977-1979 which starred Lynda Carter that aired on ABC and CBS for 3 seasons. But in between these two were CBS' "AMAZING SPIDER-MAN" show starring Nicholas Hammond from 1977-1979 as well as TV movies for "DOCTOR STRANGE" and "CAPTAIN AMERICA" during this time - heck, Cap even got two TV movies. Perhaps as a final nudge was the "HAPPY DAYS" spin off, "MORK & MINDY", the Robin Williams vehicle which featured an alien with a red spandex suit which was on ABC from 1978-1982. The theatrical success of "SUPERMAN" in 1976 and "SUPERMAN II" in 1980 (as well as the animated "SUPERFRIENDS") nudged ABC to ask Stephen J. Cannell to produce their own superhero TV series for prime time. Cannell had long been a TV writer and had created several shows, but this was his second he would produce with his own independent studio - and the first to use his iconic vanity prop at the end of the credits. Not knowing the superhero genre well, Cannell set out to create a series about a high school special education teacher Ralph Hinkley (William Katt, from "CARRIE") who through a twist of fate is visited by aliens alongside over the top FBI agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp, of "I, SPY" and no end of TV roles) who give them a red costume which bestows super powers only for Ralph, but demand that Maxwell guides him. After promptly losing the instruction manual and getting along worse than oil and water, and complicating things with his attorney girlfriend Pam Davidson (Connie Sellecca), all parties ultimately have to unite to come to grips with the situation and genuine threats to not only America, but the planet itself. The pilot aired in 1981 and was quickly made into a full series, "THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO". Cannell's original vision for the show was to portray the absurdity of a superhero set up in "the real world" and the real dilemmas which would come of such a thing. Each episode would play to a genuine human emotion or failing and he sought to keep the scope low, seeing it more as an adventure comedy and human "dramedy" than a superhero epic. Very soon after, however, the network wanted "a Saturday morning cartoon" and new writers would make the series more over the top as the seasons went on. Diminishing ratings killed the show in 1983 before all of the episodes of that third season had aired. There was an attempted spin off by NBC in 1986, "THE GREATEST AMERICAN HEROINE" (after stars Katt and Sellecca were unable to return for a full series due to prior engagements), which didn't take off and whose pilot was tacked onto the general TGAH show in syndication packages. Lawsuits by DC Comics over supposed infringements on Superman (even if the origin is closer to the then obscure Green Lantern) limited merchandise deals, and aside for one PAL release in Europe the show was never released on home video until Anchor Bay Ent. released their first DVD sets in 2005. Well, there's the summary; how's the series? Considering I got into it based on a random YouTube wandering and the recommendation of a friend, I have to say I was not disappointed in any way. Despite being from 1981-1983 and having a special effects budget to match (pre-green screen, in an era where attempting to duplicate the flying effects for "SUPERMAN" alone would have cost more than an episode itself), it is a charming and well written, well acted series. While one could argue the writing was the strongest in the first season, this isn't a show which peters out like "HEROES" did; I enjoyed the second two seasons just as much. The focus on real character quirks as well as the defined characters quickly make the show easy to like, and Katt, Culp, and Sellecca are on point here. Very quickly you like the characters enough that they sell the show, not the plot of the week - which is good as the plot of the week was of a scale which always changed. That also made the series fun. One week it could be mobsters or small scale hoods; the next it could be Commie agents, domestic terrorists, or even a space monster. While the show wasn't as serialized as a Joss Whedon production, the show does establish a continuity in which past events matter and are referenced. Naturally without the instruction manual to the suit, Ralph has to learn how to use the suit's powers through trial and error, with some powers getting easier to master than others. Flying in particular is always an adventure for him. Culp's Maxwell is an awesome over-the-top Reagan era fed, but much like J. Jonah Jameson or other characters really does have a human heart once the chips are down. Sellecca's Pam usually is the more reasonable woman in the middle and while there are episodes where she's in peril (although not as often as Maxwell), she often serves as a needed counterbalance to Maxwell's assertiveness and Ralph's often second guessing nature. The show's theme song also works as an instrumental, which work to give TGAH its own theme which is just as iconic as that of any other hero. While some people didn't like some of the larger scale plots of later seasons, I thought they mixed the show up. After all, the aliens gave Ralph and Bill the suit to save the world; it seems a little dishonest if they don't do just that at least once or twice. Plus, even some of the larger scope episodes always managed to say something about a particular character, or a human experience. Balancing self-referencing comedy one minute and drama the next isn't always easy, but this show manages to make it all work. There are some quibbles. Naturally, Pres. Reagan's would-be assassin having the last name of "Hinkley" caused the network to change Ralph's last name for most of Season 1. Ralph's class of special ed students are fairly regular characters and some of them are a little cliche - especially Tony Villicana, who is a greaser (which by the early 1980's was a little old school). Ralph's son and ex-wife are plot points in the first season but are gradually phased out and not mentioned by the second and third seasons. And even with all the time considerations in the world, some of the flying effects are laughably bad by today's standards. Yet despite these quibbles I wouldn't trade them because the overall show has such charm that they don't really diminish it, but add a little spice to it. Considering I first saw this show as a 30 year old man and have come to adore it, I can easily understand how people who saw it as kids or teenagers (or even adults) in the 80's built up a cult fanbase for it. The core of the series was always on the characters, the chemistry between the actors and the writing, and this core is what remained intact for me throughout the series. Robert Culp even wrote and directed the second and third season finales, showcasing his investment in the show. William Katt briefly tried to revive the series in comic book form and even retains a Facebook fanpage for the show. Sadly, both Culp and Cannell passed on in 2010. So, any thoughts? I've seen every episode from the pilot to "VANITY, SAYS THE PREACHER" and I wouldn't mind sharing some opinions. If you haven't seen the show and are a fan in any way of superheroes, "dramedies" or just solid 1980's TV shows full of imagination and strong writing, investing $22 on the box set (or seeing it on Netflix or whatever) is something I'd recommend.