Believe it or not…From 1981 to 1983, The Greatest American Hero aired on ABC. I haven’t watched it since, but my memories of it were that it had an incredible theme song (Joey Scarbury’s “Believe It Or Not”) featured a character named Ralph Hinkley (or, briefly Ralph Hanley or Mr. H. following the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan), and that when Ralph received his ridiculous red super suit from aliens he promptly lost the user manual and had to figure out how to use it with the help of an FBI agent and Ralph’s girlfriend, played by Connie Sellecca.
Forty years after the show debuted, I decided to watch the series again. I can’t say I was disappointed by it, although part of that has to do with the fact that I went in with rather low expectations of what I was going to watch.
The title role is played by William Katt, a high school teacher who has been assigned a class of the most incorrigible students the school has to offer. Ralph’s high school students, easily among the oldest teenagers ever (when the series began, Katt was 30, Sellecca was 26, and Katt’s high school students were in their mid-twenties), are all clustered together in a class for incorrigibles. Ralph is their sole teacher, having to try to teach them history, science, English, and every other subject, more akin to an elementary school teacher than a high school teacher. One gets the feeling that the school administration views Ralph in the same category and his assignment is because they don’t know what else to do with him.