Friday, February 22, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Greatest American Hero - Season 2


Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Writing and chemistry between leads
Cons: Special effects, early 80's cheese
The Bottom Line:
Only full season
Filled with laughs, fun, adventure
80's production




Walk on Air with this Full Season Set

The Greatest American Hero is a short-lived superhero comedy show from the early 80's about a high school teacher named Ralph (William Katt) who is given a super suit by space aliens. Each week, he must team up with his girlfriend Pam (Connie Sellecca) and FBI agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp) to save the world as we know it. The problem? He lost the instruction book, so he has no clue what all he can do with the suit or even how to control it.

The show only had one full season and season two is it. 22 hour long episodes to be enjoyed. And there are some great episodes here. Ralph enters the world of baseball and the circus to take down criminals. Ralph's class gets trapped while looking for a lost gold mine. And the kids' band just might finally get a big break if Ralph can save the day. Ralph becomes a super magnet after being electrocuted. The gang travels to the West Indies for a pair of episodes. A satchel of ransom money turns up in Ralph's living room. And Bill falls for a dangerous foreign agent.

Connie Sellecca is missing from five of the episodes near the beginning because she was having her first child. This leaves a hole because I find the show is strongest while focusing on the interactions of the three leads. Once she's back, the show begins to pick up steam and it gets better as it goes along.

The writing is top notch. Each episode tells an engaging story. The main characters are sharp, and the banter between them is great. There are some great one-liners. While I'm laughing at the dialog or the situation one minute, the next minute I'm worried about how the characters will survive the current situation. That's a sign of good writing to me.

Of course, the actors truly help. The three leads have amazing chemistry, which truly helps sell the show and the dialog. Ralph's class is made up of great actors as well. The occasional guest star can overact, but it really isn't a distraction.

What can be a distraction are the special effects. Let's face it; this was a low budget show from 20+ years ago. They aren't going to be the greatest. However, they do get the job done. It just takes a bit more suspension of belief then most of today's shows.

I realized while watching this set just how little I remember about specific episodes. Honestly, it was like watching a new show for me. Which is one reason why any changes to the music for copyright reasons didn't bothered me. I'm sure if I knew the show backward and forward, these changes would be a problem, but I didn't notice at all.

This set includes six discs. The episodes look good for their age while still showing the occasional dust or grain. Effects shots and stock footage are often worse, but they are still watchable. The sound won't challenge your system any, but it gets the job done. Extras include interviews with creator Stephen J. Cannell and composer Mike Post. These cover their careers and, while entertaining, don't add much to a discussion of this show. Also included are a photo gallery and the screenplay and a Japanese language track for the season premier.

Yes, the show is cheesy at times. Yes, the special effects are obviously low budget for 20+ years ago. Do I care? Nope! We've got entertaining stories and great characters with The Greatest American Hero - Season 2. What else do I need?

Season 2 Episodes:
1. The Two-Hundred-Mile-an-Hour Fastball
2. Operation: Spoilsport
3. Don't Mess Around with Jim
4. Hog Wild
5. Classical Gas
6. The Beast in the Black
7. The Lost Diablo
8. Plague
9. Train of Thought
10. Now You See It
11. The Hand-Painted Thai
12. Just Another 3-Ring Circus
13. The Shock Will Kill you
14. A Chicken in Every Pot
15. The Devil in the Deep Blue Sea
16. It's All Downhill From Here
17. Dreams
18. There's Just No Accounting
19. The Good Samaritan
20. Captain Bellybuster
21. Who's Woo in America
22. Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell

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