Friday, February 22, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Greatest American Hero - Season 3

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great stories and fun characters
Cons: Cheesy special effects, episodes out of order on discs
The Bottom Line:
Final episodes
Much like the earlier ones
Love them or hate them

Fun but Short Final Season

Returning for the third and unfortunately final time, it's teacher/superhero Ralph Hinkley, his girlfriend/wife Pam, and FBI agent Bill Maxwell. Ralph still has the super suit he was given by aliens in season 1 and really has the basic stuff like flying and holograms and disappearing down. Of course since he lost the instruction book, there's still the odd new power like mind control to deal with. And he still needs to keep the suit a secret from everyone as he helps Bill keep the world safe from Communists and terrorists alike.

Season three is only 13 episodes long, with 4 of them only having aired in syndication. All of them are present in this four-disc set, although they are in random order. This creates some continuity problems as Ralph and Pam are married in some episodes from discs one and two before the ceremony in disc three. While annoying, it hardly detracts from the overall enjoyment of the shows.

And they are fun. The three leads continue to have great chemistry and tackle every problem with wisecracks and teamwork, whether it be a rock and roll singer's life in danger, a plot to give top secret info to the Russians, a missing Middle Eastern prince, or a high school student in trouble. The special effects aren't the best (after all, this was early 80's television) and a few of the plots seem forced, but this is still an entertaining show.

My biggest disappointment is the lack of the students. They're in a few shows, but in many they seem to be forgotten. I always liked the problems Ralph faces trying to save the world while teaching his students. Still, this is a minor complaint overall.

As I noted, my biggest complaint with the set itself is that the episodes aren't in original order, causing some confusion until I realized the problem. Still, they look and sound good with a clear picture and nice Dolby sound. There are no extras on this set. The box has a built in chip that plays a short clip from the chorus of the theme song when pressed. Fortunately, it seems hard to trip accidentally.

It's wonderful to have a mostly forgotten, cult show like The Greatest American Hero released for the fans to enjoy. I'll be enjoying season three for many years to come. You can believe it.

Season 3 Episode Guide:
1. Divorce Venusian Style - Ralph and Bill's constant bickering takes its toll until Ralph is shot - without the suit.

2. The Price is Right - Ralph must save a high school classmate when gamblers force him to start throwing games.

3. This is the One the Suit was meant for - Pam is ready to break up with Ralph because the suit is always getting in the way with their relationship. A romantic weekend away is just what the doctor ordered. Until Bill shows up with a very important case for Ralph.

4. The Resurrection of Carlini - The world's greatest magician, killed while performing his greatest act, returns from the dead to kill his three apprentices at a tribute event.

5. The Newlywed Game - Ralph and Pam's wedding hits several snags as the President requests Ralph's powers for a top secret mission.

6. Heaven is in Your Genes - Bill's death shocks and saddens Ralph and Pam, until Ralph starts getting holographs of a very alive Bill in very serious trouble.

7. Live at Eleven - A plot to steal plutonium ties into a news anchor's reports.

8. Space Ranger - Ralph gets a new student, a genius who doesn't belong in with the delinquents he normally teaches. But this student is hiding out from the CIA and the KGB. Are he and Ralph in over their heads?

9. Thirty Seconds over Little Tokyo - Ralph and Bill must protect a Japanese man being targeted by arms dealers who want to hold him hostage in exchange for his nephew's latest creation.

10. Wizards and Warlocks - In this Dungeons and Dragons spoof, the trio must figure out a roll playing game played in real life in order to save a Middle Eastern prince marked for kidnapping.

11. It's Only Rock and Roll - A rock star's life is in danger, but he won't listen to the warnings from family, friends, or Bill and Ralph.

12. Desperado - A vacationing Ralph and Pam find themselves caught up in a case involving illegal horse wrangling.

13. Vanity, Says the Preacher - Bill's trip to relive his glory days in Central America hits a snag when he learns all is not as happy as it seems.

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