Watch the skys and look out birds! The Greatest American Hero, the hit show from the 1980s, is about to make a comeback.
The Greatest American Hero premiered on March 18, 1981 on ABC and was an immediate success. In the series, William Katt plays Ralph Hinkley, an ordinary special education teacher who’s given an alien-made supersuit with powers he never quite masters, having accidentally lost the instruction manual. Robert Culp co-stars as gung-ho FBI agent Bill Maxwell and Connie Selleca plays attorney Pam Davidson, Ralph’s love interest. The show aired for three seasons and balanced the comedy of Ralph’s situation with the team’s crime-fighting exploits. Believe It or Not, the show’s catchy theme-song, spent 18 weeks on Billboard’s Top 40 list.
Riding a wave of nostalgic show revivals, The Greatest American Hero is being resurrected in a big way — as a comic book, a series of animated web shorts, and a feature film.
Katt has launched a publishing company called Catastrophic Comics which, in conjunction with Arcania Studios, is releasing a new comic based on the show. Katt is writing the comic series himself. He told Newsarama, “The initial three books will be a re-telling of the origin story from the two-hour pilot, although we’ve taken some liberties.” The changes include setting the story in modern day, less focus on Ralph’s teaching job, he’ll no longer have a son, and his infamously curly locks will be shorter.
Katt continued, “After the initial three issues, we’re going to explore some new stories, probably picking up where the seasons left off. We’d like to play with it a little bit and branch it off a little bit. There will be other villains in subsequent stories. And we might have some guest writers in the future.” The comic series is expected to debut in November.
Ralph and company are also coming to the web — in a series four-minute of animated shorts. The Flash animations will act as a “lost episode” of the series and fill in a gap between the first and second seasons. Katt, Culp, and Selleca will be voicing their familiar roles from the series. At San Diego’s Comic-Con International, Katt teased, “We’re going to use the suit in a new way that you’ve never seen before.”
There’s also been a feature film in the works for awhile now. Series creator and producer Stephen J. Cannell has written a script which Katt calls “fantastic.” Stephen Herek is signed to direct the movie and Cannell has funding in place. He’s currently in talks with 20th Century Fox and Steven Spielberg’s company about distribution. Though the main roles will be filled with younger actors, the show’s cast will surely make cameos. Katt joked, “[Cannell’s] not making it without us.” Filming is expected to begin in 2009.
The renewed interest in the 1980s series comes as a result of strong DVD sales. Judging from the response to the announcements of the new projects at Comic-Con, this could be the greatest American revival — believe it or not. Stay tuned!