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This post courtesy of the little green guys and the red jammies
January 7, 2014 5:07 PM   Subscribe

♪ "Believe it or not, I'm walkin on air.
I never thought I could feel so free....
Flying away on a wing and a prayer,
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it's just me."

The Plot
Mild-mannered inner city high school teacher Ralph Hinkley is given a superhero suit by aliens which imparts all sorts of nifty superpowers to the wearer. Only one problem: he's lost the instruction manual. His self-appointed partner, crusty FBI agent Bill Maxwell has a penchant for burgers and biscuits. Dog biscuits, that is.

Together, they fight crime!

The Show
The Greatest American Hero was a combination comedy / drama that ran for three seasons between 1981 and 1983 and clocked 44 sixty-minute episodes, including the two-part pilot. They can all be seen on YouTube, and all but the pilot are also on Hulu. Originally, GAH (or "TGAH") was a mid-season replacement, so the first season is abbreviated. A 45th episode, The Greatest American Heroine was intended to be a sequel pilot and is linked below.

The Suit
Without the instruction manual, Ralph doesn't know how to control his powers, or even what they are are. In the pilot episode, a random kid has to explain to him how to fly: “You’re not doing it right, you have to take three steps and jump with your hands out in front of you.” And take off and fly he does. Eventually. Like a stoned, (frequently screaming-in-panic while crashing) albatross.

As the show goes on, the suit becomes an all purpose deus ex machina, in which a newly discovered superpower drives the plot -- perhaps never to be used again.

However, the suit leaves Ralph's head (mostly) unprotected. When a villain shoots at him, Ralph usually covers his face and head with his arms.

Wikipedia:
"...Stephen J. Cannell notes that the symbol design on the front of the suit is actually based on a pair of scissors that he had on his desk during the design of the uniform. However, in Jeff Rovin's book, The World Encyclopedia of Superheroes, the author claimed that it is actually an "open book and needle emblem."

The symbol on Ralph's uniform resembles the Chinese character "center" [中]. As the symbol is red in color, Hong Kong television station TVB termed the Cantonese-dubbed version of the show [飛天紅中俠], translated to mean "Flying Red Center Hero"."
The Cast
William Katt played Ralph, The Greatest American Hero
Robert Culp played Bill Maxwell
Connie Sellecca played Pam Davidson
Michael Paré and Faye Grant co-starred.Guest stars included Joe Mantegna, Markie Post, Bob Saget, Rick Dees, June Lockhart, Danny Glover, David Paymer, Barbara Hale, André The Giant, Dixie Carter and Don Drysdale.

The Episodes
The Pilot.
(The pilot's script is available (in pdf) from Steven J. Cannell's website.)

Where to Watch
* YouTube: Playlist for the series.
* Hulu's Series Page has everything but the pilot episode.

Individual Episodes
First Links are to YouTube videos. Second links go to Hulu.

Season One
The directors tried to hide Connie Selleca's pregnancy throughout the season, to varying degrees of success.
1) The Hit Car / Hulu
2) Here's Looking at You Kid / Hulu
3) Saturday on Sunset Boulevard / Hulu
4) Reseda Rose / Hulu William Katt's character's name is changed to 'Ralph Hanley' from 'Ralph Hinkley.' This change was made after John W. Hinckley, Jr., tried to assassinate President Reagan. The name "Hinkley" is restored at the start of the second season, with no explanation.
5) My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys / Hulu
6) Fire Man / Hulu Watch for: Danny Glover plays one of the cops that tries to bust Tony in this episode.
7) The Best Desk Scenario / Hulu

Season Two
1) The Two-Hundred-Mile-an-Hour Fastball / Hulu
2) Operation Spoil Sport / Hulu
3) Don’t Mess Around With Jim / Hulu
4) Hog Wild / Hulu
5) Classical Gas / Hulu
6) The Beast in Black / Hulu
7) The Lost Diablo / Hulu
8) Plague / Hulu
9) A Train of Thought / Hulu
10) Now You See It… / Hulu
11) The Hand-Painted Thai / Hulu
12) Just Another Three Ring Circus / Hulu
13) The Shock Will Kill You / Hulu
14) A Chicken In Every Plot / Hulu
15) The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea / Hulu
16) It’s All Downhill From Here / Hulu
17) Dreams / Hulu
18) There’s Just No Accounting… / Hulu
19) The Good Samaritan / Hulu
20) Captain Bellybuster and the Speed Factory / Hulu
21) Who Woo in America / Hulu
22) Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell / Hulu (This episode was written and directed by Robert Culp)

Season Three
ABC switches the show to Friday nights, where its ratings fall very fast and the show is cancelled. The last four filmed episodes were never aired.
1) Divorce Venusian Style / Hulu
2) The Price is Right / Hulu
3) This is the One the Suit Was Meant For / Hulu
4) The Resurrection of Carlini / Hulu
5) The Newlywed Game / Hulu
6) Heaven is in Your Genes / Hulu
7) Live at Eleven / Hulu
8) Space Ranger / Hulu
9) Thirty Seconds Over Little Tokyo / Hulu
The last four episodes of Season Three were never aired:
10) Wizards and Warlocks / Hulu
11) Desperado / Hulu
12) It’s Only Rock and Roll / Hulu
13) Vanity, Says the Preacher / Hulu (This episode was written and directed by Robert Culp)

The Theme Song
Shortly after the first season ended in 1981, the show's theme song "Believe It or Not", composed by Mike Post (music) and Stephen Geyer (lyrics) and sung by Joey Scarbury, was released as a single. "Believe it or Not" debuted in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 on June 13, 1981. It would eventually peak at #2 and spend a total of 18 weeks in the Top 40.

Seinfeld payed tribute to the theme song in their episode "The Susie." George Costanza used it as his answering machine message, substituting his own lyrics: "Believe it or not George isn't at home. Please leave a message at the beep. I must be out or I'd pick up the phone. Where could I be? Believe it or not, I'm not home!".

Episode Guide and Other Cool Stuff
A full episode guide can be found at the-greatest-american-hero.com with lots of production details and the site has a large archive of other, related stuff, including publicity stills, old TV Guide ads, magazine spreads, behind the scenes photos and more.

The Sequel that Wasn't
After the show was cancelled by NBC, a sequel pilot was shot: The Greatest American Heroine. Several years after the series finale, Ralph's identity was revealed to the world. Annoyed by this turn of events, the aliens return and demand that he appoint a successor. TV Tropes:
About three years after it had been canceled by ABC, NBC expressed interest in reviving the show. A twenty minute presentation film was created which set up the premise for the revamped series - Ralph was found out after the media happened to film one of his rescues. At first reluctant to 'go Hollywood' he quickly became very famous and well known. The aliens return and insist that he has been compromised and demand he give up the suit to someone else to work with Bill Maxwell. To Maxwell's horror, Ralph gives the suit to a woman, making way for the title change Greatest American Heroine. For a number of reasons NBC passed on it and the footage was edited with other footage to make one final episode for the syndication package and eventual DVDs.
Cast & Crew Interviews
* 75 minutes of bonus material from the show's DVD release.
* The Archive of American Television has a page on the show that includes video clips of interviews with Mike Post, Robert Culp and Stephen J. Cannell.

The Lawsuit
Concerned that the concept of the show and the suit's powers were similar enough to the abilities of Superman, Warner Bros., the owners of DC Comics, filed a lawsuit against ABC during the show's run. It was ultimately dismissed.

The Movie
In September 2008, Stephen J. Cannell announced that a movie based on the hit TV series was “in the works." By April, the project was dead. From 'The Consummate Culp': Will the Greatest American Hero Movie ever fly?
Despite having a completed script, a director, and a lead actor cast for the role of Ralph Hinkely, the big-screen version of The Greatest American Herowas over before it began. The reason? A lack of financial backing. Reportedly, Cannell’s vision of the movie was high-tech, with special effects and stunts that were a far cry from the cheesy, low-budget sequences in the TV series. Eric Christian Olsen, who had a contract in hand for the red-suited role of Ralph Hinkley, reportedly explained: “They didn’t have financing in place. But yeah, I booked it – but because the budget was so huge they couldn’t get the money.”
posted by zarq (88 comments total) 71 users marked this as a favorite

 
I loved this show as a child. Forget Superman, I wanted to be Ralph!
posted by Woodroar at 5:18 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Loved this show as a kid. It was only much much later that I realized how awful it really was.
posted by IvoShandor at 5:19 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Amazing how reading those first 4 words of the theme song brought back so many memories...thanks!
posted by msbubbaclees at 5:22 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Believe it or not, George isn't at home,
please leave a message at the beep.
I must be out or I'd pick up the phone.
Where could I be?
Believe it or not, I'm not home. [Beeep]"

posted by emjaybee at 5:24 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


I also loved it as a 6-8 year old, but I don't remember the actual show at all.
I had the Joey Scarbury theme song on 45! I can still sing along as a 38 year old!
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 5:27 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Aw poop, I didn't see zarq had already covered the Seinfeld version. I should say, that version has saved my sanity, because the original would get in my head and play over and over until I was in MURDER KILL KILL mode.

But now I just think about the Seinfeld version instead, laugh, and am free. It's like magic.
posted by emjaybee at 5:30 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


This wasn't my favourite show but it was good for killing time on Saturday morning. I only remember two episodes, the one with the electro-monster that came back with the Space Shuttle, and the haunted house episode (The Beast in Black according to the episode guide) with the old lady and the portal to the dark dimension that FREAKED ME THE HELL OUT so badly that I never managed to see the end of the episode even though the series was repeated several times during my childhood.
posted by AndrewStephens at 5:31 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I, too, loved this show as a kid but fear I'd cringe to watch it now. I still like the basic concept, though I wish there had been a better reason for his lack of knowledge of how to use the suit than "lost the instructions."
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:36 PM on January 7


I would pay money to get this remade with Jon Heder in the lead role.
posted by FritoKAL at 5:37 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Another masterpiece? Thanks, zarq.

My little brother and I loved this when we were kids. I pretty much only have "Eve of Descruction" in my act because of it. My brother still greatly admires Robert Culp and used to mimic his character's affectation of eating dog biscuits.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:43 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


i had forgotten that song for decades and now you've just reminded me of it

here's the story of a lovely lady ...
posted by pyramid termite at 5:43 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Well, now I know what's going to be stuck in my head for the next two days.

THANKS OBAMA ZARQ
posted by Rangeboy at 5:45 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Wow, I forgot about some of those neurons I had until your post kickstarted them again!
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:46 PM on January 7


"Lost the instruction manual" is probably one of the best superhero twists ever.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:47 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


Seinfeld payed tribute to the theme song in their episode "The Susie." George Costanza used it as his answering machine message, substituting his own lyrics: "Believe it or not George isn't at home. Please leave a message at the beep. I must be out or I'd pick up the phone. Where could I be? Believe it or not, I'm not home!".

This is so weird because I was reading about the Seinfeld AMA today and this song (or the George answering machine version of it) has been in my head all day. And now it's back!
posted by sweetkid at 5:47 PM on January 7


What comically large telephones they have.
posted by XMLicious at 5:48 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I have so many confused memories of this show, since I was too young to understand the concept of semi-random superpowers.
posted by benzenedream at 5:58 PM on January 7


I *loved* that show and the idea of that show when I was a kid when it was on the air.
posted by smcameron at 6:02 PM on January 7


I'm really not surprised this topic showed up on the blue, at least not after that comment in the microscopic sand picture thread about Ralph looking for his instruction manual in the desert.

Not to mention a post on AV Club (I think) about the show. Apparently, all the signs indicate the material is ripe for a revival. (Just please tell me it won't be Owen Wilson in the title role.)
posted by sardonyx at 6:03 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Wow, great timing! I have actually been watching this show over the last few months. It holds up really well if you ignore the budget constraints (the same sets and flying clips used repeatedly). Slapstick humor never gets old, the thoughtful bits are still thoughtful, and the suit is straight-up wish-fulfillment.

It struck me also that the show captures that 1970s political worldview, post-Vietnam pre-Reagan: the bad guys are more likely to be greedy rich Americans, so Bill Maxwell's insistence of fighting "commies" is as antiquated as his male chauvinism; public school teachers are heroes, especially the ones helping underprivileged students (who are really good kids misunderstood by society); isn't it a pity that we don't have moral paragons for kids like The Lone Ranger anymore; environmentalism is a unanimously Good Thing; children are resourceful and can handle divorce and mature situations just fine. And of course Ralph can't find the manual, because shlubs and ironic anti-heroes are more interesting than Supermen (compare the first Rocky movie to the later ones).

I don't know if everyone would find The Greatest American Hero as thought-provoking as I have, but you might give it a try.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 6:12 PM on January 7 [17 favorites]


This show was my introduction to Robert Culp as a kid. Then some station ran an I Spy marathon one weekend, and it cemented Robert Culp as my all time favorite character actor forever. The one time my wife and I tried to watch Everybody Loves Raymond Robert Culp was on it and so I decided I had to keep watching Everybody Loves Raymond and watched it the next week and he was not on it and my wife was mad at me that I made her watch it because she thought the show was stupid and I didn't care much for the show either, even though Peter Boyle is always pretty good and it still doesn't justify her calling me a jerk. So this post has dredged up a painful memory of a tough time in my marriage.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:12 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


I had one of the original '45's of Believe it or Not.

If you watch only one episode, it should be S2E1, Operation Spoil Sport in which Ralph gets picked up by the aliens and transported to an alien world -- a barren desert actually pulled from NASA animations of what Mars must look like based on then-very-recent data. And he is given to understand that the aliens are trying to help us because "there are so few garden worlds," and they sterilized their own.
posted by localroger at 6:17 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Robert Culp!


That is all.
posted by mazola at 6:22 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


That song was huge when it came out. Every school group sang it, the sheet music was a hot seller.

Only 44 episodes? Wow, it seemed like many, many more than that.

Katt's career isn't much these days, bummer.
posted by Melismata at 6:33 PM on January 7


Great job, Zarq! What kind of restraint did it take to not post this in December?

This was a pretty good show for that era.. I'm looking forward to watching it again...thanks much!
posted by HuronBob at 6:38 PM on January 7


Seconding Robert Culp.

The show lost its shine pretty quickly as I recall, but it was a great premise.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:38 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Dammit, zarq, I haven't finished watching THESE yet!
posted by blurker at 6:38 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I watched the first episode with my mother, who was a special education teacher at the time. She found it hilarious, saying "He's the first dyslexic hero!" The series has a soft spot in my heart because of that.
posted by happyroach at 6:38 PM on January 7


At a karaoke bar a few years back, a guy got up to sing what he said was going to be a special tribute to Bob Dylan on his birthday. Dylan's 60th had been noted across a lot of media that week, so we weren't surprised, until he launched into "Believe it or Not" in a spot-on whiny drawl. The older half of the audience was wonderfully amused; the younger half had no idea what was going on.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:01 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Aah, such memories of visiting my uncle's house, and finally being able to watch quality shows like Greatest American Hero, Emergency!, and Circus of the Stars. Good times, good times...
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:04 PM on January 7


Oh my God, the theme song brings me back. We used to watch this every week, loved this show.


I'm kind of afraid to watch it, because I am almost positive it's not as fun as I remember (I remember so little of the show itself.) I just want to keep that theme-song glow.





*Just got yelled at for telling some similarly-reminiscing people that I had watched Bosom Buddies under similar circumstances, and that it was absolutely AWFUL. Not in a fun way. In an unwatchable sad way.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:11 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Someday -- perhaps in the afterlife -- Ralph, Michael Knight, and Automan will team up to fight evil.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:17 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Scenario.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 7:21 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


This post is relevant to my interests.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:27 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


So once I was finished drooling over Connie Sellecca, I was like, "Why is Carrie's prom date wearing a superhero costume?"

God I'm old.
posted by El Brendano at 7:31 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Mike Post also wrote "Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In".

And Rockford, Magnum, A-Team, Hill Street Blues, Riptide, LA Law, Law & Order, Donahue, and a few others you know by heart but don't know you know.

Not too bad eh. Also the show was great, fun and funny and stuff blowed up a lot too. I don't plan to watch it again though. Not yet. Great post!

Heyyyy - I see what I did there.
posted by petebest at 7:31 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Someday -- perhaps in the afterlife -- Ralph, Michael Knight, and Automan will team up to fight evil.

Favorited because AUTOMAN!
posted by hippybear at 7:33 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I wish there had been a better reason for his lack of knowledge of how to use the suit than "lost the instructions."

Then you'll really be confused by the episode where Mr. Rourke grants his fantasy of getting the instructions back. (Really, how the hell does he do that?)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:34 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Believe it or not,
This movie's still on.
It should have ended
Two hours a go-oh-oh!

posted by porn in the woods at 7:48 PM on January 7


I loved this show as a kid, although the only episode I have any memories of is the one with the other dimension. Very scary at the time.

I think by the time season 3 was on I had realized how bad it was and moved on...but this will be worth a revisit!
posted by nubs at 7:58 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Thank you so much for this amazing post.
posted by anaphoric at 8:13 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Loved this show. I still sing this theme song to my 4yr old girls at night--one of the few softer type songs I know the words to (this and Rainbow Connection).
While I don't remember the episodes, I do remember a kid started a fight with me because I said this was a better song than Hall and Oates' "Private Eyes".
posted by whatgorilla at 8:23 PM on January 7


This means I can finally see the The Greatest American Heroine.
posted by Mezentian at 8:31 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


i have made a blood sacrifice to terrible dark gods and you will be smote for this earworm
posted by elizardbits at 8:44 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Believe it or not,
I'm walking around
I never thought I could
Trick-or-treeeeat
(3:49)
posted by rewil at 9:10 PM on January 7


Same era, with a similarly bumbling hero.

Condorman:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082199/

As a 7 yr old I loved them both.
posted by karst at 9:17 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Yup, I was seven when this show came out. And thanks to that intersection, for YEARS after the show ended ever time I had dreams of flying, that was usually how I flew. Like a flailing moose attached to a rocket engine.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:27 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Mr Roarke could do everything, even fight the devil! (Though I have no memory of the GAH crossover.)

I haven't seen this show since it first came out, but I vividly remember the way the aliens talked to the humans by picking random stations on their car's radio where a human was speaking a word. Funny how things stay with you.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:29 PM on January 7


Yeah, being born at the end if 1974 means I too loved this show. The theme song was my first 45 I remember asking to be purchased for me. That and "Elvira" by the Oak Ride Boys were played constantly on my parent's turntable by me and my younger brother until they accidentally fell behind the shelf it was on and thought lost, and I just realized that my parents did that on purpose 30 years later.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:30 PM on January 7 [11 favorites]


I particularly remember an episode where Ralph goes up against (or maybe just encounters?) the first guy the aliens tried giving a suit to before Ralph. That guy kept the suit to use for his own selfish purposes and . . . he still had the instruction manual.

Something about that concept struck me with the same "Oh no - not that!" shocking effect as . . . Prince Humperdinck suddenly turning the life-sucking machine...all the way up to 50 (!!)
posted by straight at 9:36 PM on January 7


I haven't seen this show since it first came out, but I vividly remember the way the aliens talked to the humans by picking random stations on their car's radio where a human was speaking a word.

Lest anyone think there was anything original and clever in the Michael Bay Transformers movies.
posted by straight at 9:39 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


For Halloween a few years ago, my husband and I decided to go as our childhood heroes. I was Wonder Woman, and he was Ralph in the jammies. Photo.

Sadly, I don't think more than one or two people at the party knew who he was supposed to be!
posted by web-goddess at 9:51 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Oh, zarq, you are nature's greatest miracle.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:54 PM on January 7


I was on a plane a couple of years ago with William Katt. Can you IMAGINE how hard it was not to accost him with "...flying away on a wing and a prayer..."??
posted by tristeza at 10:04 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Wizards and Warlocks is listed as unaired, but it definitely aired in Australia before 1986. I had yet to find 'What Is Dungeons & Dragons?' at the local library, and so I wasn't completely sure what was going on, but whatever those teenagers were doing, I would do everything in my power to be that guy with the red hat in those tunnels with those girls.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:46 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Yeah. I am pretty sure I saw the final episode "Vanity, Says the Preacher" in the '80s too. Possibly the one about the horse rustlers. I have no memory of Wizards and Warlocks, but I think by that stage my interest in GAH was waning.
posted by Mezentian at 4:36 AM on January 8


Yeah, this was a fantastic concept, but it was done by broadcast TV. It's hard to remember now, in an age where episodic television rivals cinema for depth of storytelling, how utterly dreadful TV was before Fox and Star Trek:TNG. I mean, it was really, really, really bad.

I'd like to see this series rebooted, with decent scriptwriting and production values and with more than one actor who can act. (Culp was and is memorable.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:50 AM on January 8


It mentions in one of the links (wikipedia?) that Nathan Fillion was interested in playing a role in any reboot.

I assumed he meant the Hinkley character, but he'd be awesome as the snarky FBI/NSA chappie who plays by his own rules.
Probably not as Pam. But maybe Christina Hendricks could be lured to replace Connie?

Acceptable actors for the Katt role: Alan Tudyk, Jewel Staite, Summer Glau, Sean Maher
Acceptable actors for the Culp role if Fillion wants to ham it up in his PJs: Gina Torres, Adam Baldwin, Ron Glass.

I know, I am dreaming.
But Ron Glass totally stole tonight's SHIELD.
posted by Mezentian at 6:19 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Same era, with a similarly bumbling hero. Condorman

Greatest American Hero : Condorman :: Condorman : The Pumaman (MST3K episode, 1h 29m).

He flies like a moron! ("highlight" reel)
posted by JHarris at 6:22 AM on January 8


I read that as Condomman, one of this shitty comics for yoof that was distributed back in the AIDS Freakout-era. Sadly, I can't seem to find the comic online, and the name has been co-opted by an online prophylactic seller.

(Fun fact, I can spell prophylactic thanks to Leisure Suit Larry).
posted by Mezentian at 6:26 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


AndrewStephens: "I only remember two episodes, the one with the electro-monster that came back with the Space Shuttle, and the haunted house episode (The Beast in Black according to the episode guide) with the old lady and the portal to the dark dimension that FREAKED ME THE HELL OUT so badly that I never managed to see the end of the episode even though the series was repeated several times during my childhood."

My first memories of this show are of laughing my ass off at Ralph flying. And then those two episodes, which were completely terrifying.

hippybear: "Favorited because AUTOMAN!"

*cough* You may be very happy by the end of the week.
posted by zarq at 6:28 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


slaps up a lazy Automan post in a Batman '66 Joker-evil level plot
posted by Mezentian at 6:32 AM on January 8


An Automan post? No. No no no. No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no noooooooooooooooo
posted by JHarris at 6:39 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


What's after that, zarq? Manimal? Ha ha, ha! Ha!

........ha???
posted by JHarris at 6:40 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


LOL, if you do Mezentian, I will favorite the hell out of it. :)
There were only 13 episodes of which 12 aired. Yet surprisingly, none of them have been uploaded to YouTube.

posted by zarq at 6:41 AM on January 8


louche mustachio: "Just got yelled at for telling some similarly-reminiscing people that I had watched Bosom Buddies under similar circumstances, and that it was absolutely AWFUL. Not in a fun way. In an unwatchable sad way."

Still, great credit sequence.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:50 AM on January 8


Sadly, I have tomorrow's post all typed up (and it contains one thing you won't believe). And while I loved Automan, I don't have the time to bring your level of justice. I just wanted to make an empty threat, as befits older era TV.

*starts work on Shadowchasers*
posted by Mezentian at 6:58 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


For those who are unfamiliar with Manimal, allow me to puncture your enviable ignorance.
posted by JHarris at 7:01 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I hear Manimal is being rebooted on HBO.
The sex scenes will be taboo breakers.

*meow*
posted by Mezentian at 7:03 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


JHarris, I'm just gonna... not say anything. :)

What I really, REALLY want to do is a post on Highlander: The Source, if I could find it available for free online at a reputable site. It's at sites like viooz but the video is extremely choppy.

H:TS is on both YouTube and Amazon but they have the gall to charge actual money for it. We're talking about a movie so terrible that one review for it said: "it's bad—cheesily bad, colossally bad, monumentally bad, bad enough to make you never want to watch another movie again bad."

Perfect post fodder, if you ask me. :)
posted by zarq at 7:12 AM on January 8


There were Highlander movies after the first one?
posted by Mezentian at 7:14 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Christ.
Every time I post on this page I get that song in my head.
Then the Seinfield one.
And then that (De La Soul?) rap song that goes "Hey, how ya doin'? Sorry you can't great through, but leave your name and number and we'll get back to you".
posted by Mezentian at 7:16 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


De La Soul, Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)
posted by Chrysostom at 7:23 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Highlander: The Source? Challenge accepted!
posted by JHarris at 8:09 AM on January 8


(to watch, that is -- I don't really know enough about Highlander to post about it)
posted by JHarris at 8:14 AM on January 8


To give you some idea of the weirdness of Automan....

(This is all from memory, from when it was aired on broadcast TV.)

The titular character is basically the 80s broadcast TV version of Tron, except instead of a human going to Computer World, a computer person comes to ours (and, apparently, helps to solve crimes). He has a helper named Cursor, which is a little flying light ball thing, who can draw things that Automan can use, like a car. The car has a quirk though, in that when it turns at intersections it turns in instant right angles, which is uncomfortable for anyone riding along, such as the human buddy/inventor he solves crimes with.

His buddy remarks, after unpeeling himself from the window the first time this happens, that that's like Pac-Man, at which time Automan reveals that he knows Pac-Man, like, as a colleague.

BTW, the name "Automan" comes from the fact that he's an automatic man. Auto Man, you see. Because human beings have long been held back by the fact they must all be operated manually.
posted by JHarris at 10:20 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


It's the same broadcast atmosphere that gave us (god am I sorry for this) Poochinski.
posted by JHarris at 10:22 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Poochinski!

We talked about Automan in that thread, too.
posted by zarq at 12:50 PM on January 8


Wait is that William Conrad's voice on the Manimal opening credits?

Wikipedia : "Yes, of course"

While I was there, I read this episode synopsis:

4 "Female of the Species"
After a girl is found living with wolves in the forests of Sultanpur, India, she is the topic of discussion at a local university where she is being held. When an attempt is made on her life, Jonathan takes her into his care and protection. Her identity must be found in order to discover who it is that is trying to kill her.

Special Guest Star: Michael McGuire as Stanford Langly

NOTE: This episode has an almost identical storyline to a 1986 episode of The Wizard titled "Endangered Species", as well as a 1994 episode of the same name in Thunder in Paradise. All three episodes were written by Michael Berk and Douglas Schwartz.



The late 20th century was truly a magnificently strange time in television. Not only could the same people create shows (1) where a handsome rich dude turned into animals, (2) where "a genius inventor with dwarfism who chooses to spend his life as a philanthropist and innovative toymaker dedicated to preserving and protecting innocence", and (w) about ex-Navy SEALs mercenaries, but you could also go ahead and tell the same story about a girl raised by wolves in India.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:12 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Speaking of Seinfeld, I can't be the only one who thought of Hardcastle and McCormick when they were writing their sitcom and the judge sentenced Jerry to be his butler...

He's a judge! He's a race driver/cat burglar! Together they solve crimes!

I love the 80s.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:27 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


This thread reminded me to bump up the William Katt movie House (1986) in my Netflix cue. I remember it as being pretty decent.
posted by Alaska Jack at 7:21 PM on January 8


He's a judge! He's a race driver/cat burglar! Together they solve crimes! They fight crime!

(Sorry, the link is a 404, damnit.)
posted by Mezentian at 7:40 PM on January 8


The mention of Shadow Chasers reminded me of Probe.
posted by detachd at 7:57 PM on January 8


The car has a quirk though, in that when it turns at intersections it turns in instant right angles, which is uncomfortable for anyone riding along, such as the human buddy/inventor he solves crimes with.

It's also used as a plot point in every episode which involves a car chase (which is every single episode).

"Oh, if he can make that turn at this speed, so can we!"

*fails to make turn, crashes*

*Automan gets away*
posted by hippybear at 10:00 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


This thread reminded me to bump up the William Katt movie House (1986) in my Netflix cue. I remember it as being pretty decent.

House is quite good and stands up to repeat viewings.
posted by hippybear at 10:01 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


And he came home for House IV....
posted by Mezentian at 11:43 PM on January 8


Thank you, karst, for ensuring the magnificence that is Condorman was not missing from this thread.

I still kinda want a Porsche with a little spinny radar thing on the roof. Just a little bit.
posted by But tomorrow is another day... at 11:57 PM on January 8


I can't be the only one who thought of Hardcastle and McCormick

Oh no, now I have a nigh-undeniable urge to listen to Jeff Goldbloom read purple pulp detective narration over Tenspeed and Brownshoe.
posted by straight at 9:40 AM on January 9


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