The Greatest American Heru

The Greatest American Hero aired during my punk rock social realism period, where the only TV show I can remember watching was Hill Street Blues. Oh, and that episode of Quincy, ME (old school punks know what I'm talking about). I might have been vaguely aware of the UFO connection in the series but it wasn't enough to catch my interest, given how camp the show is. Mind you, this is before the irony thing caught on.

But I certainly wouldn't have been able to make sense of the bizarre parade of memes this particular episode throws out at us. The first thing I did when Reader Deb brought this ep to my attention was run to my copy of Bruce Rux's Hollywood vs The Aliens, only to discover this ep seems to have escaped his notice as well (Bruce, if you're out there- dig in).

Well, I'm not going to spoil the surprises this show has in store for you. You might want to rewatch Hancock and re-read my posts on the film (of course) at some point to help decode what's being presented here. But I will mention that Hero was a Stephen Cannell show, and most of the producers on the Vancouver-era X-Files were old Cannell hands (X-Files/Breaking Bad producer Vince Gilligan is the credited writer on Hancock, though I'm sure that film had a thousand guys working on the script).

In any event, this all shows us that whatever we've been seeing in pop culture lately isn't exactly new.


  1. C-Knowles - was that a test for ME in the first paragraph?

    Quincey ME and the ice pick murder in the mosh pit! And a funny tour of LA's punk hangouts.

    Similar to any number of ham-fisted 60's cop shows when the hippies all wore women's wigs from the costume department, but updated with spikey hair and safety pins.

    The Butt-Hole Surfers have a song titled TV PARTY TONIGHT where they list their favorite TV shows, and it culminates with them screamin "QUINCY!"

  2. LOL, loved Quincy. Never seen the above episode of TGAH, but thank you. I was watching the run they are having on Syfy though. Loved the series and waited for it when it was supposed to be on when I was a wee lad, LOL.

  3. Word veri: dedru. Did a post about GAH almost exactly one year ago: The Greatest American Hero that gives some back story to his creation myth and symbol. Happy 4 of J!

  4. Quincy rocked, he drank and drove shamelessly and wrote opiate pain prescriptions on cocktail napkins for his bartender, and really loved the ladies ( had a sexy regular squeeze in the early shows).
    The Quarantine he put down at Lake Tahoe was the strongest show of coroner power I have ever seen on film.

  5. I had no idea about this series. That is one of the funniest openings to a show I have ever seen. It reminds me of Puma-man, especially the lame flying style. And the show isn't half bad actually! I'm just really sick of television right now and this is a breath of fresh air.

    I think it's amazing that you do all of this for free so I just wanted to thank you. You're one of the few blogs I read these days because of content like this.

  6. Robert Culp who played the FBI agent died this year. I got this from wikipedia. The 79-year-old Culp often went hiking at Runyon Canyon, a park near his Hollywood Hills apartment. On the morning of March 24, 2010 Culp left the apartment to go for a walk. A jogger found him lying on the sidewalk near the lower entrance of Runyon Canyon. Police and paramedics were summoned, but were unable to revive him. Culp was pronounced dead at a little after 11:00am at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center. Although initial police reports indicated that Culp died from striking his head when he fell, it was later determined that he collapsed and died due to a massive heart attack. The only injury from the fall was a minor cut on his head. On April 10, 2010 a private memorial service was held at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles with Culp's family, friends and fans attending. At the time of his death Culp had just completed filming a supporting role in The Assignment. He was working on several screenplays. One of those screenplays, an adaptation of Terry and the Pirates, had already received financing and was scheduled to begin shooting later this year in Hong Kong with Culp directing. Terry and the Pirates was Culp's favorite comic strip as a child and it was his lifelong dream to make a film based on it.

  7. Okay, it didn't take me long to get to my first pressing question: How the hell does one end up tallying an obscure $4.36 at a hot dog stand?

  8. ''How the hell does one end up tallying an obscure $4.36 at a hot dog stand?''

    IKR, this show is wacky. I looked up Pumaman on wikipedia because all I could remember about it was the wacky flying. It seems that Puma-man also has alien origins and artifacts that make him super powerful. Pumaman is also American although everyone who worked on this film was Italian. Bizarre.

    ''The villainous Dr. Kobras (Donald Pleasence) has found a golden Aztec mask with which he plans to use to control the minds of world leaders, starting with the Dutch ambassador's beautiful blond daughter Jane Dobson (Sydne Rome) who had translated the instructions on it for him. However, he fears the interference of the Pumaman, a legendary "man-god" sired by aliens and the protector of the mask whom he believes to be living in nearby London.''

    ''The Pumaman turns out to be mild-mannered young professor Tony Farms (Walter George Alton), an American paleontologist working at the British Museum who is thankfully gotten to first by Vadinho who turns out to be a mystic Aztec priest who knew Tony's physician father and confirms the initially unbelieving Tony’s status as the latest in a long line of Pumamen by defenestration, a three story fall that he, unlike Kobras' victims, easily survives thanks to his natural cat-like agility. Vadinho then gives Tony a magical golden belt that when worn gives him a poncho-caped sweatshirt and slacks-style superhero costume and further powers.''

    The Pumaman cinematography was done by Vulpiani.

    More from wiki: ''Vadinho's New Age-style belief structure is obviously inspired by Chariots of the Gods? and based on the assumption that man is powerful with that power based in the mind and that a group of aliens are God(s), with him often repeating the mantra "Each man is a god, each man is free."''

    Wacky stuff. This show was also released in 1980. Also, take a look at this picture, it's amazing. All sorts of bizarre goodness:

  9. C! I'm going to overlook the fact that you credited the Buttholes with a Black Flag single because you remember the Quincy ep...

    CDH- All the eps are on YouTube, so check them out there.

    Michael- Maybe you could bring some of your particular expertise to this ep....

    77M- Did he? Damn, I should have watched it more often.

    Dana- My pleasure. And thanks for bringing PM to my attention.

    Anony- Terry and the Pirates? Wow- that would have been cool.

    Davidly- You mean the Weiner Wagon...

    Dana II- Awesome. I'll watch the MST3K version.

  10. Wow, i had missed this post.

    you just named three of my favs from the 80's. quincy made forensics cool before any of this csi stuff.

    i used to love the greatest american hero. it was huge for me. if i remember correctly he had the suit but didnt know how to use it. couldnt translate the instructions.

    kinda seems like all of us trying to understand this symbolism thrown at us and maybe just maybe if we figure it out we will know how to use our "suits".