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Our reviews of The Greatest American Hero: Season One (published March 2nd, 2005), The Greatest American Hero: The Complete First Season (published May 26th, 2010), and The Greatest American Hero: Season Two (published May 4th, 2005) are also available.
"What do you expect? All these kids have brain rot."
Here we are full circle, after only three seasons. Did The Greatest American Hero (GAH) truly run for three seasons? Season One started as a midseason replacement with thirteen episodes, Season Two was a full year with twenty plus episodes, and now Season Three consists of just another thirteen episodes. It's a small point, but I think that adds up to just two seasons. Regardless, GAH didn't deserve much of a run after a supremely disappointing second year. As I opined in my review of that year, I thought the show jumped the shark in the first episode. Luckily it rebounded some at the end of the year, giving fans hope for a comeback in the third year. Did it succeed?
Facts of the Case
In the final adventures of Ralph, Bill, and Pam, the trio run into the little green guys a few more times, get a new instruction book (and lose it), avert a civil war in a Central American country, and attend a wedding:
• "The Price is Right"
The first thing we need to address is the order of the episodes. The episodes are listed above as they are presented on the DVD, in production order. Normally that's not a big problem, except that the episodes are out of order. Here is the order they were aired (and meant to be seen):
• "Divorce Venusian Style"
What you should notice is the placement of "The Newlywed Game." In this episode, Ralph and Pam get married. As you can see, it's supposed to happen early in the season, but the DVDs push it toward the end. Thus, as you watch the DVDs, Ralph and Pam keep calling each other "husband" and "wife," but you haven't seen the wedding yet. It's just the latest example of frustrating continuity in a television series. (I'll only briefly mention that Bill is wearing the wrong shirt the second time he's inside the spaceship.)
So what do I think of these final thirteen episodes? Are they witty, clever, and entertaining like the first season, or are they dull, mindless, and infuriating like the majority of Season Two? Of course it's some combination of the two. While they certainly aren't as enjoyable as year one, they are not as awful as year two. The stories are still silly, off the wall, far-fetched, and at times painful, yet they were able to put together some of that original charm that helped make the show work in the beginning. With all three years' worth of episodes under my belt, the show is not all that memorable. I can remember the premise, the people, and some random events; as for memorable episodes, there aren't any. The Greatest American Hero was a cute idea with some mild promise that sadly and quickly faltered into cult obscurity.
What kept me going and plodding through to the end was my curiosity for how the show would end. As it turns out, the last four episodes (starred above) never aired, so we didn't get any final resolution to our characters and to the series. Would there be some sense of closure when we finally saw "Vanity, Says the Preacher"? Anxiously going through this final episode, I will admit it is one of the series' better efforts, but there is still no true closure given. Some attempt was made with another visit from the green guys, but whatever Ralph and Bill were supposed to learn while onboard the spaceship was lost on me—partially because the audio is a bit muffled. Perhaps I was looking for the proverbial "and they lived happily ever after," but it wasn't meant to be.
Of the three seasons, this final year receives the worst treatment on DVD. Overall, the transfers are in line with the other two years. The video is soft, with weak colors, shallow details, and lots of dirt and grain speckled throughout. Audio is also soft yet mostly understandable, except in the big finale as noted above. At times you may also notice some light hissing.
What makes this set the weakest is the lack of bonus materials. Well, that is a bit misleading. A few items are included—trailers for 21 Jump Street, The Commish, Silk Stalkings, and Hunter; an insert with a few words from the props guy (the props guy?!?); and a microchip in the packaging that plays a snippet of the theme song when pressed—but they're for naught. I would have hoped they could dig something up like they did for the other two years, but this is pretty sad. If nothing else, as I said in Season One, the bonus item of the unaired pilot for The Greatest American Heroine would have been better suited to this set, as it does tie up a bit of the few loose ends from the ending of the series.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I am pleased to report two nice changes with this third season. First, this year they included new special effects shots of Ralph flying. Now we don't have to keep watching the same recycled bits from the first episode of Season One. Second, the menu design of the DVDs was revamped. While the first two years had a tiny, clumsy interface, this year's is much easier and user-friendly.
Deep down inside I am still a fan of the show, despite watching all the episodes again this year. It's just the general idea of the show that appeals to me (a freak chance to be a superhero…and to fly!) more than the show itself. Luckily they found a great trio in William Katt, Robert Culp, and Connie Sellecca. Without these three people, The Greatest American Hero would have been an absolute bomb, lacking any redeeming qualities whatsoever. Yet, even with the deep down sliver of love for the series, I am not recommending a purchase of this set. If you want to own part of show, your best bet is with the first season.
The court hereby finds The Greatest American Hero guilty of violating restricted airspace.
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