You want to know what Judge David Johnson's secret identity is? David Johnson!
He saves the world…she saves his supper.
Ardal O'Hanlon is George Sunday, a mild-mannered health foods operator who hides an explosive secret: his alternate identity is Thermoman, the world's greatest superhero. Thermoman is constantly saving innocents in distress, intercepting meteors, diverting falling Soviet space stations from colliding with Britain, and all the usual duties that are required of a superhero. One of his exploits introduces him to Janet Dawkins (Emily Joyce), a nurse who fell into the Grand Canyon and was promptly rescued by Thermoman. Following the rescue, Thermoman/George realized that Janet was his one true love, and following some vigorous courtship, which required he reveal his identity to her, the two decided to shack up, and thus the show's conceit was born.
Season One features the first six episodes of the BBC-produced My Hero:
• "My Hero"
• "Guess Who's Coming to Lunch?"
• "Mission Impossible"
• "Thermoman's Greatest Challenge"
• "Old Man Riverdance"
• "The Party's Over"
My Hero is very much like Mork and Mindy, just without space eggs and the obscene amount of body hair. The show also dispenses with the sexual tension between the earthling and extraterrestrial right away, having them knock boots by the end of the first episode, yet maintains the juxtaposition of the witty girl instructing the outsider-with-remarkable-powers about the idiosyncrasies on Earth dynamic. It's a formula that has been done in the past, yet can be depended on for some laughs (albeit cheap ones frequently), and this Brit variation pulls it off well.
The show is funny, though undeniably corny. From the budget opening credits where Thermoman flies through space and turns to the audience to give one of those self-aware smiles to his goofy spandex outfit and the plastic helmet, My Hero sports an almost sophomoric whimsy, yet flirts with adult comedy—barely. There's some suggestive innuendo here and there, and a few folks may take umbrage with Thermoman and Janet's cohabitation, but there's nothing approaching offensive. It's just semi-interesting to see a blatant fantasy gimmick that would appeal more to a young audience, buttressed by more grown-up plotlines and themes. The result is a genre I'm not entirely sure whose demographic it belongs to. Regardless, there are authentic laughs to be had and Ardal O'Hanlon and Emily Joyce are a great comic team.
O'Hanlon plays the wide-eyed, naïve Thermoman effectively and boasts the solid comic timing that is needed for the role. Joyce is the straight (wo)man, but makes the most out of a role that is essentially tossing up softballs to her co-star. A fine supporting cast rounds out the ensemble, including Hugh Dennis as the self-involved Dr. Crispin and Philip Whitchurch as Janet's paranoid ex-hippie neighbor, Tyler.
The cheesiness sets in when Thermoman shows up and starts using his powers. There's only so much you can do with a sitcom's budget when it comes to visual effects and, while some of the gags work, a lot are chintzy.
Perhaps I'm being too hard on the series; My Hero isn't Heroes—it's a simple sitcom with a twist. And thankfully the show delivers where it needs to, in the laughs department. There are plenty of great lines and some well-done payoffs that should get you chortling; the writers make the most out of their gimmick.
Bottom line: It's a cheesy, funny show with some terrific actors and a steady flow of jokes that work. My Hero won't rock your world, but for what it is, it works.
Episodes receive the standard full frame, stereo treatment, supplemented with cast bios, a spot from the British kids show Against All Odds and an interview with Ardal O'Hanlon.
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