Oh. Yeah, you have heard this before. About a year ago, when Fox gave the green light to Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who wrote and directed THE LEGO MOVIE and also directed a big screen version of Stephen Cannell’s 21 JUMP STREET, to film a pilot for a new take on THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO. We’ve heard nothing more since then about a script, or actors or anything.
It’s been a year and apparently a change in writers, but a casting director has now been hired to scout out some talent. Nathan Fillion expressed some interest in playing the lead during a Q&A session at Chicago’s Wizard World Comic Con back in August, 2015.
It’s also unclear if the concept has changed. Originally, it sounded like Ralph, Pam and Bill were NOT going to be rebooted, that it would be all new original characters; an inner city teacher named Issac would be the recipient of the suit. Now, based on the recent Deadline Hollywood article, the script written by Rick Famuyiwa (DOPE), “is the story of what happens when great power is not met with great responsibility. An ordinary man, completely content with being average, wakes up with a superpower suit he never asked for and has to deal with the complications it brings his life.”
Given Hollywood’s penchant for lampooning and doing parody’s of original shows, it really doesn’t sound encouraging.
Oh no, this was no April Fool’s joke. A military plane with a top secret gun sight is stolen in broad day light and the government is scrambling to find it and get it back before it ends up in enemy hands. But FBI Agent Bill Maxwell knows how to find it. All he needs is Ralph and the suit.
Except Ralph isn’t so willing to drop everything to go after some military hardware that, big deal, “can hit a beer can from five miles out.” After all, he’s got other plans. Pam’s parents are coming in for a visit, he’s supposed to meet Pam to pick them up at the airport, they’re going to dinner… We’re on the third episode of the show and this suit is damn inconvenient, Bill…
Prior to watching the dreadful National Lampoon’s Movie Madness I had discovered that the TV movie The Blue Lightning from 1986 was given a proper DVD release earlier this year (2013). I had seen a few clips of Culp from this one on YouTube and, of course, loved the aviators, the Irish accent and the riding boots. I hoped to find the movie to see the whole thing some day.
I was very glad to find it on DVD and had watched it just before seeing the National Lampoon movie. To set things right in my world I figured to go back and wipe the memory of National Lampoon from my mind and take a look at The Blue Lightning again.
Besides, I needed to do some screen caps y’know…
The movie opens in Opal Ridge, Australia where Quinton McQueen is tied to a tree and is about to be left for dead by Lester McInally (Culp). (Lester’s last name, to note, is pronounced two different ways in this movie; the Australian pronunciation sounds like “McKinley” while the American way is like it’s spelled, Mac-In-Ally.) Quinton pleads to not be left tied to the tree where the wild dogs would get to him and eat him alive. One of McInally’s thugs, Mr. Words, asks for McInally to show some mercy. After some thought, McInally agrees and as Mr. Words starts for the tree to untie McQueen, McInally pulls his gun and shoots McQueen, killing him. “There,” he says to Words, “we’ve saved him from the dingos…”
(Clip courtesy of FedKidCounselor)
Hell of an intro for Culp’s character! And he’s just as merciless through the rest of the movie.
There’s a reason this movie, originally filmed in 1981, went straight to video in 1983.
Seriously. This thing is bad. And I mean real bad. You know how sometimes a movie can be so bad it’s good? No, no this is not even that. This is clearly what-the-hell-were-they-thinking-and-why-didn’t-they-burn-it BAD.
The premise of the movie is to spoof other typical movie genres. There’s three segments. The first segment spoofs the personal growth plotline, the second segment (with Culp) spoofs the soap opera style plotline and the third segment spoofs cop movies. I’m only going to tell you about the second segment that Culp was in and not bother with the other two because 1. Culp isn’t in the other segments, 2. I didn’t bother to watch the first segment at all and 3. I have no idea WHY I watched the third but there’s just nothing to say for that one.
The second segment is called “Success Wanters.” Ann Dusenberry plays Dominique Corsair, a recent college graduate who is trying to find a job. She’s not having much luck and must lower herself to taking a job as a burlesque dancer/stripper.
Her first gig is to do a show for a bunch of geezers at a dairy convention. Yes, a dairy convention a concept of which would be ripe for tons of double entendre and innuendo and the best thing the writers could come up with for this curdled milk of a movie? A butter bang.
Please don’t ask me what a butter bang is. The geezers butter bang Dominique leaving her innocence shattered and her completely humiliated. But Dominique isn’t the kind of girl to stay down, oh no. She decides she’s going to get her revenge against the butter bastards by switching to margarine.
She finds her way to the Everest Margarine Company, manages somehow to sneak into this bajillion floor office building and waits in the board room, in her trashed stripper costume, smoking a cigarette. Enter Paul Everest, owner and CEO of Everest Margarine Company played by Robert Culp.
Ok, I’m digging the GQ suit here and attaché. Very nice…
Dominique introduces herself and says she’s been waiting for him. Mr. Everest dismisses Joyce, his secretary (who’s no fool and knows exactly what’s going to happen next). After Joyce leaves, Dominique says she wants to know everything there is to know about margarine. He tells her that margarine is a ruthless industry and is no place for a woman. She tells him that he’s never met a woman like her and proceeds to demonstrate that fact by taking an ice cube from the ice bucket, tracing it seductively around her mouth, placing it in her mouth and then sliding under the table to crawl over to him.
Everest presses the button on his intercom to ask his secretary to hold all his calls. Gee, whatya think’s gonna happen next?! I dunno! Why are they playing “Jaws” like music?!
Everest, meanwhile, is all nonchalant for a guy who knows what he’s about to start his day off with. He continues with his paperwork until we hear *ziiip!* and with a deadpan expression he flicks his fancy pen across the room.
Ok, I chuckled at that. But, ya know, I would have had it that there wasn’t enough clearance and she bangs her head against the table…
You still reading? Really? Ok, well I’ll keep going then…
The Greatest American Hero episode “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” originally aired April 29, 1981 and features one of my favorite Maxwell action shots…
“You boys are all through for today…”
In the episode, an old friend of Bill’s, who is a LA cop, is planning to leave the department and take some hot diamonds with him to fund his retirement. Winslow tries to get Bill to go in with him, but when Bill hesitates, Winslow says it’s all a joke. But Bill knows it’s not and he attempts to stop Winslow from going through with the plan.
In this first clip, Winslow is a tired cop and has become very disillusioned. He shares his plan with Bill who is clearly verrrry uncomfortable with it.
In this next clip, Bill pulls some Federal weight and basically bulldozes his way in on Winslow’s scheme. The other side of this episode is Ralph’s decision to put away the suit after nearly sending a busload of people off a cliff, thus his reluctance to don it here.
…for The Greatest American Hero episode “Saturday Night on Sunset Boulevard” which aired this date, April 8, 1981. When Bill fails his lie detector test he has to bargain his way back into the good graces of the bureau, with a little help from Ralph, Pam, the suit and Ralph’s students.
This episode establishes the highly entertaining and classic animosity between Bill and Carlisle. It can be assumed that William Bogart’s subsequent appearances on the show, with Carlisle’s promotion to Agent in Charge of the LA bureau and becoming Maxwell’s suffering boss, was due basically to this one scene.
Bill’s six month lie detector debriefing, however, does not go well…
To bargain his way back into the good graces of the bureau (and bury the failed lie detector test) Bill figures to find one of two missing people that the FBI are anxious to find. To do so, he’ll need some foot soldiers. Enter, Ralph’s students…
We’re lookin’ at you, Bill—er, I mean, kid! The Greatest American Hero episode “Here’s Looking at You, Kid” aired this date, April 1, 1981. Bill and Ralph must find a stolen weapons component before it’s sold to the highest bidder. Ralph discovers he can completely disappear with the suit which will be a big help, as long as he can hold it together long enough.
It’s one thing when Ralph gets the funny looks because of the suit. In this episode, Bill gets his turn when he’s pulled over by a motorcycle cop who spots the Fed appearing to be talking to himself in the car.
Later in the episode, Ralph – still invisible – saves Bill from the bad guys and they get the gun sight back. Maxwell’s retort to Ralph about using the rifle is priceless along with his grumbling later in the clip about “working with the Cheshire Cat.”