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The Greatest American Hero - Season Three



DVD Release Date: August 2nd, 2005 (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
color/approx. 620 minutes
MSRP: $39.98
Number of discs: 4
Number of episodes: 13
Languages and subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
Special features: 8 page booklet with liner notes by the shows prop maker


It's the third and final season for reluctant superhero Ralph Hinkley (William Katt), his lawyer girlfriend Pam Davidson (Connie Sellecca) and by-the-book FBI agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp), but the high-flying fun is far from over! In this season, Ralph is reunited with the 'green guys' from space, stumbles into danger at his high school reunion, fumbles his way to his and Pam's wedding, and tangles with doomed rockers, ruthless ranchers, strange gamers, killer magicians, the KGB, Central American revolutionaries, a genetic Nazi monster and more. Believe it or not, he's still walking on air as The Greatest American Hero!

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Season 3 (1982-1983) had a total of 13 episodes. 9 episodes aired from October 1982 to February 1983. The remaining 4 episodes were not seen in the U.S. until the series went into syndication. Some fans think the show had really slipped by the 3rd season, but there were still a handful of memorable episodes. Ralph is critically wounded when he rescues agent Maxwell from a band of neo-Nazis, which leads to an eerie highspeed chase into the desert where his alien protectors save his life and reveal the secret of operating his super-powered suit - in a dramatic face-to-face confrontation in "Divorce Verusian Style." Ralph and Maxwell become emroiled in a bizarre scheme when a disgruntled news anchorman plots a terrorist takeover of a nuclear power plant to launch his political career in "Live At Eleven." The biggest day in the lives of Ralph and Pam - their wedding day - is made even more complicated when the President sends Ralph on a secret mission to the North Pole in "The Newlywed Game."

Notable guest stars included David Paymer and Bob Saget in "Wizards and Warlocks." Wrestling legend André the Giant appeared as the Monster in "Heaven Is In Your Genes." June Lockhart appeared in "The Newlywed Game." William Zabka ("The Karate Kid") and Kene Holliday guest starred in "Space Ranger." Rick Dees played the Announcer in "It's Only Rock 'N' Roll."


The dvd cover art has black, red, and silver foil packaging and features a photo of Connie Sellecca, William Katt, and Connie Sellecca with The Greatest American Hero emblem in the center. They maintained similar style packaging for all 3 releases which I liked. The back of the box is silver and gives a brief summary of the set and has 3 small color pohotos of the cast. There are 2 slimcases that each hold 2 discs. The first slimcase with discs 1 & 2 has a photo of William Katt in the red suit with his hands raised. The second slimcase holds discs 3 & 4 and has photos of William Katt in a busines suit and his red suit separated by some type of column. The slimcases have a black background and have various alien symbols on the bottom. Short episode summaries and the titles are listed on the back. The inside of the cases are just plain black. It would have been nice to have some trivia or other factoids in this space. The actual discs are red, white, and black and feature the Greatest American Hero scissors-like symbol. Disc 1 has 4 episodes while Discs 2-4 have 3 episodes on each. A 8-page booklet "How I Helped The Greatest American Hero" by Richard Coyle is included. Richard Coyle did the props for the show. He talks about the origin of the props and various photos are shown.

A new feature of this set is that you can press the front of the packaging and hear the theme song! The cover of only 75,000 sets will contain a push button, sound activated chip that when pressed will play the classic theme song from the show, "Believe it or Not," penned by TV's famed music composer Mike Post and performed by Joey Scarbury. The clip plays for about 10 seconds.

Menu Design and Navigation:

Season 3 features some all-new menus from the first 2 releases. When you first play the discs, they start with a recent Stephen J. Cannell logo. The main menu is black with some red animated clouds. The Greatest American Hero emblem is in the center of the screen with boxes on either side that have video clips playing in them. A one+ minute version of the theme song is played in the background. The episode titles are listed at the bottom in bars. There is a 'Play All' button available or you can play the episodes individually. There is a sub-menu with scene selections for the episodes when you play them individually. There are 5 scene selections per episode. This sub-menu features a small photo of the 3 cast members in the lower right hand side of the screen with an overall brick background. A portion of the theme song is played in the background. There are some video clips played with a blue animated force field type of circle as the border of the scenes. There is a 'Play Episode' button if you just want to watch the episode from the beginning.

Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality is similar as the first two releases. These episodes look as good as can be expected given their age now. There is some occasional dust and debris that you see with shows shot on film, but there doesn't appear to be any major problems with these discs. Some of the old stock footage looks dated and the scenes of Ralph flying are not great quality, but other outdoor scenes have great color and look very vibrant. The audio is in dolby digital stereo, but it really sounds like a mono track. The track is generally clean and without any major problems.

Episodes are presented in their original production number order. The episodes run around 46-48 minutes in length. The first two releases had some music replaced or some scenes with music cut slightly. It's likely there may be some music replaced in this release, but I'm not familiar with the original airings. If all three of these releases had some music replaced or the episodes altered in any way, I think Anchor Bay should have clearly stated it somewhere on the back of the packaging. For a list of alterations on these sets, please see The Greatest American Hero Homepage. I don't think the changes will affect your viewing pleasure of this set if you are a new fan or don't have a great memory of viewing the episodes. Closed-captioning is available for all of the episodes.

Special Features:

After a nice lineup of features for the first two releases, it is a bit disappointing that there are none included on this set. It would have been nice to see the original teasers and network promos for the episodes. Some bloopers or outtakes would have been fun to watch. I'm not sure why they didn't record commentaries for any of the episodes if they had them all together recording interviews for the earlier releases.

There are about 5 minutes of previews for Anchor Bay TV DVD releases on the first and third discs. They cover Silk Stalkings, 21 Jump Street, The Commish, Hunter, and Renegade. All those shows were by Stephen J. Cannell.

Final Comments:

All three seasons of The Greatest American Hero have now been released on DVD. It would have been great to see a few special features on the season three release. It's unfortunate that music licensing rights and costs have forced them to replace some music that was used on the original episodes. If you are like me and don't remember the original airings, it probably won't affect your viewing that much. With all the recent superhero type movies, I think it is only a matter of time before you see The Greatest American Hero flying on the big screen.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 08/03/05

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