After struggling for years to get made for FOX, ‘The Greatest American Hero’ is winging its way to ABC, where a pilot order has been placed. Phil Lord and Chris Miller attempted twice to create a reboot of the early 80s superhero dramedy with producer Rodney Rothman and director Tawnia McKiernan, the daughter of Stephen J. Cannell, who created the original.
The new pilot is a completely fresh start, unrelated to Lord and Miller’s. This version comes from Rachna Fruchbom and Nahnatchka Khan and their production company Fierce Baby, which is set up at 20th Century Fox TV, which is co-producing with ABC Studios. Fruchbom, Khan, Mandy Summers and McKiernan will executive produce.
Both Fruchbom and Khan are writers and producers on sitcom ‘Fresh Off The Boat’. Fruchbom previously worked as a writer and story editor on ‘Parks and Recreation’. Khan has a lengthier resumé having worked on ‘Don’t Trust the B**** In Apartment 23’, ‘American Dad!’, ‘Unfabulous’ and ‘Malcolm In The Middle’. She has also worked on numerous animated series, including ‘Recess’, ‘Pepper Ann’ and ‘What’s New, Scooby Doo?”.
In a twist, the new ‘Hero’ in question will be an Indian-American woman named Meera, who is an underachiever, described as “a 30-year-old Indian-American woman from Cleveland whose talents include tequila drinking, karaoke and not much else. Then some aliens entrust her with a super suit to protect the planet, and the world has never been in more unreliable hands.”
Lord and Miller’s version departed from the original by setting the show in the inner city and replacing lead character Ralph Hinkley with a somewhat selfish protagonist named Isaac. In the 1981 pilot, high school teacher Hinkley was likewise given a super suit from aliens, but he lost the instruction booklet before ever donning the costume, so he fumbled his way along, crashing into buildings and billboards while flying and being unable to land successfully. He also possessed super strength and invulnerability and over time also figured out how to access powers such as X-ray vision, E.S.P., telepathy, holographic projection, shrinking and more.
The original series aired for three seasons. In 1986, NBC attempted to create an update called ‘The Greatest American Heroine’ with a female protagonist, but the new series wasn’t picked up and the pilot wasn’t aired on NBC, although an edited version was added to the ‘Greatest American Hero’ syndication package as the final episode.
ABC currently serves as home to Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and limited series ‘Inhumans’. In 2015, ABC was planning to adapt an obscure Marvel Comic series ‘Damage Control’ as a sitcom, but it’s been two years and there hasn’t been any news about that program moving forward. Perhaps ‘The Greatest American Hero’ is being seen as a replacement for that.
NBC recently washed out with its comedic series ‘Powerless’ set within the DC universe. Can superheroes work in this format?
Were you a fan of the original? Are you intrigued to see a modern spin on it?