NBC has a new comedy called ‘Powerless’ in development about the non-super residents of the DC Universe in a show that is being compared to ‘The Office’, while ABC is once again delving into the Marvel library for ‘Damage Control’, about the insurance company that cleans up after super hero battles. Now FOX, who already has a straight-forward comic-based series ‘Gotham‘, has announced they are also developing a super hero comedy, but not one based on a comic book. The network is looking to revive early 80s cult favorite ‘The Greatest American Hero’.
FOX’s reboot will be written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa (‘Dope’) and executive produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller and Cannell’s daughter Tawnia McKiernan for 20th Century Fox.
This actually marks FOX’s second attempt at launching this series. Last year, they committed to a put pilot from writer Rodney Rothman, also with Lord, Miller and McKiernan producing. In that version, reportedly, the lead character would have been named Isaac instead of Ralph and the setting was the inner city.
The original show aired on ABC from 1981-83 and was created by prolific producer Steven J. Cannell. William Katt starred as high school teacher Ralph Hinkley who comes to possess an extraterrestrial suit that gives him fantastic powers… but he loses the instruction manual before donning it and must fumble his way through his new identity as a super hero. (He never uses an actual super hero moniker.) He is joined on his exploits by FBI agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp) and lawyer girlfriend Pam Davidson (Connie Sellecca).
Though he never truly masters the suit’s abilities, Ralph gains a wide range including super strength, invulnerability, flight (although he sucks at landing, usually crashing into walls and other obstacles), X-ray vision, E.S.P., telepathy, holographic projection, shrinking and even more.
DC Comics attempted to sue, claiming the concept was too close to that of Superman, but the case was dismissed. Ironically, in the pilot episode, Ralph is inspired by an episode of the cartoon ‘Superfriends’ (which also aired on ABC) which starred Superman and other DC characters.
The show was a moderate hit but its “Greatest” legacy is actually the theme song “Believe It Or Not” sung by Joey Scarbury. The easy listening classic spent 18 weeks in the Top 40, peaking at #2.
Producers Lord and Miller created the current hit sitcom ‘The Last Man On Earth’ and directed ‘The Lego Movie’, ‘Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs’ and ’21 Jump Street’ (and its sequel). They are also tapped to direct the upcoming Han Solo movie.
Hopefully Famuyiwa hasn’t lost the instruction book on how to craft a quality comedic remake!
Are you excited about this remake?