TV Week: Greatest American Hero

I have slowly been accumulating clippings on TV shows from 1982 but I don’t think I’ve written about any of them.  This week had better be TV week then, and what better place to start than here:

I have two memories of this show: the opening song and the fact that I  simply HAD to watch it when I was a kid because it was so cool.  What impresses me about this show now is that I can still sing the whole opening theme thirty years later, but I cannot remember a single scene from a single episode of the actual show.  I think I remember that he was really crap at flying and that this was pretty funny.  Other than that I’ve got nothing.  Still, cool song.

Is it the best song ever written for a TV show?  Probably not.  But anyone who was under the age of 18 in 1982 could sing you most of it in 2012 even if they never saw the show itself. 

The song purports to be by Joey Scarbury.  Who the hell is he?  Turns out he had an album in 1981, and it gets a very strong four and half star review on the All Music Guide website (you have to suspect a little too strong given that Sign O The Times, or Blue, for example, are only half a star better).  A superficial glance through Scarbury’s biography reveals that he was simply the voice on the track, and that the music was written by Mike Post. 

Mike Post is a name you and I must have seen a thousand times in the credit sequences of our favourite trashy American TV shows from the 80s.  Mike Post was probably as influential on my early musical tastes as Michael Jackson or Prince.  Here is a list of a few of his themes (I bet you can hum at least three):

  • The Rockford Files
  • Hill Street Blues
  • LA Law
  • The A-Team
  • ChiPs
  • Magnum P.I.
  • Quantum Leap
  • Simon and Simon

I still think the Magnum P.I. theme tune is one of the best ever written, and in 1982 the very memorable Hill Street Blues theme was in the New Zealand charts.  He certainly had a knack with the TV theme.  One website lauding Mr. Post notes that:

To achieve the unique sound of the NYPD Blue theme he used, among other effects, 1,000 Japanese men jumping up and down on a wooden floor.

Did it have to be Japanese men?  Would 970 Ukranian men have sounded wrong?

I have never been particularly attracted to superheroes.  I have two early memories connected with superheroes.  One was of going to a little suburban hall with my friend and seeing a Spiderman film.  Mainly I remember that it was very noisy because there were lots of kids and because it was the 70s all the parents were probably across the road smoking in a bar instead of hovering nearby and reading the nutrition breakdown on the side of the popcorn packets (nutrition=zero).  My other memory is of being at a girl’s house and wanting to be Wonder Woman.  I’m not sure how this conflict panned out.  Reviewing the content of my blog we can probably say not that well.

I know my mum took me to see a Superman movie as a kid and thoroughly enjoyed it, although I was less than enthused.  After that I think Superheroes and I parted company until The Incredibles came out.  Even watching the camp Batman on TV didn’t do much for me.  It may be fashionable to laugh at it in an arch way now, but at the time I saw it Batman was just a slightly weird TV show with special effects that made Dr Who look flash.

Maybe this explains why I can’t remember anything that happened in The Greatest American Hero.  Either that or it was a piece of crap.

6 thoughts on “TV Week: Greatest American Hero”

  1. Holy crap. When I saw your post title I immediately thought (1) Damnit, JP beat me to it. I meant to write about GAH ages ago but hadn’t gotten around to it. And (2) I’m glad JP beat me to it because I can’t remember anything about GAH outside the catchy theme song. Not entirely true. I do remember he was an unlikely hero who was sort’ve forced into being a superhero. Somehow the other guy (from I Spy…what’s his name?) was behind this. Also, I recall his crashes from ill attempts at flying, and his girlfriend was a temporary idol of mine.

    (Side note, if you ever saw the series Quantum Leap, GAH almost seems like its rough blueprint.)

    My brother and I had the 45 of the theme song and I have a crystal clear memory of sitting in my living room with Tony and playing it repeatedly. Also, the flip side was pure rubbish, as you’d guess.

    Fantastic trivia in here! 1,000 Japanese men, huh? Sounds a bit demeaning.

  2. I loved that show. Was your dad the star, because you certainly do look like the Greatest American Hero. Of course, I’m positive that your flying skills are far superior.

  3. We never had this show in England… well, I don’t think we did…

    …but I have to say the theme from CHiPs is THE greatest theme music of all time. It was funky, disco-y and the titles featured Ponchorello and the other one no one remembers doing some pretty awesome stuff.

  4. His girlfriend was your idol? This needs to be explained.

    Quantum Leap was pretty big here but I only paid it a little bit of attention.

  5. That would make a pretty big hold out. “Oh yeah, I totally forgot to mention, the dude from Greatest American Hero? Yeah, he’s my dad.”

    It’s been a while since I flew, but yeah, I’m pretty amazing.

  6. John? I think the other one was John. I got a CHiPs Annual one year for my birthday. Again, I have not a single memory of what happened in a single show.

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