School teachers are regarded as real-life heroes, trying to help their students reach their full potential.
Stephen J. Cannell came up with the idea of making a teacher a different kind of hero, with the results falling along the lines of camp comedy in most cases.
The Greatest American Hero premiered in the winter of 1981 with a 2-hour TV-movie, then went right to a regular series, anchoring ABC's Wednesday night lineup for three seasons. Sure, it was pure, escapist fun, good while it lasted, but it didn't last too long, and perhaps maybe it was for the best.
Second generation actor William Katt (son of Perry Mason co-star Barbara Hale) top-lined as special education teacher Ralph Hinkley, who was given his "union suit", as they say in the comics, by an alien in a random encounter in the desert, at which point he was also introduced to his FBI contact/partner, Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp, ex-I Spy). The super-suit comes with an instruction manual, which Ralph loses. Uh-oh. Expect much chaos.
As Maxwell, Culp comes across more as a fast-talking hustler in order to coax Ralph into his missions. On the other hand, his divorce lawyer-turned-girlfriend (Connie Sellecca) provides some inspiration. Culp also wrote & directed one episode.
After the series ended, NBC decided to give it a whirl, rebooting it with a female lead, but then turned right around and rejected the pilot, which was later shoe-horned into the syndication package. It's also available as a stand-alone DVD you could probably find in a bargain basket at Walmart or Target. Interestingly, ABC executives Marcy Carsey & Tom Werner left the network after the series launched to form their own production company. In more recent times, Katt was able to gain the rights to adapt the series into-----a comic book. A miniseries was published, written by Katt. Go figure.
By way of Hulu, here's the episode, "The 200 MPH Fastball", in which Ralph goes undercover as a baseball pitcher in the heat of a pennant race.
The theme song, sung by Joey Scarbury, hit #2 on the Hot 100 in August 1981, which was certainly higher than the show's Nielsen ratings, that's for sure.