The Greatest American Hero (1981) – The Best Desk Scenario and The Two-Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Fastball


Season 1 of The Greatest American Hero comes to an end this week; only eight episodes long. The close of the season, The Best Desk Scenario, aired 13 May, 1981, and was written by Juanita Bartlett and Cannell. With Bartlett’s involvement you know there are going to be big character moments for the cast, and the biggest of the episode focuses on FBI agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp).

While Ralph (William Katt) and Pam (Connie Sellecca) both receive promotions at work, Ralph gets Assistant Principal (voted on by the student body apparently) and Pam makes junior partner in her law firm, Bill is having a bit of a mid-life crisis as he watches younger men coming up under him, and those of his own age group are beginning to slowly wind down, or ending up in the obit columns.

As the trio wrestle with their positions in life, and Ralph tries to learn to control his pyrokinesis, Pam learns that her boss may be mixed up with mob dealings, and though they initially mistook her for his daughter, they now know she’s a witness and may need to be removed from the situation.

Between Cannell and Bartlett, the characters have come a long way already in their development over the course of the eight episodes, and while at this time, television is very much episodic in nature, allowing for viewers to fall in and out, and the characters are pretty much back to wherever they started by episode’s end, you can see that there is growth, development, and that the actors have settled nicely into their roles…

Which leads us right into Season 2!


The first episode of the season is a light and fun entry, The Two-Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Fastball, which screened 4 November, 1981, and was written by Cannell once again. Some baddies, led by Carmen Agenziano are looking to buy a large cache of weapons, but are trying to rustle up the cash. They’ve hit on sports betting, wagering heavily on a baseball series. To make sure their time comes out on top, they are leaning on, threatening and muscling the Stars, the rival baseball team.

Bill comes up with the idea of putting Ralph into the game, with the jammies on, he’ll probably be the best pitcher and hitter to ever play the game, and Ralph is like a giddy child playing in the big leagues! Bill, of course, loves baseball, because it’s as American as it gets, and the idea that someone could be using it to finance a crime just irks him something fierce!

Markie Post plays the owner of the team, and makes a few overtures towards Ralph (who is back to being referred to as Hinkley, the Hanley thing has been left behind). And Ralph gently rebuffs her, but comes to her rescue when the baddies grab her.

The kids including Rhonda and Tony (both Faye Grant and Michael Pare now have credits in the opening titles) are a little upset over Ralph’s success as a pitcher, as they fear they’ll just leave them behind, but of course, Ralph is too good of a guy for that, and by the end of the episode things are back to normal, and Ralph steps away from the mound once and for all…

Let’s see what else season 2 holds next week!






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