The Greatest American Hero (1982) – Just Another Three Ring Circus and The Shock Will  Kill You


Bill (Robert Culp), Ralph (William Katt) and Pam (Connie Sellecca) find themselves in it this week!!

First up we have Just Another Three Ring Circus. This one aired 3 February, 1982, and was penned by Cannell himself.

There’s an international circus in town, and one of the clowns, a man a Polish national goes missing, Carlisle (William Bogert) takes great delight in assigning the case to Bill, as he thinks it’s a go-nowhere assignment.

Ralph, in the interim, is having a tough time with the kids in his class. They’ve failed a big test, and now there’s the possibility his class will be cancelled altogether. So he’s almost relieved to be pulled in on the case, and has a lot of fun with the idea of becoming the circus’ new human cannonball.

Evidence on hand, points to a dating service called Two on a Match, and Pam is asked to take a look at it.

Bill becomes convinced that this could be a big case, and will put him in good graces with the top brass, and make him look good even to Carlisle. That doesn’t stop him from going to see the kids with the news that Ralph is thinking about leaving the class once and for all.

So Rhonda (Faye Grant), Tony (Michael Pare) and the gang come to see him at the circus, where he’s wearing the jammies as part of his costume.

The more all three of them investigate, the more they dig up, revealing that there are elements within the circus who are working against the West, and are planning a break-in on the dating service, because it’s a CIA drop masquerading as a matchmaker.

hero circus

The Shock Will Kill You, which aired 10 February, 1982, was penned by Cannell, Frank Lupo and Patrick Hasburgh. This is a great could have been episode, but ends up being a little bit on the goofy side.

A space shuttle has been drained of power, hanging in orbit, until it can be brought down on automatic, but without any energy, there’s every possibility that the spacecraft could crash into a small town. (Pam and Bill watch through what must be the greatest binoculars invented as the angle constantly changes, as does their viewpoint).

Bill comes up with the idea of Ralph helping to bring it down, and angling it away from the endangered town. Unfortunately, whatever affected the ship electrifies Ralph and turns him into a bit of a magnet. Still, he is able to save the shuttle, but we learn that it was too late for the crew, but not for something that came aboard.

A strange, blobby, tentacled, jawed beak thing escapes when the shuttle is opened and makes for the largest energy center in the area… the city. Ralph tracks the beast through a series of tunnels, and gets his butt kicked a bit, while Pam and Bill, who have come up with a plan to short the creature out, set about filling a local reservoir.

With the right pacing, and story, this could have been a little creepier, but instead it just comes across as a great what-if…





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