The Greatest American Hero (1982) – Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell and Divorce, Venusian Style


In this week’s installment, we straddle two seasons. We finish up with Season 2, and plunge into the 3rd and final season of this beloved Cannell series.

Up first is Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell, which aired 28 April, 1982, and was written and directed by Bill Maxwell himself, Robert Culp!

While Bill and Ralph (William Katt) sneak into the Bureau to investigate and solve some cold cases, our stalwart FBI agent meets up with the bureau’s efficiency expert, Samantha O’Neill (Dixie Carter). The two hit it off immediately and the sparks fly, much to Pam (Connie Sellecca) and Ralph’s delight. Though they do caution him not to rush into anything.

But as the heroes continue their investigation, trying to track down a gun-running scheme that may involve the Russians, someone ends up taking shots at them, and trouble seems to be everywhere they look. Could it be that the charming Ms. O’Neill is more than she seems to be?

And is it possible, just possible, that Bill is already onto her despite the fact that not only his life, but his heart is on the line?

This one ended up being a fun little episode, and I was happy to see Culp working behind the camera as well. I’ll be interested to see if he writes or directs any more episodes in the series, and it’s too bad that despite the promise of a relationship, we probably won’t see O’Neill come back.

Still, it was fun to see Pam and Ralph happy for their friend… mostly…


Divorce, Venusian Style, the season 3 opener, was written by Patrick Hasburgh and aired on 29 October, 1982. It was a great way to open the season, as it re-established the characters, how Ralph got the suit (also shown in the new opening credit sequence- which didn’t feature any of his class, and speaking of where have they been? Not to mention Ralph’s own kid!). Ralph and Bill have been on a stakeout for far too long, and are getting on one another’s nerves.

In a big way.

In fact, the argument gets so bad, that Ralph throws the suit at Bill, and quits. Which ends up not the best time to take off the suit, because, he ends up getting shot, going back to help Bill, who is under fire from some Neo-Nazis.

Sensing a problem, from lightyears away no less, the little green guys remotely commandeer Ralph and Bill’s vehicle, and drive them out into the desert, all while Ralph is in danger of bleeding out. They also commandeer Pam’s car, setting her off on a journey as well.

Arriving in the desert, Ralph and Bill are picked up by a ship, and then find themselves waking up aboard the alien craft. Bill is first to be roused, and meets up with the two different types of alien on the ship, which is rife with Star Trek sound effects, and does actually look pretty cool. Ralph wakes next, to find himself completely healed, and joins Bill and their host, as they take a quick jaunt around the galaxy.

As they do, they are repositioned on their mission, rededicated, as we are reminded it’s the only planet we have, and we should do good by it and with it.

Returning to Earth, Pam arrives just in time to pick them, and as they prepare to take on the baddies again, with an instruction booklet in hand this time… Well, at least for a minute or two…




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