The Greatest American Hero (1983) – Desperado and Vanity, Says the Preacher


And just like that we’re on to the last two episodes of the series, this one went by quick. And you can very much tell that by the beginning of the third season, the creative team behind the show was being forced to meet the studios demands far too often, causing the stories t be very lacklustre.

First up, we have Desperado, Cannell and Frank Lupo wrote this one, and it finds Ralph (William Katt) and Pam (Connie Sellecca) on a getaway, they’re watching and photographing wild horses, including one known locally as Desperado.

He also happens to be the target of obsession for local rancher, King, (John Vernon) who wants that horse… badly. So when his thugs show up to rustle these horses, Ralph tries to stop them, without the aid of the suit, while Pam takes pictures (or attempts to – I have a huge problem with Pam not remembering to take the lens cap off). When they report the attempt to the local sheriff (James Hampton), it doesn’t do any good, as they have no proof.

So, they call Bill (Robert Culp) who arrives on the scene as back-up, with the jammies.

And the trio find and lose Desperado, before finding him again, and it will be up to Ralph and this one wild horse, to win a local, annual, horse race to make enough money to buy back all the other free mustangs that the rustlers have captured and have sold to a Mexican dog food company…


The last episode of the series, Vanity, Says the Preacher, was written and directed by Robert Culp, and features his two sons, Joseph and Jason.

Bill’s pride and vanity are the center of a tale that sees the FBI agent being nominated for a Man of the Year award in a Latin American country that he helped establish a democratic government back in his early days of service. Ralph and Pam tag along to the ceremony, but both feel that something is wrong with the scenario right from the off.

There’s an implication that Bill had a relationship with one of the foremost family members of the country, Serena Delvera (Isela Vega) as her sons bear a bit of a resemblance to Bill (no real surprise as they are the roles that Culp’s sons play). Thus begins a play on Bill’s vanity to help the country fight for its democracy yet again, but it’s actually a power grab to flush out the guerrillas who are the ones working for freedom, and pits brother against brother.

Things get very dire, though Ralph may be the symbol the people need, as it seems there is a popular comic book in the country that tells the exploits of a superhero that looks uncannily like Ralph…

As civil war seems to be on the verge of tearing the country apart, the little green guys arrive one last time, to refocus both Bill and Ralph on their mission, and perhaps set them, and the rest of the world on the road to world peace…

So ends the series, but Cannell already had another one to leap to, taking Frank Lupo with him… next week we start our journeys with the last big Cannell influence on my childhood,  The A-Team.




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