The Greatest American Hero
“Believe it or not, it’s just meeeeeeee!”
Has a show ever had a catchier, poppier theme song? Has there ever been a hero quite as inept as Mr. H?
Running for just three seasons from 1981-1983, The Greatest American Hero was the tale of Ralph Hinkley/Hanley/Hunkley (more on that later), a schoolteacher who is given a superhero suit that grants him superpowers, only to lose the instruction manual. Most episodes had him flying into walls, throwing things further than intended, and generally bumbling his way to winning the day.
And we all loved him for it.
As far as the name thing goes, I’m going to steal straight from the Wikipedia page, because it’s a fairly complicated series of events:
The main character’s name was originally Ralph Hinkley, but after the assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr. on March 30, 1981 (only 12 days after the pilot episode aired), the character’s last name was changed to “Hanley” for the Season 1 episode “Reseda Rose”. For the rest of the 1st season, he was either “Ralph” or “Mister H” (a style of nickname popularized by Fonzie’s calling the Cunningham parents “Mr. and Mrs. C” on the contemporary series Happy Days). During the episode aired the night of the assassination attempt, the sound of a jet airplane was used to dub over the last name being spoken, and in subsequent episodes there was overdubbing of his students calling him “Mr. H” instead of “Mr. Hinkley.” In the episode where Ralph is given a promotion and his own office space, we see the name “Ralph Hanley” on the door plaque. At the start of the 2nd season the name had changed back to Hinkley. Starting in Season 3 episode 1 “Divorce Venusian Style” the introduction to each show features Ralph writing his name on the chalk board as “Ralph Hunkley” followed by him breaking the chalk and laughing. In Season 3 episode 7 “Live At Eleven” Ralph is given a name tag at a political rally with his last name spelled “Hunkley” and Ralph gives up saying “it’s close enough for politics”.
Whew. Let’s take a break from that, and enjoy the show’s intro.
“Whoooo cooould it beeeeee?”
So, wine. With which wine am I pairing this classic 1980s Action TV Show?
It’s the most popular wine in America, hands down. More chardonnay is consumed here than any other single kind of wine, and that makes it America’s choice. The Greatest American Wine, if you will. Fitting.
Sure, the grape isn’t American, not “kind of” in the zinfandel sense, or truly native like concord, catawba, or norton grapes. In fact, one could say that chardonnay’s french origin makes it rather alien to us. Just like a certain superhero suit was to a certain schoolteacher.
I rest my case.
Here are some American chardonnays I can easily recommend:
- 2006 Steven Kent Merrillie Chardonnay (94)
- 2008 Sebella Chardonnay (91)
- 2008 Tallulah Como (90)
- 2008 Don Carlo Chardonnay (88)