When it was first floated a couple of weeks back, ABC’s new remake of The Greatest American Hero sounded like yet another desperate network play for fading nostalgia affection, as Hero was a mediocre-at-best show that ran like three seasons and is mostly remembered, if at all, for its cheeseball theme song (and even that is mostly remembered for its appearance on George Costanza’s greatest outgoing message of all time). And those things are all still true, but now it seems the new Greatest American Hero will be yet another desperate network play for fading nostalgia affection starring Hannah Simone. So let’s not be hasty with our dismissals here.
For those of you not in the loop: Simone spent seven seasons playing Cece Parekh on New Girl, transforming what was initially something of a vapid, dull sidekick into one of the most likable and nuanced characters in modern sitcom-dom. She’s terrific, is the point, charming and believable with ace comic timing, and the gender-swapped, modernized version of the show seems just her speed: per THR, she’ll play Meera, “a 30-year-old Cleveland woman whose talents include drinking tequila, singing karaoke and not much else” until she’s given a superhero suit by aliens, and given orders to protect the planet.
William Katt (the dreamy prom date in Carrie) played the unprepared earthling in that suit in the original series, though his character was a schoolteacher rather than a party girl. Also, fun fact: the character was named Ralph Hinkley, but his name was quietly changed to Ralph Hanley for part of the first season after President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinkley. (That has nothing really to do with the new series, but how often do you get even the slimmest opportunity to trot that out?)
Anyway, the pilot for the new version was written by Fresh Off the Boat writer-producer Rachna Fruchbom; if the show goes, she’ll executive-producer alongside Fresh showrunner Nahnatchka Kahn, Mandy Summers, and director Tawnia McKiernan (whose father, Stephen J. Cannell, created the original series). Stay tuned.