In 2012, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller made their live-action debut with 21 Jump Street, a film that lovingly transitioned its 1980s TV show source material from drama to near-parody and became a surprise box office smash. Lord and Miller are again looking back to TV history for their next project, an hour-long comedic drama modernization of the sci-fi drama The Greatest American Hero, for which Fox has officially given a pilot commitment. Believe it or not…well, you get it.
Created in 1981 by the legendary Steven J. Cannell, The Greatest American Hero followed the adventures of a teacher played by William Katt that was granted a superpowered suit by aliens. In this update, the lead character’s name will change to Isaac, but it will keep him as an inner-city public school teacher who discovers a supersuit and quickly misplaces the instructions. As such, he hates wearing it and has to figure out how it works on a trial and error basis. Let’s hope we can expect some Wile E. Coyote-type failure scenarios, which might not be out of the question, given Lord and Miller’s background in animated projects.
Isaac will have to put up with a government handler (as played by Robert Culp in the original) and is forced to decide whether to keep his newfound abilities to himself or to use them to help the world around him. Deadline doesn’t mention aliens, so it’s unclear where the suit will come from. Fox is generally more forgiving when it comes to high concepts, so extraterrestrials and the supernatural definitely aren’t out of the question.
At this point, Lord and Miller aren’t set to direct the pilot, and are only executive producing alongside Tawnia McKiernan, Cannell’s daughter. It’s quite possible they’ll eventually get behind the cameras though, as they also directed Fox’s Last Man on Earth pilot with Will Forte. Also executive producing is Rodney Rothman, who wrote the pilot. He co-wrote 22 Jump Street with Michael Bacall and Oren Uziel, which put him in Lord and Miller’s sights for this project.
Let’s all relive the original series’ hit theme song, shall we?
And I would remiss if I didn’t also share this Seinfeld clip, featuring George’s answering machine message spoof of the theme.
Let the “Who will replace William Katt?” conversations begin. My vote is Chris O’Dowd, or George Costanza.