The Greatest American Hero “Here's Looking at You, Kid” (part 4 of 6)

Meanwhile, out in the desert, Bill is coaching Ralph on his mad telekinesis skillz. He moves to attack Ralph, and tells Ralph to stop him with a mental push. But when Ralph puts on his concentrating face and tries to push, he instead disappears. Okay, that’s really not the same thing at all.

Caption contributed by Mark

“Okay, two more years to go on my contract, that means, let’s see, 41 episodes, that’s, 41, 20, carry the two—crap, 800 more hours in this damn suit.”

Ralph is freaking out, because he can’t even see himself, and doesn’t know how to come back. He starts ranting (in voiceover), “It’s like being dead, Bill! It feels like I don’t exist!” He paces, which is cleverly simulated by magically appearing footprints.

Bill tells him to be calm. Because “pushing” caused him to disappear, Bill urges him to try “pushing twice” to reappear. See, this is why I would have made a sucky hardboiled FBI sidekick, because I was thinking the opposite of “pushing” would be, you know, pulling. But with the way this suit works, “pulling” probably causes your nipples to emit death lasers or some crazy shit like that.

Now we get, I kid you not, the crappiest split screen I’ve ever seen, and I’ve watched The Patty Duke Show. There’s actually a dirty gray stripe running down the screen between Bill and where Ralph starts to reappear. You remember last time, when I was talking about Pumaman being the real inspiration for this show? We’re now at the point where GAH, effects-wise, sucks slightly worse than Pumaman. And that’s saying something.

Anyway, Ralph’s reappearance only gets as far as his feet, and then he’s gone again. Loser.

Caption contributed by Mark

Special effects by Piet Mondrian.

Meanwhile, it’s finally dawning on Bill, after he feels up Invisible Ralph [?], that this power will work for them in their present predicament just as well as the telekinesis. Bill and Invisible Ralph get in the car and drive off to steal the Supervoltimeter, while ADR Ralph grouses the whole way into town about the can’t-see-himself thing, and how it’ll mean he can’t go to court (huh? oh yeah, his divorce proceedings from the pilot), and that he’ll probably lose custody of his Son That’s Slowly Being Erased From the Timeline and Soon Will Never Have Existed.

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As Bill is stridently trying to convince Ralph do to his duty for his country and use his fortuitous invisibility to steal the Supervoltimeter, a motorcycle cop notices Bill (who’s stopped at a light) talking to no one, and orders him out of the car. Bill flashes his badge, and dispenses with this bit pretty rapidly, explaining that he was rehearsing for a speech he’s been suckered into giving at Whitney High for Government Day. And boom, wackiness averted.

The cop here is Blake Clark, whom you might recognize from Home Improvement, and who took over the voice of Slinky from his friend Jim Varney for Toy Story 3.

Caption contributed by Mark

“Sorry, buddy. I’m going to have to cite you for three counts of blatant padding, aggravated pacing violations, and using an editing machine while mentally impaired.”

The whole thing’s over in no time, and it’s neither funny nor relevant, so in a way it’s an even bigger waste of time than The Song. It’s almost like all GAH scripts had to be routed for approval to the Bewitched writing staff.

Bewitched Overlord: Did you put in the bit about a bug-eyed motorcycle cop watching amazed as Bill talks to Invisible Ralph?
Juanita Bartlett: Yes, yes, it’s right there in scene 43.
Bewitched Overlord: Ah, I see. Er, it’s not very long, is it?
Juanita Bartlett: Look, if I write in a nosy neighbor, will you leave me alone?

They pull up in front of the Lamer Employment Agency for Mercenaries (We’re Number Two and It Shows!), which is really just a residential house in Burbank with a rifle-equipped extra lounging on the front porch, like someone’s really angry and slightly disturbed uncle. Actually, come to think of it, it looks a lot like Mr. Strickland’s house.

And of course, just as Bill is cackling about how this will be a “piece of cake” now that Ralph’s invisible, Ralph reappears, to Ralph’s great relief and Bill’s great dismay. Why does no one ever realize that the gods of karma really hate cackling? It’s always a recipe for immediate smiting.

Caption contributed by Mark

That’ll teach you, Mister Cackle.

Back from commercial, Ralph is giddy with relief, but the karma gods don’t like that level of elation either, and he starts to fade out again. (But to give credit where credit is due, this effect is actually pretty nifty.) Finally, he fades out completely, protesting all the way, and a gleeful Bill insists on moving forward with the Supervoltimeter recovery plan.

They get out of the car and Bill pops the hood on his Fedmobile, pretending to have car trouble, while Ralph presses “play” on his holographic vibe thing, which is back to working by proximity rather than through residual vibes left on objects, but whatevs.

In this way, we get a whole little scene in which a bald Latino in a suit complains to McGreedy that his government financed the Supervoltimeter-heist, and McGreedy tells him to suck it, and to bid at the auction that night with all the other schmucks. McGreedy even spells out the time and place for him (a consulate on “Belmont Drive”), even though this is information that Latino Dope obviously already has. Boy, isn’t it amazing how densely informative villains’ conversations are? I wonder if they take courses for that.

Caption contributed by Mark

An entire pilot for The A-Team was shot with Gregory Sierra as Murdock and Jerry Mathers as Hannibal, but the whole thing was shelved after Mathers insisted on calling it The Beaver Team.

Ralph communicates all this to Bill, and then, still invisible, bugs out for his dinner date, leaving Bill sputtering by the side of the road.

Mark "Scooter" Wilson

Mark is a history guy, a graphics guy, a guy for whom wryly cynical assessments of popular culture are the scallion cream cheese on the toasted everything bagel of life. He spends his time teaching modern history at Brooklyn College, pondering the ancient Romans at the CUNY Graduate Center, and conjuring maps and illustrations for ungrateful bankers at various Manhattan monoliths. Readers are welcome to guess at reasons why he's nicknamed Scooter, with the proviso that all such submissions are guaranteed to be rather more interesting than the truth. Mark lives in the Midwood section of Brooklyn with a happy-go-lucky, flop-eared dog named Chiyo who is probably, at this very moment, waiting patiently for her walkies.

Multi-Part Article: The Greatest American Hero "Here's Looking at You, Kid"

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