‘The Greatest American Hero’ Is Ready to Soar Again with an Indian-American Woman as the Lead

ABC commits to pilot from from an all-star female production team.

According to an article by Deadline, ABC has given a “put pilot*” commitment to a reboot of early-’80s cult-classic The Greatest American Hero. Rachna Fruchbom and Nahnatchka Khan’s Fierce Baby Productions will produce the pilot, based on a script written by Fruchbom. Fruchbom  previously worked on NBC’s Parks and Recreation and is currently a writer-producer on ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat which was created and executive produced by Khan.

(*A “put pilot” means that the network is committed to put the pilot on air as a special, even in the unlikely case the series is not picked up. -Ed.)

The original Greatest American Hero was created by legendary television producer Stephen J. Cannell (The A-Team, 21 Jump Street) and starred William Katt (House, Carrie) as substitute teacher Ralph Hinkley who is chosen by aliens to defend the word. He is given a superhero suit that grants its user amazing powers … and promptly loses the instruction manual, leaving him to discover his abilities through trial and error. (In a running gag, he learns to fly — but never masters landing.)

He is aided by an FBI agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp) and attorney Pam Davidson (Connie Sellecca). The show is perhaps best known for its theme song, “Believe It or Not,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Pop Charts.

The reboot is being written by Fruchbom and centers on “Meera, a 30-year-old Indian-American woman from Cleveland whose talents include tequila drinking, karaoke and not much else. Then some aliens entrust her with a super suit to protect the planet, and the world has never been in more unreliable hands.”

Sunita Mani

Mindi Kaling’s name was immediately bandied about in the press, but we would like to suggest up-and-comer Sunita Mani (GLOW, Mr. Robot) as another excellent choice.

Fruchbom executive produces the reboot with Fierce Baby’s Khan and Mandy Summers, as well as Cannell’s daughter, television director Tawnia McKiernan.

This is the fourth attempt at a reboot of the series. After the series ended, Cannell actually filmed a pilot for The Greatest American Heroine where Hinkley’s secret identity is compromised, and the aliens instruct him to give the suit to a successor. Over Maxwell’s objections, he chooses a woman, Holly Hathaway. The network passed, although the pilot was folded into the original series for syndication.

In more recent times, the show was attempted twice — in 2015 and 2016 — by producers Phil Lord & Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie, 21 Jump Street) and McKiernan, but neither version made it to air.