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Once a Hero

Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

US tv series (1987). Garden Party Productions/New World International for ABC-TV. Created by Dusty Kay. Produced by Paul Pompian, and others. Directors included Harry Hurwitz, Kevin Hooks, and Claudia Weill. Writers included Ira Steven Behr and Kay. Cast includes Robert Forster, Jeff Lester and Milo O'Shea. Five 60-minute episodes. Colour.

Comics writer Abner Bevis (O'Shea) finds himself repeating his own plots for his Superhero comic Captain Justice; sales are declining and the publisher is considering cancellation. Captain Justice himself (Lester) somehow realizes this in his comics universe of Pleasantville, and is allowed to enter the real world by "The Great and Powerful", an entity resembling the Wizard of Oz (see L Frank Baum). Unfortunately, Justice loses his Superpowers on arrival in our reality, which he finds deeply confusing after the clear-cut morals of Pleasantville. One ally has followed him: private detective Gumshoe (Forster), who attempts to keep Justice out of trouble, though the latter's adoption of the name "Kent" does not help. Regardless, Justice tries to continue his heroic deeds, with mixed success. His antics renew interest in the comic title, and it will continue publication after all.

A Satire on superheroes, the Justice character (not to be confused with the 1930s UK Captain Justice) is modelled after the Golden and Silver Age comics heroes of the 1940s and 1950s rather than later incarnations. The series was perhaps ahead of its time: neither the public nor ABC seemed to know what to make of it, and it was cancelled after only three episodes. Ironically, one of the unaired instalments guest-starred Adam West as an actor so stereotyped from playing a superhero that he could no longer find other acting roles. [GSt]


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