Mar 07/13

FBI Special Agent Bill Maxwell, Greatest American Hero


Hello! You've been on my mind since last we talked; a lot has happened that I'm excited to tell you about.

First day of spring: it happened here yesterday. For new arrivals to my blog, let me explain. We all know, of course, that spring officially starts on March 20 this year. In many parts of Canada, though, (including some I've lived) spring weather doesn't arrive until a full month after that. So a Canadian might need a "working" definition of when spring starts, rather than the technical one. My answer: spring starts on the first sunny day with double-digit temperature (Celsius). Yesterday was sunny and 10C here. As I've often commented, I live on the west coast (now), which is the mildest part of Canada. Spring can happen in mid-Feb here, but not this year. We'll take it now, though: yesterday was wonderful:)

Renos: I don't know how much I've told you, but we're repainting and reflooring some rooms in our house. Actually, we're preparing to do so. I've been sanding and Spackling for months, trying to get the walls smooth. Those rooms showed hard use when we bought the house, then we used them for business. They're a lot better now, but still need more smoothing. I'll be down there on and off for another week, anyway. That done, we'll paint. Finally, we'll replace the floor.

Running: I started back in early Feb. My weight hasn't changed, but my waist is smaller and my legs are changing shape. I used to run. Over the years I've also used workout tapes and the stationary bike. Now, getting back into running, my legs aren't used to it (yet). Some days are definitely easier than others.

Optimism: I've been catching hints that things are looking up in the US of A. Nobody's happier to hear it than I. Their exports are rising. Perhaps more interestingly, their trade deficit is less than their government deficit - which I interpret to mean that as their government deficit falls, so will their trade deficit. I wouldn't be surprised to see their trade balanced during the next presidency.

Speaking of America, here's a character who spent his life protecting it: FBI Special Agent Bill Maxwell of Greatest American Hero. The show aired from March, 1981, until February, 1983, on ABC. It was created and produced by Stephen J. Cannell.

An hour long, the show follows the adventures of two unlikely companions given the responsibility to fight for good. In the first episode, aliens present one of the men (Ralph Hinkley, played by William Katt) with a "super" suit, while they designate the other (Bill Maxwell, played by Robert Culp) to be his partner. Maxwell is an FBI agent whose knowledge of the bad guys - and how to investigate them - naturally makes him the "leader" of the partnership. Ralph never verbally accepts the premise, but always goes along with it after some reminding.

Ralph is not a perfect superhero and doesn't like being one, either. He doesn't know how to use the suit, but he's still able to figure out what he needs to do each episode. Maxwell lives his job: he's totally courageous and dedicated to catching the bad guys. He's not sympathetic to Ralph's problems with the suit. However, both men do show a sense of humour about the predicaments they find themselves in.

My wife picked up a DVD of the first season. We've watched them all; my kids love the show. It sure brought back some memories to me.

Like today, the years of Greatest American Hero were tough times in America. The Yanks were realizing they weren't in control. Their economy was tough and they were watching imported TVs. Many didn't want to be "super" any more; they just wanted to get on with their everyday lives and fade into being a "normal" country. Reagan reminded them they couldn't.

In Greatest American Hero, Ralph Hinkley, too, wants to be normal. Although he wants good to triumph, he doesn't want the responsibility of the suit. He hates the disruption being "super" brings on his everyday life. FBI Special Agent Bill Maxwell, of course, has a different view: he sees the inevitability of chaos if order isn't maintained. Order isn't self-sustaining; it needs leadership.

On March 7, 2013, the world needs leadership. America is bloodied up from wars overseas and a tough recession. However, just like with Ralph in Greatest American Hero, there is no other choice: America has to put on the suit and rise to the occasion again. It's not military leadership that's needed - rather, it's an example of how to progress through these troubled times. Once America shows us how to retake the initiative, we can all do so.

Here's FBI Special Agent Bill Maxwell. On Greatest American Hero, he never leaves doubt about who he is. In one episode, Ralph and Bill save a 10-year-old from freezing to death. As the boy regains consciousness, he asks, "Who are you?" Bill Maxwell pulls out his badge: "Special Agent Bill Maxwell, FBI."

By the way: to all my Russian readers: Welcome!

Wikipedia was a source for this article.

Bill Maxwell played by Robert Culp Back
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