24 February 2004 | bobbuethe
A fine show, within its niche
As I see it, the main reason that "Once a Hero" failed was that it was aimed at too narrow an audience. If you're not a comic book fan, you'd probably find it a cute, fluffy, "unreality" sitcom, not unlike "Batman" or "Mork and Mindy" in mood, but without the creative spark that made those shows stand out. If you ARE a comic book fan, but were born after 1960 or so, you'd probably think that this show was making fun of you. But if you love the comic books of the 1950s and '60s (especially Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman), the so-called Silver Age of Superheroes, then there's a good chance that you'll love this program.
Granted, it's a caricature rather than an honest depiction of comic book superheroes; but the show embodies the difference between the superheroes of the past (noble, square-jawed, perfect in every way all-American boys) versus those of the present, or the '80s (grim, gritty anti-heroes dealing with vicious, violent criminals on their own terms). The stories acknowledge that the latter may be more "realistic," more "modern," but in the end it comes down firmly on the side of the former.
The point of "Once a Hero" was that there's still a place for innocence, honesty, and heroic idealism in today's world. But it was canceled way too early to get its message across.