The Fall Guy is an American action/adventuretelevision program produced for ABC and originally broadcast from November 4, 1981, to May 2, 1986. It starred Lee Majors, Douglas Barr, and Heather Thomas as Hollywood stunt performers who moonlight as bounty hunters.
Lee Majors plays Colt Seavers, a Hollywood stunt man who moonlights as a bounty hunter. He uses his physical skills and knowledge of stunt effects (especially stunts involving cars or his large GMCpickup truck) to capture fugitives and criminals. He is accompanied by his cousin and stuntman-in-training Howie Munson (Barr) – who studied in Nashville – , whom Colt frequently calls “Kid”, and occasionally by fellow stunt performer Jody Banks (Thomas).
Guitarist and lead singer of The Diamonds, Dave Somerville, had been asked by television executives to develop a song for TV series based on the life of an anonymous stuntman. Although the original show never went forward, a year later when asked to vacation with his friend Glen A. Larson at Larson’s holiday home in Hawaii, the only original song Somerville had in his guitar case was the same song. Larson had also been trying to develop a TV show about stuntmen, and on hearing the song began developing his idea. On their return to Los Angeles, Larson and Somerville pitched the idea to ABC Studios, opening their pitch with Somerville playing the song on his guitar, now called The Ballad Of The Unknown Stuntman. Just on the five minute pitch alone, ABC Studios agreed that Larson could write a fully funded pilot show.
Whilst writing the pilot, Larson met actor Lee Majors in an airport terminal. Looking for a new project post the Larson-produced Six Million Dollar Man, Majors agreed to take on the lead role in the pilot. The series became known from the pilot onwards for its frequent cameos by Hollywood celebrities, and the occasional in-joke referring to Majors’ previous starring role in The Six Million Dollar Man. The pilot featured a cameo appearance by his then-wife Farrah Fawcett and his friend James Coburn. In the series, due to Majors’ pending divorce, Larson cast actress Heather Thomas in the Fawcett role, having previously cast her in other pilot shows at Universal Studios. Seavers’ house was built on a studio backlot, but its design was based on Somerville’s real house which still exists today in the Hollywood hills, which had an outside bathtub.
During the first-season episodes, typically, an episode begins with a voice-over introduction from Majors (in his role of Seavers) explaining the precarious life of a Hollywood stuntman, and how he, Seavers, is unable to make a full-time living from stunt work and must moonlight as a bounty hunter. This is intercut with actual Hollywood stock footage from various eras of dangerous movie stunts, such as an exploding plane plunging straight into the ground, a motorcycle jumping through a flaming hoop, and a biplane crashing/barnstorming into a barn. After the voice-over introduction, the crew is seen performing a stunt for a film or TV series when Seavers is then assigned to finding, for example, a man who has skipped bail. His case turns out to be more complicated than it first seemed. In the course of dealing with the villains, Seavers performs a stunt similar to the one shown at the beginning of the show. Seavers’s voice-over narration was dropped from the second season onward.