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Series / My Secret Identity

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Just one costume short of true superherohood.

"This is better than my imagination
This is more than a dream come true
Without the slightest bit of hesitation...
I knew what I was meant to do! (Ooh-oo-hoo!)
You'll never guess my secret identity!
Who's on the inside hidin' out!
You'll never know what you'll see...
When you unlock the mystery!
Sometimes this double life gets out of hand...
But if you see trouble coming, I'm your man!
- The theme song
My Secret Identity was a Canadian live-action TV show that ran from 1988 to 1990. It starred Jerry O'Connell (who would become better known for starring in Sliders) as a teenager named Andrew Clements who accidentally gains superpowers and secretly uses them to help people. Contrary to the series title, though, Andrew never actually uses a secret identity - although he likes to pretend he's a superhero named Ultraman, he never wears a costume (except in a daydream sequence). (It's a "secret" in the sense that he never uses his powers in public.) The only other person who knew his secret was Dr. Benjamin Jeffcoat (played by Derek McGrath), Andrew's neighbor who accidentally gave the boy his powers while he was fiddling around with a homemade particle beam projector. Jeffcoat felt responsible for what happened and tried to restore Andrew to normal, despite the boy clearly loving having superpowers. Instead he mostly kept Andrew grounded on reality.

Andrew's powers included invulnerability, superspeed and levitation, but not superstrength or true flight, which Andrew really wanted to have. Instead, he had to use aerosol cans to help himself fly around! However, later in the series he would indeed gain greater strength and flight, but lost his invulnerability, after being zapped by a particle beam a second time.

The show never got much publicity, so remains pretty obscure to this day.

The series included instances of:

  • Ascended Fanboy: Andrew is a teenage boy who almost religiously reads superhero comic books. He gets a chance to be a real deal, much to his excitement.
  • Book and Switch: Andrew does it so often that one episode ends with his mom noticing he's reading a book on math and tells him "why don't you tell me the ending of that Fantastic Four issue you're reading?" and turns out to be right.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: Andrew once believed that he could obtain super strength by calling on the powers of Ultraman - specifically by breaking a tree branch (with his knee) or by pushing open a heavy grate. Subverted at the end of that episode when Dr. Benjamin explained that it was an adrenaline rush rather than a superpower.
  • Canadian Series
  • Cursed with Awesome: Dr. Jeffcoat thinks that having powers is a curse (They Would Cut You Up is a possibility he implies often). Andrew is so obsessed with superheroes that he would go the whole nine yards, costume and all, if he could.
  • Fantastic Comedy: A hyperactive teenage boy accidentally gains super-powers. Hilarity ensues.
  • Freak Lab Accident: Something as simple as being hit by a beam.
  • Gaslighting: Andrew's powers were discovered by a nosy next door neighbor, who recorded Andrew holding up an electrical box that fell. After she confronted the pair, the doctor and Andrew had to quickly cause her living space to act strangely so that she couldn't view the tape on her own TV. When she went to the Doctor to have him play the tape, he switched it with one that looked innocent.
  • Homemade Inventions: Dr. Jeffcoat speciality - he builds all sorts and kinds of gizmos that usually end up being Flawed Prototypes.
  • Improvised Microgravity Maneuvering: An earthbound example. Andrew can float but not fly, so he uses two aerosol cans for propulsion. By season two, he gained enough control of it to drop the cans, but it's still not actual flying.
  • New Super Power: At the beginning of the second season, Andrew gains far greater control of his flight. He also trades his Nigh-Invulnerability for more conventional Super-Strength.
  • One-Sided Arm-Wrestling: As expected when facing a giddy kid with Super-Strength.
  • Power Nullifier: It is revealed by a dentist's X-Ray machine that any exposure to concentrated radiation robs Andrew of his powers.
  • The Rashomon: In the series finale.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: In one episode, Andrew was a little too vigilant in fighting crime. What he originally thought would be a crime was instead something innocent (e.g. pulling a bank card out of a jacket, using a Heimlich Maneuver to stop choking, etc.)
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: At one time, Andrew forgot about X-rays when he decided to show the superpower to his friend. He also got so used to his original Nigh-Invulnerability, when it got away for good, it took him some time to adjust to less reckless actions.
  • Too Qualified to Apply: Andrew once tried out for the school's track team despite his superpowers giving him an unfair advantage. He has a discussion with Dr. Jeffcoate who asks if he's the one winning the races or his alter ego. This causes Andrew to intentionally lose his next race.