I’ve always been fascinated by comic-book heroes—men and women endowed with superpowers who save the world from destruction and from bad guys who hurt good people.

Years ago, I watched the British TV series The Champions. The program followed the adventures of a team of United Nations law enforcement agents—two men and one woman—who were almost killed when their plane crashed in the Himalayas.

The three were rescued by members of an advanced civilization who restored them to health with medicine that transformed them into superhumans. They were smarter and stronger than other people and used their newly acquired gifts for good.

One episode that stood out in particular concerned a group of rival agents who were injected with drugs that gave them the same abilities as these heroes. But unknown to this trio was the tragic downside of the drug: Once its effects wore off, they would become permanently comatose.

When I hear about smart drugs, I can’t help but remember this show.