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|Created by||Glen A. Larson|
|Starring||Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Gerald S. O'Loughlin
|Composer(s)||Stu Phillips (1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.7)
Peter T. Meyers (1.10, 1.11, 1.12)
Ken Harrison (1.6, 1.8)
Morton Stevens (1.5, 1.9)
J.A.C. Redford (1.13)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13 (1 unaired)|
|Executive producer(s)||Glen A. Larson
|Running time||50 minutes|
|Production company(s)||20th Century Fox Television
The Kushner-Locke Company
Glen A. Larson Productions
|Original run||December 15, 1983– April 2, 1984|
This is the story of Walter Nebicher, doing what he likes best: fighting crime in the streets. You see, Walter's a policeman. Unfortunately, the Chief doesn't want Walter in the streets.
The Chief: Get back to your cage, boy. Now!
So Walter must fight crime in his own way – in the computer room. That's where he's an expert. Fortunately for me, Walter's advanced knowledge of electronics led him to experiment with what is known as a hologram. That's a very fancy word for a three-dimensional picture that, when perfected, can be made to look real, sound real. As a matter of fact, given enough power, it can be made to feel real. That's kind of what got me into this work. My name is Automan.
Automan: You must be Walter Nebicher.
Walter: How do you know that?
Automan: It's on the programming you fed into my system. I must say, Walter, you're very good. Very good, indeed. I look wonderful.
Walter: If you do say so yourself.
Automan: You programmed me to be honest, but tell me: Why did you call me Automan?
Walter: It means that you're the world's first truly automatic man. You can do anything because you're not real.
Automan: Oh, but I am. I'm as real as you are; just different. And thanks to you – perfect.
Walter: Nobody's perfect, Automan.
Automan: That's not true, Walter. You programmed me to observe other people and do whatever they can do as well as they can do it. Jimmy Connors playing tennis. John Travolta dancing. In fact, on a scale of one to ten, think of me as an...eleven.
Walter: I've created a monster!
No...what Walter really created was a wonderful force for good. Automan. That's me.
Automan (the "Automatic Man") follows the adventures of a police officer and computer programmer named Walter Nebicher (Desi Arnaz, Jr.), who had created an artificially intelligent crime fighting program that generated a hologram (Chuck Wagner) able to leave the computer world at night and fight crime.
While in the real world, Automan posed as a government agent by the name of "Otto J. Mann." This was a secret to all except Walter's close associate, Roxanne Caldwell (Heather McNair).
Nebicher could merge with Automan to become one being, sharing consciousness and skills, while retaining Automan's invulnerability.
Cursor was his sidekick, a floating, shifting polyhedron which could "draw" and generate physical objects as needed. The most common forms taken were a car (the Auto Car), an airplane, and a helicopter, all of which could defy the laws of physics.
The show also starred Robert Lansing as Lieutenant Jack Curtis and Gerald S. O'Loughlin as Captain of Detectives E. G. Boyd, both Walter's superiors. Both believed Automan was a friend of Walter's from the FBI. Captain Boyd, a technophobe who had no use for computers, often held up Lieutenant Curtis as the kind of cop he was convinced was the ideal for police – an ideal to which he believed Walter could never rise.
The Automan costume appeared to glow on screen due to its reflective fabric designed by 3M. The fabric was made up of tiny reflective balls, and it was able to reflect nearly 100 percent of the light shone at it (the technique had been used several years earlier for the Kryptonian costumes in Superman). The costume also had highly polished plates attached to it to provide the holographic appearance.
The Autocar and Autochopper were the most common vehicles created for transport. Each vehicle would appear or disappear as a sequence of wireframes drawn by Cursor, and were black with strips of reflective tape stuck on them. The Autocar was a Lamborghini Countach LP400, which was capable of making 90-degree turns without losing control and overtaking merely by strafing, rather than turning. However, human passengers not properly secured in their seats would often be thrown around inside with the momentum from the sudden position change. The Autochopper was a Bell Jetranger capable of landing anywhere. The show also featured a futuristic airplane and motorcycle, while other episodes featured a distinctive handgun and a guitar.
Another prominent feature of Automan was the ability to "wrap himself" around Walter as a means of protecting him. They would appear as one person, but because Walter was inside Automan, he would inadvertently end up speaking in two voices.
However, Automan's excessive use of electricity would often mean he would suffer from power shortage during the daytime, so he was rarely active in sunlight.
Automan was inspired by Steven Lisberger's film Tron, which had come out a year earlier. In order not to seem to be plagiarizing Tron, Glen A. Larson involved Donald Kushner, who had been an operating producer of Tron, and his partner, Peter Locke, as operating producers of Automan.
Although similar in appearance, the special effects used to create the Automan look were different from the hand-painted effects used in Tron. Automan cinematographer Charles "Chuck" Barbee reports they used reflective material and portable projectors, with the result resembling a blue/green screen chromakey overlay.
- Desi Arnaz, Jr. – Walter Nebicher
- Chuck Wagner – Automan / Otto J. Mann
- Robert Lansing – Lieutenant Jack Curtis
- Gerald S. O'Loughlin – Police Captain E. G. Boyd
- Heather McNair – Roxanne Caldwell
|Nº||Episode title||Directed by:||Written by:||Original air date|
|1||"Automan"||Lee H. Katzin||Glen A. Larson||December 15, 1983|
|Walter Nebicher is a young police officer who wants desperately to get out on the streets and experience some action. Unfortunately, his superior Captain Boyd has assigned Nebicher to a desk job where he can utilize his skills as a computer expert.|
|2||"Staying Alive While Running a High Flashdance Fever"||Winrich Kolbe||Glen A. Larson||December 22, 1983|
Walter and Automan investigate a judge that appears to be corrupt and involved with the mob.
|3||"The Great Pretender"||Kim Manners||Sam Egan||December 29, 1983|
When a truck load of paper the government uses to print money is hijacked, Automan, with the help of Cursor, poses as a rich criminal competing to undermine the existing network of a known criminal dealing in counterfeit money.Part of the scene on the taxi cab was reused from the TV series Manimal episode 2 "Illusion".Manimal was another TV series created by Glen A. Larson.
|4||"Ships in the Night"||Bob Claver||Parke Perine||January 5, 1984|
|Walter and Auto fly to San Cristobal to investigate the disappearances of Americans. They discover a man, aided by the local authorities, that lures investors in order to kill them and take their money.|
|5||"Unreasonable Facsimile"||Winrich Kolbe||Sam Egan||January 12, 1984|
|Automan and Walter attempt to solve the murder of a businessman and the crash of a police helicopter. Automan begins acting peculiar after watching soap-operas on television.|
|6||"Flashes and Ashes"||Kim Manners||Douglas Heyes, Jr.||January 19, 1984|
|Walter's friend and fellow cop Frank Cooney is killed during the theft of police weaponry. But when the Internal Affairs agent believes Frank was involved, Walter is suspended when he and Auto interfere trying to prove his friend's innocence.|
|7||"The Biggest Game in Town"||Winrich Kolbe||Larry Brody,
|January 26, 1984|
|Automan and Walter attend a computer game convention where they must track down Ronald Tilson, a computer genius who has programmed computers to cause disasters that will kill people unless he gets ten million dollars.|
|8||"Renegade Run"||Allen Baron||Larry Brody,
Douglas Heyes, Jr.
|March 5, 1984|
|When Walter investigates a crooked sheriff who is using illegal immigrants for manual labor, he and a friend are put in jail. Automan teams up with a motorcycle gang to free him.|
|9||"Murder MTV"||Bruce Seth Green||Douglas Heyes, Jr.,
|March 12, 1984|
Walter and Automan investigate an apparent attempt to kill the members of an all-girl band called Sweet Kicks. But their investigation is hampered when the father of one of the girls seeks assistance from a crime syndicate.
|10||"Murder, Take One"||Kim Manners||Sam Egan||March 19, 1984|
|Former movie star Veronica Everly is a suspect in the murder of gossip columnist Ray Gillette. However, when Automan discovers that a Hollywood producer had a greater motive for murder, he goes undercover as an actor to catch the real killer.|
|11||"Zippers"||Alan Crosland||David Garber,
|March 26, 1984|
|Automan goes undercover as an erotic dancer in a ladies-only strip club.|
|12||"Death by Design"||Gil Bettman||Sam Egan||April 2, 1984|
|When a ruthless crime syndicate kills one of Jack's best friends, Automan poses as a vigilante cop by the name of Mad Dog who is out for justice.|
|13||"Club Ten"||Kim Manners||Michael S. Baser,
|The exclusive Club Ten resort is a center for diamond smuggling. When Laura Ferguson stumbles on this secret she manages to put out an SOS call to her old friend Roxanne before being taken prisoner. Roxanne, Walter and Automan are soon on the trail of the missing Laura, unaware they themselves are being trailed...|
* "Club Ten" has been broadcast (years later) on The Sci-Fi Channel, and on BBC1 and Bravo in the UK.