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Walter Nebicher (Desi Arnaz, Jr.)
and Automan (Chuck Wagner)
|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|
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 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. During the "merges" only Automan's form, a head atop a glowing body of circuit panels and lights, could be seen.
Cursor was his sidekick, a floating, shifting polyhedron which could "draw" and generate physical objects as needed. Cursor could only "draw" one object at a time. Exceptions to this included conventional clothing to hide Automan's unusual glowing body and various vehicles with glowing blue piping. The most common forms taken were a car (Auto Car), plane, and helicopter, all of which could defy the laws of physics such as making a 90 degree turn.
Automan featured the use of a Lamborghini Countach as transport. When driving, Automan could turn his car at 90 degree angles. Automan was unaffected, but his passengers were generally thrown around in the vehicle.
The show also starred Robert Lansing as Lieutenant Jack Curtis and Gerald S. O'Loughlin as Captain of Detectives E. G. Boyd, Walter's superiors. Both believed that 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 show had used several visual effects. The costume itself had reflective plates stuck on it to give the holographic appearance, with a specific lighting system in place.
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 turning in 90-degree angles and overtaking merely by strafing, rather than turning. The Autochopper was apparently a modified 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. As with Automan's costumes, Cursor could also create replicas of ordinary vehicles and appliances as a disguise.
Another prominent feature of Automan was to wrap himself around Walter as a means of protection. Being a 'perfect'  hologram, Automan was invulnerable, and could use it to protect Walter, and appear as one person, but given Walter's interactions with Automan, he would inadvertently end up speaking in two voices. Automan could also manipulate computer records and transactions.
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 completely different from the hand-painted effects used in Tron. Automan cinematographer Charles "Chuck" Barbee reports that what they actually did was use reflective material and portable projectors, though the end result looks simply like some kind of 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||Director||Writer(s)||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.|
|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, Shel Willens||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., Guerdon Trueblood||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, Bruce Kalish||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, Kim Weiskopf||Unaired *|
|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.
International broadcasters 
See also 
- Show Summary, TV.com, retrieved 2012-10-25