Automan

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Automan
Automan.jpg
Walter Nebicher (Desi Arnaz, Jr.)
and Automan (Chuck Wagner)
Format Science fiction
Superhero
Comedy-drama
Created by Glen A. Larson
Starring Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Chuck Wagner
Heather McNair
Robert Lansing
Gerald S. O'Loughlin
Composer(s) Stu Phillips (1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.7)
Billy Hinsche
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
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13 (1 unaired)
Production
Executive producer(s) Glen A. Larson
Larry Brody
Producer(s) Donald Kushner
Peter Locke
Running time 50 minutes
Production company(s) 20th Century Fox Television
The Kushner-Locke Company
Glen A. Larson Productions
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Original run December 15, 1983 (1983-12-15) – April 2, 1984 (1984-04-02)

Automan is an American science fiction superhero television series produced by Glen A. Larson. It aired for only 12 episodes (although 13 were made) on ABC between 1983 and 1984.

Synopsis[edit]

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.[1]

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.

Features[edit]

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.

Influences[edit]

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.

Cast[edit]

Episodes[edit]

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.

This episode's title references the films Staying Alive, Flashdance and Saturday Night Fever.
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,
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.

This episode's title references MTV.
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[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Show Summary, TV.com, retrieved 2012-10-25 

External links[edit]