Manimal

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For the band, see Manimal (band).
Manimal
Manimal.jpg
Genre Action/Adventure/Fantasy
Created by Glen A. Larson
Donald R. Boyle
Written by
Directed by
Starring
Narrated by William Conrad
Theme music composer Paul Chihara
Composer(s) Paul Chihara (pilot)
Alan Silvestri (all other episodes)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 8
Production
Executive producer(s) Glen A. Larson
Paul Mason
Running time 45 minutes
Production company(s) 20th Century Fox Television
Glen A. Larson Productions
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Original run September 30 – December 17, 1983

Manimal is an American actionadventure series that ran from September 30 to December 17, 1983 on NBC. The show centers on the character Dr. Jonathan Chase (Simon MacCorkindale), a shape-shifting man who possessed the ability to turn himself into any animal he chose. He used this ability to help the police solve crimes.

Opening narration[edit]

For every episode except the pilot, actor William Conrad recites the opening narration that tells of Chase's wealthy present life and his early days in Africa with his missionary father.

Overview[edit]

Manimal premiered as a 90-minute pilot that aired on September 30, 1983. The series featured the story of Dr. Jonathan Chase, a shape-shifter who could turn himself into any animal he chose, and used this ability to help fight crime. Only two people were aware of Jonathan's secret, his friend Ty Earl and Police Detective Brooke Mackenzie. Jonathan and Ty would assist Brooke with a case she was working on, with Jonathan transforming himself into an animal when it became useful.

While Jonathan had the ability to change himself into any animal, he would transform into a hawk and a black panther in nearly every episode. In some episodes, he would transform into a third animal, such as a horse, dolphin, bear, or bull, with the transformation taking place offscreen, though once he was shown becoming a snake. The transformation sequences were designed and created by the Academy Award-winning SFX artist Stan Winston. Another aspect of the transformations that added to the show's camp factor involved Dr. Chase's clothing during a transformation: He was depicted generally wearing a three-piece suit and tie, and the viewer would see it rip off of him as he shape-shifted into an animal, though once the transformation was complete there would be no sign of his discarded clothing. A bit later, he would transform back into human form with all of his clothing perfectly restored upon his person, even if he was unconscious.

Episode list[edit]

No Title Directed by: Written by: Air date PC
1 "Manimal" Russ Mayberry Donald R. Boyle,
Glen A. Larson
September 30, 1983 (1983-09-30) 101

90-minute pilot: When a group of thieves devise a plan to hijack a shipment of nerve gas, Detective Brooke Mackenzie must stop them. She teams up with Dr. Jonathan Chase, a man that knows the secrets that divide man and animal and who is trained in an African technique that allows him to transform into different animals.

Guest stars: Ursula Andress as Karen Jade, Ed Lauter as Colonel Hunt
2 "Illusion" Daniel Haller Paul Mason October 14, 1983 (1983-10-14) 102

A Bulgarian ambassador hides behind his immunity status to smuggle illegal goods into the country.

Guest stars: Richard Lynch as Zoltan Gregory, David Hess as William
3 "Night of the Scorpion" Daniel Haller Glen A. Larson October 21, 1983 (1983-10-21) 103
While being interrogated by Russian agents about the location of a list, a man dies from a truth serum drug. A note and $2 million are left to his daughter Terry. Jonathan, Brooke and Ty must protect Terry while trying to locate the list before the Russian agents do.
4 "Female of the Species" Georg Fenady Michael Berk,
Douglas Schwartz
October 28, 1983 (1983-10-28) 104

After a girl is found living with wolves in the forests of Sultanpur, India, she is the topic of discussion at a local university where she is being held. When an attempt is made on her life, Jonathan takes her into his care and protection. Her identity must be found in order to discover who it is that is trying to kill her.
Guest star: Michael McGuire as Stanford Langly

This episode has an almost identical storyline to a 1986 episode of The Wizard titled "Endangered Species", as well as a 1994 episode of the same name in Thunder in Paradise. All three episodes were written by Michael Berk and Douglas Schwartz.
5 "High Stakes" Sidney Hayers Michael Berk,
Douglas Schwartz
November 4, 1983 (1983-11-04) 105

When a horse trainer recognizes her stolen horse in a race, Jonathan helps her try to recover it.

Guest star: David Sheiner as Sheldon Greentree
6 "Scrimshaw" Charles Bail Michael Berk,
Al Breitenbach,
Douglas Schwartz
December 3, 1983 (1983-12-03) 106

While at the beach, Jonathan and the others discover a scrimshaw (walrus tusk with carvings on it) in the clutches of a skeleton. They begin investigating at a local bar where they encounter someone who has been looking for it for their whole life.

Guest stars: Meeno Peluce as Corky Morgan, Keenan Wynn as Sea Dog Morgan
7 "Breath of the Dragon" Leslie H. Martinson Joseph Gunn December 10, 1983 (1983-12-10) 107

Jonathan, Brooke and Ty must stop a criminal who extorts money from businesses in China Town while posing as a superstitious icon known as The Dragon.

In this episode, Walter Nebicher from Automan can be seen walking outside a Chinese restaurant. Both Manimal and Automan were filmed back-to-back with the same scene, at a different angle, appearing in an episode of Automan.
8 "Night of the Beast" Russ Mayberry Sam Egan December 17, 1983 (1983-12-17) 108
While on a well-deserved vacation, Jonathan, Ty and Brooke get involved to thwart an attempt by a syndicate boss to illegally take over the town of Birch Hollow in order legalize gambling and build a large casino.

NightMan[edit]

  • Glen A. Larson, the creator, briefly resurrected the Jonathan Chase character for a crossover with his 1990s series NightMan. In that episode, Manimal's traditional, practical-effects transformation was abandoned in favor of a CGI sequence.
No Title Directed by: Written by: Air date PC
28 "Manimal" Allan Eastman Glen A. Larson November 9, 1998 (1998-11-09) 206
Nightman allies with Dr. Jonathan Chase, a man who knows how to transform into different animals.

DVD release[edit]

On August 27, 2012, Manimal: The Complete Series was released on DVD in the UK in PAL region 2 by Fabulous Films.[1] The three-disc set includes the TV-movie pilot and seven original full-length episodes. Special features includes a near 20-minute interview with series creator Glen A. Larson, production notes, biographies, galleries, Automan TV series trailer and episode guide booklet.

On October 18, 2012, Manimal was released on DVD by Condor Entertainment (3 disc set) in France.

Cast[edit]

Reception and cancellation[edit]

Manimal was scheduled opposite CBS's popular soap opera Dallas, and was canceled after eight episodes due to low ratings. Manimal was a part of NBC's 1983 fall line-up which also featured eight other series that were canceled before their first seasons ended (including Jennifer Slept Here, Bay City Blues, and We Got It Made).[2]

Manimal is not well regarded by most TV reviewers. John Javna's book The Best of Science Fiction TV included Manimal in its list of the "Worst Science Fiction Shows of All Time", along with Space: 1999, Lost in Space, Buck Rogers in the 25 Century, and The Starlost.[3] TV Guide also ranked Manimal number 15 on their list of the 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time in 2002. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy described Manimal thus: "Axed after seven regular episodes, the only surprise being that it ever got past the pilot stage".[4]

Film[edit]

In September 2012, it was reported that Sony Pictures Animation is developing a live-action/CGI film based on Manimal. The series' creator and producer, Glen A. Larson, is once again attached as a pro­ducer.[5] In July 2014, Deadline.com reported that the film will be produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay through their Gary Sanchez Productions, and by Jimmy Miller through his Mosaic Media Group.[6] Jay Martel and Ian Roberts have been hired to write the script.[6] On November 14, 2014 Glen A. Larson died at Esophageal cancer, he was age 77.[7]

International broadcasters[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Manimal – The Complete Series
  2. ^ Hofstede, David (2004). What Were They Thinking: The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History. Back Stage Books. p. 87. ISBN 0-8230-8441-8. 
  3. ^ John Javna, The Best of Science Fiction TV: the critics' choice. New York: Harmony Books, 1987. ISBN 0517566508 (p. 76–77).
  4. ^ Pringle, David, ed. (2006). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy. London: Carlton. p. 106. ISBN 1-84442-110-4. 
  5. ^ Kit, Borys (September 17, 2012). "'Manimal' TV Series Being Turned Into Movie at Sony Pictures Animation (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 17, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Yamato, Jen (July 22, 2014). "‘Manimal’ To Roar With Will Ferrell, Adam McKay & Jimmy Miller". Deadline. Retrieved July 22, 2014. 
  7. ^ Barnes, Mike (November 15, 2014). "Glen A. Larson, Creator of TV’s 'Quincy M.E.,' 'Magnum, P.I.' and 'Battlestar Galactica,' Dies at 77". The Hollywood Reporter. 

External links[edit]