M.A.N.T.I.S.

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M.A.N.T.I.S.
MANTIS (intertitle).jpg
Intertitle
GenreScience fiction
Created bySam Raimi
Sam Hamm
Developed byBryce Zabel
Directed byDavid Nutter
StarringCarl Lumbly
Roger Rees
Christopher Gartin
Galyn Görg
Composer(s)Joseph Lo Duca
Randy Miller
Christopher Franke
Edgar Rothermich
Joseph Conlan
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes22
Production
Executive producer(s)Sam Hamm
Sam Raimi
Robert G. Tapert
Coleman Luck
Producer(s)David Roesell
Paris Qualles
Production location(s)Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
CinematographyRodney Charters
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time44 minutes
Production company(s)Wilbur Force Productions
Renaissance Pictures
Universal Television
DistributorNBCUniversal Television Distribution
Release
Original networkFox
Original releaseAugust 26, 1994 (1994-08-26) – March 3, 1995 (1995-03-03)

M.A.N.T.I.S. is an American science fiction television series that aired for one season on the Fox Network between August 26, 1994 and March 3, 1995.

The original two-hour TV movie pilot was produced by Sam Raimi and developed by Sam Hamm.

The Story[edit]

Wealthy, well-spoken black conservative scientist Dr. Miles Hawkins is shot in the spine by a police sniper during a riot while trying to rescue a child, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair.

After losing a lawsuit against the police department and discovering evidence of a vast right-wing conspiracy against the black community, he angrily undergoes a change in political philosophy and uses his company's resources to invent a formfitting combination powered exoskeleton and bulletproof black body armor that not only enables him to walk while wearing it but in the process also endows him with superhuman strength, speed and agility, plus the ability to fire nonlethal paralysis darts from his wrists.

Using a vast array of technology, including a secret underwater lab called the Seapod deep beneath his secluded seaside mansion and a flying car/submarine called the Chrysalis to travel around the city at night, he secretly assumes the persona of the metal-masked vigilante known as the "M.A.N.T.I.S." ("Mechanically Augmented Neuro Transmitter Interception System", changed to "Mechanically Augmented NeuroTransmitter Interactive System" for the series) to find justice for himself and others.

The pilot featured strong roles for a variety of African-American actors, including Gina Torres as dedicated pathologist Dr. Amy Ellis, Bobby Hosea as ambitious reporter Yuri Barnes, Wendy Raquel Robinson and Christopher M. Brown as African students of Hawkins who act as his secret support staff in his fight against crime, and Steve James as handsome inner city youth club manager Antoine Pike.

The series that followed controversially jettisoned all the black characters save for the hero himself, and the supporting cast was "whitewashed" to include quirky British scientist and exoskeleton co-inventor John Stonebrake (Roger Rees) and smart-mouthed, streetwise young bicycle courier Taylor Savage/Savidge (Christopher Gartin), with police detective Lt. Leora Maxwell (Galyn Görg) being the only other person of color as a regular on the show, and the plot was completely rebooted and simplified from that of the pilot.[1]

Initially the series depicted the M.A.N.T.I.S. operating as an often reluctant vigilante who only got involved in criminal situations when there was some sort of personal connection to him and his friends. And while the costumed crimefighter was still pursued by police, the aforementioned conspiracy was now reduced down to the Machiavellian machinations of one man, evil industrialist and Mile's former business partner Solomon Box (Brion James / Andrew J. Robinson).[2]

However poor ratings led to an extensive retooling of the concept. Midway through the show's run, minor recurring characters like Mile's cliche sassy black housekeeper Lynette (Lorena Gale) were dropped, and more fantasy adventure elements were incorporated into the premise, including parallel universes, time travel, super-villains, and monsters.

In one particular episode, the M.A.N.T.I.S. is accidentally thrown 32 years into the future, where he finds that his own technology has been exploited to create a supercomputer called the City Eye which has enslaved the Port Columbia population. He destroys it and sets the human population free before returning to his own time.

In the series' final installment, a trapped Miles and Leora are tragically killed battling an invisible prehistoric monster. Stonebrake seals off the records and technology that had created the M.A.N.T.I.S., thus averting an apocalyptic future.

While the title character's death was given a sense of finality, the story was left open in one respect: when Miles Hawkins returned to 1994 from the year 2026 (a 32-year difference), he did so precisely 32 seconds after his vehicle sent him forward in time, thus altering the computer-controlled future that his disappearance had led to. As such, Miles, while dying in the reality that he returned to, was also sent forward in time to an unknown future, leaving his actual fate ambiguous.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

While the pilot was filmed in Los Angeles the series itself was produced in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Many Vancouver landmarks, such as the dome of Science World, appear, as do CN Rail cars on the train tracks.

It took three years to film due to Carl Lumbly being busy filming Nightjohn.

There were a number of differences between the pilot and the series.

In the pilot Hawkins wore a stylish suit and brown leather trenchcoat over the exoskeleton which lacked a skullcap, leaving the top of his hair bare, and the mask/headpiece was larger with special glowing green lenses which could hypnotize anyone who looked into his eyes, an ability dropped from the subsequent series as was his habit of leaving behind a small metal mantis as a calling card.

The setting was changed from Oceania City to Port Columbia, and all of the characters, with Miles Hawkins being the sole exception, were changed.

When the series was cancelled, rumors circulated it was because the network wanted to replace Miles as M.A.N.T.I.S. with the younger white Taylor, reducing the black scientist-superhero to a supporting mentor role, but the producers killed off the character and the show to keep this from happening.

Episodes[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
code
1"First Steps"David NutterBryce ZabelAugust 26, 1994 (1994-08-26)69601
In the series opener, Miles puts his exoskeleton to use to foil the plans of Solomon Box (Brion James).
2"Tango Blue"Joe NapolitanoParis QuallesSeptember 2, 1994 (1994-09-02)69602
Miles sponsors a weapons turn-in program only to have the guns stolen by a band of ex-soldiers out for revenge.
3"Days of Rage"Les LandauStory by : Bryce Zabel & John M. Collins
Teleplay by : Bryce Zabel & Brad Markowitz
September 9, 1994 (1994-09-09)69603
A group of teenagers addicted to an intelligence enhancing drug kidnap the head of the company....and Taylor, whose friend is part of the group, ends up hooked while looking into it.
4"Cease Fire"Rob BowmanMark LissonSeptember 16, 1994 (1994-09-16)69604
Miles discovers that an ex-girlfriend on a state visit from Africa is the target for international assassins.
5"Soldier of Misfortune"Kim MannersStory by : Jackie Zabel
Teleplay by : James Kramer
September 23, 1994 (1994-09-23)69606
A virtual reality-controlled android soldier is sent out on a search and destroy mission against those who cancelled the military project that created him.
6"Gloves Off"Michael CaffeyStory by : Coleman Luck & Brad Markowitz
Teleplay by : Bryce Zabel & Mark Lisson
September 30, 1994 (1994-09-30)69608
M.A.N.T.I.S. comes to the aid of a man (Eric Allan Kramer) forced to participate in an underground fighting sport.
7"The Black Dragon"Mario AzzopardiStory by : Nick Corea & David Ransil
Teleplay by : David Ransil
October 7, 1994 (1994-10-07)69607
When the Yakuza try to take over Port Columbia, Miles discovers that the only way to defeat them is to fulfill an ancient Japanese prophecy and take on the role of a legendary warrior.
8"To Prey in Darkness"Cliff BoleStory by : Brad Markowitz & Marc Scott Zicree
Teleplay by : Marc Scott Zicree
October 14, 1994 (1994-10-14)69605
A government agent sent to investigate the M.A.N.T.I.S. situation is not what he seems, and Solomon Box (Andrew J. Robinson) is involved.
9"Fire in the Heart"Rob BowmanParis QuallesOctober 21, 1994 (1994-10-21)69609
A property developer uses a teenager with pyrokinetic abilities to commit acts of arson.
10"Thou Shalt Not Kill"Michael CaffeyBryce Zabel & Brad MarkowitzNovember 4, 1994 (1994-11-04)69610
When M.A.N.T.I.S. is framed for a murder he didn't commit and Miles discovers the identity of the cop who shot him, a deadly trap is set. (Part 1 of 2)
11"Revelation"David GrossmanBryce Zabel & Brad MarkowitzNovember 11, 1994 (1994-11-11)69611
With Miles unconscious and the M.A.N.T.I.S. suit developing a mind of its own, his friends must find and save him before an all-out police manhunt captures or kills him. (Part 2 of 2)
12"Through the Dark Circle"Kim MannersColeman Luck & Carel Gage LuckNovember 18, 1994 (1994-11-18)69612
When Taylor discovers mysterious portal in an abandoned military facility, Port Columbia is invaded by sinister mind-controlling Men In Black from another dimension.
13"The Eyes Beyond"Richard ComptonColeman Luck & Carel Gage LuckDecember 9, 1994 (1994-12-09)69616
M.A.N.T.I.S. is accidentally hurled into a future where Port Columbia is ruled by an evil super computer based on technology Miles created.
14"Faces in the Mask"Neill FearnleyStory by : Scott Curtis & Coleman Luck
Teleplay by : Coleman Luck
December 16, 1994 (1994-12-16)69614
A masked madman seeks revenge on his former business partners using holographic disguises.
15"The Sea Wasp"John NicolellaParis QuallesJanuary 6, 1995 (1995-01-06)69618
Miles becomes the target of a scientist who has genetically altered herself and her students using jellyfish DNA to create a deadly new race of aquatic humans.
16"Progenitor"Mario AzzopardiBryce ZabelJanuary 20, 1995 (1995-01-20)69619
The clone of an old associate of Miles (Vincent Schiavelli) kidnaps Miles and replaces him with a clone in order to start up a long dead project.
17"Switches"Neill FearnleyColeman Luck & Carel Gage LuckJanuary 27, 1995 (1995-01-27)69621
The mind of a mad scientist downloaded into Port Columbia's electrical system exacts revenge on those responsible for his execution.
18"The Delusionist"Tucker GatesColeman Luck IIIFebruary 10, 1995 (1995-02-10)69617
A deranged magician uses a hypnotic device to brainwash the teenagers of Port Columbia, among them Taylor and Leora's younger sister.
19"Fast Forward"Cliff BoleDavid KemperFebruary 17, 1995 (1995-02-17)69620
A criminal with super speed (Curtis Armstrong) plagues Port Columbia. How can M.A.N.T.I.S. stop a villain who moves faster than the human eye?
20"Spider in the Tower"Kim MannersColeman Luck & Coleman Luck IIIMarch 3, 1995 (1995-03-03)69623
The Men in Black are back led by the half-human C. Flayton Ruell (Mark Sheppard) who has a plan to destroy M.A.N.T.I.S., starting with the murder of John Stonebrake.
21"Ancestral Evil"Cliff BoleParis Qualles & Brad MarkowitzSeptember 7, 1997 (1997-09-07)69624
An attempt to create a holographic family tree computer program during a lighting storm accidentally unleashes an evil Druid ancestor of Stonebrake's on the modern world.
22"Ghost of the Ice"Kim MannersDavid KemperSeptember 14, 1997 (1997-09-14)69625
When the Chrysalis crashes in the wilderness, Miles and Stonebrake must escape from an invisible dinosaur that has awoken from a nearby thawing glacier.

Home media[edit]

The series was released on Amazon's Digital Download service Unbox on April 2, 2008. A DVD set of the series, including the original pilot, was released on January 27, 2009.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Braxton, Greg (1994-08-25). "'M.A.N.T.I.S.' Undergoes Pilot-to-Series Changes : New Producers of TV Series About an African American Super-Hero Cite Creative Reasons; Others Claim Racism". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
  2. ^ Rosenberg, Howard (1994-01-24). "TV REVIEWS : 'Mantis' a Super-Hero Without a Prayer". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
  3. ^ "M.A.N.T.I.S. – Long-Awaited Front Cover Art for M.A.N.T.I.S. – The Complete Series". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2011-04-02.

External links[edit]