Jonathan is helping the police apprehend the man behind a smuggling ring. But they discover that the man is a diplomat with diplomatic immunity. Jonathan follow him and sees him talking to a magician...
While visiting a friend in Chinatown, Jonathan discovers that there's a gang who are shaking down everyone. He discovers that his friend's grandson has joined the gang. They learn that the man behind...
A scientist who has created a super helicopter has defected to Libya and taken the machine with him. A secretive government agency hires an ex-Vietnam War pilot to go to Libya, steal the chopper and bring it back.
Donald P. Bellisario
Jonathan Chase was a British college professor at New York University who had the unusual ability to transform into any kind of animal. He used his powers to battle crime alongside pretty policewoman Brooke and Vietnam-war pal Ty. Written by
Marty McKee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Glen A. Larson's concept of the lead character's ability to manifest into the body of an animal stalker posed creative solutions to the production team. Using a "really alive black panther cat", or a "bird", or a "snake", for the actor's transition was a study in discipline for cast and crew. The production designer was required to coordinate--with the director, set decorator, stunt supervisor, the cat's wrangler and with the actor--every instance the script called for using any of the animal(s) involved. Location filming was most difficult, but shooting on a soundstage allowed for more control of the animals being utilized. When a cobra was required in one script, the entire set's perimeter floor and wall had to be sealed in order to prevent the cobra from escaping. A barricade low (2'0") wall was placed in the open end of the set in order to seal the entire stage. The camera crew had to lift their equipment into the interior of the setting to just set up filming the action with the snake. The snake's trainer--or "wrangler"--supervised the animal's movement while still being able to maintain control of it. See more »
I remember when this show came on and I thought it was the greatest thing. Yes, some of it seemed very hokey, but it was a lot of fun.
After growing up a bit and seeing it again on Sci-Fi, I can see in some ways why it didn't continue. I think the biggest flaw was that the story writers didn't take advantage of the Man into Animal aspect. They stuck the main character basically with routine Cops and Robbers plots. Most (if not all) of the story lines could be transplanted to any other Police / Crime show and be solved by an ordinary person with no animal powers. Sure, there were some instances where Dr. Chase would find himself in a predicament where only changing into an animal would save him (like falling out of a plane and changing into a hawk), but for the most part the cases were pretty mediocre.
Another problem was leaving Dr. Chase's past too enigmatic. I'm sure it was meant to add to the mystery, but most people just had no idea where this character came from or why he could do what he could do. There was the cryptic opening sequence where the young Jonathan Chase is standing by his dying father's bedside, but no other explanation is ever given about him. Knowing almost nothing about the character, you couldn't really develop too much sympathy for him. They also never delved into any complications that may come with being able to turn into any animal. Did he have their instincts as well? Did he have any limitations? Could he transform into Fish, Amphibians or Insects, or just air breathing animals? He did transform into a reptile once (python), but the rest were warm blooded air breathers like mammals and birds.
I watched on Sci-Fi Channel when they had interviews with Stan Winston, the creator of the Transformation sequences. I could see with the TV show budget, they could only do two or three sequences (Panther and Hawk were the main ones, but the Python was one exception and used only once), but those sequences were great. All done with prosthetic make-up and mechanical effects and all done in real time. Pretty impressive for the day. If the series had been produced today, it would have been much easier to do a multitude of sequences and most likely done with CGI Morphing. Once, the Dr. Chase / Manimal character made a guest appearance on "Night Man", but we were robbed because the transformation sequences were reduced to an instantaneous transformation with a flash of light. What's up with that??
Like I said, this series is greatly missed and I hope that someday the entire series comes out on DVD. I will certainly be first in line to buy it.
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