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In a day in age where little in the way of imagination can be found in most TV shows, the lord gave us Manimal about twenty years ago, and nobody watched it. And so the lord took Manimal away from us. Now we have no Manimal, and honestly, I don't see anything to fill the void left by the cancellation of probably the single most creative show ever. Oh, why can't we be given quality television programing and appreciate it as well. If these are fighting words, I will be at Jimmy's Pub and Grill on Market St. until six, bring it on Manimal-hater!!! PS-Please lord give us back Manimal on a two disc, complete series, DVD special edition. Please...
Is there, in the whole English language, a better word than "Manimal"?
I think not. And should you be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this
show, you'll never be the same again.
Putting the "high" in "high concept," Glen Larson's crime-fighting shape-shifter was a man who could turn into ANY ANIMAL. Any animal at all. As long as that animal is a panther. OK, in a pinch, he can do a hawk, but can we stick with the panther please? It's not so much that special effects technology didn't exist in 1983, it's just that network TV could not afford them. Production costs were high for all that Manimalization, and when low ratings did not quickly morph into Neilsen success, Manimal was hastily euthanized.
Simon MacCorkindale does fine work as the Manimal, but to modern eyes this show plays more like an extended Saturday Night Live skit, when the promise of a man who can be any animal turns into the reality of a guy being swapped out for the same piece of stock panther transformation footage week after week. Still, I sincerely hope Manimal is reissued, because for all its faults, it's a priceless slice of ridiculous 80s fun.
A lot of people rag on Manimal for the premise but compared to all the other
efforts at the same time (Automan, Knight Rider, Street Hawk, etc)it was
better than the rest by a fair margin. A crimefighter fighting against the
bad guys using a special skill (first line in the Glen Larson template)--in
this case shapeshifting anthropomorph--destroys crime. Yeah, it's more of
the usual but always interesting on some level. Simon MacCorkindale gives
it a bit more energy as a regal sort and the show's worth watching on a
purely fun level.
Even more interesting that Manimal was brought back to life fifteen years later in yet another Larson effort, NightMan. Still, a fantastic show to enjoy and sadly short-lived.
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.
First off, I loved this series as a kid! I wish they would have continued
with it. But, then again, this was the era where networks were keeping the
garbage and chucking the stuff with some potential.
Second, if anyone remembers the pilot to this show, his girlfriend (I THINK that was here relationship. It HAS been almost 20 years!) found out about his abilities when he turned into a cobra to pull her out of some quicksand. I also recall him becoming a mule to kick open a locked door so he and his friend could escape. Sure, the panther and hawk were used the most, but they did make him more versatile than that.
OK I'd have to see these again as an adult to give a better opinion.
But the show lasted only a few episodes. The special effects were cool
, but they did have to reuse some footage. I'm not sure if it was
budget or time. Those change sequences must have been a pain to do. And
using latex I think is better than CG even though you can do a lot more
From what I remember I liked the show, but it might have been just the fact that a guy could turn into any animal he wanted (although he only got to do a few of of them). That would capture the imagination of any 8 year old. I remember wishing I could do that!
I loved this show. It was so fascinating for me when I was a kid. I loved animals, and thought it would be beyond cool to be able to change into one. I wish a movie studio would pick up the concept and do a feature film on it. But, it is apparent that the rest of the world did not agree with me, since it didn't last a full season. But, it still goes down in history as one of the coolest shows ever.
I used to love this show when I was a kid - I wish it lasted more than 8 episodes. The sci-fi tech was fantastic for that age. Anyone else agree?
Yeah Dave, I definitely agree with you. I was just watching something on TV and saw the guy from Manimal and had to do a search on it. Not many of my friends remember it so when I saw your post I had to reply. Manimal was a fantastic series and I think someone should petition for a remake, lol.
Panther and hawk only?? Don't be silly. I think I got a jumpstart into
puberty when he turned into a kitten and nuzzled up against some
woman under her bathrobe.
Granted, it was no "Misfits of Science", but still, quality television all the way! (At least for a nine-year-old ...)
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