Manimal is an American actionâ"adventure 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.
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.
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.
- PC = Production code number
- 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.
On August 27, 2012, Manimal: The Complete Series was released on DVD in the UK in PAL region 2 by Fabulous Films. 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.
- Simon MacCorkindale â" Dr. Jonathan Chase
- Melody Anderson â" Brooke Mackenzie
- Michael D. Roberts â" Tyrone "Ty" C. Earl
- Reni Santoni â" Lt. Nick Rivera
- William Conrad â" Narrator (opening scene)
- Glynn Turman â" Tyrone "Ty" C. Earl (pilot episode)
- Jack Greer â" Young Jonathan Chase (pilot episode)
Reception and cancellation
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).
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. 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".
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. 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. Jay Martel and Ian Roberts have been hired to write the script.
- Manimal (Pilot) at the Internet Movie Database
- Manimal at the Internet Movie Database
- Manimal at TV.com