Manimal: The Complete Series
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Dr. Jonathan Chase, wealthy, young and handsome. A man with the brightest of futures, a man with the darkest of pasts. From Africas deepest recesses to the rarefied peaks of Tibet, heir to his fathers legacy and the worlds darkest mysteries. Jonathan Chase, master of the secrets that divide man from animal, animal from man. Partnered with a young policed detective and a former army corporal from the fields of Vietnam. A trio that stands against the crime that breeds in the concrete jungles and stretches its deadly tentacles to the fascinating but dangerous world beyond, the world of MANIMAL!
Jonathan Chase (Simon MacCorkindale), famed Professor of Criminology, with the inherited powers to transform himself into any animal he wishes, uses that power to assist the New York Police Department in solving major crimes. He is assisted by Brooke McKenzie (Melody Anderson), an intelligent and beautiful detective with the NYPD, and Tyrone Earl (Michael D. Roberts), a former intelligence officer with whom he served in Vietnam.
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"Manimal" followed the adventures of Professor Jonathan Chase, who, as a young boy, was taught by mystics in Tibet, the ancient art of metamorphosis - shape changing - in order to survive. While the pilot movie/episode hinted of a darker legacy that burdened Chase, it was never explored in the following episodes of this intriguing short-lived television series from the 1980s. What is also intriguing about Chase's learned shape-changing ability is that it is a painful one - at least it's implied that it's painful by his raspy breathing and facial expressions as he undergoes each metamorphosis.
Professor Chase, with the help of his friend, Tyrone Earl, combat crime in New York City. Earl learned of Chase's "talent" when the two were intelligence officers in Viet Nam, when the two had been captured and were about to be killed. NYPD Detective Brooke McKenzie discovers the truth about what Chase can do when she puts the clues together and decides the truth is actually believable.
"Manimal" wasn't exactly science fiction, and it never really strayed into the fantasy realm - shape-shifting aside. It was more of a man with a special talent fighting crime show. What made "Manimal" unique was the banter between Chase, Brooke, and Ty.
Sadly "Manimal" only lasted for an eight-episode run because it went up against "Dallas" during the "Who Shoot J.R.?" story arc of the late night soap opera.
"Manimal" could be rebooted. It definitely does hint of a broader canvas that could be explored.
A Great Show that was sadly short lived!
The show, itself, got mixed reviews, but even though only eight episodes were made (counting the feature-length pilot as one ep), the series had an appeal that resulted in a demand for its appearance on home video. As a fan, I was excited to see the show again and I wasn't disappointed. Manimal is still great fun - even the effects hold up better than I expected (I'd love to see the series rebooted with today's effects - and there is allegedly a movie in the works - but for their time, Manimal's effects were cutting edge stuff).
What I wasn't expecting was that there would be bonus features: Man to Animal: An Interview with Glen A. Larson; Concept and Production Notes; Bios; Galleries; Episode Guide Booklet (with full production synopses - ie: spoiler-filled - watch the eps then read the booklet).