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Series: Automan
Walter and Automan.

Automan was a short-lived cop show that aired on ABC in The Eighties. Desi Arnaz Jr. played Walter Nebicher, a police scientist/Hollywood Nerd who's stuck in the computer room when he'd rather be out on the street. In response, he creates Automan (short for "Automatic Man", played by Chuck Wagner), an artificially intelligent holographic partner. Automan had the ability to do any action hes seen on video, and interface with any computer system. He was also was aided by Cursor, a blinking ball of light who could become virtually any object Automan needed, such as various vehicles or civilian clothing.

Naturally, They Fight Crime in a "Starsky & Hutch Meets TRON" pastiche. Twelve episodes of the series aired in 1983-84.


Automan demonstrated the following tropes:

  • Character as Himself: Cursor even gets the "And Starring" billing.
  • Cool Car: Which also happens to be a Flying Car.
  • Da Chief: Capt. Boyd (Gerald O'Loughlin), an old-school captain who doesn't care for Walter's new-fangled computers.
  • Energy Shield: Automan can be one, by "merging" yourself with him. Since he's made of light, you can just walk through him and stand where he stands (but since it's Hard Light, it will subsequently stop bullets, etc.).
  • Extreme Omnisexual: For a glowing ball of energy, Cursor was very "interested" in any attractive females nearby.
  • Fake Band: Sweet Kicks, an all-girl band who are targeted for death in the episode "Murder MTV".
  • Follow the Leader: Inspired by TRON, but also borrows heavily from Knight Rider (also from Glen A. Larson).
  • Future Spandex: It's easy to see that Automan is something different because he's dressed up in sparkly Future Spandex.
  • Hard Light: Automan, Cursor and all Automan's vehicles are made out of it.
  • Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress: Automan's Cool Car can hard turn at 90 degrees, which is no problem for Automan, but any human passengers...
  • Internal Affairs: They investigate the death of Walter's partner in "Flashes and Ashes".
  • Magical Computer: This show didn't even pretend to be realistic about how computers work.
  • Not Wearing Tights: Unless you count that Tron-like glowy suit.
  • Opening Narration: It takes up two whole minutes and features a long, slow Info Dump about Automan's abilities. This means that three minutes of show is taken up by a plodding opening.
  • Power Copying: Automan could copy any skill he sees performed at least once.
  • Projected Man: As a result of adding more power.
  • Running Gag: Walter's last name is regularly mispronounced as "nebbish."
  • Sue Donym: Automan's usual alias outside the computer is Otto J. Mann.
  • Short Runners: Only lasted 12 eps,with a 13th episode unaired (though all 13 aired in the UK and Mexico).
  • Shout-Out: Many, as one of Automan's abilities was to duplicate skills he saw performed in movies or television. One notable incident involved duplicating the skills in The Hustler — right down to the missed final shot.
  • They Fight Crime
  • Tron Lines: On every vehicle Cursor creates. Also Automan's holographic body; even when in plainclothes disguise, his glowing collar is always visible.
  • The Unintelligible: Cursor only speaks in various beeps.
  • Weakened by the Light: Automan and Cursor's power needs meant that they could only be projected into the physical world during off-peak hours, i.e. nighttime. This also negated the need to have neon-themed objects in broad daylight.

Amazing StoriesCreator/Available Light ProductionsBattlefield Earth
The AssetsCreator/ABCThe Avengers
Auf Wiedersehen, PetSeries of the 1980sBassie & Adriaan
ArrowSuperheroBatman
Arthur of the BritonsShort RunnersBearcats!
Austin & AllyAmerican SeriesAwake

alternative title(s): Automan
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