Follow TV Tropes


Series / Manimal

Go To
Dr. Chase and Police Detective Brooke Mackenzie.

Dr. Jonathan Chase, wealthy, young and handsome. A man with the brightest of futures, a man with the darkest of pasts.
—Our hero summed up in the Opening Narration

Manimal is one of several series on NBC that had an aggressively silly science fiction/fantasy premise as the setup for its story arc and that seemed to rule the television schedule back in The '80s. In this case, there's a man named Dr. Jonathan Chase (Simon MacCorkindale) who is implicitly (according to the opening credits; it doesn't look like they ever elaborated on this) the latest in a long line of people able to turn into animals. He teams up with average police officer Brooke Mackenzie (Melody Andersonnote ) and they fight crime.

Today, the series is mostly remembered for being the most notorious of NBC's infamous "No-Hitter" year of 1983 (none of the shows that premiered on the Peacock Network that year lasted a full season... among them was Good Bad Flicks fave The Master), for frequently appearing in the form of all-day marathons on the Sci Fi Channel some years ago, and for — of course — that hilarious title. On the other hand, it was also an early job for special make-up effects guru Rick Baker and the transformation sequences were done by Stan Winston.

Championed by legendary NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff, this went down as a notorious failure for him in a career otherwise riddled with smash successes - he would always display a Manimal poster in his office to keep him humble ever after.

In 2012, it was announced that Sony Animation plans to make a live action/CGI film of the series. So far, nothing has materialized.

Manimal provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Actor Allusion: Dr. Chase (apparently) turned into a shark in the final scene of the pilot episode to scare one of the people of the terrorist ring, complete with a soundalike of the Jaws theme. Another Jaws reference is made in Episode 2, when Brooke hums the theme in response to Ty saying "I feel like I'm in the jaws of death". Dr. Chase's actor, Simon McCorkindale, was in Jaws 3D earlier in 1983.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: A rare live-action example of the All Animal Abilities type.
  • Animorphism: Into whatever the trainers happened to have handy that could also be fit into the plot, usually a hawk, snake or black panther.
  • Crossover: A strange one-scene one with fellow Larson-made '80s series Automan, as well as a full-episode one over a decade later with Night Man.
  • Faux Action Girl: Brooke. She's supposed to be a cop, but acts like a Satellite Love Interest most of the time.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: Dr. Chase would appear again in a crossover episode of Night Man, almost 15 years after his show's cancellation. In the years since the end of the series, Chase married his old partner Brooke, who later died after giving birth to their daughter, who has inherited Chase's transformation powers.
  • Magic Pants: Used to an enormous degree — Dr. Chase's transformation sequences clearly show him ripping out of his clothes, only for him to be wearing a fully-intact suit the instant he turns back.
  • Not Me This Time: A humorous version shown in the opening credits. Brooke finds a huge snake on her bed and sighs at Chase's transformation antics. She picks the snake up, threatening to not let go until he stops these antics. At which point, in comes Chase in a tuxedo. Realizing she's holding an actual deadly snake, Brooke faints in his arms.
  • Pet the Dog: Chase uniquely manages to weaponize this; one of the villains in the series premiere nearly catches Dr. Chase listening in on a conversation with the Big Bad. Chase escapes by transforming into a cat—which said villain assumes is someone's lost pet and proceeds to shower with affection while she continues the conversation.
  • Portmantitle: Man + Animal
  • Short-Runner: Lasted only eight episodes.
  • Transformation Sequence: There were only two of these (hawk and black panther) shown with any regularity and a third (snake) that was used only once.

Rawr! Manimal!