This crossbreed of science fiction, superhero, and crime show drama resulted in one of the most unusual series in the history of prime time television. Created by Battlestar Galactica creator Glen Larson and Donald Boyle, Manimal chronicled the adventures of Professor Jonathan Chase, an animal behaviorist with the ability to transform at will into any number of animals. His many guises included a house cat, a hawk, a snake, and his most popular of alter egos, a black panther.
Chase, who had learned the “secrets that divide man from animal” from his late father, decided to use his power for the forces of good, assisting the New York Police Department as a consultant in a special investigative unit that used animals in criminology. But Chase kept his powers a secret from all but two people: co-worker Detective Brooke McKenzie and his assistant, Ty Earle. And yes, that familiar voice you heard during the show’s opening narration was that of William Conrad, the famed Rocky and Bullwinkle narrator and star of Cannon.
Manimal was an early casualty of the 1983-84 season, lasting only eight episodes before cancellation in December of 1983. However, it has stayed in the collective consciousness of science-fiction fans for representing a memorable extreme of the genre.
USA / NBC – Twentieth Century Fox – Glen A. Larson Prod. / 1×70 minute episode 7×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 30 September – 31 December 1983
Creator and Producer: Glen A. Larson / Executive Producer: Glen A. Larson, Paul Mason / Special Effects: Stan Winston, Al Wright
SIMON McCORKINDALE as Jonathan Chase
MELODY ANDERSON as Brooke McKenzie
MICHAEL D.ROBERTS as Tyrone ‘Ty’ Earl
RENI SANTONI as Lt Rivera
WILLIAM CONRAD as Narrator