Pilot

AutomanPolice officer Walter Nebicher is a danger to himself and others on the beat, so the chief of police puts him in the job best suited to him: running the department’s computers. Walter, still determined to fight crime in his own way, creates an artificial intelligence that manifests itself as a solid hologram – Automan, “the world’s first fully automatic man.” As long as he has sufficient power to draw upon, Automan can fight crime, starting with the mysterious disappearance of Lt. Jack Curtis, Walter’s friend and fellow officer who was following on a lead regarding shady activity at a private security company. Walter’s computer also points to the same company and its executives as a potential suspect, and he and Automan (and Automan’s tiny assistant Cursor, which can create vehicles for Automan on demand) set out to solve the mystery…but Automan must disappear to recharge when his power runs low, leaving Walter to improvised his way through tricky situations.

written by Glen A. Larson
directed by Lee H. Katzin
music by Stu Phillips / Automan Theme by Billy Hinsche and Stu Phillips

AutomanCast: Desi Arnaz Jr. (Walter Nebicher), Chuck Wagner (Automan), Heather McNair (Roxanne Caldwell), Gerald S. O’Loughlin (Capt. Boyd), Robert Lansing (Lt. Jack Curtis), Patrick Macnee (Lydell Hamilton), Steven Keats (Collins), Robert J. Hogan (Peterson), James Antonio Jr. (Cramer), Robert Dunlap (Chuck Wilson), Don Galloway (Martin Wills), Doug McClure (Det. Ted Smithers), Camilla Sparv (Tanya), Sid Haig (1st Gang Member), Mickey Jones (2nd Gang Member), Gloria LeRoy (Landlady), Herman Poppe (Swiss Guard), Carol Vogel (Joanne Wills), Dennis Fimple (The Taxi Driver), Kristina Hayden (Stewardess), Ed Hooks (Parking Attendant), Angela Lee (Wills Girl #1), Tricia Tomicic (Wills Girl #2)

AutomanNotes: Created by Glen A. Larson and obviously inspired by Disney’s heavily-promoted 1982 movie Tron, Automan takes the concept of a man from inside the computer world…and drops it into a buddy cop show. Without the budget for the manually-animated intricate body armor of Tron, Automan instead used a technique called front-axial projection, illuminating Chuck Wagner’s special reflective costume (and similarly reflective detailing tape on Automan’s various vehicles) with a powerful but narrowly focused light mounted to the camera itself. If Glen Larson had any visions of an Automan empire, they were quickly dashed – the show lasted less than one full season on ABC.

AutomanGuest star Patrick Macnee (1922-2015) was a frequent flier guest star on American TV, having established himself as the debonair star of the long-running, light-hearted British spy show The Avengers, which originally started out darker and featured Macnee’s character of Mr. Steed as its second banana. Sid Haig is also a mainstay of American genre TV, known best to science fiction fans as Dragos, self-styled Master of the Cosmos, the chief bad guy in the 1970s Filmation live-action series Jason Of Star Command. Automan mentions that Walter has programmed him to take sharp 90-degree turns – inspired by Tron‘s light cycles, but here chalked up to the 90-degree turns taken by video game characters such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Staying Alive While Running A High Flashdance Fever

AutomanWalter is riding along for a police operation targeting a powerful mob boss, but Captain Boyd leaves Walter at the side of the road (for his own safety) to continue the pursuit. Walter calls on Automan to help pursue the mob, but the trail leads somewhat paradoxically to the home of a powerful judge who has made a career out of putting the mob behind bars. Walter’s trail of evidence dead-ends because Automan naturally has to return to the digital world to recharge, leaving his human partner high and dry. New evidence arrives, leading Automan to Las Vegas…and possibly implicating the judge after all. Now Walter has to go to Vegas himself, and has to convince Lt. Curtis and Roxanne that he isn’t crazy for following this latest lead. And while he’s searching for clues among the Vegas nightlife, Automan takes on a smooth-dancing persona who proves popular with the ladies.

written by Glen A. Larson
directed by Winrich Kolbe
music by Stu Phillips / Automan Theme by Billy Hinsche and Stu Phillips

AutomanCast: Desi Arnaz Jr. (Walter Nebicher), Chuck Wagner (Automan), Heather McNair (Roxanne Caldwell), Gerald S. O’Loughlin (Capt. Boyd), Robert Lansing (Lt. Jack Curtis), Mary Crosby (Ellen Fowler), Don Gordon (Leonard Martin), Angela Aames (Bartender), Robert F. Lyons (Jason), William Windom (Judge Farnsworth), Jack Perkins (The Drunk), Jorge Cervera Jr. (Jackson), Jim Storm (The Driver), Bud Davis (Sieger), Gary Epper (Brandt)

AutomanNotes: Jack Sowards (1929-2007), co-writer of Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan and former writer for Bonanza and The Streets Of San Francisco, joins Automan as its executive story consultant, a function he also served on both of those shows as well as Falcon Crest. When Automan wants Walter to tell him what his astrological “sign” is, Walter replies “Tell them you’re an Apple II!” Songs heard in the background of the episode include Michael Sembello’s “Maniac”, Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”, and the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive”.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Great Pretender

AutomanA violent hijacking leaves a man dead…and a truckload of the paper used to print money in the hands of a criminal organization. From behind his computer, Walter figures out who was behind the heist…but getting to that suspect through the layers of his enforcers and other henchmen will be a challenge. Automan proposes a solution: he will assume the guise of “Mr. Otto”, a rival crime boss, and begin stripping Brock’s supporters away from him until he’s exposed. It’s a brilliant plan that doesn’t take into account the fact that Automan’s only exposure to the criminal underworld comes from Walter’s collection of old gangster movies…

written by Sam Egan
directed by Kim Manners
music by Stu Phillips / Automan Theme by Billy Hinsche and Stu Phillips

AutomanCast: Desi Arnaz Jr. (Walter Nebicher), Chuck Wagner (Automan), Heather McNair (Roxanne Caldwell), Gerald S. O’Loughlin (Capt. Boyd), Robert Lansing (Lt. Jack Curtis), Clu Gulager (Brock), Michael Callan (Mayhew), Andrea Howard (Lauren Robinson), Ed Griffith (Laird), James Andronica (Parsons), Cliff Emmich (Zack), Paul Lambert (Robinson), Fil Formicola (Solt), Todd Martin (Gritch), William Long Jr. (Russo), Ken Sansom (The Minister), K.C. Winkler (The Blonde), Marc Vahanian (Carty), Richard Derr (Robinson), Barry Berman (Tate), Talbot Simons (The Taxi Driver)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Ships In The Night

AutomanThe mysterious disappearance of a local businessman during a trip to the tropical island of San Cristobal becomes Jack Curtis’ latest investigation, sending him to San Cristobal for leads. Walter and Automan discover clues that indicate the disappearance is part of a larger and deadlier pattern of crimes, and travel to San Cristobal to provide this information to Curtis, who is already working with local authorities. But not even Walter suspects that those authorities are not only corrupt, but deeply involved with the crimes…and Automan is too busy discovering the limbo to be of much help.

written by Parke Perine
directed by Bob Claver
music by Stu Phillips / Automan Theme by Billy Hinsche and Stu Phillips

AutomanCast: Desi Arnaz Jr. (Walter Nebicher), Chuck Wagner (Automan), Heather McNair (Roxanne Caldwell), Gerald S. O’Loughlin (Capt. Boyd), Robert Lansing (Lt. Jack Curtis), Scott Marlowe (Sawyer), France Nuyen (Liang Lu), Steve Hanks (Woody), Frank Aletter (James Dowling), Abraham Alvarez (Police Sergeant), Cesare Danova (Captain Romano), Javier Grajeda (The Desk Clerk), Branscombe Richmond (Johnson), Melanie Vincz (The Beautiful Girl), Bridget Sienna (The Croupier), Rick Garcia (The Bank Guard)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

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