The Hollywood Reporter noted Monday that Sony Animation has acquired the rights to turn this early ’80s NBC series into a combination live-action/CG feature, finally making that unofficial lame ’80s TV remakes trilogy — “Smurfs” + “Alf” + “Manimal” — a reality.
“But Jen Chaney, what is ‘Manimal,’ other than a hybrid word that’s even more enjoyable than Robsten to say out loud?” So glad you asked. Allow me to quote directly from the aforementioned TV Guide fall preview issue, which the geniuses at Branded in the ’80s were wise enough to preserve in a digital format.
“He is now a professor of behavioral sciences. But once upon a time, Jonathan Chase (Simon MacCorkindale) learned the amazing secret of transforming himself into various beasts. With the entire animal kingdom to choose from, Jonathan could have become a sooty albatross, a duckbill platypus, a snail darter — but no-o-o! In the pilot he chose only a black panther, a hawk, a kitty cat and a shark.”
Okay, I’m just going to stop there and summarize: The show was about a guy who transformed into panthers and kittens in order to fight crime. And yes, it actually aired on television, on a major network, at a time that wasn’t 3 a.m.
It only lasted eight episodes. Which of course suggests that a lot of money should be spent to turn it into a movie because if no one watched it then, surely someone will want to see it now. Am I right?
The “Manimal” reboot — or just boot, really, considering how briefly its run lasted — is still being processed in various corners of the Internet. Amos Barshad over at Grantland, for example, has some good suggestions about how to maybe, perhaps, make this project a semi-viable one. But even his Seth MacFarlane option might not be enough to turn this concept into something worth seeing. (Unless it’s in 3-D. Then: whole different story.)
On the positive side, a reboot of “Manimal” means that the “Misfits of Science” movie and “It’s a Living: The Motion Picture” are just an inhale-and-exhale away. Cannot. Wait.