Movie Talk

It came from the ’80s: ‘Manimal’ to get big screen treatment

Movie Talk

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Original 'Manimal' star Simon MacCorkindale (Photo: Everett Collection)

Who says a TV show has to be well received in order to get the big screen treatment? Certainly not the folks at Sony Animation, who, according to The Hollywood Reporter, recently secured the cinematic rights to the short-lived and critically mauled '80s relic "Manimal."

Mani-what? "Manimal" (which would make for an awesome Burt Reynolds-endorsed cologne) was an action-drama that revolved around a dashing doctor (sadly not Burt Reynolds) who transformed into different animals (but mostly a panther) to help the police fight crime. Proving that even the American public has its limits, the show was canceled after just eight episodes.

But it seems that the concept of a man turning into beasts and birds to chase crooks was just too good for Hollywood to ignore. And even though Sony Animation grabbed the rights, the film (if it does see the light of day) will be live action with a healthy dose of CGI. Maybe something like "The Smurfs" only not so highbrow.

Embracing the "so bad it's good" past of "Manimal" will go a long way with the show's fans. And yes, they do exist. The Web is full of folks who look back fondly (really!) on the shape-shifting adventures of Dr. Jonathan Chase (played by Simon MacCorkindale). One commenter from TV.com puts it this way, "As a show about a man plus animal = manimal, it succeeds brilliantly." Another writes on IMDb, "I remember when this show came on and I thought it was the greatest thing. Yes, some of it seemed very hokey, but it was a lot of fun."

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Others are notably less kind. "I want those 60 minutes of my life back. What was I thinking? I was 12, so my only excuse was that I wasn't thinking when I decided to watch the pilot for this steaming pile of drek," is a typical user review. Ditto for: "Its (sp) an ugly trainwreck of a show."

While "Manimal" lasted just two months on the air, other TV shows have gotten the ax far quicker. The much-hyped "Playboy Club" was killed after just three episodes. "The Paul Reiser Show" made it on the air just twice. And "Emily's Reasons Why Not," starring Heather Graham, lasted just one episode. Seven more and Emily could have had her own movie — just ask Manimal.

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