The Automan Logo

Series Overview
  1. Automan
  2. Staying Alive While Running a High Flashdance Fever
  3. The Great Pretender
  4. Ships in the Night
  5. Unreasonable Facsimile
  6. Flashes and Ashes
  7. The Biggest Game in Town
  8. Renegade Run
  9. Murder MTV
  10. Murder, Take One
  11. Zippers
  12. Death by Design
  13. Club 10

Walter Nebicher -
Desi Arnaz Jr

Automan -
Chuck Wagner

Roxanne Caldwell -
Heather MacNair

Jack Curtis -
Robert Lansing

Captain Boyd -
Gerald S. O'Loughlin

Kyle XY
The Champions
Now and Again
Bionic Woman (2008)

Series Overview

AUTOMAN is not named after his flashy car, but rather because he is the world's first automatic man. He is a hologram created by computer to fight crime by the LAPD's resident computer nerd. Together with that nerd, he fights crime and saves the day.

It's easy to see where AUTOMAN came from. Someone saw the movie TRON the year before and thought 'lets do that on TV' only they didn't go into the computer, but brought the man out of the computer. They gave him a car like the ones from TRON, a helicopter like the one from TRON and a cursor just like 'bit' from TRON. Surely there was lawsuit?

Time has not been kind to AUTOMAN. The idea of the holographic character remains current (hello STAR TREK VOYAGER) everything else is hopelessly outdated. What is supposed to be cutting edge computer technology is clunky old cathode ray tube tvs and blinking lights on relay banks. In the pilot they even have to explain what a telephone modem is!

At the heart of the show is a likeable turn from Desi Arnaz Jr as the computer geek who wants to be James Bond, supported by Chuck Wagner's slightly stuffy alter ego Automan. The plots are very much of their day, thus dating the show all the more.

AUTOMAN was only ever intended to be a light piece of fluff entertainment (at least we hope it was) and it suffices as that intermittently.



Walter Nebicher wants to fight crime. Unfortunately, he is a computer genius stuck in the LA police department trying to convince old time cops that electronics are the way forward in crime fighting. Only Jack believes him, but Jack gets himself kidnapped whilst investigating the abduction of top scientists at the local airport. Walter calls into being Automan, a holographic representation of the greatest crime fighting influences of all time. This hologram proves to come with cursor, a sexist 'bit' capable of creating super cars and planes out of thin air and the ability to walk through walls. The only drawback appears to be a glowing blue suit that stands out anywhere and the fact that there has to be lots of power for him to operate. The scientists are being held in Switzerland , so Automan takes Walter there, but the rescue doesn't quite go as planned.

As an origin story, this isn't up to much. Curiously, the creation of Automan takes place twice, once in Nebicher's basement and then again for the benefit of Roxanne and the audience as Walter explains how he has come to be. A bunch of Hell's Angels are frightened off by the appearance of the man in blue spangles, but that is unlikely to happen today.

The spangling is the result of a special effect borrowed from TRON, but then all the special effects are borrowed from TRON. The car and the plane that he uses are influenced by (ie directly copied from) TRON's neon-lit helicopter (but are cool all the same) and cursor, the gadget that draws these vehicles into existence is a direct lift from the movie.

The basic plot isn't up to much, though the reason why the scientists are being kidnapped is certainly novel (they are so invaluable to their companies that they are kidnapped and forced to work for those companies in captivity so they can't go elsewhere). Desi Arnaz Jr makes for a likeable enough lead, but it will take a while to decide whether Chuck Wagner's Automan is too conceited for his own good. Dragging in Patrick MacNee and Doug McClure to add some familiar faces amongst the bad guys is a smart move, but totally wasting them is not.

The AUTOMAN pilot is lumpy and rough, but there are possibilities in it for lighthearted, thoughtless entertainment.


Staying Alive While Running a High Flashdance Fever

A potential witness to Mafia operations in Las Vegas goes missing during a meet and disappears inside a Judge's home. Walter then gets a call from the Judge's personal assistant saying that she needs help to expose him. Automan intercepts the call and sets off to meet the woman himself, but whilst he is the world's greatest detective his personal interaction skills are still limited. Not, though, his dance moves.

You can get from the title that the whole point of this episode is to get Automan throwing some disco moves on the dance floor. His assimilation of John Travolta videotapes has left him with the skills, but the sequence is too long by half and not very funny.

The crime story at least has the good grace to include a twist along the way and the courage to actually have a major character murdered half way through, but when Walter's female colleague Roxanne is kidnapped, sense goes out of the window.


The Great Pretender

When Walter identifies a car used in the hijacking of paper used in the making of dollar bills as the same one used in a murder, Jack identifies the culprit immediately, but proving it will be more difficult. Automan poses as would-be gangster kingpin Mr Otto and sets about the suspect's crime empire in order to set up a deal on the man's wedding day.

The idea of using Automan to muscle in on the criminal organisation of the man who they believe to have hijacked the paper is not a bad plot, but the rest of the elements of the episode are. Poor dialogue, acting and scripting means that this is going to appeal only to the least demanding of audiences and probably even then only if they really have nothing better to do.

Apart from the various face-offs with Sarah Corvus, Jaime gets some more brutal training to get her military conditioning working and learns how to switch certain parts of her bionics on and off.


Ships In The Night

On a Caribbean island crooks are persuading desperate businessmen to smuggle cocaine for them in order to get the working capital that they need. It's a scam, though, as the money the businessmen put up for collateral gets stolen and they step out of an aeroplane at altitude. When Jack is taken prisoner, it's up to Wally and Automan to expose not only the crooks, but the corrupt local police officials who are helping.

Apart from the stock footage setting the plot in the Caribbean there really isn't much here to mark this episode out from what has gone before. The Autoplane makes a welcome comeback, but neither that nor the scantily-clad ladies in the background can do anything to make this more interesting.


Unreasonable Facsimile

The death of a businessman is linked to the fatal crash of a police helicopter. Walter hooks up with the man's daughter to solve the case, but Automan's been watching too many soap operas and believes that his life is missing on a little passion.

Apart from watching Automan try to get off with a couple of women in a singles bar and admitting that he doesn't know how to kiss because that scene is usually cut off by the adverts in the soap operas, there is precious little fun to be had here. The plot is basic, the dialogue is painful and the acting really doesn't do it any favours either.


Flashes and Ashes

When one of Wally's old pals is killed whilst apparently stealing a cache of police weapons, Wally refuses to believe that he was part of the plot. His personal investigation brings him before Internal Affairs who have taken over the case and unless he backs down he is going to lose everything.

The world of fake mediums provides a backdrop to this story, but it's a half-hearted backdrop that only allows the double act of cursor and Automan to pull off a few tricks for an appreciative audience. It really doesn't feed into the plot at all, which is yet another thin, second-hand police procedural story that isn't going to strain anyone's brain power.


The Biggest Game In Town

The city is rocked by a power cut and a computerised threat is received demanding $10 million or face further disasters. Walter manages to head off a flood when the dam computer opens all the sluices and an plane disaster when the air traffic control computer is compromised, but when the police headquarters is targeted with a bomb can even Automan find and disarm it in time?

Lots of stock footage of supposedly cutting edge computer technology really dates this episode, but that's nothing to the poor editing, acting, scripting and, oh just everything. Very possibly the poorest example of a poor show to date.


Renegade Run

An old friend of Wally, who also helped design Automan, is being threatened by the corrupt sheriff of a border town who has designs on the land she owns with her brother. He goes home with her to help and ends up on a chain gang after being framed for drugs possession. Automan and Jack team up with a gang of bikers to sort it all out.

AUTOMAN's idea of a biker gang is laughable, though not as laughable as the Marlon Brando in THE REBEL outfit that Chuck Wagner has to sport as he takes on the leader of the biker gang in some less than impressive bike stunts to prove his worthiness.

The plot is trite, the supposed suprises don't and the whole thing is just another waste of time.


Murder MTV

All girl band Sweet Kicks is being targeted by a killer who is blackmailing their manager (and father of the lead singer). Walter is given the job of providing security and Automan tags along to learn about 'rock and roll', but the father has already turned to the mob for help.

Songstress Laura Branigan essays the lead singer of the band and proves that her singing talents are far superior to her acting talents. Of course, that could be down to another appalling script with which none of the rest of the cast can do a lot. Even the identity of the killer seems to be irrelevant to the main thrust of the story and a ridiculous car chase is thrown in for no reason whatsoever.


Murder, Take One

When a gossip columnist is killed whilst working on an in depth story on the financing of a $20 million movie, Automan finds himself much in demand on the set as the latest actor to join the cast.

Ed Lauter guest stars in this story, which makes very little sense at all. The drug dealer financing the picture has to complete the film exactly as written before six o'clock or the the other investors will make him foot the entire bill himself which means he won't be able to afford to pay for the huge shipment of drugs that is coming in. What is all that about? Total gibberish.

Add to that the fact that Walter is now a black belt martial artist all of a sudden and that the Captain will go into a warehouse to take on a couple of armed guys all alone when he has the entire police department right behind him and it is total nonsense.



A ring containing a microchip on which is the name and address of everyone taking part in the witness protection programme is stolen from the man who was trying to sell it to the mob. The only clue is a link to male strip club Zippers. It's time for Automan to strut his funky stuff.

Anyone hoping to see Chuck Wagner stripping down to not very much will be disappointed because under his clothes he's still got an electronic blue neon suit. That still seems to drive the women wild in this silly episode. Wagner has the moves, to be sure, and the looks as well, but the rest of the plot (if it can be called that) is just plain nonsense.

Add to that the fact that Walter is now a black belt martial artist all of a sudden and that the Captain will go into a warehouse to take on a couple of armed guys all alone when he has the entire police department right behind him and it is total nonsense.


Death By Design

The mob want in on a fashion company, but the owners are playing hard to get. When one partner gets killed, the police move in to protect the remaining partner.

A week after disrobing men we get women in bikinis since the fashion house in question seems to design swimwear and not much else. That allows for the gratuitous presence of attractive ladies in not very much, but it still can't distract from the fact that neither plot, nor episode are up to very much.

The only amusing thing about it is Chuck Wagner trying to do a Clint Eastwood in DIRTY HARRY impersonation.


Club 10

A friend of Roxanne's leaves a message saying that her life may be in danger. Wally and Roxanne go to the lavish beach resort where she works and attempt to find her, but get themselves drawn into an international diamond smuggling operation.

Another chance to fill the screen with women in bikinis, but this plot is even more juvenile and less interesting than most of the others. The heroes idea of saving lives of hostages is to cause the car in which they are being held to crash into a building. Not exactly a low risk strategy.






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