22 March 2023
"Automan" was a science fiction television series that premiered in 1983 and ran for only one season. The show followed the adventures of Walter Nebicher, a computer programmer working for the Los Angeles Police Department, who creates a crime-fighting hologram named Automan using his advanced computer program. 


The premise of the show was innovative for its time, as it blended science fiction and crime-fighting elements. The show also featured some impressive special effects for its time, with Automan's ability to transform into various vehicles being a particular highlight.

One of the strengths of "Automan" was its premise. The idea of a computer programmer creating a superhero to fight crime was fresh and exciting at the time, as the concept of using technology for crime-fighting was still new. The show's unique premise made it stand out among other shows of its time, and its blend of science fiction and crime-fighting elements set the stage for later shows that would follow a similar formula.

However, the execution of the show was not always successful. The characters were somewhat one-dimensional, and the acting was often wooden. The show also suffered from formulaic plots, with each episode following a similar structure of Walter and Automan fighting a new villain. Despite its flaws, "Automan" was still able to entertain its audience, and its innovative concept and impressive special effects kept viewers engaged.

In terms of its cultural context, "Automan" was part of a wave of science fiction and action shows that dominated the 1980s. The show's depiction of technology was reflective of the increasing influence of computers and digital technology on everyday life. The show also reflected some of the social and political issues of the time, such as the rise of corporate power and concerns over crime. The show's blend of science fiction and crime-fighting elements resonated with viewers and reflected the cultural attitudes of the time.

Automan consciously emulated the visual stylistics of the Walt Disney Pictures live-action film Tron

Tron was a groundbreaking movie that utilized computer-generated imagery (CGI) to create a digital world inside a computer. The film was a visual masterpiece, and its unique aesthetic and style inspired many other works of art and media in the years to come.

The television was designed to look like a futuristic piece of technology straight out of the world of Tron. It featured a sleek, angular design with glowing blue accents that were reminiscent of the film's iconic light cycles.

The Automann television also utilized a similar color palette to Tron, with lots of black, blue, and neon colors. The television's screen was also designed to look like a computer monitor, with a green-tinted display that gave it a distinctly digital look and feel.

automan car lamborgini

Despite its short run, "Automan" left a lasting impact on pop culture. The show was an early example of the "computer-generated hero" trope that would become a staple of science fiction and action movies and TV shows. 

Additionally, the show's influence can be seen in later shows like "Knight Rider" and "The A-Team," which featured similar premises of crime-fighting heroes and high-tech gadgets. "Automan" paved the way for these later shows and helped to establish the "computer-generated hero" trope as a staple of the science fiction and action genres.

In conclusion, "Automan" was a flawed but entertaining show that reflected the changing cultural attitudes of the 1980s. While it may not have been a critical success, its impact on pop culture and its influence on subsequent shows and movies cannot be ignored. The show's innovative premise and impressive special effects set the stage for later shows, and its blend of science fiction and crime-fighting elements helped to define the genre. Despite its short run, "Automan" remains a cult classic that is fondly remembered by fans of science fiction and action shows.

Trivia about Automan:

  1. "Automan" was created by Glen A. Larson, who was also responsible for other popular 1980s shows such as "Knight Rider" and "Battlestar Galactica."
  2. The show's theme song, "Automan," was performed by the British band, "The Police."
  3. Desi Arnaz Jr. played the lead role of Walter Nebicher, the computer programmer who creates Automan.
  4. Automan was played by Chuck Wagner, who was also a professional wrestler and had previously appeared in the TV series "The Bold and the Beautiful."
  5. Automan's car, the "Lamborghini Countach," was actually a custom-made vehicle that was built specifically for the show.
  6. The show's visual effects were created using a technique called "neon animation," which involved filming live actors in front of a black background and then drawing over the footage with bright neon colors.
  7. "Automan" was cancelled after only one season due to low ratings, despite being one of the most expensive shows on television at the time.
  8. The show's tagline was "He's only a hologram, but he's got substance."
  9. Walter's police detective friend, Lt. Jack Curtis, was played by Robert Lansing, who had previously starred in the TV series "12 O'Clock High" and "The Equalizer."
  10. One of the show's villains, "Zippers," was played by Robert Tessier, who was known for playing tough-guy roles in movies such as "The Longest Yard" and "The Deep."
  11. The show's final episode was titled "Renegade Run," and it aired on April 2, 1984.
  12. The show's opening credits featured neon animation of Automan's various powers, such as his ability to create solid objects out of light and his ability to transform into a helicopter.
  13. The show's "Big Bad" was the mysterious and powerful "Luthor," who was only seen in shadowy glimpses throughout the series.
  14. The show's final episode features a guest appearance by Dick Gautier, who played "Hymie the Robot" on the TV series "Get Smart."
  15. The show's visual effects were created by Pacific Title Digital, which also created the visual effects for the movies "Blade Runner" and "The Terminator."
  16. The show's stunt coordinator was Conrad E. Palmisano, who had previously worked on "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "The A-Team."
  17. "Automan" was filmed on location in Los Angeles, California, and many of the show's exterior shots feature iconic LA landmarks like the Hollywood sign.
  18. "Automan" was released on DVD in 2011, and it includes all 13 episodes of the series as well as bonus features such as interviews with the cast and crew.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
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