Ready For Manimal: The Movie?

'80s cult TV becomes CG/live-action

Every time some new nugget of nostalgia is mined to fuel the hungry development furnace, we enjoy hauling out comparable ideas (TV shows, books etc.) that would never, ever, seriously get optioned. But somehow, as the list of untouched titles dwindles, we’re constantly surprised by what does suddenly become attractive to studios. Take today: Sony Pictures Animation has decided that Manimal is worth making into a movie.

Manimal, for those of you too young to recall it, or desirous of decent television unwilling to dip into such a cult show, revolved around… Well, why don’t we let the opening narration tell you? “Dr. Jonathan Chase... wealthy, young, handsome. A man with the brightest of futures. A man with the darkest of pasts. From Africa's deepest recesses, to the rarefied peaks of Tibet, heir to his father's legacy and the world's darkest mysteries. Jonathan Chase, master of the secrets that divide man from animal, animal from man... Manimal!”

Even shorter version: wealthy doctor turns into animals (usually a hawk or a panther, but occasionally he’d diversify into a bear, a horse, and even a snake once) and helps the police. The transformations were ridiculous, but always entertaining, when they weren’t off screen.

We can sort of see the appeal: Glen A Larson’s original series, which was blessed with the best cast names ever in Simon McKorkindale and Flash Gordon’s Melody Anderson only lasted eight episodes and was largely derided by critics. So there’s scope to make something better, with modern effects technology. Or there’s the 21 Jump Street approach, but with a panther instead of Channing Tatum.

Right now, it’s early days on the idea, which will be designed as a live-action / CG hybrid, as the studio is merely meeting with writers to find the best pitch. What next? The Flumps? Don’t joke – someone will try it…