Cult TV

Cult TV Essentials: Automan

This is the story of Walter Nebicher, doing what he likes best: fighting crime in the streets. You see, Walter’s a policeman. Unfortunately, the Chief doesn’t want Walter on the streets.

Automan

Glen A. Larson took a sprinkling of Tron and merged it with 80’s police drama to give us Automan who was an “Automatic Man.” The show followed police officer and computer programmer Walter Nebicher (Desi Arnaz, Jr.), who created an artificially intelligent crime fighting program that generated a hologram (Chuck Wagner) able to leave the computer world at night and fight crime.

While in the real world, Automan posed as a government agent by the name of “Otto J. Mann.” This was a secret to all except Walter’s close associate, Roxanne Caldwell (Heather McNair).

Nebicher could merge with Automan to become one being, sharing consciousness and skills, while retaining Automan’s invulnerability.

Cursor was his sidekick, a floating, shifting polyhedron which could “draw” and generate physical objects as needed. The most common forms taken were a car (the Auto Car), an airplane, and a helicopter, all of which could defy the laws of physics.

The show also starred Robert Lansing as Lieutenant Jack Curtis and Gerald S. O’Loughlin as Captain of Detectives E. G. Boyd, both Walter’s superiors. Both believed Automan was a friend of Walter’s from the FBI. Captain Boyd, a technophobe who had no use for computers, often held up Lieutenant Curtis as the kind of cop he was convinced was the ideal for police – an ideal to which he believed Walter could never rise.

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