Manimal and Nightman


Manimal (1983)
Nightman (1997-1999)
Type: Crossover

   Okay, get ready for the pain. Seriously, every step further we go into this will be more absurd and crazy than the one before. One of the people who alerted me to this crossover even said, "I am a big comic book fan, so I can suspend my disbelief to remarkable levels. But, even this was too silly for me." I agree. Oh dear God do I agree. Put on some reliable boots because we're now going to sludge ankle deep into some crazy crap.

   This all starts on NBC in the 1980's. Back then NBC tried some crazy ideas for action adventure shows. Some worked, some didn't. David Hasselhoff partnered with a talking car? Okay, surprise, it's a hit. A pre "Friends" Courtney Cox as a member of a group of oddball superhero types known as The Misfits Of Science? Oooh, that's a miss. But even odder, even a more memorable 80's flop than The Misfits Of Science? That honor belongs to Manimal.

   Manimal centered on Professor Jonathan Chase. Chase was. the Manimal! What you probably think that means? Yeah, sadly, that's what it means. As a Professor of Animal Behavioral Science, Chase also aided the police as a consultant when there cases involved animals. In the case of this show you can bet lots of animal involved crimes popped up. Oh but wait, there is more. Not only was he an expert on animal behvior from study, he was also an expert because (suck it up, here it comes) he could transform into various animals! And he used this ability to fight crime!!! He would become a snake, a hawk, a black panther. you name it he could turn into it. I still have memories of the guy sprouting feathers as he transformed. Wonder Twin power activate! Form of a cancelled TV show! After a short nine episode run, Manimal was caught by the cancellation department of Animal Control and neutered. Gone. Bye bye. Never to be seen again. Just one more childhood trauma for its young viewers to repress and try to forget. Oh, if only it was that easy.

   In 1997 Glen A. Larson, the producer of Manimal, created a new superhero show for syndication called Nightman. No worries though, right? I mean, it's not like any show could be nuttier than Manimal. Right? Right???

   Nightman was based on a comic book published as part of Malibu Comics line of Ultraverse Comics. Nightman started out as saxophone player Johnny Domino. But, after being struck by lightening, Johnny. Johnny.okay, this is exactly how they phrased it all the way back to the comic. Johnny gained the mental ability to "tune to the frequency of evil". Seriously. That's actually the tag line for him they seem to use a lot. He could tune to evil. Of course just being able to tune to evil is only going to help you find evil and that's just gonna cause you to get your arse kicked. Luckily, Johnny also ended up with a high tech battle suit too. With his new found ability and high tech gizmos, Johnny Domino became Nightman! With all due respect to Ultraverse Comics and Johnny Domino. oh, never mind.

   Anyhow, in the second season of Night Man (Yes, even though you likely didn't even know the show existed since it got buried in late night slots in most markets, it did last two seasons) an episode aired titled "Manimal". Run now while you have the chance! This actually get even weirder! Get out while you can.

   So, you're a glutton for punishment? Okay, you asked for it. First of all, I'm guessing this episode came about due to Glen A. Larson owning the character of Manimal and feeling the need to trotted it out one more time. The "Manimal" episode of Nightman had Professor Jonathan Chase, the Manimal, trying to catch the infamous Jack The Ripper. You see, taking a page from the movie Time After Time, Jack The Ripper had traveled through time from the past to current times! Lucky for the world Jonathan Chase was on to him. Only, could he and Nightman stop Jack before Jack could take the life of Chase's daughter Teresa???

   Well of course they stopped him. But not before an unknowing Teresa discovered her dad was the Manimal! Not only that, in the end, Teresa ended up helping to defeat Jack when she discovered she had inherited her father's transforming abilities.

   Now like I said, a time traveling Jack The Ripper worked in the movie Time After Time. But in that case that was the only absurdity involved. You had just one thing to suspend disbelief over. But in this case there was just so much you had to swallow: A time traveling Jack The Ripper is pursued by a college professor who can turn into animals and a saxophonist who has the ability to "tune to evil" and who has a suit of tech armor. It hurts. Maybe it doesn't hurt you, but it hurts me, it hurts me real bad.


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