Programmes I Remember That Nobody Else Does: Automan


For those that couldn't understand the back story it was explained at the start of every episode:

Automan (voice-over): 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.

Walter: "Captain."
The Chief: "Get back to your cage boy. Now!"
Automan (voice-over):  So Walter must fight crime in his own way - in the computer room. That's where he's an expert. Fortunately for me Walter's advanced knowledge of electronics led him to experiment with what is known as a hologram. That's a very fancy word for a three-dimensional picture than when perfected can be made to look real, sound real. As a matter of fact, given enough power, it can even be made to feel real. That's kind of what got me into this work.
Automan: "My name is Automan. You must be Walter Nebicher."
Walter: "How did you know that?"
Automan: "It's on the programming you fed into my system. I must say Walter, you're very good. Very good indeed. I look wonderful."
Walter: "If you do say so yourself."
Automan: "You programmed me to be honest but tell me: Why did you call me Automan?"
Walter: "It means that you're the world's first truly automatic man. You can do anything because you're not real."
Automan: "Oh, but I am. I'm as real as you are, just different. And thanks to you - perfect."
Walter: "Nobody's perfect, Automan."
Automan: "That's not true Walter. You programmed me to observe other people and do whatever they can do as well as they can do it. Jimmy Conners playing tennis. John Travolta dancing. In fact, on a scale from one to ten, think of me as an ...eleven."
Walter: "I've created a monster!"
Automan (voice-over): No...what Walter really created was a wonderful force for good. Automan. That's me.

A note to programme makers everywhere, if you have to explain the concept every episode then maybe thats a good indicator that there is something wrong with the show concept!!

It was written and produced by the prolific Glen A Larson, who churned out brought to the screen such timeless masterpieces as Knight Rider and Battlestar Galactica, I think this one slipped through the quality control.

The computerized vigilante, was capable of chasing down the criminals that Walter and the whole Los Angeles Police Department could not. He also had a sidekick, a flying companion called Cursor, who could electronically draw/create various vehicles and tools that he uses to fight crime. Being computer generated he has the ability to interact with other computer controlled mechanisms, such as traffic lights.  When Automan wore street clothes, he called himself "Otto Mann."
Generating Automans hologram required a massive amount of electrical energy, so he can only function effectively at night, when local energy consumption is low. During the day, robbed of peak power potential, he would fade away.


Sadly Automan was cancelled before the end of it's first series.  There are always more ideas out there than the world can reasonably support; and US 'prime time' television seasonally suffers a glut of good and bad ideas in the form of new series. Many never make it past a single pilot programme, maybe we should be thankful that Automan made it a little further than that...

...or then again maybe just the pilot would have been enough.