Around these parts, we like to call 1983 “The Year When Simon MacCorkindale Almost Ruled the World.” The handsome English actor not only starred in a feature film that year (the absolutely awful Jaws 3D), but he was also poised to take over television by headlining a brand new series for NBC entitled Manimal. Unfortunately, Manimal might be even more awful than Jaws 3D – and the Year of MacCorkindale ended just as quickly as it began.
However, nothing is ever truly dead in a Hollywood hellbent on remaking every cruddy TV show and movie from the time when Ronald Reagan was in office and the threat of nuclear armageddon hung over us like a dark cloud. For years now, we’ve been waiting for the day when some brave studio stepped up and announced that they were ready to make a big screen version of Manimal – and today, that finally happened.
THR reports that Sony Animation is exploring plans to craft a feature film mixing CGI and live action based on the show – a show that ran for eight episodes before being yanked from the airwaves and consigned to the annals of bad television history. If you even remember Manimal, odds are you know it mostly because it’s a punchline to some joke about awful television shows and not because you actually watched it. I had the good (mis?) fortune to catch all the episodes when they originally aired – and I’ve never forgotten the experience.
MacCorkindale played Professor Jonathan Chase, a dashing academic who spent time in Africa…where he apparently learned the ability to shape-shift into any animal he could think of. Naturally, he used this power to solve crimes – because that’s what everyone did in the ‘80s. Have a talking Trans-Am? Use it to solve crimes. Have an AI program that can generate a hologram who can leave the computer and interact with the real world? Use him to solve crimes. Have a man who can turn into the Honey Badger at will? You see where this is going…
We’re not sure who at Sony decided that a Manimal film was a good idea, but we do know that the project is currently out to writers to see what they can come up with. Unfortunately, a new Manimal will have to move forward without MacCorkdindale, as the actor passed away in 2010.
This does beg the question – what will Hollywood try to adapt next? Our money is on an updating of The Master, wherein Lee Van Cleef was a ninja training an apprentice played by Timothy Van Patten and squaring off against Sho Kosugi. That show might have been the perfect encapsulation of the early ‘80s – but we think the studios might have missed a great tie-in opportunity. Think of how that film might have fit in with Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie of the same name…the synergy could have been amazing.
Kidding aside, does anyone other than me remember Manimal? Would you really want to see a feature film update of a show that was so bad it lasted a mere eight episodes? Check out the intro for the series below and let us know what you think.