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Manimal was one of several So Bad It's Good series on NBC that seemed to rule the television schedule back in The Eighties. Each of them had an aggressively silly science fiction / fantasy premise as the setup for its story arc. In this case, there's this man named Dr. Jonathan Chase (Simon MacCorkindale) who is implicitly (according to the opening credits; it doesn't look like they ever elaborated on this) the latest in a long line of people able to turn into animals. He teams up with two average detectives as They Fight Crime.
Today, the series is mostly remembered for being the most notorious of NBC's infamous "No-Hitter" year of 1983 (not a one of the shows that premiered on the Peacock Network that year lasted a full season), for frequently appearing in the form of all-day marathons on the Sci Fi Channel some years ago, and for -of course- that hilarious title. On the other hand, it was also an early job for special makeup effects guru Rick Baker.
The series had examples of the following tropes:
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Perhaps the only live action example of the All Animal Abilities type.
- Animorphism: Into whatever the trainers happened to have handy that could also be fit into the plot.
- Crossover: A strange one-scene one with fellow Larson-made 80s series Automan, as well as a full-episode one over a decade later with Nightman.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: Patrick Duffy happened to wear a tuxedo well; what other animal goes with tuxedoes?
- Fully-Absorbed Finale: Dr. Chase would appear again in a Crossover episode of Nightman, almost 15 years after his show's cancellation. In the years since the end of the series, Chase married his old partner Brooke, who later died after giving birth to Chase's daughter.
- Magic Pants: Used to an enormous degree-- Dr. Chase's transformation sequences clearly show him ripping out of his clothes, only for him to be wearing a fully-intact suit the instant he turns back.
- Mysterious Animal Senses
- Not Wearing Tights
- Portmantitle: Man + Animal
- Power Trio
- The Other Darrin: His sidekick changed actors (and level of seriousness) between the pilot and the series regular
- Transformation Sequence with a Coconut Superpowers chaser: There were only two of these shown with any regularity and a third that was used only once.