Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cult Classics

I would like to discuss a blast from the past. Ready? Are you sure? This one is a real turkey. A real steaming pile of dung. The program was called Manimal. Cue the spooky background music. Cue the velvet-throated voice actor.

Dr. Jonathan Chase . . . wealthy, young, handsome. A man with the brightest of futures. A man with the darkest of pasts. From Africa's deepest recesses, to the rarefied peaks of Tibet, heir to his father's legacy and the world's darkest mysteries. Jonathan Chase, master of the secrets that divide man from animal, animal from man ... Manimal!

Yes, you read that right my squirrelly friend. Manimal lasted for just a few weeks in the fall of 1983 on NBC, the same network that brought us "Sparky the Sassy Dill Pickle" back in the 1970s. The premier was built up with an expensive and incessant ad compaign that last all summer leading up to its debut. The show centered on a shape-shifting man would could morph into any animal he wanted in his secret life as a crime fighter. "Form of a menacing gerbil!". It turns out that manimal actually liked to change into a hawk most of the time, perhaps because this was the only crappy special effects that the show could afford. It certainly did not have sufficient money to afford talented script writers. In short, the show was a total train wreck from the very start.

There is an important life lesson here. Once you realize that a given idea is a clunker, one for which there is no possible salvage, you need to set it down, walk away, and never look back. You must do this regardless of how much time, energy, and money you have invested. The one possible exception to this rule falls into the category of "cult classics". Sometimes an idea is so bad that it becomes good. You have to be your own judge on this one.