Westworld '82

Westworld ’82

Previously on the Retroist, we’ve explored the barely-even-a-guilty pleasure status of the obscure and quickly-canned 1980 TV spinoff of Westworld, Beyond Westworld.

Of course, if you’ve watched HBO’s recent (and, it has to be said, much better than Beyond Westworld) reboot of Westworld as a high-profile series, you already know that the things you thought were happening concurrently are not happening concurrently; the chronological sequence of events is not what you thought it was going in.

What if TV history was like that, too? What if HBO’s Westworld series had been made in the 1980s? While the mind boggles at the wildly different standards of what levels of language (“this is the new world, and you can do whatever the heck you want!”) and nudity would’ve been permissible, YouTube user MessyPandas can already show you what the opening titles would’ve looked like, complete with a drum-machine-drenched synth-pop rendition of Ramin Djawadi’s pleasant but slightly unnerving theme music…

The authenticity of it is such that you can easily imagine having changed channels during the end credits of Automan to catch Westworld.

In this alternate timeline, I’d imagine that HBO’s Westworld still gets a huge audience, and reruns are still on the schedule when Game Of Thrones debuts in the 1990s…

…which, if it wasn’t on HBO, seems like it’d be in syndication on your local indie station (or maybe your UPN station – you do still have one of those in your timeline, right?), wedged in between Highlander: The Series and Renegade.

Alas, we now deposit you back into reality…but the good news is, you can still rewatch Westworld until the second season lands in 2018.

There Was An Automan Action Figure?!

Automan was a television series that aired on ABC starting in 1983 for a mere one season. Obviously inspired by TRON which the showrunners must have believed was going to be the megahit of 1982 – sadly, much like that film this sci-fi/superhero series failed to find it’s intended audience.

Image courtesy of Shout! Factory.

Image courtesy of Shout! Factory.


In all honesty – the reason I loved the series so much is that Automan premiered at the exact right time for someone like myself who was devoted to video games, computers and of course TRON. Even though it took far too long in my humble opinion, Shout! Factory has come to the rescue and released all 13 episodes on DVD.

Video S.

So what is Automan about?


Automan was the brainchild of the late great Glen A. Larson who you might know from Battlestar Galactica, B.J. and the Bear, The Fall Guy, and Magnum P.I. to name a few. The story is about a Police Officer named Walter Nenicher, played by Desi Arnaz, Jr. who is also a computer programmer. One night at the station while working on a holographic program for an ‘Automatic Man’ – the creation is brought to life and the duo quickly team up to fight crime. Automan by the way was played by Chuck Wagner.

The duo were helped by Automan’s sidekick named Cursor who could ‘draw’ solid light creations for Automan and Walter when needed like a car that was capable of 90-degree turns…
automan-car
…a helicopter which was always my person favorite…
automan-helicopter
and even a combination of car and jet when needed.
automan-car-jet
I remember once or twice that Cursor also became a motorcycle – I just couldn’t find any images of it.

Thanks for the history lesson, now what about this Automan toy?


Why is everyone in such a hurry these days? I was getting to the point. While I was certainly a fan of the television show the disappointing ratings not only killed any hopes for a second season but the prospect of toys. Or at least that is what I always thought. It turns out that the series did in fact have quite a few toys created – the catch though is they weren’t sold in America.

I was under the impression for the past 33 years that there was no merchandise whatsoever – so when I stumbled across an image of the Automan action figure by Acamas Toys the other day…I naturally assumed it was a fake. A custom figure. I was totally wrong.
automan-toy-acamas-toys
A big thank you to 80sKid.Com for the images you see below – because Halloween costumes, die-cast vehicles, and even a toy watch that launched ‘drone’ copters were made and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com


Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com


Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com


Take a closer look at that Automan costume set – 80sKid.Com totally has it signed by Chuck Wagner!
Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com


So when you have a few moments, make sure to visit 80sKid.Com and check out all of the merchandise that was created for Automan…if you need me I will be on eBay trying to get some of this stuff for myself.

Chuck Wagner
Wait a minute…that last video is from Chuck Wagner?! Like as in the actor who played Automan?

Automan Doc and Guest Spot

A couple days ago, we got a great pic of Automan by Sasa Bralic. I loved this show when it originally aired (I would have been 8?), and that picture encouraged me to look up some episodes. I couldn’t find any on YouTube (though there were some on Veoh, as Drahken told us). I did find the doc that Mizphit mentioned, though, and watched it last night.

One of the notable parts of the doc is the reference to the Laura Branigan guest spot. I had remembered the Branigan song “Self-Control” being on Knight Rider, but I hadn’t remembered this (if I had, I would have included it in my Promotional Cameos post). When I saw not only Branigan on the show but Automan playing guitar behind her and Thriller’s Ola Ray on backup, I was just overwhelmed with retro goodness. Things just seemed so fun back then, and they still look pretty fun today. You’re not only stopping crime but playing guitar behind Laura Branigan. At the same time! I’d be happy doing just one of those things!

By the way, not only did Automan have a car that could do 90 degree turns as well as a copter and a plane, but he was revealed to be an accomplished dancer in the doc, and my 2-year-old daughter just told me that Automan is “pretty”. So “Otto Mann” truly has everything, and TV is that much less to not have him.