US tv series (1983). 20th century Fox Television/Glen A Larson Productions for NBC-TV US, BBC 1 TV UK (1984). Created by Glen A Larson. Produced by Donald R Boyle and Larson. Directors include Charles Ball, Daniel Haller, and Russ Mayberry. Writers include Michael Beck, Broyle, Sam Egan, and Paul Mason. Special Effects by Stan Winston. Narrator. Cast includes Melody Anderson, William Conrad (narrator), Simon MacCorkindale, Michael D Roberts. One 90-minute pilot film plus eight 45-minute episodes. Colour.
British Professor Jonathan Chase (MacCorkindale) of New York University has the Shapeshifter ability to transform himself into any animal he wishes, and uses this Superpower to help the New York police fight crime. This Superhero works with Police Detective Burke Mckenzie (Anderson) and is frequently assisted by his friend Tyrone C Earl (Roberts). Although able to assume any animal form, Chase most often becomes either a black panther or a hawk. Unfortunately, his opponents are generally routine criminals; the most interesting episode involves his rescue of a female feral child, raised by wolves in India, from those who wish her dead. In the next to last episode, Walt Neibcher of the companion series Automan can be seen briefly through the window of a Chinese restaurant. In general, scripts were inept and derivative. The transformation scenes by special effects artist Winston were as good as possible at the time within a limited budget, resembling scenes in the Horror film The Howling (1981).
Some years later the character returned – again played by MacCorkindale – in an episode of the series Night Man (1996-1999) dealing with Time Travel and Jack the Ripper. Here his transformations were accomplished via CGI. [GFi]
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