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Automan is a 1983 sci-fi American TV series by producer Glen A. Larson (best known for creating Knight Rider and the original Battlestar Galactica), spanning 12 episodes first aired on ABC until 1984.
An expert programmer and police officer, Walter Nebicher (Desi Arnaz, Jr.) has created a crime fighting AI at police's mainframe, powerful enough to be able to bring to real world a program's hologram (Chuck Wagner) spontaneously, who introduces himself as Automan (the "automatic man") and resembles a program in TRON: his body glows with geometrical patterns in neon cyan light.Automan exhibits superhero-like abilities in the real world, but he completely fails in human relationships. He can materialize such transportation as a car (a Lamborgini Countach), a plane or a helicopter by means of a companion polyedrical and free-floating character called "Cursor" (which resembles TRON's Bit). At Automan's request, Cursor is able to draw three dimensional wireframe vehicles and materialize them in seconds. When the constructs are no longer needed, Cursor can perform the inverse operation to delete them. As a side effect, the car driven by Automan only turns in 90 degree angles (due to it using the same algorithm that Pac-Mac uses, as implemented by Nebicher), and defying the physics' laws, it turns around instantaneously. Human passengers are invariably buffeted around inside due to inertia during such turns.
To avoid arousing suspicion, Automan disguises himself as a common human, a G-man named Otto J. Mann (a play which sounds almost like "Auto-man") who collaborates with his creator, to whom he shows total loyalty.
The series is clearly inspired by Steven Lisberger's film TRON, released the previous year. The producer involved Donald Kushner and Peter Locke, who already worked on TRON, works as operating producers of Automan. The target of this joint was to avoid apparent plagiarization and to provide respectful credibility to the series. Notably, the main plot is the reversed form of TRON's content: A computer program is brought into the real world as opposed to a human entering a digital one.
Although looking similar, the visual effects are markedly different from those used in TRON. The actor portraying Automan wears a suit with reflective plates and lighting elements, and the takes where photographed projecting a beam over the actor. The final result was enhanced on post-production.