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Second Opinion / OTHER MEDIA : A Black Series Fades; Where's the Clicker?

November 07, 1994

In our February issue we did a story on an up-and-coming TV series called "Mantis." We watched the pilot program as a family and we were all quite proud, in fact we were beaming. The pilot program showed black people in very positive roles of responsibility. A science-fiction series with blacks as the major players--not sidekicks. The series is directed by Eric Laneuville, who is no stranger to special effects on the Hollywood scene.

The series premiered last month, and about five minutes into the show we realized something was wrong. Where were all the African co-stars? Where did all the white supporting characters come from? What happened to all the black pride?

Well, as usual, we have been had! There must have been some negative feedback from someone and Fox TV (must have) requested that Mr. Laneuville, a proud black man well respected by his black industry peers, compromise. There were many overt and subtle differences between the pilot and series. Some bear mentioning: In the pilot, Mantis was the creator of all the high-tech gizmos. His assistants were clearly proud Africans and his whole setup had an African mystique to it. In the series, his assistant is a white male and it seems that he knows more about how Mantis gets his super powers than the hero does. In the pilot the main bad guys rode bikes and were white. In the series a new assistant (white) good guy is on the scene and just happens to ride a bike. The star is the only black leading character in the whole program.

What started out to be a series that we could enjoy and be proud of has turned into a turn-the-channel type of deal.

From an unsigned editorial in the Black Orange, an African American monthly published in Lake Forest.

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