American Playhouse (1981– )
97 user 9 critic

Overdrawn at the Memory Bank 

The mind of a computer programmer forced to take a virtual vacation is removed by a totalitarian government and accidentally trapped in the virtual reality simulation. He must find a way out before he expires.



(short story), (teleplay)


Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Linda Griffiths ...
Donald Moore ...
Novicorp Chairman / The Fat Man (as Donald C. Moore)
Helen Carscallen ...
Dr. Darwin
Rex Hagon ...
Shuttle Passenger (as Rex Hagan)
Patrick Brymer ...
Denise Pidgeon ...
Doppling Medico (as Denise Pigeon)
Bunty Webb ...
Audra Williams ...
Hadley Kay ...
Arnie Achtman ...


Raul Julia plays Aram Fingal, a very intelligent computer programmer and a very bored man in the employ of Novicorp, a mega-corporation that exists somewhere in the future. When caught watching "Casablanca" at his desk, Fingal is required to undergo rehabilitation therapy called "doppling." Doppled patients find their minds transferred into the bodies of animals for a new outlook on life (and for a number of amusing nature documentary sequences narrated by Julia). However, Fingal's body is misplaced and he is transferred into a computer while the body is located. With the help of Appolonia James, a medical technician played by Linda Griffiths, Fingal manages to reprogram himself into a simulation of Casablanca and eventually gains access to Novicorp's financial computers, bringing the company to its knees. But Fingal's real problem is getting back into his body before his memory patterns are erased. Written by Chris Holland <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They want to control his mind but can't even find his body. See more »

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Release Date:

1983 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


All of the animal footage during the sequence where Fingal is doppled into a baboon is taken from the film Beautiful People (1974). See more »


We see that for the six hours of real time, the equivalent of several months pass for Aram Fingal inside the computer. However, in numerous scenes, Appollonia (in the real world) speaks to Fingal at a normal pace. To Fingal, these few seconds should have seemed to stretch out for hours; he should not have been able to comprehend them as they were spoken. See more »


Appollonia: Thou shalt not screw around with things thou dost not understand.
See more »

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User Reviews

Graphics make 'Puma Man' look state-of-the-art
18 June 2006 | by See all my reviews

Film was produced by WNET in New York, with post-production work done in Canada (it figures). In the undetermined future, Aram Fingal (the late Raul Julia-"The Addams Family," "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "The Burning Season") is a data processor for the gigantic Novicorp Corporation, who, after being caught watching a much better movie -"Casablanca" - on company time, is forced to submit to a mental rehabilitation (called "doppling" here).

At the Nirvana Center (a large mall), he meets rehab programmer, Apollonia James (Linda Griffiths), who eventually becomes his tepid love interest. As he is "doppled" into the brain of a baboon (a series of stock footage with Julia's lame voice overs adds to the unintentional hilarity), a stupid kid on a tour switches his identification tag with a corpse. Why a group of unruly moppets are allowed to run free in an operating roam is never answered, by the way.

Meanwhile, Fingal, with the assistance of plot holes that Dom DeLuise could fit through, creates his own fantasy world based upon the classic, Academy-Award-winning 1942 film starring himself as Rick as played by Humphrey Bogart, Griffiths as Elsa (portrayed 350 million light years better by Ingrid Bergman), and Louis Negin as a prissy and annoying Peter Lorre knock-off.

The Chairman of Novicorp, "The Chairman" (Donald C. Moore) also joins in the fun as "The Fat Man," as if anyone cares. A confusing series of events is not left well enough alone as the ending clears up nothing, as the plot of "Berlin Alexanderplotz" was more coherent.

And what was the point of the whole cube thing; the "I've Interfaced!" baloney, the poorly-conceived masturbation scene; as well as the spinning electron Julias, anyway?

As bad as the writing and acting (Julia is twice as bad in a dual role and Griffith spends most of the time staring at a computer screen), however, it's the not-so-special effects that drop this turkey a few feet below sewer level.

Ultra-cheap graphics conjure up images of Pong, Wang Computers, the video by The Buggles, and the season they videotaped episodes of "The Twilight Zone." State-of-the-art technology it's not, and today, high school kids can design better looking graphics on the Macs. These not-so special effects make the juvenile work in 1980's "Puma Man" seem like Pixar animation.

Film also tries to tell us that ridiculous names such as Aram, Apollonia, Crull Spier, Emmaline Ozmondo and Geddy Arbeid, will be commonplace. An unforgivably bad motion picture on every level.

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