Film Title: The Invisible Man
Running Time: 631 mins on 4 discs
Out Now To Buy on DVD
The 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s were awash with fantastic television shows that to this day are well loved and cherished by many. From The Avengers (no not that one!), The Prisoner, Champions, to a lesser extent Manimal. Back then Lee Majors was a huge star and it was thanks to the massive popular success of The Six Million Dollar Man, NBC wanted a taste of the action and with the help of the team that created that massive cult show, they created this……. The Invisible Man, and there was no Claude Raines in sight!
Plot wise, the title itself gives it away. Daniel Westin (David McCallum-arriving from the huge smash The Man From U.N.C.L.E) is one of those typical 70?s TV’s intelligent scientists or in this case a Physicist, who works for the Klae Corporation under the boss Walter Carlson (played in the pilot by Superman’s Jackie Cooper then in the series by Craig Stevens. Yes guys the pilot and the 12 episodes are included in this DVD release). Probably having not heard of David Banner and what happened to him, Daniel does the same trick and uses his new Invisible Ray machine on himself, only because he discovers the company want’s to use it for their gain and instead of getting very green when he is angry, Daniel becomes permanently invisible, a feat that poor Kevin Bacon would suffer from when he became Hollow Man.
Of course, you couldn’t have the show’s lead star not be seen through out each episode, so lucky for Daniel he has a friend (probably the same gang who made people believe that Robin Williams was Mrs Doubtfire) who has a new formula called Dermaplex that ables Daniel to wear a life like mask and hand gloves which look real and comes in handy when he wants to whip them off and not be seen. Which Daniel does a lot because instead of going psycho and trying to kill Elizabeth Shue, the same company that wanted his work, now hire him and here we have the standard 70?s TV formula that if you love shows of this nature then you know what I mean.
Re-watching this after so many years and believe me I loved it when I was a child, was a welcome treat. What stunned me the most is how different the pilot is to the actual episodes that followed. The opening has shades of darkness that borders on brilliance which easily gives a taste into how different this show could have been, Originally after the pilot was aired, the creators for some reason which baffles me, decided to soften the show and make it more family friendly when in reality it would have been better off served if it stayed like it was. You get a sense of a missed opportunity because if like me, you buy this and then watch it all at once, you can feel the change of mood from the first episode and it will give you a sense of frustration.
There is nothing wrong with the series itself, even though you can see why only 12 episodes were made. The trouble with the Invisible man is that there is not much you can do with the character once the gimmick is seen and gone. While I admit that each episode has a kind of charm which many shows from this era are lucky to have, it soon becomes repetitive and you can see why the creators struggled with what to do with the man at the helm. Unlike Banner and his Hulk who went from town to town and smashing shit up, here we just have a safe approach where Daniel is hired to either stop a kidnapping, corruption or basic stuff when all you want is for them to give it a bit of a dark approach, which they so nearly did!
The effects obviously hasn’t aged well but like I have said, it adds to the charm of when American TV shows were of this nature. If you are a huge fan of this era then this is a must have in your collection, for newcomers bought up on the likes of Heroes and Arrow, they may put their nose up at what is on offer, but looking back and watching this show, I couldn’t help but smile and think just how great the era was when I was growing up.
The Invisible Man may not soar to great heights, but it does enough for him to get noticed…..and yes that was a sad little joke pun…..