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DVD Review: ‘The Invisible Man’ Season One
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T.E. Pouncey   |  

The Invisible Man Season One DVDThe Invisible Man
Season One
Starring Vincent Ventresca, Paul Ben-Victor, Shannon Kenny
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release date: March 25, 2008

Pop culture has taught us all an important lesson — that invisibility is a curse unless you’re a really hot woman.

Think of all the characters who become invisible. The only one who actually enjoys it seems to be Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four. She has used her ability to spy and attack undetected, and to fight criminals, aliens, monsters, and that sociopath with a metal mask and diplomatic immunity.

But if you’re a guy, being invisible doesn’t work out very well.

In the H.G. Wells novel The Invisible Man, the invisible man in the title, a scientist named Griffin, is reduced to poverty and insanity when he can’t figure out a way to become visible again. Invisibility also drove Kevin Bacon insane in the movie Hallow Man (2000). In the Chevy Chase movie Memoirs Of An Invisible Man (1992), the invisible man is nearly killed by intelligence agents when he refuses to be recruited as a spy and he has to fake his own death to escape.

The invisible men on TV haven’t had it any better. In 1975, David McCallum played Daniel Weston in The Invisible Man, a series so invisible to viewers that it varnished after 12 episodes (the 13th show was later shown in syndication).

The very next year, in 1976, another invisible man was featured in the series The Gemini Man, about an agent who could only become invisible 15 minutes each day or he would become permanently invisible or die (the series tended to waffle a little bit on explanations). The Gemini Man only lasted 12 episodes and was so bad that two of those episodes, cobbled into a TV movie called Riding With Death, was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Invisibility was also a curse for Darien Fawkes, the hero of the 2000 TV series The Invisible Man. The first season of this amazing series is now available on a generous five-disc set.

Fawkes, engagingly played by Vincent Ventresca, is a fairly successful burglar who is caught when stopping to help an old man having a heart attack during one of his heists. He is sentenced to life in prison, but is released when his scientist brother, Kevin, recruits him for a top secret experiment. Fawkes is surgically implanted with a synthetic gland in his brain that secretes “quicksilver,” a substance that bends light around Darien, making him invisible. Darien quickly learns he can also make other things invisible and can selectively make various parts of his body invisible.

Unfortunately, Darien’s brother is killed by terrorists who have infiltrated the project. Kevin was the only one who knew how to remove and regulate the gland, which is now driving Darien insane. At the end of the pilot episode, Darien is recruited by a government spy network called “The Agency” run by a guy simply called “The Official.” The deal is simple: if he works for them, they will provide him with a serum to control his insanity until they can create a way to remove the gland without killing him.

It is difficult to write a synopsis explaining how good this series is. In addition to the the cool special effects and the spy-subplot, there is plenty of humor and some great performances.

Much of the humor comes from the interaction between Fawkes and his reluctant partner, Bobby Hobbes, played by Paul Ben-Victor (Entourage). Hobbes is a burned-out, high-strung, paranoid veteran field agent, frequently exasperated at working with a rookie like Fawkes. He complains he’s underpaid and unappreciated. In fact, he complains about nearly everything. There is a scene in the pilot episode where Hobbes tries to convince Fawkes that they are under surveillance from “Canadian terrorists.” Fawkes doesn’t believe it until they open fire on him and Hobbes. This scene is as off-handedly funny as anything you’ll see in an episode of Monk or House.

Then there’s “The Agency,” which turns out to be a branch of the “Bureau Of Fish And Game” because fish and game had a budget surplus and the Department Of Defense didn’t. The secrecy, protocol, and regulations of government agencies are frequently spoofed in The Invisible Man, making it an unlikely source for political humor.

Some of the other great episodes included in the first season collection are:

Ralph — Fawkes pretends to be the imaginary friend of little girl who has witnessed a murder. There is much heart and warmth in this episode and some genuinely touching performances.

Impetus — Fawkes tries to do a favor for his “Keeper” (played by Shannon Kenny), who provides Fawkes with the serum that keeps him from going psycho. However, it backfires and releases the carrier of a deadly disease.

Liberty And Larceny — Fed up with the regulations imposed by The Agency, Fawkes decides to return to his old life as a burglar, when his old mentor and partner in crime offers him a job stealing evidence against a mob boss.

The Other Invisible Man — Fawkes learns another subject got a prototype of his quicksilver gland and its side effects were even worse than the the psychosis Fawkes has to suppress with drugs.

Reunion —- Fawkes begins to doubt his brother was really killed by the terrorists.

Ghost Of A Chance —- Fawkes has to convince a Prime Minster that he is a ghost to sway his vote on a critical matter. On the mission, he meets another super-powered agent.

Money For Nothing (Parts 1 and 2) — Fawkes, the Official, Hobbes, and The Keeper take down a casino, but the madness hits Fawkes and Hobbes turns to a very bad man to help his partner.

Those are only some highlights. There really isn’t an overwhelmingly bad episode in the collection.

The Invisible Man only lasted two seasons on the Sci-Fi channel, a causality of production costs and in-fighting between the Sci-Fi Channel and its parent network the USA cable channel. It remains a great series and a reminder of what the Sci-Fi Channel was like before it started running wrestling shows and really bad, cheaply produced movies. It is the best TV series about the power and curse of invisibility and one of the best in any media on the subject of invisibility.

You really should have this set in your collection.

5 Comments »

  1. Wonderful review of this wonderful series!

    Comment by Amanda — May 5, 2008 @ 12:54 am

  2. I had never heard of this series but it sounds kinda cool. Certain subjects just lend themsleves to great creativity and this sounds like a good example…I think I will check it out….and by the way thanks for the reminder about David McCallum…that was a blast from the past. I mostly recall him on The Man from Uncle but when you mentioned it a little little bulb flashed in my head…oh yeah I never would have remembered that…always a pleasure to read your thoughts:)

    Comment by AngelL — May 5, 2008 @ 1:19 am

  3. Excellent show that delivered it all. I think especially the Hobbes character partnered with Fawkes was excellent with all the comedy and drama. Without him Fawkes would have been just another invisible man. Great review. Two Thumbs Up.

    Comment by George — May 6, 2008 @ 11:12 am

  4. Vincent Ventresca….I will only know him as ‘Fun Bobby’, the alcoholic boyfriend of Monica’s in the early seasons of ‘Friends’…this therefore means I could not take this seriously.

    Trouble is, I wonder if it is available in the UK? Doubt it.

    We’ve had the same premise of a show here…but with Z-List TV actors now reduced to TV Voiceover work.

    I will look this up!

    Comment by Manic Rage — May 10, 2008 @ 10:28 am

  5. I love this show. I really wish they would release season two.

    Comment by violettglass — October 24, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

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