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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Invisible Man


Starring: David McCallum
RRP: £32.99
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 08 July 2013

H. G. Wells's The Invisible Man has been made numerous times since its first publication in 1897; something about the story of a man who accidentally achieves invisibility seems to fascinate audiences. In 1975 a new show gave us another take on the formula, although it was not successful, lasting only twelve episodes before cancellation, it nonetheless is an interesting look into what television creators thought we wanted to watch...

The Invisible Man (1975) was a short lived NBC science fiction series created by Harve Bennett, who would go on to better things. The show stared David McCallum, hot off his gig on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., his status and charm alone should have guaranteed the show longevity and if the series had followed the darker tone of the pilot this may have happened.

Dr Daniel Westin is trying to find a way of transferring matter across distances, although the original remit is not going well, he has discovered a way of making objects invisible, if only for a short time. Eventually, he develops a serum which can reverse the process. His boss is initially annoyed that so much money has been spent for so little result until he realises the military applications. In an effort to stop his work being turned into a weapon, he exposes himself to the process, but something goes wrong and he remains invisible.

The pilot does contain some of the pathos of the original novel with Westin portrayed as a man more cursed than gifted. He is chased by other powers hoping to gain the gift. It doesn’t completely work, we can swallow that his friend is a brilliant plastic surgeon, who creates a lifelike mask for him to wear, but the show contains a number of oddities. When he has to escape we hear the shuffle of his shoes, so no socks, he then takes off his trousers, giving us the distinct impression that Westin goes commando. Having survived into a series, a number of changes were made to the format. Westin, in return for the money he needs to reverse the process, continues to work for the Klae Corporation, who hires him out for missions. The first episode, The Klae Resource, is pretty much a rip-off of Diamonds are Forever, with Westin and his wife trying to work out if a powerful man is still alive or if he is being impersonated. The espionage aspect of the show mirrors The Six Million Dollar Man. Your average viewer may not be that smart but neither is he so dumb as to accept a series which is little more than an amalgamation of more popular and better shows.

The effects are ok, but I couldn’t help but think about Michael Bentine’s Potty Time while watching the show, the effect of objects being moved by an invisible man are not helped by the occasional obvious wire.

The show is presented in a four disc DVD set, presented in its original aspect ratio of 4:3; the print is good for a show of this age and shows almost no damage. Audio is 2.0. There are very few extras, disc one has cast filmographies and a picture gallery and all the stories have subtitles.

The shows represents a small slice of science fiction history and while the occasional good idea surfaces, the blatant attempt to appeal to viewers of other shows would lead to its inevitable cancellation.


Charles Packer

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