The Invisible Man (1975 TV series)
|The Invisible Man|
|Created by||Harve Bennett|
Melinda O. Fee
|Theme music composer||Henry Mancini|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Executive producer(s)||Harve Bennett|
|Running time||60 mins.|
|Original run||September 8, 1975 – January 26, 1976|
The Invisible Man, the second television series with this title, debuted in the USA in 1975 on NBC and starred David McCallum as the scientist Daniel Westin and Melinda Fee as his wife, Dr. Kate Westin. The series was created by the producer Harve Bennett. A pilot TV movie initially aired in May 1975 and was followed by a 12-episode series that fall.
- David McCallum as Dr. Daniel Westin
- Melinda O. Fee as Kate Westin
- Jackie Cooper as Walter Carlson (pilot episode only)
- Craig Stevens as Walter Carlson
- Henry Darrow as Dr. Nick Maggio (pilot episode only)
- Charles Aidman as Dr. Nick Maggio ("An Attempt to Save Face" only)
MACHINE MALFUNCTION... WESTIN PERMANENTLY
INVISIBLE... KLAE CORPORATION WILL FINANCE
RECOVERY EFFORT... WESTIN WILL RENDER
SERVICES AS SECRET AGENT.
HIS CODE NAME: KLAE RESOURCE.
- — Computer-style text, shown in opening title sequence
Inspired by the original novel by H.G. Wells, the pilot film depicts Daniel Westin working for a company called the Klae Corporation, which is doing experiments in molecular disintegration. He discovers the side effect of his work is the ability to turn objects invisible and tries to find medical applications for his invention. He discovers that objects that are made invisible reappear after a few hours, and on living test animals the collars they wear re-appear before the living cells themselves. Obsessed by his invention, Daniel decides to become invisible himself, in part to prove that a human can survive the process, and also to test a serum he has developed to reverse the invisibility.
He reveals the process to his boss, Walter Carlson (Jackie Cooper), who is initially unimpressed by what he sees as millions spent on a nuclear disintegrator, but he becomes more interested when he realises that the pen Daniel disintegrated is actually still there ("Do you know what you've got here?" "An invisible pen..." "Cute. No, invisible armies..."). He wants to back the project for military purposes, and in the course of the argument it is revealed that the Pentagon has provided the funding for Daniel's research; in effect the military already own the process. Daniel tries to destroy his invention by sneaking into the lab after hours and deleting his research. In order to make his escape he becomes invisible for a second time, before triggering an overload and destroying the apparatus. But it appears that after all the process is unstable, and he becomes only briefly visible before turning permanently invisible; he cannot return to his visible state any longer, and the serum is ineffective. He goes to his friend, Dr. Nick Maggio (Henry Darrow), a skilled plastic surgeon who creates a disguise for him in the form of a face mask and a pair of gloves using a special material called Dermaplex, that has the same properties as human skin, which enable Daniel to appear in public (and also so that the viewers get to see the show's star, David McCallum, once in a while). The Dermaplex side effect is that Daniel has to remove the mask from time to time because, as Dr. Maggio states, "The beard will be your enemy, and the itch will drive you crazy." (It would appear that Maggio also made a few extra masks for Daniel at some time or other, as at least three are seen lined up on the shelf in a closet in Daniel's laboratory in "Go Directly to Jail". Also, in "Stop When Red Lights Flash" Daniel is shown to keep a spare mask rolled up in a tube-shaped container in a toolbox in the trunk of his car, along with a spare pair of gloves.)
By the conclusion of the pilot, the process' lack of stability renders it effectively useless for commercial or military applications, and the Klae Corporation is persuaded to re-employ him in his research capacity despite his condition, and thus the series begins from this point. Daniel seeks to perfect his work and at the same time find a cure — a means of restoring his visibility.
The series and its international broadcasting
There were subtle differences between the pilot and the series. The pilot depicts Westin as a tragic figure, the "victim" of the invisibility process; despite his continued efforts, he essentially remains invisible all the time and must use technology to "fake" being visible.
The series was lighter and more humorous, featuring invisibility-related gags and scenarios (in the case of the latter, many of these were depicted in the opening title sequence — such as a telephone receiver rising unsupported off its hook and a Jeep driving itself, to name but two), and ignoring the tragic side of Westin's predicament. The first post-pilot episode indicates that Westin and his wife Kate have been working as agents for some time. Indeed the character's invisibility was utilised as the Klae Resource of the show's introduction; an invisible man can go places and do things that the visible cannot accomplish.
A less-subtle difference is in the area of casting; in the pilot, Jackie Cooper portrayed Westin's superior, Walter Carlson, but for the series, the role was recast with Craig Stevens playing the part. The character was also altered to be more sympathetic and closer to the Oscar Goldman archetype.
Like its late 1950s predecessor, H.G. Wells' Invisible Man, the episodes featured sequences of the camera taking on Westin's point of view, showing whoever and/or whatever the character himself was seeing at the time. However, it is unclear as to whether this move was inspired by US screenings of that earlier television series or simply coincidence.
One noteworthy episode is "Power Play", which is set entirely in the headquarters of the Klae Corporation, uses only the regular studio sets — namely, Walter Carlson's office and the Westins' laboratory — and features only the regular cast members along with guest star Monte Markham as Pike, an armed escapee from a mental institution who threatens the lives of both Walter and Kate, and demands to know the truth about the Klae Resource which, after having forced the secret from Walter, he plans to use to become dictator of the United States. It is possible, though this cannot be confirmed, that the episode may actually have been filmed at the end of the season (though it would be broadcast as the penultimate instalment) when all the money had run out and no location filming or additional sets could be afforded. If this is indeed the case, it doesn't alter the fact that "Power Play" remains a gripping and thrilling piece of 1970s television (illustrating the moral that any scientific breakthrough can be used for good or evil purposes), and still stands up well to this day.
As was common for action/adventure series of the era, The Invisible Man featured episodes that, save the pilot, could be viewed in any order. However, it was cancelled before the underlying arc of Westin curing his invisibility and returning to normality could be resolved.
Overseas, the series was dubbed in Italian and broadcast on many private channels in different regions of Italy in the early 1980s.
|#||Title||Directed by||Written by||Guest stars||Original air date|
|Pilot||"The Invisible Man"||Robert Michael Lewis||Harve Bennett
|Jackie Cooper, Henry Darrow, Milt Kogan||May 6, 1975|
|1||"The Klae Resource"||Robert Michael Lewis||Steven Bochco||Conrad Janis, James Karen||September 8, 1975|
|2||"The Fine Art Of Diplomacy"||Sigmund Neufeld Jr.||James D. Parriott||Ross Martin, Paul Stewart||September 15, 1975|
|3||"Man of Influence"||Alan J. Levi||Rick Blaine
|Loni Anderson, John Vernon||September 22, 1975|
|4||"Eyes Only"||Alan J. Levi||Leslie Stevens||Thayer David||September 29, 1975|
|5||"Barnard Wants Out"||Alan J. Levi||James D. Parriott||Nehemiah Persoff||October 6, 1975|
|6||"Sight Unseen"||Sigmund Neufeld Jr.||Kandy Rehak
|Al Ruscio||October 20, 1975|
|7||"Go Directly to Jail"||Sigmund Neufeld Jr.||Steven Bochco||James McEachin||November 3, 1975|
|8||"Stop When Red Lights Flash"||Gene Nelson||Seeleg Lester||Scott Brady||November 24, 1975|
|9||"Pin Money"||Alan J. Levi||James D. Parriott||Helen Kleeb||December 1, 1975|
|10||"The Klae Dynasty"||Alan J. Levi||Philip DeGuere||Peter Donat||December 8, 1975|
|11||"Power Play"||Alan J. Levi||Leslie Stevens||Monte Markham||January 19, 1976|
|12||"An Attempt to Save Face"||Don Henderson||James D. Parriott
|Charles Aidman||January 26, 1976|
DVD and Blu-ray releases
On February 21, 2012, Visual Entertainment released The Invisible Man: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 and on Blu-ray in Region A in Canada for the first time. In the US, the DVD release was on May 1, 2012, and the Blu-ray release on June 19, 2012, and distributed by Millennium Entertainment.