THE INVISIBLE MAN

How do you see with invisible eyes? When you pee, does it become visible as it leaves your body? How do you keep your dark glasses on when your ears are covered in bandages? Questions that have probably plagued every transparent hero since H.G. Wells put pen to paper in 1897 and, more importantly, also plagued the special effects departments charged with bringing them to life.

      For this early UK TV adaptation the creative skills of Peter Mullins and Harry White, of the ITC art department, do a reasonable job of suspending the audience’s disbelief. With the use of first-person perspective shots and a cunning turn in opening and closing doors, their representation of the good doctor’s affliction is clever at times. That said, some of their other foray’s into early animatronics and cigarette puppetry (we kid you not) turn the occasional quizzical eyebrow into a pair raised in humour. Possibly the worst offender has to be the jacket, collar and tie minus head. Okay in a conceptual sense, but simply no one has a neck that thin even in the 1950s.

      The real criminal of the piece, though, has to be a shockingly average level of scripting. The majority of the tales are perfunctory at best, and even the presence of a younger Patrick Thorton (was he ever truly ‘young’?) in ‘Strange Partners’ fails to lift an altogether shoddy narrative. Even when the writing does pick up, as in ‘The White Rabbit’, the ingrained paranoia still jars with its general appraisal of all foreigners as suspect. French fascists, east European assassins, Russian spies… The list reaches across all 27 episodes ensuring that the program’s moral compass, like its special effects, remain well and truly locked in the Cold War era. And while it would be nice to err on the side of nostalgia and see past the show’s obvious flaws, in the final retrospective they remain inescapably visible.