In 2000, Syfy (then known as Sci Fi Channel) was undergoing a transition in programming that included the introduction of “original programming.” Among these new shows was “The Invisible Man,” a series that mixed classic HG Wells’ science fiction classic, with comedy, drama, crime, science fiction, fantasy, and some good old fashioned espionage and heist antics. The story followed Darien Fawkes (Vincent Ventresca), an inept cat burglar who accidentally murders the owner of a condo attempting to steal some jewels. He’s caught by authorities and given life in prison with only one way out: he can go free if he promises to sign up for a clandestine government program by a mysterious government benefactor.
He agrees to the stipulation and is injected with an experimental formula known as “Quicksilver.”
Injected in his gland, it enables him to excrete the “light-bending substance” known as “Quicksilver” that coats his skin and renders him completely invisible. This ability is used by the program Darien becomes apart of as a means of taking down spies from rival governments and stopping major crime plots. While Darien can become invisible, over the course of the series Darien would find other uses for his ability as well, including being able to make other objects invisible by coating them with Quicksilver and seeing invisible objects that other people can’t perceive. The only problem is, the serum, when overused, can turn its subject into a violent psychopath thanks to the Quicksilver gland being sabotaged by a scientist named Arnaud DeFehrn.
Luckily there’s a “counter agent” to temporarily keep him sane, but it’s in the hands of the aforementioned shadowy government program he’s assigned to. In exchange for periodic injections, Darien is forced to perform top secret missions using his newfound ability. Invisible Man was a top notch genre amalgam right out the gate mixing the elements of a buddy comedy with an espionage thriller thanks to the plot device of Quicksilver as a constant blessing and curse to Darien’s survival. In addition to Ventresca, who was charming and affable as the inadvertent hero of the series, the show stuffed the screen with top notch character actors, all of whom played their roles well.
Paul Ben-Victor, in particular, played well off of Darien as Robert Albert Hobbes, an ex-police officer who’s quite adept in combat and crime solving. The two are paired again and again on various missions including confronting Darien’s old partner, who tries to exploit his ability for a heist, and the investigation of a hospital that’s committing illegal surgeries on homeless people. In addition to showcasing some great action sequences, these high pressure situations often allowed for some prime buddy cop comedy antics and offered us a chance to really empathize with both characters. Despite garnering quite a large and devoted cult following online, “Invisible Man” only lasted two seasons before being canceled (thanks to alleged budgetary reasons and problems within between Syfy and it’s parent-company USA Network involving syndication).
Sadly, the show ended on a cliffhanger and though Syfy promised two made-for-tv movies to close up the series, they never made good on their promise and there’s never been an official resolution for the series. In 2008, Syfy released the first season on DVD and have yet to complete the series run on DVD or Blu-Ray. Despite being rendered obscure thanks to its small run, the show still garners a strong online fan base and is one of Syfy’s stronger, more under appreciated series to debut in the early 2000s. It’s certainly one of my favorites of the early Syfy original programming slate, and demonstrates the accessibility of Wells’ original premise.
I highly suggest it for the experimental science fiction buff.