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Friday, January 20, 2006

1.40 --- To See the Invisible Man

Directed by : Noel Black
Written by : Steven Barnes (story by Robert Silverberg)
Starring : Cotter Smith, Karlene Crockett
First aired : 31st of January, 1986.

In near future, one of the worse crimes a man can commit is being heartless and incompassionate. Mitchell Chaplin (Cotter Smith, K-9, X-Men 2) is the latest recipient of such punishment, and his sentence is one year of public invisibility. And to make my point early, he's not made invisible a la H.G. Wells, he is just branded on his head - and everybody must ignore him.

At first, Mitchell is rather thrilled with the prospect of this, but he soon starts to feel remorseful about it. Unable to strike conversation with anyone, even a blind man, he starts to crack up from loneliness. Even fellow invisibles are barred from talking to him. One night, few months away from the end of his sentence, he is mowed down by a car on the street. Mitchell is in incredible pain, however, he is denied medical service.

Time passes, and the day finally arives - he is relieved of his sentence, his mark of invisibility lifted. Four months later, he's a man reformed, back at work and loved by everyone. Walking back home from work, Mitchell is suddenly confronted by the "invisible" girl who he met during his sentence (Karlene Crockett, Dallas) - she is still punished, and he can't talk to her. But, having tasted isolation himself, Mitchell is now too good - he breaks down and hugs the girl, and in turn condemns himself.


While not incorporating any frightening critters or serial killers, this episode tickles perhaps one's deepest fear - the fear of isolation. And not only that, but it also touches the fear of losing your civil liberties, and makes this already good episode even better. Also, the finishing touch reminded me of A Clockwork Orange, minus the "redemption" part.

Cotter Smith is excellent in the title role, his downfall from smug jerk to good samaritan thoroughly believable. I would also like to single out the score for this episode, composed by Craig Safran. Mainly performed by futuristic sounding synths, Safran's work perfectly accompanies Mitchell's plight, reminiscing the score Tangerine Dream did for Kathryin Bigelow's stylish modern vampire story, Near Dark. And if you haven't seen Near Dark, well, consider this a recommendation.

Comments on "1.40 --- To See the Invisible Man"


Anonymous Hans Averdung said ... (10:26 PM) : 

Perhaps the only TV that ever made me cry. When I saw this for the first time, I was a booky teenager in a small town -- a recipe for isolation if there ever was one. A confessed freethinker in a Catholic Mexican small town, to boot. The all seeing, ever-vigilant drones were a perfect stand-in for the ever-present eyes behind the curtains. I can say the invisible girl's plea "You know what this feels like" made me care again.

"Mitchell Chaplin ha aprendido la lección, quizá demasiado bien. Y aunque ahora sea marcado de nuevo, su marca llevará esta vez un brillo de gloria".


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:56 PM) : 

This is one of two episodes I remember from "The New Twilight Zone," and it was my favorite.

The other I remember was about a man who was in financial straits, and started pawning his memories. As he pawned his memories such as receiving his diploma, his first kiss, etc ... He found he had lost these experiences completely. The end is f-ing great, so I won't spoil it.

Can anyone tell me what that latter episode is called? I seem to have pawned that memory.



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:38 PM) : 

The Mind of Simon Foster


Anonymous James Evans said ... (9:31 PM) : 

I think I missed this one during the first year run of the series. I did see it much later when TNT re-ran the series a few years ago and I loved it. The familiar world Mitchel Chaplin lives in is very familiar but it had some interesting touches that made it seem otherworldly, out of place. A great episode that showed the greatness of the series.


Blogger Rosi said ... (1:35 AM) : 

This is so far my favorite episode of the second generation TZ. I am still watching them (hey, thanks to modern technology LOL), and gotta say your blog is helping pick them out and understand them (English is not my native language either).


Blogger mundhenk666 said ... (3:34 PM) : 

your comment about the music score is so true. It almost slipped my mind, but now that I think about it, I think it was indeed very pivotal to the episode.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:31 AM) : 

Does anyone now where this was film? (I.e., the assualt scene and the ending?)


Blogger P.A. Beaulieu said ... (4:47 AM) : 

I have just watched it this morning, after all those years. To me it's the best story of the Series.


Anonymous Adrock said ... (8:47 PM) : 

Surprised that it took the Zone so long to get to adapting a Robert Silverberg story. This one is saved by the ending. Up until the last 90 seconds, the script is making an argument in favor of the dystopian society that punished Chaplin -- like "Mute" in the original series, it's asking us to root for the bad guys. However, the end moment -- while very schmaltzy, even by "Twilight Zone" standards -- really saves the whole thing.

Boy, is the acting bad, though.... Cotter Smith has had a long and fine career, but I was a bit ready for him to turn invisible after 22 minutes of hammy overacting.


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