The Invisible Man (2000–2002)
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I've had to reappraise Vincent Ventresca. I'd seen him in Boston Commons and Friends but never really put them together as being the same actor. He is quite good at being a variety of very different people. Darien is nothing like good time bobby or the snooty professor from Boston Commons. Ventresca has quite the job for him in this role. Darien is a fun loving, good guy with a past in theft and a cloudy future. The same Quicksilver gland that allows him to go invisible can also drive him insane.
No superhero is complete without his sidekick and so we have Paul Ben-Victor as Bobby Hobbes. I thought this was brilliant. Bobby Hobbes is a blast. I love the idea of assigning a paranoid agent a partner who can turn invisible. Bobby grows on you. Some people think the character is a little... annoying but he's a great guy and he's good at what he does despite being fired from several government agencies. Paul Ben-Victor does an excellent job with this character. His performance is a good part of why I'm watching. He's made Bobby into a very lovable character.
The supporting cast is good but we don't get as much of them as we do the main two. There are also well done special effects and some truly fun plot lines. If you want to watch something good on Friday night, this is it.
The core of it is of course the purest science fiction. But what makes it so great is the reality and honesty of the characters. They're not perfect, in fact, they're far from it. Darien Fawkes, the Invisible Man himself (Vincent Ventresca), is an ex-con, a thief. His partner, Bobby Hobbes (Paul Ben-Victor), is an ex-FBI agent who suffers from paranoia. And the list goes on, every character beautifully flawed in their own unique way.
And the cast has such excellent chemistry. From the hilarious boss-and-yes-man relationship between The Official (Eddie Jones) and Eberts (Mike McCafferty), to the budding romantic triangle between Darien, Hobbes, and The Keeper (Shannon Kenny), to the excessive banter and joking between the two main characters, a great part of which is ad-libbed. Of course the writers have been an important part of the show as well, with their great, innovative, and witty stories and dialogue. And special kudos goes to Craig Silverstein, who has written 11 episodes, every single one a gem. If you're only ever going to watch one episode, be sure to make it one of Craig's.
It's a story about invisiblity, but like you've never seen before. A major part of the story is the fact that the substance that makes Darien invisible also acts as a cerebral disinhibitor, effectively driving him insane. This puts a severe price on the usage of invisibility, not to mention the fact that it is a perfect way to control him, since the only thing that stops him from going insane is a special counteragent, which only the agency Darien works for possesses. So The Official holds his sanity hostage, blackmailing him into performing missions for the agency only known as The Agency.
Another thing that is unusual is the hero-sidekick relationship between Darien and Hobbes. You'd think that Darien as the invisible man is always the hero and Hobbes is only second best. But that's not true. In fact, it is usually Hobbes, as the more experienced agent, who takes the lead and tells Darien what to do. And Darien is often the one who gets himself injured or captured. Of course, the fact that many people are interested in getting their hands on the invisibility gland does have something to do with that.
All in all, this show is very, very good. Unfortunately, it's also very cancelled. The unofficial fanclub, the Imaniacs, of which I am a member, have been campaigning for its return from the moment they heard this news. Their latest effort is Operation: Visible Ink, a full-scale media campaign to attract as much attention as possible to the wonderful little show that could, but never got a chance.
This is a show that never should have been cancelled.
A thief with a conscience tries to get out of life in prison by volunteering for an experiment. He winds up with the power to turn invisible and a dependency on a drug that keeps him from going psychotic. A low-rent government agency partners him with a guy who keeps a copy of "Lithium and You" in his van.
This show had me when the agents got their briefings through "tri dimensional data viewers", which turn out to be ViewMasters. There's even a reasonably plausible explanation for invisibility that also creates a cool visual effect. (Think about it: how do you make a guy turning invisible look interesting?)
The actors work so well off of each other, you can really believe that what you're seeing is real.
With the entertaining, you also get the heart-warming. Darien's struggle with the loss of his brother, for example. Check out the episodes "Johnny Apocalypse," and "Ralph," for some of the more touching stories.
Besides the excellent writing, stellar cast (Brandy Ledford not included, though you get to like her character but never to love her as you do Hobbes or Darien), great chemistry and a generally great show, you also have the more aesthetic pleasures. You have the lovely Misses Kenney and Ledford, and the gorgeous Misters Ventresca & Ben-Victor (If you like bald men, Ben-Victor is your man!). Plus the more humorously aesthetic "Eberts" and "Borden (a.k.a. "The Fat Man")."
Definitely check this show out. It's running on syndication and every Friday at 5/4c on Sci-Fi.
Take the lead: Vincent Ventresca. Vinny (to the throngs of loyal fans) declared himself the king of the pilot (not an exact quote, but close). He has yet to find the show that EVERYONE (and I do mean everyone) sees as he perfect role. If you never saw I-Man, find it somewhere. Vinny is perfect as Darien Fawkes. No one could do they role any better. It is like taking Fun Bobby (of course Vinny) (who anyone who watches Friends remembers) and sending him through rehab, personality classes, and then major sci-fi brain surgery and seeing what you come up with.
I am running out of room, but I have to say, Paul, Shannon, Mike (who I can't wait to see again), Eddie, Spencer, Joel and everyone else that was on the show was wonderful. Look them up here, they have been in so many other things that you wouldn't believe that you had actually seen them before till after you learn to love them.
The show was a gem, a diamond in the rough, that sigh-fi was oblivious to because of the blinding glare they created for other shows, that were I-Man's equal. It was a shame that they didn't support this show as much as it should have been. It would be on a major network by now, with a major motion picture (oh keep your fingers crossed...there are still rumors) coming out soon.
--Her Majesty Queen Tragos of the Goats, all powerful queen who could have you executed at her slightest whim. Do not anger the goat queen for she will order her loyal goat minions to throw you into the Pit of Doom which holds one, slightly angry, female chupacabra and one recently added Greek chef.