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 Invisible Man, a heist show that mixed classic HG Welles science fiction with a modern comedy-drama.
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 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. He agrees and is injected with an experimental “Quicksilver gland” which enables him to excrete a “light-bending substance” called Quicksilver that coats his skin and renders him 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 “counteragent” to keep him sane, but’s in the hands of the aforementioned shadowy government program he’s assigned to. In exchange for periodical 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 witty 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 whose quite adept in combat and crime solving. The two are paired again and again on various missions including Darien’s old partner trying 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 sequence, 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 following online (I remember being apart of that community at the time), Invisible Man only lasted two seasons before being canceled thanks to budgetary reasons and problems within between Syfy and it’s parent-company USA Network involving syndication. In fact, 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 it.
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. I highly suggest it for the experimental science fiction buff.