Invisible Man

Visible Appreciation For The Invisible Man

Hollywood has taken many a swipe at retelling H.G. Wells’ tale of The Invisible Man. It’s just possible that none of them were as intentionally shagadelic as the 1975 NBC TV series of the same name.
Invisible Man

The Invisible Man starred David McCallum, who had just finished a two-season stint on the BBC World War II series Colditz, but was still best known to viewers the world over as The Man From UNCLE’s Ilya Kuryakin. McCallum was instantly recognizable, and still hot property on both sides of the Atlantic, and in this series he played scientist David Westin, who uses himself as a guinea pig in experiments to achieve invisibility. Westin’s wife, Kate, is refreshingly shown to be his partner in both lab and love, and his intellectual equal as a scientist; she’s played by Melinda Fee, who later became a household name on the soap opera scene. Craig Stevens, still best known for playing Peter Gunn, is their beleaguered boss, Walter Carlson.

But the effect is supposed to be temporary, and instead Westin is permanently invisible. And since the Cold War is still on, as soon as word leaks out from the Klae Corporation, the Westins’ employer, that invisibility has been achieved, it isn’t long before government agents want Westin and his secrets, and show few qualms about hurting anyone who stands in their way. The Invisible Man is emblematic of entertainment in the lingering shadows of both Watergate and the Cold War: even our guys can’t be trusted, never mind the Commies. To prevent the process from being repeated for the benefit of spies and assassins, Westin destroys the equipment that rendered him invisible, thereby cutting off any hope that he can just step back into the machine and become visible again.

In order to pay back for the equipment and to stay in a position where he can try to figure out how to become visible again, Dan Westin becomes “the Klae Resource”, a top secret asset for which the Klae Corporation commands top-dollar prices. From takedowns of drug rings to corrupt small-town judges, nothing is more than the Invisible Man can handle. Dan always has a handy stockpile of gloves and masks that just happen to look flawlessly like the hands and head of David McCallum.

To show Dan donning or ditching his “visible man” disguise involved a problematic process of shooting on video against a blue screen, with McCallum in at least a partial blue bodysuit that would “vanish”. In an attempt to avoid the jarring switch between film and video, that video footage would be played back on a monitor whose refresh rate matched the shutter speed of a film camera positioned directly in front of it. This effect was used sparingly, both because of the time involved and because, frankly, it didn’t look that great.

So what did The Invisible Man have going for it? The sheer chemistry going on between McCallum and Fee accounts for much of the appeal. In true 1970s style, the show plays up the one thing we’ve always suspected about the Invisible Man, in whatever setting the story is told: while Westin is invisible, he’s running around naked. Little secret is made of the fact that the Westins take every opportunity to…enjoy…Dan’s invisibility. They’re a great on-screen team – The Invisible Man has a lot of comedy moments and doesn’t take itself too seriously. The invisibility gag is put to use in situations other than earth-shaking secret agent scenarios, which also keeps things lively.

If you’re new to The Invisible Man, you’ll be happy to know that the pilot movie and all twelve episodes are available on DVD and, since the show was shot on film, Blu-Ray. Be warned that the Blu-Rays, while sharp, reframe the show in widescreen, cutting off the top and bottom of film footage that was always intended to be in a 4:3 aspect ratio. I wish the Blu-Ray producers of the world would get the hint that this is as much of a butchering of the original material as pan-and-scan VHS tapes were. (The DVD gives you the original 4:3 picture.)

So why did The Invisible Man last only 12 episodes? Invisibility gags, whether they’re of the time-consuming, video-to-film type or pulling stuff along on fishing line, aren’t cheap to do, and each episode has several of them. The show’s creators, Harve Bennett and Steven Bochco, were rising stars who had more than one iron in their respective fires – Bennett was already overseeing The Six Million Dollar Man, while Bochco was in the early stages of a career that would see him go on to be the showrunner and creator of the likes of Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, and Cop Rock. After The Invisible Man’s cancellation, Bennett retooled the concept and relaunched it just a few months later as the even-shorter-lived Gemini Man, trading McCallum’s British class in for Ben Murphy’s all-American aw-shucks, which only stayed on the prime time schedule for four weeks following a pilot movie. (Gemini Man may well be remembered best for giving us the MST3K episode “Riding With Death”.)

In the meantime, rewind to 1975 and enjoy once more the days when The Invisible Man – complete with a mention of H.G. Wells in the end credits – was keeping the prime time schedule groovy.

[Via] Visual Ent

The Lurch

Retro Records: Ted Cassidy’s The Lurch (1965)

Normally on Retro Records we share one of the vintage Power Records or the like. Today however we are taking a look at the 1965 novelty record The Lurch. Which was of course a song based on Ted Cassidy’s character from The Addams Family television series.

[Via] Essential 3883

Read: For More Addams Family Fun – Check Out Their Stretching Room Portraits

The B side of The Lurch featured a song entitled Wesley. Both songs were performed by Cassidy on the 1965 musical variety show Hollywood a Go Go. I do apologize, while the video and audio quality is excellent. You will in addition have to contend with the “For Research Only” label.

Having said that I feel it is worth the ‘hassle’ for a chance to watch a vintage piece of television history.

[Via] Bill Aa

Ted Cassidy’s booming bass voice lends itself surprisingly well to that country tune. At least I thought so. The Lurch was written by Gary Paxton, the same man who produced both Alley Oop and The Monster Mash. With Wesley being written by Cliffie Stone and Scott Turner. Here is a fun fact for you – Stone who was an accomplished recording artist himself happened also to be the manager of Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Lurch
Cassidy, while perhaps best remembered as Lurch also had a successful career playing the heavy in film and television. Such as Star Trek, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Six Million Dollar Man.

Read: Did You Know The Six Million Dollar Man Was Based On A 1972 Novel?

In addition to the occasional novelty song, Cassidy was prolific in doing voice over work for both live action and animated series. Beginning with Hanna-Barbera he provided voices for Space Ghost, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, and Godzilla to name a few. I knew him best however as both the villainous Black Manta and Braniac from the Challenge of the Superfriends!

[Via] Super Villain Television

Alien Terror

Take A Look At The 1979 “Alien Terror” Movie Viewer!

I think it is more than fair to say that Kenner went all in with Alien in 1979. For example last month I shared the stunning revelation they had produced a board game based on the film. While Ridley Scott’s sci-/horror movie is a masterpiece it was an R rated feature as well. So you might be able to picture my confusion when I learned Kenner had in addition released the “Alien Terror” movie viewer.

In this case “Alien Terror” is an abridged version of the 1979 movie. In fact it is so short that in all honesty if you hadn’t seen the movie it wouldn’t make any sense. Of course there is only so much that Kenner could share from Alien with kids, right?
Alien Terror

By all means, try to convince me this movie cartridge didn’t cause a few nightmares in 1979.

[Via] Mazinz2

With this in mind – try to remember that Kenner had certainly found success with their line of movie viewers. Beginning in 1975 when they released film catridges and viewers for Snoopy, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman.

Especially successful for Kenner was the Star Wars movie viewer and cartridges set in 1977. On the other hand there were only four film cartridges produced for that series, plus a fifth that was included with the set.

Many fans have wondered why Kenner didn’t continue with the line. Because of this mystery some people feel that perhaps 20th Century Fox stepped in and asked Kenner to cease production. For fear of cutting into the profits of repeat viewings in the theater.

Now that we’ve taken a look at 1979’s “Alien Terror” why not check out Snoopy Meets the Red Baron?


This film cartridge comes from the Fisher Price Movie Viewer line. It did better than Kenner, lasting until the middle of the 1980s. Thanks to the many licensing agreements with the likes of Walt Disney, Marvel, Hasbro and many more.

[Via] Snoopsbme

Did You Know The Six Million Dollar Man Was Based On A 1972 Novel?

I have very fond memories of watching the Six Million Dollar Man in my youth, it was one of those programs that I think my Father was grateful was as entertaining for him as it was for me. I was lucky enough to have the a few of the toys and even the board game but I do also happen to remember being afraid of the famous Bigfoot fight, even if the big guy was actually played by Andre the Giant!

[Via] LEGO World

I will admit I was never aware that it was based on a novel entitled Cyborg by Martin Caidin from back in 1972, I guess I still wouldn’t have known if someone hadn’t donated the book to the arcade last week! Apparently even the TV series was known as Cyborg during the pre-production phase before it was picked up as a TV movie of the week and was changed to The Six Million Dollar Man…to be honest that is a catchier title to my mind.

Six Million Dollar Man - Warner Books
Six Million Dollar Man - Back Cover

Caidin wrote four novels in total with the sequels to Cyborg being Operation Nuke, High Crystal and Cyborg IV. Like I said I didn’t know about the Six Million Dollar Man‘s origin in book form but I think I’m going to have to see if I can’t get my hands on the series.

CyborgNovel

The Six Million Dollar Man – the Season 6 comics!

The Six Million Dollar Man Season 6

I was a huge fan of The Six Million Dollar Man in my youth and the DVD’s for both it and sister show The Bionic Woman both hold pride of place in my collection. Unlike many other TV shows from that era, the adventures of Steve Austin have largely laid dormant since it went off the air.

However, thanks to the good people at Dynamite, the 40th anniversary of the show has brought us a continuation in the form of a season 6 – in comic book form! Let’s hear what they have to say about the ‘shows’ return:

Better. Stronger. Faster. The original Six Million Dollar Man, Steve Austin was a man barely alive until the OSI turned him into the world’s first Bionic Man. Now he and Oscar Goldman are the most effective team in National Security. But a rogue faction in the OSI is making a power play for that position with a new type of infiltration agent – one that is completely obedient and robotic. Can a soulless machine that wears Steve Austin’s very face make the Six Million Dollar Man obsolete? For the 1st Time EVER! Fan favorite toy-line character Maskatron makes his Six Million Dollar Man debut and becomes a part of the classic television series mythology with a violent and terrifying purpose. And as Steve’s world is threatened from within, his very actions unknowingly release an alien menace upon an unsuspecting world. Classic action, powerful science fiction, and a cast of characters from one of television’s most original series combine to make The Six Million Dollar Man: Season 6 a must have for comic fans!

Series 6 of the Six Million Dollar Man

I think this looks excellent and I’m happy to hear the news that each issue will have a number of variant covers with artists such as Alex Ross. As I type, the series is 4 issues in to its run so should be easy to catch up on. Sadly, you’ll need to ad-lib those bionic sound effects yourself. More details can be found here.