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Dark Sky Films presents
H.G. Wells' Invisible Man: Season One (1958-1959)

"Then, during the midst of a routine experiment, a strange and unpredicted event took place, whether a mistake or the natural conclusion of the experiment, I cannot say. I can that what happened was one of the most fantastic experiences in our modern world."
- Dr. Peter Brady (Tim Turner)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: June 22, 2006

Stars: Lisa Daniely, Deborah Watling, Johnny Scripps, Tim Turner
Director: Pennington Richards, Peter Maxwell, Ralph Smart

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 05h:30m:00s
Release Date: March 28, 2006
UPC: 030306811093
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ C+C+C+ D-

DVD Review

You have to credit Dark Sky for digging up some truly forgotten titles in recent months, and this time it's a generally unknown British-made television series from 1958, with 13 Season One episodes presented here across two discs.

Based loosely on H.G. Wells' book, the series follows the crime stopping exploits of Dr. Peter Brady, who, after a lab experiment goes awry in the opening sequence of the first episode, is rendered invisible. His talents are put to use for the side of good, and aside from the mind-boggling concept of invisibility, Dr. Brady's unusual condition is treated with a fair amount of nonplussed reactions from most people he encounters, specifically his sister and niece, played by Lisa Daniely and Deborah Watling.

As some kind of clever marketing ploy, the role of Dr. Brady was shrouded in secrecy during the show's original run, and no actor was ever named in the credits. And since we never see Brady (even during the lab accident he was only shown from behind), it wasn't too difficult to keep the whole charade going; it is generally believed that Johnny Scripps and Tim Turner supplied the voice of Brady, though it is really unclear who played the role during the occasional scenes when he appeared swathed in his trademark bandages. That's because most of the time the show relied on doors opening by themselves or props dangled on wires, and while the quality of the visual effects are a little low-rent by today's standards, some of the episodes show some creative ways (re: riding a motorcycle) to get around the redundant obstacles of having a main character that is invisible.

Each episode runs just under thirty minutes, so there isn't a whole lot of time for much in the way of filler material, and generally no matter what crime-stopping storyline Brady is involved in, it usually ends with punching and fighting. Lots of punching and fighting. Naturally, bad guys do get their comeuppance, Brady wisecracks, ad infinitum through every episode. He gets tied up with some rather mundane plots that seem to treat his invisibility rather cavalierly, and the writing seemed to go back and forth on exactly what his role as the titular mutant should be, given the fact that HE IS INVISIBLE.

For its time, I imagine the process and concept of the show was pretty cutting-edge, though in looking back on this it appears the potential of the character was never properly utilized. As a footnote in British television, it is a somewhat unusual program, even as the attempt to carry off the invisibility angle and link into a relevant plot ultimately treated Brady's Hollow Man-itis less intelligently than it really should have.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The faults of the 1.33:1 transfer no doubt lie with the fair-to-middling quality of the original black-and-white source material, though the backcover does state this set was remastered. There is quite a bit of specking and nicks throughout, and the overall image clarity fluctuates wildly across the set. Dark scenes are often extremely murky, and there is a pronounced softness to edges during sequences with normal lighting.

Fair, at best.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: High marks to Dark Sky for trying to dress up this release by including a new Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix, despite it being just plain strange for a late 1950s British television series. Even with a noble effort, the end result is less than satisfying, with the major complaint the rather tinny voices overpowered by bursts of music and/or background sounds. There is a moderate amount of surround activity, but the whole presentation comes off slightly askew and unbalanced.

The preferred-by-default choice falls to the 2.0 stereo tracks (English, Spanish, French), which still have that unnatural remix feel that sometimes occurs when a mono recording is enhanced. Voices still tend to get lost or buried at times, but not nearly as pronounced.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extras at all, though the cover includes a lenticular cardboard insert that has a modest 3-D effect. And as with nearly all Dark Sky titles, the case is clear plastic, and when it's opened there is an image on the inside (here it's a closeup of a bandaged Dr. Peter Brady) along with episode titles.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Dark Sky has gone deep again, this time resurrecting a little-known British television series from the late 1950s. Invisible Man completists might feel the need to round out their collection with this curious entry, but I have a feeling that's a fairly small circle.

 


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