Memories of the Gemini Man

Memories of the Gemini Man

Was it really Annual?

Please file this under Crap You Never Thought (or Hoped) Would Resurface.

While watching the excellently re-imagined Battlestar Galactica last night, I got to thinking about the original series from 1978 and I remembered my childlike excitement() before each new episode came out.

Nostalgia swelled up within me as recalled another classic of the 70s that had also been re-tooled, though it hadn't taken them 30 years to do it.

Here's the story of Gemini Man.

In 1975 David McCallum, whom you may fondly remember as the pudding bowl blond spy Illya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., starred in one season of a series called The Invisible Man for N.B.C.

The logistics of the show required his character, Daniel Westin, to wear a rubber skin suit which could be shed thus revealing(?) his invisibility, but also leaving him awkwardly naked.

This was a bit of a mental distraction for the viewer but  he rarely stripped off anyway since the plots were more cerebral than action related. Perhaps this is why the show folded after twelve episodes.

The next year however the show was 're-imagined' as Gemini Man with a denim-clad Ben Murphy, from Alias Smith and Jones (as mentioned in the infamous Bearcats discussion) as Sam Casey, a secret agent who turns invisible after a scuba-diving accident–a common enough hazard of the sport.

Unlike Westin, Casey has power over his invisibility thanks to a (then) state-of-the-art digital watch. I imagine this enormous hunk of metal may have been forged from a melted down Ponitac TransAm.

The iPod of 1976

This beeping colossus allowed him to vanish for up to 15 minutes a day, after which he would collapse and possibly remain invisible forever.

But like its predecessor, Gemini Man, this time weighed down by a massive chronometer, ran for less than a single season. In both cases 12 episodes were filmed but only half were aired. The 70s were brutal times.

I'm tempted to purchase the DVD from Warlock and see what the world missed, but it's $25…meh.

Following Christmas of 1977 I found myself the proud owner of a copy of the first and only Gemini Man annual. It has since disappeared to wherever my Youngline annual went. Luckily, full-size scans and other details are available courtesy of Four-Color Craic.

Also, eBay can provide the serious collector with a signed Gemini Man publicity still.

In the 90s the comedy robots of MST3K took some cheap shots at GM and successfully roasted the TV movie Riding With Death which had someone cobbled together from a couple of early episodes(††).

The only episode I clearly remember was one involving an inferior clone of Robby the Robot(†††) which Casey battled manfully in a warehouse. It looked like the unholy issue which had resulted from a slot machine shagging a jukebox.

A scary Technical Lego kit

Well, thank the Gods of the Internet because that exact episode–Minotaur–is currently available on YouTube in its entirety [link].

Unsurprisingly, it is woefully terrible. Watch Sam lock himself into the boot of a car amongst other high jinx, and then ask yourself why the $40M secret science laboratory looks like an old gasworks and has a conveyor belt with a spiky crusher on the end. Enjoy.

Incidentally, fans of a certain other television series may see the maze logo and retro lab below as possibly prefiguring the Hanso Foundation's Dharma Initiative.

Gemini Man's Lost Dharma station?
Lost and found

(And let me know if you remember any of this stuff.)

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Endnotes:
  1. is it really 'childlike,' since I was actually a child at the time? We don't talk about cats having 'catlike' reflexes. [back ↩]
  2. †† see MST3K Series 8 Episode 14 [back ↩]
  3. ††† the real Robby turned up in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. [back ↩]