Here is my lengthy review: What do you all think?
I remember seeing this back in TZ85's first season on CBS and only recently caught it again on Chiller. This episode has always been one of my favorites.
On one level I loved the idea of a person being condemned to "symbolic" invisibility for not being a good and kind citizen, and doing unto others, but it also makes you think. Look at this society. It has all the trappings of a fascist/collectist state. Just look at the opening scene; its like something out of Room 101 in 1984. The darkness, the prisoner is kept in, the two black clad storm trooper types, the "judge" who is actually in another room, while the prisoner has light shone in his eyes. Not to mention the mini police satellites that are everpresent, even indoors. How does this society view liberty anyway? So this is the society that makes you be nice, huh?
The vignettes of his invisibility work well too, the blind man and the child especially. Although think about the child scene as well. HIs Grandmother points to the mark and the boy turns away. Hmmmm, let's get kids to reject people based on their "appearance?" Makes you think.
One also wonders how he keeps his job and pays for his apartment and food during a year when he wanders around invisible. My suggestion is that he just steals what he wants, as no one will acknowledge or stop him, so that takes care of that problem. That seems to be implied in the scene where he stumbles drunkenly out of the supermarket. (Nice touch with the foreign symbol alphabet signs in the windows too)
For a similar tale see Damon Knight's short story "In the Country of the Kind" which has a lot of similar elements. A man in a similar society commits murder and is condemned to be an outcast the rest of his life. People are not to acknowledge him and the state alters his biochemistry so he emits a sickening odor at all times. He basically wanders around destroying property wherever he likes, never getting a reaction.
This utter freedom also seems to be present when he goes to the women's health club, fulfilling every man's fantasy of walking into the female only areas with total impunity. He gets to be the fly on the wall in the showerroom, but to no avail, as the nude women in the hot tub, just ignore him and huddle close. (Side note: Would have been nice to have seen this done on an HBO or Showtime anthology, and then we would have been able to have oodles of gratuitous nudity, as buxom girls cavorted totally naked in his presence. In fact, I think a bunch of females carrying on as if he were not there, would have been a better scene, dramatically, as opposed to the women in the hot tub, huddling together obviously uncomfortable and acknowledging his presence, invisibility or not)
Maybe the state pays for his apartment, since invisible or not invisible his landlord is going to want his rent money. Or maybe, since this is seems to be a fascist/collectivist state, he gets his free government housing.
I do have a problem with the scene where he is denied medical attention after his accident. The government must have forseen the contingeny that an invisible may get sick or get hurt. This strikes me a bit odd. So the society that makes you be nice, gives up totally on someone for a year, which makes invisibility a potential death sentence?
The ending is superb as he finds his humanity and risks another year of invisibility to acknowledge the girl who had rebuffed him earlier. Love the final narration of him this time wearing his invisibity as a badge of honor.
Overall one of the most thought-provoking episodes of the TZ85.