Story by Robert Silverberg
Teleplay by Steven Barnes
Directed by Noel Black
Original Airdate - January 31, 1986
Cotter Smith - Mitchell Chaplin
Karlene Crockett - Invisible Woman
Mary Robin Redd - Margaret
Peter Hobbs - Bennett Gershe
Bonnie Campbell-Britton - Woman
Jack Gallagher - Comic
Kenneth Danzinger - Maitre'd
Richard Jamison - Guard No. 1
Chris McCarty - Business Man
Karla Richards - Waitress
Rebecca Robertson - Nurse
Dean Fortunato - Tough No. 1
Steve Peterson - Server
Terri Lynn Wood - Crying Girl
Whitby Hertford - Young Boy



In this society, flying cameras are everywhere, watching and waiting to find any indiscretion.  Anyone who is outside the norm, or commits crimes against the state or a person, is sentenced to be "invisible" for a period of time.  They aren't really invisible, but are given a mark they can't remove or cover so that everyone knows that person is supposed to be ignored.  And I mean really ignored.  At one point the "invisible" man is badly beaten up by a gang, and he crawls home.  When he tries to call for medical help on his phone, which also has a video screen, the medical person hangs up on him when she sees the mark.  He is set adrift in this society for his crimes against it, and becomes a pariah; his injuries seemed to be life threatening, but he is left on his own. 

He eventually heals, but as the days go by he becomes more withdrawn.  At the beginning of his sentence he's arrogant and tries to disrupt meetings or parties, but he's singled out by spotlights or by cameras, so he's foiled at every turn.  When he goes into a cafeteria to get something to eat, he just hops over the steam table and piles the food on his plate, while everyone turns away from him.  As the months roll past, he is much more tentative, and when an old man who is blind sits at a table with him, he is astonished.  He can barely speak, after not being talked to for so long.  However, a fellow citizen stops just long enough to whisper a single word, "invisible," to the old blind man, who immediately gets up and runs away, after damning the miscreant. 

The "Invisible" man runs into another "invisible" man, and they both seem shocked.  What is the protocol for two invisible people?  Can they talk to each other?  As they attempt to, one of the flying cameras swoops in and they are warned not to pay attention to each other.  They go on their way.  Finally, his time up, the "invisible" mark is removed and he is welcomed back to his job and his friends.  His friends all say how much he's changed, and become a better person.  He agrees with them, because he does feel as if he's more sympathetic to his fellow man.  One day he stumbles across another "invisible" woman, who begs him to talk to her.  She says that if he had any decency, he would show her that she mattered.  He stops to think a moment, and realizes that she is right.  Decency should extend to all people, no matter what they are.  He hugs her, and tells her she does have worth and he does see her.  The flying cameras roll in, telling him to stop, but he is practicing what this society has taught him.  People matter.



In this new Twilight Zone hour, we see three views of a dystopian world gone mad.  First we had "The Elevator," a story built on one man's quest to feed the world, which ended disastrously because he didn't think his idea completely through to its ironic end, and lastly we had "Tooth or Consequences," the view from the other side of the dentist's chair, where instead of being hated and reviled, a dentist is loved, almost to death.  The middle segment, "To See the Invisible Man," outshines the other two and takes us to an Orwellian parallel universe where Big Brother is everywhere, watching each individual's interactions with their companions at every moment of the day or night.

Based on a short story by Robert Silverberg, and adapted for the new Twilight Zone by Steven Barnes, this is a superior entry for the series.  It had tackled many different topics, but human repression by an unseen presence is essential to scifi and the story itself is well-told and chilling.  Silverberg is one of the big names in writing, and science fiction in particular.  He has a long and varied bibliography, from history to biographies.  I've always enjoyed his writing, and this episode spotlights his outstanding genius in the bigger scope of an idea.

Cotter Smith is impressive in the role of a man who took too many things for granted in his life, and treated his fellow human beings with little respect.  He runs the gamut of emotions from arrogant to pathetic, from aggressive to submissive, and chauvinistic to sympathetic.  It's a bleak segment, but his performance does warm it a bit.  The scene with the blind man is especially well done.  Just that one word being whispered is the signal theme for the entire teleplay.