The publicity for the Will Smith movie “Gemini Man” makes me do a double take every time I hear it.
You see, when I was 14 years old, in 1976, there was a cave painting — er, TV series — called “Gemini Man.” That series was completely unrelated to the current movie, and had a completely different premise. But it was a remake of another TV show which had aired just a year earlier.
In 1975, there had been a TV show called “The Invisible Man,” starring David McCallum of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” (and “NCIS”).
“The Invisible Man” was cancelled, but its executive producer Harve Bennett (who would later go on to run the “Star Trek” movie franchise in the 80s) recast the lead character, made a few tweaks to the concept, and came back in 1976 with basically the same show, adapting some of the unused scripts that had already been written for the previous show. Wikipedia claims the special effects on “The Gemini Man” were more cheaply done than on its predecessor.
The main difference between “The Invisible Man” and “Gemini Man” was that “Gemini Man”’s lead character, played by Ben Murphy (of “Alias Smith and Jones”), had powers of invisibility controlled by a special wristwatch. Once triggered, the invisibility would only last for a certain number of minutes, and he would reappear.
The David McCallum character, on the previous show, was permanently invisible, as a result of an experiment gone wrong, but could put on a high-tech (and uncomfortable) fake skin if he wanted to appear normal. I did not quite remember the details of the David McCallum show, but I found them on Wikipedia just now.
According to Wikipedia, “Gemini Man” was cancelled after only five episodes. I remember at that age being fascinated by science fiction or similar high-concept TV shows, but I also noticed that they didn’t tend to last too long on the air.
I liked “Gemini Man,” though, because of Ben Murphy, whom I’d liked a few years earlier on “Alias Smith and Jones.” That show, for those of you too young to remember it, was sort of a TV ripoff of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Murphy and Pete Duel played two Wild West outlaws, Hannibal Hayes and Kid Curry, who had never actually loaded their guns. The governor of their state secretly promises them a pardon if they can stay out of trouble for X amount of time. They take on, as the title implies, the names Smith and Jones, and try to lay low. But in the meantime, they’re still wanted for various bank robberies, and there are bounty hunters and lawmen looking for them. So they have to keep moving.
The show was quite popular and might have gone on for years, but tragically, Duel committed suicide. The part was recast, but the show just wasn’t the same and didn’t last much longer.
Anyway, it’s funny the things that stick with you, more than 40 years later. When I first heard the movie title “Gemini Man,” my first thought was not cloning (which I think is the movie’s plot) but invisibility and a digital watch.