Winter is coming, so here’s a show to brighten up the increasingly-long evenings: The Invisibles, a delightful fantasy-comedy series from the Czech Republic.
As high-concept comedies go, The Invisibles (Neviditelní) is brilliant and hilarious.
It took my brain a few minutes to catch on when I tuned in to the first episode, whose opening scene features a group of adults staring into a red bucket filled with water… and a baby happily submerged in it for nine minutes. A feat for which Father Voda (Jaromír Dulava, The Land Gone Wild) exclaims praise to their patron saint, Saint John the Baptist (natch).
The proud parents then bring their bundle of joy in the now-lidded bucket to meet his siblings by throwing the baby out with the (non-bath) water into the river.
All of this is normal for these characters, as they belong to the race of “nixes” or Aquarians — humanoids born with a gene that allows them to breathe underwater. This ability has prevented their species from becoming extinct for millennia, such as when Catholics attempted to wipe the nixes off the face of the earth centuries ago. (Which they did, only not in the way they intended.)
Today the Aquarians are safe from persecution, but they face a different existential crisis: dwindling numbers of pure-blood nixes, owing to mixed marriages with landlubbers. So the pressure is on Robert Vydra (Kryštof Hádek, The Lens) to meet and marry a girl with 100% aqua-genes, so they can have pure-blooded aqua-babies.
Robert’s parents, businessman Hubert Vydra (Jiří Bartoška, The Life and Time of Judge A.K.) and his wife Nora Vydrová (Ivana Chýlková, Kriminálka Andel), insist on this, as they believe it will give Hubert the edge in the upcoming election. He’s a candidate for the chairmanship of the Water Alliance, a position left vacant when the former chairman was dried to his death in a sauna.
Hubert also maintains that the nixes should remain a secret society, whereas Eduard “Eda” Baretti (Ludek Sobota, Mazalové), a old, roguish, left-leaning aqua-man, believes the nixes should come out of the (water) closet.
Then something unexpected happens that rocks the nixes’ world: Ivan Laušman (Jiří Langmajer, The Labyrinth), a wealthy lobbyist under investigation by the police for fraud, corruption, and related white-collar crimes, decides to off himself by driving straight into Prague’s Vltava River. Only he doesn’t drown after floating for twelve hours and ten kilometers in the water.
It turns out that Ivan is a wolf — a nix born to “dry parents” whose aqua-gene had been dormant until now.
For Hubert and the more conservative members of the Czech Nix High Council, Ivan spells trouble. The wolf is on the lam from Police Commissioner Eva Jara (Simona Babčáková, Comeback), and her search for him could expose the nixes. Against Eduard’s wishes as well as nix law, Hubert and co. vote to eliminate Ivan. Permanently.
Enter the suckers. (Literally.)
But Eduard pulls a fast one, and as one thing leads to another, it becomes in the nixes’ best interest to take Ivan in, lest they all be found out.
There is so much to like about The Invisibles, not the least of which are the quirky, comical characters and their straight-man counterparts. In addition to those already mentioned, there’s Johana Baretti (Kristýna Liška Boková, The First Republic), Eduard’s daughter, a nurse who works alongside Doctor Jech (Roman Luknár, Panelák) at the nix hospital and a pure-blood nix born into a lower aqua-caste from the Vydra family; Doctor Mráčková (Lenka Vlasáková, Countesses), a nix physician who dispenses fishy pharmaceuticals under the guise of being a tropical fish store owner; and Monika (Barbora Poláková, Marta a Vera), Ivan’s dim-witted but good-hearted girlfriend.
Add to them some of the nix traditions, which seem suspiciously satirical of Catholic ones. To wit: they greet their brethren with “It needn’t rain, as long as it’s drizzling” instead of “Peace be with you, and also with you”; say Salmon instead of Amen; and make a wave motion across the forehead instead of the sign of the cross. And then there are the visual and verbal zingers, which are numerous.
The Invisibles, which I highly recommend because it’s jolly good fun, is currently streaming in the US on Walter Presents and the Walter Presents channel on Amazon, and in the UK on All 4/Walter Presents UK
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