Boris Karloff really embraced television from the start and appeared in many television anthology dramas over the years. It would be difficult for him, however, to find a better part to sink his teeth into than that of the impostor "Captain Skaggs" in "Mutiny on the Nicolette" (Or "Nichollete," depending on which title card you are looking at, in just about the only careless thing in this production), a tense, thrilling, and mysterious hour-long television drama that makes great use of the medium and has all the energy of a live theatre performance.
It's a tight story full of doubt, suspicion, and double crosses -- and really about individual obsession and our capacity to be won over without evidence by one persuasive man. Karloff is that individual in both cases and gives an energetic, passionate, and scarily believable as the rough, intense seaman. Sometimes there's nothing more intimidating that absolute obsession, and Karloff really captures it here.
The other performances are excellent too, which is essential in this close, claustrophobic atmosphere created here at the mercy of the sea. It may have been difficult to create a setting out in the ocean in a live television studio, but my focusing on the dark, the void, and the close ship, the sense of containment is only intensified. The writing is also commendable, with strong, pointed dialogue, well-crafted scenes, and a finely-tuned sense of mystery and suspense maintained as we the audience are kept in just as much suspense about such things as whether Captain Miller is really a Nazi, where the ship is headed, and Skaggs' true intentions as the characters are.
This is an excellent anthology drama from the "golden age of television" and well worth seeing if you have the opportunity; it is an excellent context for one of Boris Karloff's most intense, powerful, and memorable performances.
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