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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
On watching all episodes in order, this is easily my favourite so far.
A member of an advanced alien race accidentally pilots his flying
saucer into Earth's atmosphere after a mishap with a meteor. After a
hasty scramble across the United States the floundering UFO ditches in
the ocean, which is where The Seaview comes in.
Having tracked the UFO across America, a fatalistic, trigger-happy rear-admiral is dispatched to the Seaview via helicopter with orders to destroy the submerged spacecraft at any cost.
Of course the more thoughtful, scientifically minded Admiral Nelson along with the level-headed Captain Crane would much rather tackle the problem with reason and intelligence in order to work out what is really going on.
A great example of cold-war paranoia in science fiction, the episode is captivating from start to finish as the action never lets up and it really does not disappoint.
We do get to see inside the UFO, complete with obligatory Jacob's ladder and other alien looking apparatus. We also get to see the true form of the alien visitor behind the disguise. We also learn that the nuclear-powered Seaview, apart from using rather "primitive" Uranium fissile material, does crucially also carry a few crates of Strontium-90 pellets for when they need that extra bit of 'kick'. This comes in rather handy as the alien visitor can work with this stuff, converting it to a useful fuel allowing his depleted craft to escape Earth unharmed by NATO forces. Thus averting a potential interstellar war, which certainly the human race would come out the loser.
Well, what else can I say, if you like sci-fi, aliens, nuclear power, submarines, tension, drama and the cold war, then this one has it all. I could nitpick things like the visible strings pulling the detachable transport module away from the UFO, but how can I when the model work is just so exemplary in this series. In the absence of CGI, this was just the most sensible way of filming it. The creators should be proud, they've really made some outstanding models, and the UFO is no exception. The story though is a classic. It's been done in many other variations, but not quite like this. Superb stuff.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea actually features a flying saucer. An alien ship, considered a security threat to The United States of America, crashlands into the ocean and the Seaview is commissioned to go and find it. When the Seaview does come across the saucer, an ion beam knocks out the sub's power. What will those on board the Seaview do? Can they find a way to communicate to the alien saucer and perhaps save themselves from running out of oxygen or will all on board die, their ship powerless? While the end result has been used in times past (The Day the Earth Stood Still comes to mind), there's plenty of real tension and suspense, as well as, an air of mystery surrounding the flying saucer. There is a rather cheesy element to the episode (a smaller "escape vessel" that belongs to the ship, which separates from the saucer, moves on a visible set of strings), and seeing Basehart conversing with himself (one of the aliens "disguises" itself as human as not to repulse Nelson) is rather surreal (although this does allow the actor to play dual personalities, conveying the frustrations of the alien race with the human response to their accidental entry into United States airspace). You get a bit of terror and despair from the crew as the air runs out and they sweat, including a scene where one member becomes mad from claustrophobia. You see these kinds of moments in sub dramas a lot, but they remain effective because that horror of being cast adrift, without air and helpless, deep in the ocean, is realistic considering the possibilities, something causing a loss of electricity, rendering you a sitting duck. The episode further establishes suspense by approaching bombers and jets, planning to destroy the saucer, in turn, threatening the Seaview. It could take an olive branch extended from Nelson to the alien crew in order to avert disaster. Charles McGraw guest-stars as an Admiral with designs on blasting the saucer to smithereens before it can cause harm to humans, but Nelson sets him straight when he reiterates what the power of one ion beam was able to do to subdue the Seaview. We get a look inside the saucer, the controls and mechanized parts resemble what you would see inside a space ship in 50s B-movies and The Twilight Zone. We also get to see the real face of the alien mimicking Nelson, informing us of what they really look like.
The first contact with space aliens in an Irwin Allen production.
Eleven Days To Zero was the pilot to Voyage but The Sky Is Falling is the pilot to the Irwin Allen science fiction world. Yes, I am aware that a few Voyage hours before this had some sci-fi elements in them but "Sky" goes all out with an alien spaceship and the works!
The alien ship in question was first used in Fox's The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951).
Everything about this tension filled drama is wonderful and we get to see TWO Richard Baseharts which makes it even better.
If you know someone who has never seen Voyage and just wants to see one single episode...this is the hour to screen to that person. Everything is here...the tense drama, Basehart all over the place, good effects of the Seaview, moody music, etc. The only thing missing is the Flying Sub (which would not appear until season two). This episode gets ten out of ten.
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