Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964–1968)
User ReviewsReview this title
Every kid on the block would tune into this show when it was on and although I had to catch it in reruns several years later, that's when I got hooked. The show was too 'grown up ' for me at the time and didn't have enough women in mini-skirts and false eyelashes for me. This was a 'man's man' show and I was so sick of war at the time I could only get interested if a babe or a monster appeared on the show. I do remember a few episodes when they debuted and they're classics now.
Later, channel 7, ABC in New York City would rerun the show on Saturday afternoons and it's still the ultimate Saturday afternoon show and I fondly recall that music wafting from every house for a mile around like clockwork every Saturday.
This brings me to the reliability of the actors. These were people you could count on to bring you solid performances and characters you knew you could depend upon. That's what VTTBOTS is all about for me, the portrayal of people who were professionals and had the character to solve those problems they'd wind up in.
I often laugh at some episodes knowing Irwin Allen and his penchant for stock footage, rehashed sets and props, monkeys, and explosions were more of a menace to the crew than the plot points and evil scientists.
One episode had the late great actor Victor Buono as an evil scientist. This episode you have to see to believe. It's so hysterically funny I woke up neighbors one day watching it.
It's not all laughs however as some great drama was portrayed on the show which made me look at the cast with respect and admiration to this day. Remember this show was in the early 60's and having minorities on a show was rare so you have to bypass the political incorrectness to appreciate the show for what it is.
By all means if you can get past the plot holes and the trademark Irwin Allen cost saving production, you'll find some stories and acting that will really be something to treasure.
Rather than regurgitate the show's well-documented history, however, I want to use this review to recount a personal memory.
In the early '90's, Britain's Channel 4 announced that it had purchased the entire run, and planned to screen it on Sunday afternoons in the slot vacated by 'Lost In Space'. I was overjoyed. The last reruns of 'Voyage' ( as it shall henceforth be referred to ) were back in the early '80's, and took the form of sporadic showings of Season 2 and 3 stories such as 'The Mechanical Man' and 'The Lost Bomb' ( I'm referring to the H.T.V. screenings. Other regions may have had different ones ). Particularly exciting was the news that the run included the first season, which I had never before seen. Being black and white effectively precluded it from a reshowing in the colour crazy '70's.
So, in 1990, the Seaview set sail again. But there was a problem. In my neck of the woods, we had S4C - the Welsh fourth channel - and they commenced the run several weeks behind Channel 4. Which meant that when English viewers got onto the colour episodes, we were still watching the monochrome ones.
Nothing wrong with that, you may think. I was grateful to be seeing 'Voyage' at all. But then The First Gulf War happened. Someone at Channel 4 realised that the episode 'The Magnus Beam' was too close to what was happening in the real world - set in the Middle East, it concerned a madman who wanted to start World War Three by capturing U.S. spy planes, and decided it was not suitable for screening at that time. It was shelved - along with 'The Blizzard Makers', whose only crime it seems was to mention The Gulf Stream several times. The run carried on without them.
After the war ended, Channel 4 showed the episodes. All seemed well. S4C then made a staggering blunder. After 'The Magnus Beam', they were to have followed C4's lead by screening 'The Blizzard Makers' before recommencing the normal order. But they didn't. Instead they put on 'Leviathan', the seventh episode of Season 2! I was horrified. The station had managed to omit a dozen episodes ( six from the first year, six from the second ). Any hope I had of building a complete library of 'Voyage' episodes went straight out the window. Amongst the 'lost' stories were classics like 'Jonah & The Whale' and 'And Five Of Us Are Left'. It would be like a comprehensive 'Star Trek' season forgetting to include 'The City On The Edge Of Forever' and 'Amok Time'.
Enraged, I fired off a letter to S4C, hoping to obtain an explanation for this act of crass stupidity. I eventually got a reply. The unsigned letter claimed that the decision to skip twelve episodes was Channel 4's, insisting that the S4C transmissions should harmonise with theirs. I didn't buy it. For one thing, they were still a week behind, and secondly, why would an English television station care what was being shown in Wales? 'The Waltons' was also being rerun at the same time, and S4C's reverential treatment of 'John-Boy' and company contrasted sharply with its unmistakable contempt for 'Voyage'. The letter writer concluded by inviting me to take the matter up with Channel 4. In other words, they were passing the buck. They had messed up, and were refusing to even say sorry. I tossed the letter in the bin.
S4C weren't finished with 'Voyage' either. A screening of the Season 3 episode 'The Death Watch' was plagued by so many technical problems it rendered the plot incomprehensible. A year later, 'Cave Of The Dead' was displaced by coverage of the Urdd Eisteddfod, never to be rescheduled. None of this would have mattered had the series been available on V.H.S. at the time. It wasn't. I had to wait fourteen years to see the missing twelve, when 'Voyage' was rerun on the Sky satellite channel 'F.X.289''. And then they only ran the first two seasons. If you think the S4C debacle still rankles with me after all these years, you'd be right.
My 'Voyage' collection is still missing two episodes at the time of writing. Despite its popularity, Channel 4 have not shown the slightest interest in bringing it back. Admiral Nelson and Captain Crane faced many untold dangers over the years, but one peril even they could not overcome was the general incompetence of television programme planners.
CODA: It is now 14th January 2010. I have bought the Region 1 releases off eBay, so the story has a happy ending. Shame it took two decades for me to get there.
The first series was black and white and the remaining episodes were in colour. It is about the Seaview nuclear powered submarine and each episode had a different story, including aliens, monsters and espionage.
The series starred Richard Basehart and David Hedison and was directed by the great Irwin Allen. The flying sub used in this series was to appear in Allen's 1971 movie City Beneath the Sea.
It would be nice to see this series again and for it to be released on Video/DVD.
Richard Basehart is best known for his 4 year stint as Admiral Nelson who is also the creator of the nuclear powered submarine Seaview and head of the Nelson Institute of Marine Research. He also starred in many films such as Moby Dick, La Strada, and He Walked By Night as well as other numerous stage and screen plays from the 1940's to the early 80's. He also starred in the highly acclaimed TV adaptation of The Andersonville Trial which received the Emmy for best outstanding drama.
David Hedison is best known for his role as Captain Lee Crane of the submarine Seaview. He also is known for films like The Fly and Irwin Allens The Lost World among other films and stage performances with other TV guest appearances too numerous to list.
Other cast members include Bob Dowdell as Chip Morton, Terry Becker as Chief Sharkey, Del Monroe as Kowalski, Paul Trinka as Patterson, Henry Kulky as Chief Jones (1st Season)and numerous other regular cast members and note worthy guest stars like Vincent Price, Robert Loggia, Robert Duvall, and Patrick Wayne to name a few.
Richard Basehart & David Hedison were great choices to be in command. They carried the dialog real well & there were plenty of good name guest stars in episodes too. Once in a while a pretty woman would stop in for an episode but most of the time the male cast carried this show to the top for ABC.
Later in the series, they introduced a flying submarine, something which in reality has still never been created. This show can really fire the imagination with how it worked. Now that it is on DVD, it might get some more new fans. As for Irwin Allen Productions, while they have done more recent work, since 1982's Code Red, there has not been as much success as this & the 60's & 70's stuff they did.
I remember when it first appeared in colour and the crew members with no rank was wearing their blue or red uniforms.
This is very simular to SeaQuest DSV, but a bit low tech.
The episode i remember is that they had a mummy on board and was going round knocking the crew unconscious, and with the sea-monster like from the black lagoon, wit his fins and yellowish eyes.
I'd love to watch them again if they were re-broadcasted.
But you gotta love those titles, usually self explanatory such as 'Terror on dinosaur island' or my personal favourite, 'The monster from outer space.' Highlights include a scientist who took a drug that expanded him in size. It also expanded his clothes and he sprouted fangs ('Behemoth', God, why do I remember that?) Also the under-sea spider. Well cool. Every week Kowalski would be chewed out by the chief or the crew would fling themselves from side to side of the sub. Getting bored with this they introduced a flying sub that would fly around endlessly for little reason and inevitably crash land.
On and on the series went. Eventually they dispensed with all the monsters and had the crew just walking up and down the corridors with the odd lobster man dropping in to break the monotony. Richard Basehart, seeing a once promising career disappearing under the beach break, became increasingly irritable as the series staggered on. In one episode the Seaview was taken over by seaweed for the umpteenth time and he was hilariously indifferent and short-tempered. Grabbing a laser gun with a 'don't-bother-me-with-this' shrug he flatly said "We'll burn it with this" and proceeded to do so with all the urgency of a man filling in a tax bill. Eventually the writers ran out of final scenes so the cast would just stand there looking at each other uncomfortably waiting for Nelson to ad lib something like "er, let's get under way."
It's missed. Sort of.
2: Nelson says they're 3000 feet deep in a trench 8 miles deep. Nevertheless, we see the sub threading a dangerous course between huge submerged pinnacles in the next scene. Seaview was usually running a submerged obstacle course when submerged, explaining the constant sonar pings, I suppose.
3: Seaview, sitting on the bottom, is emitting huge quantities of bubbles. Good luck surfacing again!
4: Seaview, moving "dead slow", detects the the wreck of another sub a short distance ahead; they can see it with their nose camera. A few seconds later the sub plows right into the wreck for no apparent reason. Great ship handling there, Crane!
5: The sub routinely makes emergency surfaces for no apparent reason. The sub explodes out of the water at a 60 degree angle, then smashes down. I'd like to see what happens on board when they do that.
6: The sub is often shown at steep angles, in pitch, roll, or both. Yet inside, everyone seems to be walking on a level deck.
And yet it's all rather entertaining...
This started off in b/w and had some very good episodes with some hard hitting stories with gritty moral issues and great acting. I'm afraid to say by the last two series it was pure monster of the week and Richard Baseheart looked bored and fed up as he tried to save the world from the next rubbery foe. Crew members would be killed or murdered by other crew members when they had been "taken over" this normally happened on a regular basis but in the end the scripts were so bad no one really cared.
Kowalski would get knocked out every episode when he went to check on the circuitry room-which was always left unguarded. The crew had access to firearms when they wanted as there seemed to be a arms locker in their quarters. Throwing bombs was a must onboard. If so much as a summers breeze blew on the hull it would result in the best firework display you have seen coming from the control room equipment.
Despite what i have mentioned....i still love this show! It's pure ocean bound fantasy and had a real nice atmosphere about it. No matter how bad the scripts got the actors hung in there, the sets and lighting were fantastic. when the budget allowed there were some nifty under water shots. I always wanted to lurk and stalk Seaviews always empty corridors or form a search party with the chief. This show often attracted some big names as guest stars...one that springs to mind is Vincent price who tried to take over the Seaview with glove puppets! I really liked the writers idea of future gadgets and weapons, just writing this is making me want the Admiral to go to his lab and knock up a weapon to save the day!
The thing i hated the most about this show was not the nit picks i mentioned i can live with them and there kind of fun,it was the damn editing. What idiot did they get to do it? one shot the Seaview had a double row of windows (from the film) next shot it was back to a single set. They would be in deep water and decided to launch the "flying sub" so a shot of it launching with Seaview on the surface is used. Take me to long to list all the editing goofs. I remember one episode where they are trapped on the sea floor but can launch the flying sub because they are on a ledge....you guessed it, same old shot of it launching when the ship is on the surface,what were they thinking?
Having said all that still great fun to watch.Go for the black and white and early colour episodes some real gems to be found.
The chief reason is that, after four years and over a hundred episodes, not one character--not Admiral Nelson, not Lee Crane, not Chip Morton, not Sharkey, and certainly not Kowalski--is developed to the slightest degree. We knew as much (or as little) about these guys in 1968 as we did in 1965. Their dialogue was interchangeable. Their motivations for doing anything seemed driven purely by turn of the thin plots, and never by character. (Of course, this is true of EVERY Irwin Allen series--and,heck, all his movies, too. Character NEVER really interested him much.)
Another reason is the almost mind bending repetition in VOYAGE. The series fell into ruts that were beyond belief. There were the episodes that seemed nothing but monsters (mummy, fossil men, seaweed men, silver painted aliens)shambling through the roomy corridors. They never failed to visit the reactor room and the circuitry room and the missile room. (Time for another futile brawl! Cue the sparklers!) There were the shows where someone is impersonating Nelson or Crane or both or neither and after 52 minutes who the hell cared! Too many weeks, some oversize menace wrestled the Seaview until every sparkler in the Control Room was set off. And every week Allen trotted out the "dinosaur" from THE LOST WORLD or the imploding submarines from the VOYAGE feature. I'm surprised he never sneaked the Jupiter 2 or the Time Tunnel aboard (Although couldn't you just see Richard Basehart as Admiral Nelson's dyspeptic reaction to Jonathan Harris as Dr. Smith? Qh, the pain...the pain...!)
Having written all that, even I have some VOYAGE episodes I would rank up there with my favorites from STAR TREK, DR. WHO, and THE OUTER LIMITS for notable weirdness and perversity. How can I deny the bizarre pleasure of watching Michael Dunn in a clown suit roaming the Seaview with his Wax Men? What other show presented a potted orchid as a would-be world conqueror? And Harlan Ellison may have disowned it, but it's hard to beat his expanding plankton episode for sheer noise and confusion.
Yes, by all means let's have a new feature version of VOYAGE. But only if Rowan Atkinson can play Admiral Nelson at full steam and Bill Murray can enact Captain Crane at his deadpan best. And bring back the Two Eyeballs on Seaweed Monster...
"Voyage" premiered on ABC's Monday night schedule on September 14,1964 where 32 episodes from Season 1 only where in black and white until April 19,1965. Then on September 19,1965 in it's second season,the show moved from Monday nights to Sunday nights in an earlier time slot for 78 color episodes for the remainder of it's four-year run until March 31,1968 where it faced stiff competition opposite the long-running animal show "Lassie",and "The Wonderful World of Disney". "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" produced in all a total of 110 episodes airing between September 14,1964 until March 31,1968. Created by Irwin Allen under his production company and the first of the trilogy of action- adventure shows he would produced for the network(the others were "The Time Tunnel","The Land of the Giants",and "Swiss Family Robinson").
The series was nominated for 8 Prime Time Emmys and winning 4 Prime Time Emmys in 1965 for Outstanding Individual Achievements In Entertainment- Special Photographic Effects(L.B. Abbott); and again in 1966 for Special Photographic Effects(L.B. Abbott);Outstanding Cinematopgraphy(Winton C. Hoch), Art Direction(William J. Creber); Art Direction and Mechanical Special Effects(Robert A. Tait);and in 1967 for Film and Sound Editing(Don Hall, Dick LeGrand, Daniel Mandell, John Mills),and Photographic Special Effects(L.B. Abbott). Other Emmy nominations were for Sound Editing, Film Editing, Art Direction, and Special Effects.
Several big time directors ranging from Jus Addiss, Jerry Hopper, Sobey Martin, Harry Harris, Leonard Horn, Robert Sparr, Nathan Juran, Sutton Roley, James Goldstone, Laslo Benedek, Gerd Oswald, Tom Gries, Alex March, Alan Crosland, and even Irwin Allen(who directed the pilot episode).
Fantastic writers contribute to some of the great stories which include Irwin Allen(who wrote the pilot episode). Others were William Welch, Allan Balter, John Hawkins, Ward Hawkins, Harlan Ellison, Don Brinkley, Sidney Marshall, Robert Vincent, Alan Caillou, Shimon Wincelberg, to Sidney Ellis and William Read Woodfield along with George Reed and Peter Packer.
The guest star roster for "Voyage" includes big time Hollywood greats including Susan Flannery, Mark Slade, Linda Cristal, Henry Jones, Malachi Throne, Jan Merlin, Leslie Nielsen, Werner Klemperer, Michael Ansara, Lloyd Bochner, Ford Rainey, Kevin Hagen, James Doohan, Eddie Albert, Richard Carlson, Yvonne Craig, June Lockhart, Brooke Bundy, Carroll O'Connor, Viveca Lindfors, Edward Asner, Ina Balin, Gia Scala, Gary Merrill, Victor Buono, Karen Steele, J.D. Cannon, Warren Oates, to Arthur Hill, James Darren, John Lupton, Michael Dunn, Vincent Price, Don Matheson, Robert Duvall,and John McGiver.
The best episodes from this series starts with the pilot episode "Eleven Days To Zero"(which was basically filmed in color but telecast in black and white). Season 1 episodes include "The Sky Is Falling", "Submarine Sunk Here", "Doomsday", "The Saboteur", "The Price of Doom", "The Fear Makers", "The Traitor", "The Mist of Silence", "No Way Out", "The Secret of the Loch","The City Beneath The Sea",and "Mutiny". Season 2 episodes include "The Mechanical Man", "The Cyborg","The Death Ship", "Jonah and the Whale", "Leviathan", "The X-Factor",and "The Phantom Strikes". Season 3 episodes include "The Lost Bomb","The Day The World Ended","Death from the Past","The Creature", "The Wax Men", and "Deadly Invasion". The Fourth and Final Season best episodes were "Edge of Doom", "No Way Back", "Cave of the Dead", "The Man of Many Faces", "Savage Jungle", "The Death Clock", "Man-Beast", "Attack!", "The Rescue", and "The Secret of the Deep" along with "Fires of Death".
When it was abruptly canceled in the Spring of 1968 after four seasons and 110 episodes, ABC didn't waste any time in finding a replacement on it's Sunday night time slot which was another Irwin Allen produced series "Land of the Giants" that ran for two seasons and 51 episodes from 1968-1970.
Clearly fault rests solely writers dropping the cloak and dagger spy genre of season one for taking inspiration from drafts of LIS season 2 & 3 episodes.
Basehart began his acting career on stage and moved into film in the late 1940s. Though he was never in a major blockbuster his film work was varied. He started in a number of film noir features, including a leading role in a lesser-known MGM noir, Tension, in 1949. Ironically this was the closest Basehart was to come to achieving leading man status, and his shift from a nerdy, nervous, glasses-wearing drug store clerk who transforms himself into a sharp tough guy to trail his cheating wife is a varied and fully developed performance.
In the 1950s Basehart appeared in a variety of films, including the tense WW II Decision Before Dawn, and John Huston's Moby Dick (in the key supporting role of Ishmael, the narrator of the novel.) He even appeared in two Fellini films, Il Bidone, and the celebrated La Strada. But by1962 he was starring in the title role of The Private Life of Hitler, from the poverty row studio, Allied Artists.
Basehart finally achieved national fame in the TV Voyage which ran from 1964 to 1968, in the lead role of Admiral Nelson, (Walter Pidgeon in the film.) Captain Crane is played by David Hedison. The TV crew bypasses the movie's women (Barbara Eden, Joan Fontaine) but includes a few guys from the film, mainly Del Monroe as Kowalski, and a few new (male) characters, among them the amusing Terry Becker as Chief Sharkey. Essentially the series is an all-male cast, though a few women do show up as guest stars.
The scripts themselves are a mixed bag. As the show ran in an hour slot they often resort to padding and predictable endings, especially after season one. There's little of the film's tension between Nelson and Crane and the TV crew are a mutually supportive lot who run a pretty tight ship. The first season also credits a "guest star" for some episodes. Many are now in the "who?" category, and this practice was abandoned as the series ran on.
On DVD the show certainly looks great, as it should having been shot at 20th Century-Fox. The production values are obviously not as varied as in the film but what's there looks (and sounds) like a movie, even the first season which was shot in luminous black x white. The music, mainly by the film's composer, Paul Sawtell, and an amazing assortment of Hollywood "guest" composers, is profuse, atmospheric, and fully orchestrated. Music supervision is by Lionel Newman, the celebrated Alfred's brother.
Special efx are mainly limited to the models apparently used in the film but they work adequately, though the same cannot be said of the somewhat tacky monsters and aliens. The giant squid and octopus from the movie also make encore appearances. In Turn Back the Clock the rather repulsive live reptiles and a good deal of actual footage from Allen's 1960 The Lost World are recycled.
One of the all-round best episodes is also from season one, The Sky Is Falling, which uses the flying saucer and some opening footage from Fox's classic The Day The Earth Stood Still. The shots of the sunken saucer though the huge underwater windows of the Seaview are among the most impressive in the series.
But as a whole, as critic Stuart Galbraith IV notes ".... Allen just couldn't tell a good script from a bad one, and had no talent at all to nurture promising material into something good," but IMHO the series remains one of the better and still mostly entertaining examples of semi-high end '60s genre TV.
The prolific (and persistent) Allen went on produce two blockbusters in the '70s, The Poseidon Adventure ('71) and The Towering Inferno ('74). Two other 60s' series, The Time Tunnel, and Lost In Space, had preceded Voyage.