Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Discuss: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea TV show


david_b said...

One of the more interesting shows to watch in terms of genre-changing.., it certainly ran the gambit. From the cold-warish b&w beginnings to the increasing common visits from the evil puppets/pirates/aliens/sea monster by it's final year, it unfortunately sank into the Dozer Batman camp like LIS did.

But it's effects were still spectacular with the underwater gear, the sea creatures, and all the Flying Sub footage. I liked the different colored uniforms on board, probably channeling some of the Trek style. In several interviews, Hedison mentioned trying to cultivate some more natural humor into the show perhaps to make Basehart appear a bit less stiff, but Allen apparently wouldn't have it.

Edo Bosnar said...

I only have the vaguest memories of this show - my older brother used to watch it. One thing I do remember is that at least one episode really scared me (some kind of sea monsters or something in it) and I had to go hide in my bedroom.

Pat Henry said...

Like everything Irwin Allen made, starts out strong then quickly disintegrates into nonsense.

With all the commandeering of the auxiliary control room (ST had this problem late in its run, too), you'd wonder why they wouldn't—y'know—lock it and post a guard with neck brace that could withstand the typical karate chop.

david_b said...

Actually Edo, I don't recall any specific episodes, but as a very young kid (4-5yrs old..), I used to have scary dreams about menacing puppets coming alive. It may have been from the later campy episodes of 'Voyage', or perhaps Anderson's Supermarionation stuff like Thunderbirds, not sure. I admire the work Anderson did on those puppet shows, but I have zero interest in watching 'em.

'Course Twilight Zone had the ventriloquist dolls coming alive too, so that probably contributed to it.

This was decades before Chucky came on the scene (or his 'bride'..).

Anonymous said...

When I was seven, I thought it was cool. Years later, seeing it in reruns, I still thought the first season was not bad. After that, the Batman/camp comedy fad became a big influence (as it did with Lost in Space, Wild Wild West, and Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and the show got sillier and more juvenile. The repetition of certain plot devices (how many times did Nelson or Crane get hypnotized by aliens or foreign spies?) and over-use of stock footage didn't help matters.

Still, it was an entertaining series most of the time, especially if you were 7-10 years old.

It seems like Voyage, UNCLE, and The Avengers (that is, the British TV show about secret agents) all really went over the top in their 1966-67 seasons, then tried to tone it down in 1967-68, when the camp fad passed. By then, though, either the damage was done, or maybe those shows had all run their course anyway.

One thing about VTTBOTS, even at its silliest: it portrayed scientific knowledge and ingenuity in a positive light. I remember a guest editorial by Ben Bova in Omni magazine in the 1980's, in which he complained that science fiction movies and TV shows often displayed an anti-science, anti-technology bias. He cited Star Wars (moral: close your eyes and use The Force instead of the high-tech equipment) and Star Trek (the problems had to be solved by Kirk, relying on gut instinct and intuition, often ignoring Spock's advice, which was based on logic). Trek's moral was often, "Trust your heart, not your head."

Admiral Nelson, however, would rationally analyze the situation, and use his mind to outwit the villains and create effective counter-weapons.

And Richard Basehart and David Hedison should have each won an Emmy award just for keeping a straight face in the later seasons.

david_b said...

Anonymous, nice points made..

(Sorry, I seem to have more time on my hands today than previous days..).

You make a great point on the post-camp years, definitely for the likes of UNCLE. Once you stretch into silliness and camp, it's very very hard to pull the reins back in to be serious AND keep your audience share intact. Folks get used to the silliness, then find the drama dull. It's just human nature.

I wondered just how many times Hedison bacame a werewolf or you saw the same lobstermen. In the 'Worlds of Irwin Allen' special, you got to see a scene from Voyage along side a scene from LIS using the same aquatic monster costume.

Luckily for Voyage, they stayed away from Smith-type (or Fitzhugh in LOTG..) they stayed with strong characters played straight.

I recently enjoyed the episode with George Takei playing a Japanese spy on this enemy island, 'The Silent Saboteurs' from the 2nd year I believe. Quite suspenseful.

Karen said...

My main memory of this show is coming home after a minor surgery when I was about 8 and being under the influence of some pain killers and watching this show, and thinking the episode was going on for hours. I mean hours. I got very irate and then kind of panicky -I think it had some creepy little aliens on it -and my folks had to settle me down! Psychedelic indeed.

I've only seen the original film version of VTTBOTS once and it seemed pretty rock-solid adventure fare. The design of the Seaview is a classic though, and the Flying Sub is great too.

We'll have some more Irwin Allen fare as well as other long lost shows coming your way in the next few weeks. Feel free to suggest anything we haven't covered yet.

William Preston said...

I loved this show as a little kid, and again in reruns when I was still a runt, but a little older. I was aware, even as a kid, that the show got increasingly silly, and I enjoyed, when a little older, the B&W eps much more. (I was even trying to draw on some elements of an early ep for my next Old Man story (the fourth one recently ran in Asimov's), but I had to alter that element as the plot advanced.)

I think I liked seeing these good-looking guys doing guy things. Pretty sure I had crushes on most of the males. Any other (straight or not) guys who watched this show experience that as a little kid?

Fred W. Hill said...

My memories of this show are so vague that I can't remember if I saw it before my family went to Japan in early '67 or perhaps in syndication in the very early '70s after we returned to the U.S. I recall watching it with my family in the evening and that I liked it, but I can't remember any details about any particular stories.

Anonymous said...

How is it I missed this? I thought I knew about every weird goofy T.V. show from them days.

Anonymous said...

It's a sea monster!

Seriously, though, glad to see Voyage on here. The Seaview is probably the most famous fictional craft right after Star Trek's USS Enterprise. The Seaview and its Flying Sub were Irwin Allen's marine answer to the Enterprise and its shuttlecraft.

I watched a few episodes, and although I didn't get to see all the episodes (werewolves and puppets?) it did seem like some plots delved more into the fantasy genre than true science fiction. I read some interviews (mostly from Starlog magazine) which stated that Irwin Allen was more interested in the special effects than a coherent plotline. Star Richard Basehart also claimed he couldn't remember most of that period because he was 'bombed out of his skull' drunk most of the time.

I distinctly remember how one director described the process of filming the submarine rocking from side to side during an explosion. A production assistant would bang a bucket, then the camera would be tilted to one side and all the actors would pretend to fall in one direction. The assistant would bang the bucket again after a few seconds, the camera would tilt to the opposite side, and the actors would lurch in the other direction! Such low tech effects are a contrast to all the CGI we see now in modern movies.

I wouldn't be surprised if a studio decides to make a big screen remake of Voyage!

- Mike 'Beam me up Sc... er, I mean close the hatches men!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

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