Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 3 Episode 26

Destroy Seaview!

Aired Monday 7:30 PM Mar 19, 1967 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • I've read a couple disparaging reviews of this episode, but in spite of some flaws, I found it tense and interesting. A pretty decent close to the season.

    I think that part of the problem is that it came right on the heels of an episode where "Crane" was the bad guy. If they'd been more separated, perhaps it wouldn't have looked so much like they were taking turns at enemy-of-the-week.

    They start out in an underwater cave, 1500 feet down. Nelson and Crane are accompanying Dr. Land (whose character could have been excised from the script with almost no effort) searching for Zycron 143, an exceptionally powerful new element. Nelson points out that it will be extremely dangerous if enemy powers get hold of this element. David Hedison is stuck with some trite dialogue, not to mention having to sound really stupid just so Nelson can spell out the problems to the audience. (He should have brought along a crewman to cover that thankless task.) Nelson informs us that there have already been several attacks on Dr. Land and Nelson, not to mention attempts to brainwash some of the crew. This makes Crane's statement that no one else knows of Dr. Land's discovery really silly.

    They find the deposit, which is fairly radioactive. There is also a minor quake. (Great time to be exploring underwater caves.) The radioactivity causes problems with the radio. Nelson announces that he will go back to the landing to make the call to Seaview, which is reasonable, and also pick up the sonic cutter for collecting some samples. He steps out of the small annex, then turns. You know instantly that something is wrong. Nelson peels some tape off of a flat metal disc--which apparently holds down the trigger. Crane has just enough time to turn and see Nelson toss the grenade. In the first season episode "The Saboteur" we see Crane nearing the end of his brainwashing session, but here they don't even bother--it's a done deal. Nelson has mentioned brainwashing, so it's a fairly safe bet that this is what's happened to him. Considering the previous attacks, etc, you would have thought that they would take more care.

    The landing party (hmm...sounds like "Star Trek") is supposed to call in every 30 minutes. Chip Morton has been trying to reach them in vain. Sharkey puts a rescue party on standby. Down in the cave, Nelson collects his samples, looks casually at the fallen men (Crane is starting to stir) and sets off another grenade, this one sealing the men in the annex. He returns to the landing to find Chip still calling. Nelson answers in a weak voice (and gets into the spirit of the thing by grabbing the side of his neck). He says that Dr. Land and Crane are dead, killed in a cave-in. He's now returning to Seaview. Chip wants him to wait for a party to go down (which is quite logical, since Nelson is presumably injured, or at least badly shaken) but Nelson refuses. Chip, having apparently forgotten the rescue party already standing by, sends Sharkey and Patterson to go down after the Admiral returns. If they can't effect a least they might recover the bodies. (Bob Dowdell's restrained reaction at this point is excellent.) There's a brief exchange between Sharkey and Patterson to highlight the tension before Nelson arrives back. He claims that Crane and the doctor are buried under tons of rock, but, oddly, makes no comment on the seeming pointlessness of Sharkey and Patterson going down. He also refuses to go to Sickbay, which, under the circumstances, Chip should have tried to insist upon.

    A Force Five quake rocks the Seaview (and what would it have done to the divers?) Back at his cabin, Nelson carefully locks his door before pulling out a briefcase, which contains a portable radio. He reports to "someone". The enemy voice is very precise and detailed. The location of the Zycron deposits matches the information found on a microfilm stolen from Dr. Land's lab. Nelson estimates that there is 100 tons of the stuff--I'd like to know just how he calculated that from that small area of the cave. Nelson is also certain that Crane and Dr. Land are dead. Meanwhile, Sparks (back on duty after a fairly long absence) picks up an odd frequency that's coming from inside the ship. Chip sends Kowalski with a detector to track the source. 'Ski ends up right outside the Admiral's cabin, to his considerable disquiet. Inside, the Voice states that it is imperative that Seaview not return with the information she has collected (thereby hinting at the title of the episode). Nelson's spy gear warns him of the approach of a detecting device, and he quickly shuts down the radio. He opens the door to Kowalski. 'Ski is very ill at ease, not helped by the Admiral's open amusement or the fact that the detector is no longer picking up anything. Kowalski is willing to pass things off as an error, but Nelson is aware that 'Ski will have to report this to Morton. He suggests that something might have been brought into his cabin without his knowledge--that briefcase, for example, is something new. Priming the case, Nelson has Kowalski open it, and it spews out a knockout gas. Nelson calls back on the radio, reporting the situation. He's also very anxious to get off the Seaview--but the Voice insists that he complete his mission first. Nelson of course remembers what that mission is, but spells it out to the audience: Destroy Seaview.

    Sharkey and Patterson reach the cave, and find the little annex buried in rocks. It doesn't look good. The situation is not helped by yet another quake--which actually sounded like an explosion--I thought the enemy was getting into the act. On Seaview, Sparks has lost the frequency, but he is certain that Kowalski had gotten close to the source. Chip calls for Kowalski, but he's still unconcious--and Nelson is on his way somewhere. Down in the cave, after the tremors stop, Sharkey carefully pries a hole in the rockfall, and sees an open area beyond. He starts yelling for the Skipper, who is finally starting to revive. He calls that he's all right, just shaken up, although the sound of his voice indicates otherwise. Dr. Land is more badly hurt. Crane then states that it was an explosion--and the Admiral had caused it. Hedison did a lovely job here--there was a bit of moisture on his cheek that might be a tear, and his voice sounded desolate. He orders Sharkey to have the Admiral confined until he can get back to the Seaview. Patterson starts moving rocks as Sharkey goes back to the landing. Sharkey's badly rattled--he doesn't make his report very well, forcing Chip to pry the information out of him. Sharkey finally gets it across that something's wrong with the Admiral.

    Chip collects two crewmen and arms to match, and heads down to Nelson's cabin. The door is locked, and no response within. Chip shoots out the doorknob (rather interesting; the bullets go in, but the doorknob pops outward). They find Kowalski still unconcious (for a change, he doesn't start to revive just as they find him) and haul him off to Sickbay. Chip makes a shipwide announcement to find and confine the Admiral, who is ill--and possibly dangerous. Nelson has made his way to the Air Revitalizer Room. (This ploy hasn't been used since "The Fear Makers" in Season One.) The Admiral manages to take out two young men in a brief but intense fight. He places his briefcase inside an air duct (just an ordinary air duct, rather than a specific piece of machinery as in "The Fear Makers"). A knockout gas begins to spread. Considering that his mission is to destroy the Seaview, why didn't they simply make it a lethal gas? Down in the cave, Patterson has made a decent start on clearing the rockfall, but after hearing that his Skipper has passed out again--indicating that he may be seriously injured--Sharkey leaps at the wall and begins scattering rocks as though they were made of Styrofoam. (*Ahem*, as they probably were.) Up on Seaview, the knockout gas has done its work. Nelson makes his way to the Control Room, where he makes a rather odd (perhaps automatic?) gesture--he picks up and replaces the fallen microphone. Using an even more portable radio, he calls the Voice, pressing the speaker against his throat because he's still wearing an air mask. He reports on the situation, stating that all but Sharkey and Patterson have been accounted for. This dialogue again points up how precise the Voice is--one could almost call him fussy. Nelson wants an affirmation that the enemy sub will be standing by to pick him up. Nelson's blatant sense of self-preservation seems very out of character, even if he has been brainwashed. He plans to simply let the Seaview's reactor "run wild" and explode, reducing the Seaview to dust. Considering that the entire crew has been knocked out, why not simply arrange to capture the Seaview instead? (I've often thought that knockout gas would have been a useful ploy for a takeover plot.) Nelson goes to the Reactor Room and pulls out the rods--with no apparent thought of radiation poisoning.

    Sharkey and Patterson have moved the injured men to the landing. Sharkey says that he will attempt to revive them with an "anti-radiation" shot--which would seem to indicate that he thinks their injuries are the result of radiation--not concussion from the explosion and being hit with a bunch of rocks. Patterson cannot raise anyone on the radio. Despite this ominous news, when three divers pop up, armed with scary-looking guns, Patterson and Sharkey first assume that they're a rescue party. Rescuing them with guns that have never been seen on the Seaview. Yup. The truth belatedly dawns on Sharkey, but rather than giving the sensible order to "Duck!" he elects to jump straight at three men pointing guns at them. Naturally, they both get hit with what seems to be a laser beam (nice effect) and they obligingly fall neatly side by side. One of the divers is going to follow up by killing them, but is prevented by the leader--they have orders to take them back. What possible use could they have for a Chief Petty Officer and a common crewman? It would have been simpler if they'd just skipped over that bit. The cave is shaken by another quake. (I thought that the episode was building up to have the Zycron deposits thoroughly buried with a major quake, but apparently it was just to add a bit of tension.) The leader and one other diver (Scott) go to investigate the Zycron deposits. (Lucky for them that Sharkey and Patterson had thoughtfully cleared the way.) Apparently they are not taking Nelson's word about the deposits, which does not bode well for Nelson.

    Nelson enters the Missile Room. Just as he reaches for his diving suit (silver colored; no one else rates a silver suit) he is called by the Voice. It claims that their submarine's rudder was damaged in one of the quakes, and cannot rendezvous for 30 minutes. The reactor is due to blow in 25. It seems fairly certain that this is a flat-out lie, as they were close enough to send divers to the cave, directly below the Seaview. The Voice is implacable--Nelson must complete his mission. Nelson protests that they had an "understanding"--which really sounds more like a traiter's statement than a brainwashed man's. The Voice coldly points out that he is to follow orders without question, and Nelson immediately quiets down.

    In the cave, the third diver, for no discernable reason, gives Crane a shove. Crane awakens, and somehow has the sense to keep still. After dawdling through half the episode, he finally gets his chance for action. As the diver starts to remove his gear, Crane grabs a hefty rock and cracks him on the temple with it. Definitely Styrofoam rocks; that blow should have either knocked him cold or killed him, but he immediately gets up to wrestle with Crane. Crane gets control of the laser gun and shoots him. Crane is still a little fuzzy; it doesn't occur to him that there might be more enemies about. He sets about trying to wake up Sharkey and Patterson. Failing that, he turns to the radio, which for some reason has gone out. Sharkey finally wakes up in time to mention the enemy divers--plural. Crane does not take up the laser gun, instead grabbing for a belt pouch. I'd like to know whose belt it was. If it was Crane's, who took it off him in the first place? Sharkey doesn't go for the gun, either, instead turning to Patterson. Crane starts peeling one of the disc grenades. The other two divers return, and Crane promptly hurls the grenade at them. (Not wanting to be harmed by the special effect, the two men vanish.) It's quite a startling scene--we're used to seeing aliens blow up--but those were aliens, not men. It's a kill-or-be-killed moment, and Crane reacts as he should, but it's still a shocking demise, and we don't really need Sharkey's comment to know that they're done for.

    Nelson wanders down to the Reactor Room, apparently just killing time. The Voice calls again. Nelson reports nine minutes until the explosion, but the Voice is concerned that someone may try to stop it; he cannot contact his landing party, and the Seaview crew might have overcome them. (Nelson really should have asked, "What landing party?" at this point.) Nelson is confident that he cannot be stopped (and he wouldn't have been, if he'd just sealed the outer hull hatches). He trots over to the Control Room, spots the returning divers on the monitor, and arms himself. Down in the Missile Room, they see the unconcious crew and realize what has happened. Something is definitely wrong with Nelson. Dr. Land groggily speaks up and clarifies the situation: Nelson has been brainwashed. He was twenty-four hours late for his meeting with Dr. Land. O.K, both Dr. Land and Nelson had been attacked previously, attempts had been made on the crew, and no one thought a twenty-four hour absence was worth noting? Didn't Dr. Land call Seaview to ask why Nelson had been delayed? This aspect of the situation definitely needed some more work. Crane wants to get Dr. Land to the decontamination chamber--but wouldn't you think that Crane himself needs it, too? They should have tucked in a line about Crane waiting until after his ship was secure. Nelson comes over the intercom, taunting Crane. Crane attempts to speak with Nelson, but Nelson doesn't see any point in it. He tells them about the reactor rods--and now seems cheerfully resigned to the fact that he's going to die with them, which seems strange. An explosion rocks the Seaview. We just miss seeing Seaview scrape against that tired rock outcropping before she rams into the bottom. Sharkey thinks that it cannot have been the reactor, but Crane tells him that it was--the safety valves temporarily vented the force out into the ocean. Sharkey seems surprisingly ignorant about some of the ship's mechanisms, and why haven't we heard about this safety valve before? Did they decide to install it after the last near miss? The safety valve apparently only works once--the main force of the explosion is still building. Crane says he will deal with the reactor--the others are to go to the decontamination chamber. They'll deal with the Admiral when it becomes necessary. Sharkey forces Crane to spell out to the audience that they will kill him, if need be. Crane seems quite matter-of-fact about it.

    Nelson rigs up the inside hatch of the Reactor Room with a bomb--but there's no explanation as to just how he got out of the room. Presumably he crawled out through a vent--but would you really want much ventilation from a room that puts out radiation? Crane and Company, who have only a few precious minutes to save the Seaview, take the time to get changed into dry clothing. I realize that running around in wetsuits looks undignified (not to mention hot), but it would have been much more realistic if they had. Crane tells Sharkey to meet him in the Control Room after dropping Dr. Land and Patterson off at the decontamination chamber. Nelson takes a quick shot at them as they set out, then scampers away. Crane goes to the Reactor Room, opens the hatch--and is knocked cold. Sharkey's right down the hall from the Reactor Room, and comes dashing up. (First time we've seen anyone making haste in this whole urgent situation.) Sharkey turns to go inside, and is halted by a gunshot. (Nelson apparently doesn't like shooting men in the back.) Sharkey tries to talk to Nelson, but he simply bleats, "You can't!" I really wish that they had had him pointing out to Nelson that the Seaview is HIS SHIP--his dream, his design, his creation--why would he want to destroy her? They could have completed the scene as it was, but have Nelson wrestling with it. After all, we've seen time after time that Nelson is a very strong-minded man--there should have been some hesitation. Sharkey threatens to kill Nelson, but it's Nelson--with horrible casualness--who fires. Seeing the hit was quite a shock--but they should have positioned it differently. The bullet hit just above the heart--a very serious injury, even a critical one, but after the initial spin and fall, Sharkey's not much affected. An arm shot would have done, or high on the shoulder (which is also a serious injury, but not in T.V. mythology). This injury right next to a pumping heart also does not seem to bleed. (Another good reason for staying in wetsuits--the blood could have stayed inside.) We've seen blood on this show before, they could have at least shown a little trickling through his fingers.

    Sharkey (and the audience) stares at the Admiral, stunned. Looks like it's all over, but no--here comes the cavalry in the persons of Dr. Land and Patterson. (Either that decontamination went very, very quick, or they ignored Crane's instructions. Sharkey must have, anyway--he was supposed to meet Crane in the Control Room, and he came running up from the opposite direction of Patterson and Dr. Land.) Dr. Land is looking a lot perkier--and he's armed with a laser pistol, which he promptly fires at Nelson. The three concious men all crowd about Nelson's recumbent form--totally ignoring that little matter of the reactor. Dr. Land states that he fired a low-voltage shot at Nelson, which might cure the brainwashing. Or kill him. Crane makes up for his forced stupidity at the beginning of the show--regaining conciousness, he instantly sits up and takes note of the reactor. He calls to Patterson, although he couldn't have seen that Sharkey was injured. Patterson makes no real attempt to follow Crane; he just skids into the wall as the Seaview lurches. They should have shown him being knocked out or pinned down by the others--Dr. Land was knocked out, and Sharkey quite probably passed out. Nelson revives--and his reaction could have still been brainwashed. He calls out that it's too late, grabs the laser pistol, shoves Crane out of the way, and fires on the reactor. I would like to know how shooting the reactor would make that huge build-up of power suddenly go away. Crane seemed to recognize what he was doing--he stood quietly and watched. Things calm down, and it's clear that Nelson is himself again--and wanting to know what the heck is going on. (Nelson must be very, very quick on the uptake--waking from his brainwashed state and not knowing what was going on, he instantly perceived the problem and dealt with it.) Seaview is herself again--except for the little matter of fixing all those dead rods.

    There is no indication that they made any attempt to capture the enemy submarine. Seaview lifts off the bottom. Dr. Land comments that the enemy had not had Nelson in their clutches long enough to do a really thorough job of the brainwashing--which was a jolly good thing for the Seaview and crew. Sharkey turns up with his arm in a sling and a message for the Admiral. (He should have either been in surgury or resting in Sickbay.) In the most realistic moment of the show, Nelson interprets the message from Washington to mean that the entire situation is going to be more or less swept under the rug.

    They could definitely have made some improvements--but it was quite a nail-biter of an episode.