Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 2 Episode 1

Jonah And The Whale

Aired Monday 7:30 PM Sep 19, 1965 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
16 votes

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Episode Summary

Jonah And The Whale
An enormous whale swallows the bathysphere containing Admiral Nelson and a beautiful Russian scientist.

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  • A marvelous introduction to the new season.

    Even though I've seen this season before, coming back to it after reviewing Season 1 is still a jolt to the eyes. Everything is so bright and colorful. We don't see the Flying Sub on this outing, but we are introduced to Chief Sharkey, brought in to replace the late lamented Curley (it would have been nice if they'd had a line or two about that) and Riley, the man from "Surf, U.S.A."

    There were a couple little nits, not enough to spoil the plotline. I should think that tracking the migration patterns of whales would, especially in Seaview's time, be a relatively simple thing, so why build an undersea lab right in the pathway? Secondly, whales are not blind, so why would they risk injuring themselves by crashing into the lab? It would have been nice if they'd done some speculating on that. Perhaps it was the mating season, and the male whales were trying to show off in front of the ladies.

    Another eye-catching new set was Nelson's laboratory. Nelson's lab set-up had varied over the first season, sometimes being a sizeable room ("Cradle of the Deep"), sometimes rather cramped quarters ("The Creature") and sometimes a make-shift arrangement down in the Missile Room ("The Saboteur" and "The Enemies"). Here, Nelson has a fairly big room with a gorgeous wall of aquariums with a variety of sea specimens.

    It would be interesting to know whether Katya Markhova was trying to prove herself as a Soviet scientist, or as a woman scientist. Making plans for a second dive just moments after her fiance's body was dragged out of the diving bell was a little extreme.

    Katya kept needling Nelson pretty much through the entire episode. Nelson, for his part, seemed to enjoy the repartee.

    Getting swallowed by a whale was a nifty plotline. Maybe the special effects are a little funny by today's standards, but then, most old special effects are. I understand that the Powers That Be had instructed the people working on this episode to keep the effects toned down, for the benefit of more squeamish viewers. (Times have definitely changed.) Never having seen the inside of a whale's digestive track, I thought that it worked very well--although I would like to know what those big dangling lumps were supposed to be. The only problem I could see--and it was necessary for the filming--was that it was too large. It should have appeared a lot more cramped.

    I loved the reaction of Sharkey, Kowalski and Riley when the Captain explained just what he was planning to do. The way Sharkey started to explain the Captain's statement...and then trailed off as the dawning came, was great.

    Of course, they drew out the tension to the very end, with the rescuers turning up just moments before Apple One was going to blast its way out of the hapless whale. Oddly, neither Crane nor Morton did any speculating on just what Nelson might try to do if he was still alive in there. Knowing that Nelson's escape attempts could kill the rescuers would have piled on the tension where the crew was concerned.

    Katya seems to have accepted the value of American science (not to mention American courage). Nothing like getting stuck in a whale's belly to loosen a person up.

    A final note regarding the music--it's very interesting music, but I can see why they went back to the old theme. The new music is just too menacing in tone. I thought that it made them sound like the bad guys. It would be excellent music for when the Seaview is going into dangerous situations, but I don't think that it suits as the signature piece.moreless
  • A diving bell with Admiral Nelson and a Soviet scientist is swallowed by a giant sperm whale. The crew aboard the Seaview must rescue them before their air runs out.


    Season two curtain-raiser \'Jonah and the Whale\' is one of the best episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. I vividly remember it from when it first aired in 1965 and I was a lad of eight years- my family had just purchased a color TV for the fall season and this was the first episode of VTTBOTS shot in color, with a vivid palette of colors. More so than a typical sitcom or drama of the day, this was a show that needed to be in color, especially as in the second season the stories tended towards the fantastic whereas the first season was heavy on espionage and intrigue. The science in the science fiction episode was of course preposterous but the fiction was compelling. A US-Soviet co-venture saw the Seaview lower a diving bell to a destroyed underwater research station to collect information before it was completely destroyed by migrating whales- really! Of course a giant sperm whale viewed the diving bell as bait at the end of a line and proceeded to swallow it whole along with its passengers, Admiral Nelson and Soviet scientist Katya. On board the Seaview the only possible solution was decided upon instantly- knock out the whale with giant hypodermic needles and send three divers inside the whale\'s mouth to attach a line to the diving bell and reel it in. The inside of the whale has to be seen to be believed- not as realistic or terrifying as it seemed to me 41 years ago, it\'s still pretty cool and no doubt inspired some of the \'interiors\' from the following year\'s movie Fantastic Voyage.

    Even the biblical aspect of the story was well handled- it would have been easy to moralize, especially with a \'godless\' communist on-board (remember, the cold war was in full swing in 1965), but the story of Jonah was treated as a myth.

    If there is a flaw in this episode it is that the rescue was relatively easy, but the pacing was good and the tension was always palpable, so it\'s a small flaw and barely worth mentioning (I only mentioned it to explain why I only rate the episode as a 9.9 rather than a perfect 10).

    Kudos to Fox for continuing to release this show on DVD- better by far than the other Irwin Allen sci-fi shows of the 60\'s (Land of the Giants, Time Tunnel, Lost in Space), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is one of the best sci-fi series ever on television, and this episode ranks with the best of the Outer Limits or Star Trek OTS.moreless
Gia Scala

Gia Scala


Guest Star

Terry Becker

Terry Becker

Chief Sharkey

Recurring Role

Del Monroe

Del Monroe


Recurring Role

Robert Dowdell

Robert Dowdell

Chip Morton

Recurring Role

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Uncredited cast listings:

      Robert Payne (Helsman), Patrick Culliton (Winchman), Nigel Evan McKeand (Sonar), and Paul Kremin (Aleksei's voice)

    • Given that the Flying Sub was not seen until the second episode, first-time viewers must have been puzzled at the shot of it in the closing credits.

    • In this episode, we learn that the diving bell has a name: Apple One.

    • In this episode (and the forthcoming whale episode "The Shape of Doom") the tranquilizer used on the whale is called "Anodyne". "Anodyne" is simply an old-fashioned pharmaceutical term meaning "painkiller". Aspirin is an anodyne. So is Novocaine or Ben-Gay.

    • In spite of the fact that the opening credits show the Seaview with her new Flying Sub hatch on the bottom, stock footage shows the underside of the sub with just the Season One running lights.

    • As in many episodes following, the Seaview alternates between having 4 and 8 nose windows. This was due to the use of first season stock footage.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • (Katya has just realized that they have been swallowed.)

      Katya: Impossible. There is no whale now in existance big enough to swallow this.
      Nelson: The archeoceti.
      Katya: Long ago extinct.
      Nelson: Well, to revive a tired old joke, you know it and I know it, but perhaps he doesn't.

    • Katya: That young man. . .what dialect does he speak?
      Kowalski: Him, ma'am? That's Riley. (pause) He's a surfer.
      Katya: 'Surf' is one of the United States?
      Kowalski: Yes, ma'am. It's the state of being, like, way out.

    • Riley: Man, dig that fish!

  • NOTES (4)

    • According to the book Science Fiction Television Series, James Doohan was originally offered the role of Sharkey, but turned it down in favor of the role of Scotty on Star Trek. (Filming of the second Star Trek pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before" began in the summer of 1965.) Walter Koenig (later to become Ensign Chekov of Star Trek) was one of the actors who tested for the role of Stu Riley.

    • The music by the great Jerry Goldsmith is exciting and unique. The episode even sported a provocative new title theme, composed by Goldsmith and used in this episode only. However, several composers of the next few episodes used the theme as the basis for their scores. Obviously, the new theme was meant to last the season (at least), however Irwin Allen decided to use the original Sawtell theme for the remainder of the series. The reason for this is unknown, although the original Sawtell theme is a fan favorite. While I feel that Goldsmith's theme is appropriate for the direction the show was to go in, I cannot deny the beauty and "nautical" feel of Sawtell's classic music. This would not be the last time Goldsmith's work is replaced by producers of film and television. The score (in an abbreviated form) is available from GNP Crescendo.

    • This is the first episode broadcast in color. While the sub was redesigned (the eight windows becoming four, the observation nose now attached to the control room, etc.) much of the model footage was from the first season. In fact, all of the technology in this episode reflects the first season. There is no sign of the Flying Sub at all.

    • The majority of the whale footage was taken from the season one episode "Ghost Of Moby Dick" and color-tinted.