Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 3 Episode 1

Monster From The Inferno

Aired Monday 7:30 PM Sep 18, 1966 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • This is similar to a previous outing with an extraterrestrial life form coming aboard and preparing to take over the crew, the sub, and eventually the world, but it's pretty decently written, and has some marvelous special effects.

    At least they avoided using the word "Brain" in the title, but "Monster From the Inferno" leaves you wondering what inferno they're referring to. Another good question would be how this entity, requiring a solid body to travel and humans to act as its hands, got to Earth in the first place.

    Sent to investigate a huge communications blackout (wonder if they were notified by carrier pigeon) the Seaview is tracking readings that resemble human brain waves. A visiting specialist, Dr. Lindsay, goes out for a closer look. Mistake number one: they sent him out alone. Sending lone divers is a mistake any time, but especially when you're investigating a potential hazard. He discovers what he thinks is a rock, shaped rather like a brain, and takes a poke at it. (Mistake number two.) The rock reacts by striking Lindsay with an energy charge that leaves him unconcious--and his mouthpiece pulled loose.

    The brain must have decided right then to keep Lindsay around for its own use; otherwise Lindsay would surely have drowned before the rescue team could get out to him. Lindsey revives somewhat, and is taken back to Seaview. The brain gives off another spurt of energy at Crane, but this one doesn't do any harm. (By the way, it looks as though the Seaview's budget was able to spring for a new diving suit for Crane; it's not looking nearly so battered as it was the at the end of the second season.)

    Back on board, Lindsay is convinced that the "rock" is actually a life form, and wants to bring it on board. Crane is naturally dubious, but scientist Nelson is, of course, interested, and complacently assured that they will be able to control this unknown entity with drugs. They have some really good special effects in this episode, but they opted for a really cheap effect for showing the brain communicating with Lindsay--merely a flashlight in his face. (They could have gone cheaper still by simply having Lindsay stiffen up a little right as the brain speaks.) The voice of the brain, Dick Tufeld (soon to be known and loved as the voice of the Robot on "Lost in Space") is perfect. The brain insists that Lindsay get up and bring it on board--right now. No matter that Lindsay is not in a position to demand anything, he's to get it done--right now.

    Fortunately for Lindsay, Nelson has already agreed to bring it on board, provided that they can protect themselves from it by using shielding. This was another really cheap prop--a weirdly patterned little shield of glass and metal that didn't look big enough to protect one man, let alone three. Despite comments on being careful to stay behind the shield, it was impossible to do so. The brain was detached, netted, and dragged back to Seaview, where it was installed in a new holding tank in Nelson's lab.

    Nelson finds that electro-magnetics seem to neutralize the brain's power, so he keeps it turned up--which doesn't please the brain at all. It sends out a strand of energy towards Nelson (really cool effect). It's hard to say if Nelson saw the strand, or simply sensed the energy field, but when it suddenly knocked both Nelson and Lindsay off their feet, Nelson quickly responded by turning the electro-magnetic shielding up even higher. He warns Lindsay about keeping the shielding turned up. Lindsay responds with a hissy fit, which is abruptly cut off by the brain. It doesn't seem very sensible for the brain to discipline Lindsay right in front of Nelson, although Lindsay was able to offer a lame excuse for his pained reaction. This might be a first indication of the brain's sadistic impulses, because it could have simply (and silently) told Lindsay to shut up. After Nelson leaves, the brain announces its plans to take over the Seaview. ("And tomorrow, the world!")

    Both Nelson and Crane have seen a change in Lindsay and are concerned, but their concern does not extend to keeping a close eye on him. Bad mistake. The brain is now ready to tap into the ship's computers. For some reason, this process necessitates both draining and damaging the computer system.

    There's an interesting exchange between Nelson and Crane, as they discuss the possibility that this creature, which may be extraterrestrial, is telepathic. It seems rather clear that Crane's concern is for the danger it presents, while Nelson's first thought is the scientific importance--although he also mentions the danger almost as an afterthought.

    Having found the computers drained, Chip Morton is sent to check them at the source, and Lindsay strikes him down. Chip crashes into a panel. This would seem to be a very dangerous room to be in, because merely touching the panel gives Chip a nasty shock. Nelson and Sharkey (who seems fully recovered from landing on a grenade last season) rush down to find Chip, rather than calling for men who would have been in the vicinity, and they take him to Sickbay.

    The brain attempts to contact Nelson (flashlight in the face). Nelson is left with a bad headache, but nothing more. The brain has learned enough from Nelson to know that it wants Crane to become its next slave, Crane having knowlege of the Seaview. On the other hand, Nelson knows even more about the Seaview, and is in an even higher position of authority. It's interesting to speculate that perhaps that brief touch of Nelson's mind convinced the brain that Nelson was too strong for it to handle. Lindsay, who had hoped to be let off from the creature's control (pretty foolish hope) is ordered to fetch Crane. Lindsay tries to balk, and is promptly punished for it, and threatened with death.

    Brought to the lab, Crane is zapped by the brain, which quickly ascertains that the nuclear reactor is just what it needs to gain power. The resulting power grab causes the Seaview to react violently. Having tasted power, the brain now starts to sound even more liked a cliched comic book villain. ("Power will be mine!")

    Crane returns to the Control Room, where repairs are being done prior to sending out diving teams to investigate the area where the brain was found. Crane belays the orders, and gives a course setting to take them home to Santa Barbara--only the course setting is actually headed for Australia. (Why there, I wonder?) Nelson's reaction is a little odd. Whenever he and Crane have clashed, Nelson's authority always gives him the upper hand, but here he does nothing to countermand Crane. Nor does he react too much to Crane's indifference to the sudden drop in nuclear power, and his dangerous suggestion that they simply build up more power. The impression is that Nelson already realizes that something is wrong with Crane, and he has elected to let things ride just to see where they're going.

    Attempts to repair the ruined computer boards receive a setback when a man in a hazard suit knocks out the crewman and rips up the panels again. The man turns out to be Crane, although what you could see of his face through the mask looked more like Lindsay until Crane pulled the mask off.

    The sub is locked onto its present course, which confirms Nelson's suspicions. He grabs Kowalski and they head off to cobble together a deterrent device. The brain is aware of Nelson's activities, and foolishly sends Lindsay, rather than Crane, to deal with the situation. Lindsay, of course, fails, so Crane is sent as back-up killer.

    Nelson, working fast (he's great under pressure) has made two separate electro-magnetic counterprobes, although they each look quite different. Nelson uses it on Crane, although the effect takes some time to take hold, giving Kowalski the unprecendented opportunity to beat up his captain. The brain sends the Seaview into a power dive. Crane reopens the crash doors that he had closed for his attack on Nelson (and you'd think the crew would have been pounding the doors down after they heard the shots fired) and he attempts to regain control of his ship while Nelson and Kowalski go after the brain.

    Nelson decides to overfeed the brain with nuclear energy by pulling out all the dampening rods in the reactor room. He and Sharkey do this without any hazard suits or shielding at all. The brain, at this point, actually condescends to speak directly to Nelson, but Nelson ignores its threats.

    Confronted with Nelson thwarting it, the brain begins to sound petulant rather than masterful. Lindsay finally nerves himself up to defy the brain--and is promptly killed. (Although the brain announced that they would all die in agony, Lindsay's demise was instantaneous.) The brain, who implies that its kind have pretty much taken over the galaxy wherever they've gone, cannot believe that these puny humans are getting the better of it.

    Nelson and Kowalski manage to break into the lab, and Nelson hits an emergency switch that ejects the brain from the holding tank into the water. There are a few nail-biting moments when it appears that the reactor won't cool down in time for them to get the heck out of there, but Nelson's confusing suggestion to put them on full emergency power for five seconds, then cut back again, works. They get underway before the brain explodes.

    "We've had a busy day." Harriman Nelson, master of understatement.