Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 1 Episode 18


Aired Monday 7:30 PM Jan 11, 1965 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • This is a wonderful episode. Richard Basehart gives an incredible performance.

    The excitement starts almost immediately, with some curious radiation disabling the submarine Neptune. Nelson, who's on board to inspect the sub, goes out to get samples of the radiation source. Outside, he and fellow diver Fowler look on helplessly as a gigantic coelenterate (read: jellyfish or man o'war) attacks and destroys the Neptune. (One thing I can't understand is why the thing wasn't destroyed when the Neptune blew up inside its mantle.) The smaller coelentarates were not very well done--the mass of them just looked like a smeary microscope slide, and the individuals like torn balloons--but the giant version was marvelous.

    Nelson's battle for survival out on the open sea could have constituted an episode in itself (and would, in a later episode). As you would expect, Nelson keeps his head and forces Fowler to keep his, fending off sharks, rigging up a raft, and catching some food. Fowler, weakened by multiple jellyfish stings, slips away during a storm. Meanwhile, Crane and Admiral Jiggs Starke have their first (but by no means last) confrontation. Starke is almost, but not quite, a caricature of the hard-nosed career man who eats junior officers for breakfast. His rigidness is balanced somewhat by his concern for his friend Harriman Nelson. While he is certain that Nelson will survive if anyone can, he also accepts the fact that men die at sea.

    Starke comes on board the Seaview to investigate the Neptune's disappearance, and immediately starts running the men ragged. Crane stands up to him, pointing out that he and most of his men were "new Navy" before joining the Seaview, and not used to such unrelenting discipline.

    It's not clear just how long Nelson was lost--Crane mentions that Starke has been on board "for days". There is shipwide rejoicing when they learn that Nelson is alive. Starke no doubt would have been horrified at Crane's lax and familiar attitude with his crewmen, but he had his back to them at the time, pondering Nelson's request that Starke go easy on his men.

    It's at this point that Richard Basehart really starts to shine. His frenetic behavior was superbly done. I don't understand how he managed to talk so fast without tripping over his tongue. He swings from chattering excitement to sudden, silent self-absorbtion.

    David Hedison also gives a remarkable performance, dealing with a ship that is beginning, frighteningly, to parallel what happened to the Neptune, an Admiral who would like to keel-haul him, and a friend who's showing increasingly bizarre behavior.

    It all comes to a head when Nelson, satisfied that they've pinpointed the initial problem, wants to immediately surface and leave, forgetting that they are currently unable to blow ballast. Crane has run the problem through the computer and was given a seemingly contradictory solution. He thinks it through and realizes why it should work, but Nelson is having none of it. Having defended Crane from Starke up until now, Nelson suddenly turns on his friend with a fury. Starke can still only see that Crane is being insubordinate--again!--and sides with Nelson in relieving Crane of command. Crane takes control back at gunpoint. For a few moments, he sounds as though HE'S the one who's gone off the deep end, but once the Seaview is safely on her way, he quietly surrenders the gun. Richard Basehart gives his final bravura performance, unable to see anything but that his trusted comrade has pulled a gun on him--on him! His reasoning twists to assume that if Crane would mutiny against him, the entire crew must have, as well. Starke finally accepts that something is seriously wrong here. About time.

    If you listen carefully to the doctor's statement, it's clear what the problem is (they're not going to let Nelson die, after all) but Crane is horrified at the probability that his friend is dying a terrible death. He has no time to dwell on it, however--the giant coelenterate is back again, and Starke, having seen Crane save the ship once, counts on him to do it again. Crane, of course, does so with great dispatch, rousing his frightened men with a few words and getting right down to it.

    It was a drug allergy, of course. The doctor gets rid of the pills Nelson has been popping like Tic-tacs (did he even bother to read the dosage instructions?) Old and New Navy reconcile in a suitably manly fashion.

    If they could have kept the series at this level, it could have gone on years longer than it did.
  • I like the story, lots of drama but the episode could really use a heaping helping of focus.

    Is Admiral Nelson crazy and will it mean the destruction of "The Seaview"?

    Here is an exciting episode, one that seems to have more than 60 minutes in an hour, but there is part of the problem, its like 8 different stories running one after another.

    The good points include lots of action, a nice conflict between Navy and civilian methods aboard a sub, the special effects are good, the jellyfish looks great. But the plot is all over the map. Surviving the explosion of "The Neptune", Admiral Nelson undergoes a harrowing ordeal waiting for rescue while strapped to inflated wet suits. There are lots of boring scenes of worrying in Naval Admiral Starke's office. Somehow, there is time for "The Seaview" to pick up the ailing Nelson as well as Starke. The next sub-drama involves Starke's anger at lack of proper discipline aboard ship and before that's solved, Nelson goes bonkers from what turns out to be an allergic reaction to his medication. From there, there is just enough time to fry the giant jellyfish and save the day. Starke has somehow become a sympathetic autocrat somewhere between ordering Captain Crane's imprisonment and Nelson turning into a sweating, babbling scatterbrain.

    It's all pretty cool to watch, but the script wanders into alleys constantly, making me wish for the same general story but a lot more of a unified direction.
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