Jon Abbott, author of the book IRWIN ALLEN PRODUCTIONS, made a point while discussing this particular episode. Let me suggest two possible scenarios that they could have used instead of this one:
1) July 26, 1983. The ten-year anniversary of the Seaview. Officers and crew gather together, perhaps sipping champagne, and discuss past adventures. Or,
2) Nelson or Crane is critically injured in an accident or some such. While Doc works frantically on him in Sickbay (with complications arising at every commercial break) the officers and crew discuss his chances in hushed tones, and relate past missions he had been involved in.
Sound familiar? Really, really, familiar?
I joke a lot about Irwin Allen's tireless use of old footage, but give the man his due--he never stuck us with the money-saving exercize in tedium known as: THE CLIP SHOW. Thank you, Mr. Allen.
We could wish that they had spared a little more time for new information. They just drop tantalizing hints. We find first off, that Seaview is being shadowed by another sub that's running silent. Seaview herself is looking for an undersea lab--but we don't know why. Had they been getting odd reports from this area, or had Naval Intelligence gotten word of an unauthorized sealab? After a few moments of playing around--during which the enemy sub drifts dangerously close--Crane decides on a quick move, which unfortunately is copied by the other sub. Seaview sustains a massive collision. Compartments near the Missile Room are taking on water, while the Engine Room itself is flooding and must be evacuated. Chip states that the enemy sub deliberately rammed them. The main generator goes out, and Crane gives the order to surface before going off to check on the generator.
Nelson, knocked out in his cabin, recovers and switches on his monitor screen--to see scenes of utter chaos. This is a new way of presenting the footage, but I think it was a bad idea. For one thing, we've seen the corridors and rooms all over the sub--has anyone ever seen cameras tucked up in the corners? For another, there is little enough privacy on a submarine as it is. If the men--officers and crew alike--knew that they couldn't even scratch indelicately without worrying that someone might be watching, they would probably all revolt. While seeing the problems hastened Nelson on his way to try and help, Chip Morton surely had better things he could be doing than sitting in the Control Room watching the screen and emoting.
Crane ordered the sub to surface, but we see it heading downward--and no one comments on the fact that they're heading the wrong way. (Too busy watching monitors, I guess.) On the other hand, while Chip is watching, a brief shot of the Seaview clearly shows her up near the surface--and then we see Nelson telling people to brace themselves, they're about to hit bottom. (I said the footage blends pretty well--I didn't say it was perfect.) They hit that good old outcropping yet again--this time flipping it so that we see it from a different angle than usual. Crane makes it back to the Control Room. Chip mentions that at least the main generator is working. Either he (and the writer)forgot that it had gone out, or Crane managed to make a repair faster and more efficiently than anyone else would this episode. Maybe Chip got a good knock on the head during the initial shakeup--he calls for a report from the Engine Room, forgetting that it had been evacuated. While Patterson and Kowalski are sent off to work on the intercom, Sharkey makes his way to the Control Room, almost completely drenched. Two men were lost as the Engine Room was evacuated. Three compartments between the Missile Room and the Engine Room have been flooded, and a weakened bulkhead must be shored up. Crane mentions that he hasn't seen the Admiral since the collision. Chip says that he hasn't, either. There he goes again--he should have said, "I just saw him on the monitor a couple minutes ago. He's down in Corridor__, helping the crew."
They use an interesting effect that had not been seen much previously. Everyone walks the corridors at an angle, bracing against the walls to keep from falling. (That must have been tiring.) Crane's looking for the Admiral, Patterson and Kowalski are putting out a fire, Nelson's wandering about. At one point, the lights go out, switching to emergency red--and giving them a good excuse for the tinted black-and white footage coming up. Nelson finds a fire in a storage compartment, starts to put it out, and is knocked out when the Seaview settles, changing the danger from fire to flood. As they finish putting out their own fire, Patterson and Kowalski discuss the situation. 'Ski doesn't think the ramming was deliberate, because the enemy sub would have been at least as badly damaged. Oddly, no one considers the possibility of a drone sub, which would explain its suicidal behavior. Crane pops in, and they point him in the Admiral's direction. Because of the stock footage, Crane is mysteriously followed by another crewman who would disappear just when Crane could have used him. He finds Nelson and hauls him to safety, yelling for Patterson and Kowalski--who arrive too late to be useful. Nelson insists that he's fine, and wants a rundown on the situation. Patterson and 'Ski are sent back to work on the intercom--it should only take a few minutes, now that the fire's out. Nelson and Crane take time to change into dry clothes, which seems rather wasteful to me. (Maybe Basehart and Hedison just didn't want to work wet.)
Back in the Control Room, Nelson and Crane have clearly been getting reports from different sections. The crew aft quarters are last to be heard from. The report is dismal--3 compartments flooded, 12 men missing, presumed dead, 4 injured, engine and ballast pumps out of commission, sonar and radio broken--or jammed--and six hours of air. A jammed gear in the starboard tanks is a main cause for concern. The best electrician's mate in the crew--Clark--has volunteered for the dangerous job of crawling past high voltage wires through the main circuits to reach it. Clark actually hasn't been seen as Clark since the first season, and thanks to Irwin Allen, here he is again in a sizeable role! Crane (always heroic, it comes with the territory) crawls in after him after Clark gets his arm stuck and starts yelling. They avoid problems with new footage by simply showing Sharkey (and two men who presumably carried the stretcher) leaving Sickbay. Sharkey reports that Clark's arm is lacerated, but not broken. I don't know why they didn't go with the broken arm; it would have been more plausible, as we didn't see any open wounds.
While getting Clark out, Crane noticed that the main induction valve had cracked. Nelson promptly begins sketching a bypass valve for Sharkey's machinists to put together. Everything's quiet in the Control Room. Crane wants to locate the enemy sub. They spot it with the outside T.V. cameras--battered and still. A starboard check locates the sealab (all undersea habitats must be crafted to a specific design, they all look remarkably similar). At this point, we learn that they, like us, don't know what's going on with the lab--only that someone wants it kept secret. They become certain that the radio is being jammed. Crane consults with Nelson--he wants to investigate the lab. They speculate that the jamming could be automatic (which seems peculiar; what's the point in a secret undersea lab if no one is there?) Crane and his team will use a special helium mixture to cope with the depth that they're at. Nelson wants them to try and tap the sealab's oxygen supply, using a long hose. Patterson and Kowalski are the team--perhaps they got tired of manning the jammed sonar and radio stations. (Come to think of it--where was Sparks during all this? I think I heard his voice a couple times, but we never see him.)
As if they didn't have enough to worry about--Crane and Co. no sooner get underway than they get gulped down by a giant Man 'o War. This would seem to be what the underwater lab was working on. Perhaps that explains why there seems to be no one home at the lab; they fled--or got eaten. Sharkey wants to try and drag them out using the air hose. Nelson points out that it would probably break. He could also have mentioned that presumably only one man was holding the hose. Crane and Co. start making their way through the creature. The footage, from "Jonah and the Whale", actually looks a little more realistic in conjunction with a coelenterate than a whale. Crane, perhaps remembering the last time he crawled through a creature's innards, seems to know his way around. Sharkey cannot reach the divers by radio (although they can communicate with each other) and pessimistically assumes that they're dead. A ventilation alarm (which looks just like a gadget used on "Deadly Invasion") goes off--they've got less than an hour of air. So have the divers. The replacement induction valve has been completed. They will have to be very careful installing it--there's a lot of electrical circuits which could start a fire. Care to guess where this is going? With forty minutes of air left, and knowing that the Man'o War is likely to attack them if they move, Nelson orders Sharkey to prepare two det missiles for firing. This, of course, would destroy...um...Nelson's sour amusement turns to cold implacability. The ship has to come first.
Ray and Ron (they make a pretty good team) start installing the valve. One dropped wrench causes the whole Circuitry Room to blow almost simultaneously. Nelson hauls Chip out of the room (let's hope everyone else was, too). While getting some oxygen for Chip (out of what is usually a weapons cabinet) Nelson calls Sharkey and reminds him of the spare oxygen down in the Missile Room. (Unlike "Submarine Sunk Here" they have almost no emergency oxygen supplies.) Three men have to remain concious--Nelson, Chip and Sharkey. (And what about the men installing that precious induction valve?) Sharkey is clearly uncomfortable with the idea of getting air all to himself while men are collapsing around him, but he bows to necessity. The valve is installed and they managed to lift off the bottom. As expected, the Man 'o War (pretty peeved with Crane and Co. jabbing its insides trying to free a trapped Patterson) attacks. Nelson tells Sharkey to stand by with the missiles, getting irritated when both Chip and Sharkey protest. At the order, Sharkey hesitates. Can't they do something with the air hose? Nelson suddenly thinks to pump air through the hose and irritate the creature. He ignores the fact that they're nearly out of air (what happened to the ship coming first?) and has Sharkey hook the air hose up to the air revitalizer. Hey, wait a minute. If that's working, then why did they have a problem with the air in the first place? Watching on sonar, they see three blips expelled from the Man 'o War. (Perhaps it sneezed.) The three divers hastily scramble back on board, and Sharkey firmly smacks the firing button for the missiles. They avoid having to deal with new footage concerning the sealab by having it conveniently destroyed accidently by the missiles. The fate of the downed enemy sub is overlooked. Seaview goes limping home for another session in dry dock (I can just imagine the shore crew greeting them: "O.K, what did you do to her THIS time?")
Not one of their better episodes--but miles better than a clip show would have been.