Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 4 Episode 5

Sealed Orders

Aired Monday 7:30 PM Oct 22, 1967 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • This is quite a good episode; fast paced and perplexing, leaving everyone, audience and characters alike, guessing until the end.

    Seaview is under way--somewhere. It is now time for Nelson to read the Sealed Orders locked in his safe. He doesn't really seem to approve, but duty is duty. He calls for Crane to join him as he exits the Control Room. Once gone, Sharkey reports a red light showing on the ECS board. The Environmental Control System indicates something wrong in the Missile Room--a radiation leak, perhaps. Chip sends Kowalski and Sharkey to investigate. Down in Nelson's cabin, he and Crane learn what had been installed in Missile Silo # 4 by a top level crew just before Seaview left port. It's a live warhead--a neutron bomb, which Nelson hadn't even known had been perfected yet. (And maybe it hasn't been. Heh, heh, heh. We're going to find out....) Down in the Missile Room, Sharkey and 'Ski are testing everything. They do indeed find a radiation leak--inside of Silo #4. (Are we surprised?) Kowalski tries to investigate further, only to find that the inspection plate on the silo seems to be sealed shut. We see here the disadvantages of sealed orders. Trying to pry it open, he sets off a burst of sparks, and then a humming noise commences. Sharkey instantly notifies Chip. Back at Nelson's cabin, Nelson goes on to learn that the bomb is to be delivered to Cook Atoll by 0700 hours on Thursday. Cook Atoll is more than 3,000 miles away. They've got a lot of faith in the Seaview. Well, once you've established a reputation, it's hard to shake off. Nelson is certain that they can make it if they proceed with all due speed. His confidence receives a check when Chip calls in, reporting a problem in Missile Silo # 4.

    For no reason I can fathom (other than Allen's sheer joy in watching men careen back and forth) the Seaview lurches. In the Missile Room, Sharkey is trying to douse the sparks as Nelson, Crane, and Chip arrive. (Shouldn't Chip have stayed at the con?) Seaview suddenly stablizes--again, for no reason that I can see, especially since flames and smoke are still visible. Nelson dryly points out to a chastened Kowalski that there was a REASON the inspection plate was sealed. This is a bit unfair; hindsight is always twenty-twenty. Kowalski thought the silo housed an ordinary missile, and perhaps thought that the sealing was a mistake. Also, a superior officer was present, who did nothing to prevent him from messing with the plate. (Notice that said superior does not mention this little fact.) Kowalski brings the Geiger counter, and they confirm a definite radiation leak, but they can't even look inside to see where the source of it is. Nelson asks where the Pentagon specialist is, but no one seems to have seen him since they sailed. Nelson broadcasts a general call, but gets no answer. Kowalski is sent to the cabin the specialist was assigned to. Meanwhile, the noise emanating from the silo suggests that things are getting critical. Nelson stays in the Missile Room, while Crane heads back to the Control Room to make sure they keep on course. Orders are orders.

    Kowalski reaches the specialist's cabin. No answer, and the door is unlocked. 'Ski finds the man's luggage, proving at least that he was on board. Nelson orders a search party sent out. In the Missile Room, a young technician, Jackson (who is considerably taller than his father, Richard Basehart) is checking on the radiation. (Yes, guys, we know there's radiation; we knew it two tests ago. What's it take to convince you?) Sharkey spells out to the audience what might happen if that Pentagon specialist can't be found. Kowalski comes to the Control Room, where Crane and Chip are discussing the course and speed, and is promptly detailed to head the search party. (It's only just now getting started?) Chip is convinced that the specialist came on board. Suddenly the Seaview lurches again, as the whole Control Room seems to burst into sparks. It's a major lurch; men staggering everywhere. Crane calls the Circuitry Room and gets no answer. Nelson, hearing the call from the Missile Room, wonders about this--SOMEONE should be in there. He and Sharkey leave Silo #4 to its own devices and go off to check. Crane also heads to the Circuitry Room. As we might have guessed, no one is on duty there, and the whole room is sparking madly. Nelson goes straight to a control box on the wall and restores stability with a flick of the wrist. They find that a connector had shorted out--a million-to-one accident. But where are the men? It's starting to look more and more ominous. Is the missing specialist, in fact, a saboteur? Has he captured or killed the missing men? Crane and Kowalski meet in passing in the halls; 'Ski still hasn't found the missing man. I think that they must have inserted some stock footage here; Kowalski, on a simple search mission, suddenly has a gun in hand and goes rushing down a corridor. Perhaps Crane or Nelson is starting to have suspicions, but we didn't hear them aired. Crane also meets Sharkey in passing, who reports that Nelson had fixed the problem in the Circuitry Room. Nelson calls an emergency meeting of all ship's officers. Kowalski suddenly has two men accompanying him, all armed, and all proceeding as if they're searching for a fugitive; moving cautiously and jumping at sudden noises.

    Up in the Control Room, Chip makes some course corrections and calls out his orders. No answer. The helmsman is no longer at the helm--in fact, the whole room is empty! Even Sparks is gone (the radio shack is now completely concealed behind a curtain). Chip is looking a little wild-eyed as Crane enters the room. He was probably relieved to find that Crane saw no one in the room, either. This is starting to look like some alien takeover--or a haunted house mystery. This feeling deepens when Kowalski, marching down a corridor with his two men in tow, turns a corner and suddenly loses them both. He grabs a nearby mike and reports his loss--and abruptly breaks off in mid-sentence. Only the mike, bouncing forlornly off the wall, remains. So far, it had been the usual nameless, faceless men disappearing. Now it's gotten personal.

    Matters continue to nosedive. No one answers from the Reactor Room or Sickbay. A shipwide call gets no reponse. Nelson and Sharkey have turned up; it seems to be just the four of them. Sharkey and Chip are badly rattled, and their tempers are starting to slide. Sharkey, perhaps just to have something to do, asks to conduct a shipwide search. This doesn't seem particularly safe under the circumstances, but they let him go off alone. Fortunately the automatic guidance system is functioning (I can sense a future problem coming up). Crane asks Chip for a 180 degree course change back to base, which Nelson belays. Orders are orders, even under such conditions as these. Seaview became expendable the moment he opened the sealed orders. (Actually, she became expendable when the Pentagon designated her to ferry the bomb, but that doesn't sound so grimly noble.)

    Sharkey, on his hunt, hears a tapping sound, which, on being tracked down, proves to be only the mike Kowalski dropped when...whatever happened. Crane comes down to the Missile Room (Nelson's ahead of him). Things sound even worse. They wonder about possibly managing to break the seal on the plate--it surely couldn't make things any worse, could it? Crane suggests firing off the missile where it can detonate safely. Nelson marches off to our old standby, the Failsafe System. The missile can only be fired by the president. Crane asks Nelson to at least report matters to said president--but orders are orders, and they were to proceed under full radio silence. Crane leaves the room, giving the defective silo a baleful look. Sharkey enters the Circuitry Room, and finds that someone has been soldering the damaged connections. He calls Nelson, but gets no answer. Even though they have long since established that no one is answering anywhere on the ship, Sharkey also calls the Crew's Quarters, demanding a reply. He doesn't try to call Crane or Chip--perhaps he's afraid of what he'll hear--or not hear. He heads down to the Crew's Quarters (one of them, anyway; they couldn't possibly house everyone in that one relatively small room, even if they do sleep in shifts). There are cups sitting on the table, and a phonograph (an amusing anachronism, now) is playing--which it wasn't doing when the audience looked in there previously. Sharkey, oddly, looks into the backs of the bunks as if he thinks someone might be wedged between the mattress and the wall. As he moves confusedly through the room, his hand accidently dips into a coffee cup--and the coffee is still hot! The other cups are also warm. Sharkey seems convinced that this is all an elaborate joke, and his temper suddenly gives way. He begins tearing the room apart. Up in the Control Room, they're still on course. Just as Crane mentions that if anything happens to the automatic equipment, they'll be dead, an alarm goes off. There's an obstacle ahead. Looking through the nose, it appears to be a giant jellyfish sort of thing. Oh, dear.

    Chip and Crane close the collision doors, brace themselves--and nothing happens. The alarm stops, and the board is clear. No obstacle. The alarm might have been a short circuit, but that doesn't explain what they saw. (It does, however, start to give the audience an inkling of what's going on.) Chip seems on the edge of panic. How many of them are left? Who'll go next? Where's Sharkey? Back down in the Missile Room, Nelson is trying to pry the plate off, and calls for Sharkey's assistance. Chip and Crane hear this call--although they did not, apparently, hear Sharkey call for Nelson and get no answer. This time around, Sharkey does answer Nelson. Crane also calls down, then leaves the Control Room, leaving Chip with the unenviable job of trying to keep from disappearing. On his way, Crane sees the open door of the Crew's Quarters. He finds the mess that Sharkey made of things. Crane reports that Sharkey is gone--was he supposed to wait in the Crew's Quarters, then? Nelson asks if he's sure about Sharkey, a supremely stupid question, under the circumstances, since no one can be sure of anything anymore. Crane interprets the mess in the Crew's Quarters as indicating that a fight had taken place. Crane is the first to vocalize the speculation that they are hallucinating, as he reports the thing that was NOT outside Seaview's nose. He wonders if Failsafe can be bypassed. This, of course, is impossible (except for the several previous occasions when someone did just that). Nelson has also become convinced that it will be impossible to shut down the missile. (Let's just kick that tension up another notch, shall we?)

    Up in the Control Room, Chip is checking the different stations, when the alarm goes off again. He also hears a sort of watery growling. When he gingerly opens the collision doors, there the thing is again. Chip calls to report. Crane answers back--and gets no reply. The Control Room mike is lying on the table. (Amazing how much poignancy you can get with a microphone.) Crane, down in the Missile Room, is worried about those automatic systems, but he doesn't want to leave Nelson, either. Nelson sends him off, forgetting that he had called for Sharkey in the first place because he needed a second pair of hands. As he passes through the corridors, Crane encounters a spiked, growling, biped, certainly enough to give anyone pause. Nelson has meanwhile managed to pry off the plate, and immediately calls for Crane, and...uh, huh. Nelson of course goes in search, also coming across the open Crew's Quarters. Although Sharkey had turned off the phonograph, the disc is moving, and the needle suddenly drops down and begins playing. Nelson doesn't ponder this very much before turning it off again and leaving. He reaches the Control Room, where all is quiet except for the standard ship noises. A checkered lightboard next to the radioshack suddenly starts crackling and flashing. Nelson doesn't seem concerned; he simply shuts off the sound, although the flashes continue. After all that's been going on, I suppose that minor little things aren't worth bothering with. The periscope suddenly elevates. Nelson gives it a "what else?" look before lowering it back down. A different sort of noise starts up. Nelson switches this sound off as well, then abruptly looks over at the Flying Sub hatch. He tries to call down to FS1 on the mike. The doors between the Control Room and the nose suddenly start to close, trapping Nelson forward. Nelson now seems convinced that enemy action is at work; he fetches a gun from the cabinet (the one that mysteriously comes and goes as needed) and opens the FS1 hatch. No one answers his call, and Nelson goes down. Springing down the ladder, he opens fire--on a hanging scuba suit. (And what if that had been a member of your crew, Admiral? Very hasty.) Embarrassed (as he should be), Nelson starts back up the ladder, then suddenly looks the other way, calling out Lee's name. Crane is in the pilot's seat, wearing a flight jacket and a grim expression. Looking at him, Nelson's perception becomes distorted. Crane lifts up what looks like a humungous automatic pistol. As Nelson starts to call out in protest, Crane vanishes. Nelson is probably also starting to think about hallucinations, but that's only my guess; he heads back to the Missile Room. He hears a clattering sound without, and, despite the situation, immediately assumes it must be one of the others. Opening the door, he of course sees nothing, but suddenly a bunch of wavering lights are flashing about him. Nelson slowly spins around, and passes out.

    There's more spinning lights, but now Kowalski's voice intrudes, calling to the Admiral. Then 'Ski's face appears, attached to the rest of him. Nelson gets up, feeling better, but he has suddenly moved from the Missile Room to a corridor. Kowalski has been looking for people, seemingly unaware that he had been included among the missing. They both hear muffled cries, and track the sound to the Crew's Quarters, where they find Sharkey face down in one of the bunks. He does not remember trashing the room. As they all stand, puzzling it over, Chip suddenly calls from the Control Room for anyone who can hear him. (Things seem to be reversing themselves.) Nelson answers. Chip reports a danger sign on a panel. Nelson, however, wants to get back to the problem in the Missile Room, but Chip states that the two problems may be related. As Nelson hangs up the mike, everything goes green, and they all move in slow motion as they exit the room. As they enter the corridor, they pause as if realizing that something's not right, then everything snaps back to normal. Crane appears at the top of a flight of steps--and attacks them as everything goes green and slow again. Punches are slowly exchanged, before Kowalski finally yanks Crane's legs out from under him. Everything snaps back to normal, including Crane, who had not previously recognized them. We can guess that he thought he was seeing more spiky bipeds--which makes his actions pretty darn courageous.

    Up in the Control Room, the danger alarm is gone, and Chip is convinced that he's losing his mind. Crane says there is no explanation for what's going on, but Nelson, at long last, thinks that maybe he knows. All of the odd happenings started after the radiation leak. Perhaps, along with the radiation, the neutron bomb is giving off psychedelic gases. The alarm resumes. Silo # 4 is definitely going to blow in two minutes--unless that's yet another hallucination, but they don't dare take the chance. Crane wants to try again to disable Failsafe, and--whaddya know! Failsafe is suddenly on the WAR setting, which means they can activate the missile--if they can reach it in time. (They seem to have forgotten the bit about four men and four keys being needed.) Naturally, as soon as they start rushing down, they get hit again with the slow-mo greenies.

    After a long, slow race down the corridors (I've had dreams like that, they're quite tedious) they reach the Missile Room. After all his puttering about earlier, Nelson unhesitatingly picks up a plug from somewhere, and sticks it into a socket on the silo.
    He grabs his Failsafe key from around his neck, inserts it into the Failsafe panel, opens it, and fires...yet another Polaris missile. That Polaris is getting as much air time as that rock outcropping from the last season. Crane unhappily points out that they were too late--the missile will not have time to reach a safe level. The missile explodes on cue--a big, big explosion--and the Seaview, on cue, lurches.

    Crane, apparently, was mistaken--perhaps all that slow-mo messed up his perception of time. They receive a formal "Well Done" from Washington. I wouldn't call it "Well" done--just "Done". Somehow, they managed to bring the mission off sucessfully despite the malfunction and the hallucinations. They had reached the proper coordinates and the bomb had exploded safely. (Presumably this whole thing was just a test. Let's hope they work the bugs out before the next one.) Somehow, Washington had been monitoring the Seaview, and while they did not know of the hallucinations, they were aware of the silo malfunction, and the President released Failsafe and left them to it. Once again, Seaview lives up to her reputation. An exciting episode, although it has a few glitches, such as the matter of Failsafe. Just how was it that everyone on the ship was experiencing similar hallucinations? Especially as they did have a couple hallucinations outside the norm, as it were. What were the 120-odd other men doing, besides drinking coffee and playing a phonograph? If everyone actually was where they were supposed to be, why didn't anyone crash into invisible presences? It would have been interesting to have heard the points of view of some of the other crew. ("You just kept yelling into the mike as if there was no one there, Mr. Morton. We kept yelling at you, but you wouldn't answer!")And where was the Pentagon specialist during all this? Was he perhaps also in the Missile Room, alternating with Nelson on the silo? Was that perhaps why they managed to hold things together until they reached their destination? And were crew members standing in their quarters, dumbfounded, as Sharkey stuck his fingers in their coffee and hurled things about? But it was still a fine, intense story.
  • Nelson has a leak, Sharkey trashes the place and the search party gets lost

    This episode makes my voyage world go round!

    Nelson breaks the seal on his orders in his cabin and after a superficial read he looks disgusted.

    It transpires that a top notch crew have installed a live neutron bomb in silo 4 and Seaview has to deliver it to a test site some considerable distance away.

    Nelson at this point only let's crane in on this and tells him to proceed to the test site at full speed.

    Things don't stay under control for long (do they ever?)

    The silo with the neutron bomb is leaking radiation. Kowalski and the chief check it out and a blameless Kowalski causes havoc when he tries to pry open the inspection panel on said silo.

    After the leak is detected things take on an eerie air.

    There is a Pentagon missile specialist on-board but he's cabin is searched and the only trace of him is his luggage. (Check out his tatty suitcase, I guess Pentagon specialists don't earn much)

    A minor fault in the circuitry room almost turns into a disaster because the crewmen who should have been on watch there have either left their posts or vanished...

    Chip Morton has a hair raising experience in the control room. After ordering a slight course correction while studying the plotting table he gets no reply so turns round to discover the whole control room abandoned...

    Worse follows and poor luckless Kowalski is the recipient again.

    Crane orders him to search for the Pentagon specialist. (Thanks to reused footage he does this fully armed!)

    While searching the corridors he turns a corner only to discover that the two men with him have vanished!

    Trying to stay calm he uses the mike to inform crane and chip but he's cut off mid sentence and the mike is left swinging against the bulkhead making a tapping noise.

    Lots of tense and darn right cereal moments play out in this episode. At one point Nelson thinks he sees Crane sat in the pilot's seat in the flying sub. The image is like looking in the back of a spoon. Very effective.

    Terry Becker puts Chief Sharkey through his paces in a well acted scene. After not being able raise anyone in the entire submarine he starts to lose his cool. This culminates in Sharkey ripping the guts out of the crew's quarters! The final straw came when discovered hot cups of coffee on the table indicating someone was either there, had just vanished or was hiding from him.

    Towards the end of the episodes the odd happenings evolve into strange swirling lights all around and the frustrating feeling of walking in a dream is experienced by Nelson, Sharkey, Crane and Kowalski.

    Eventually Nelson (with the president's permission) fires the neutron bomb into the sky and it explodes. The bomb had been threatening to go off the entire episode and as a result Nelson had spent most of his time working on it in the missile room. (This involved fannying about with a screwdriver)

    By this time Nelson had already aired his suspicion that the leak from the silo was having an effect on their minds and as a direct result they were seeing things that were not there.

    The episode is finished off with a brief explanation of the events and the crew head for home. (Hope the leaking fumes have no long term effects.. Radiation does tend

    Definitely in my top 10 episodes.

    Refreshing to have no rubber monsters and the crew don't end up getting knocked out every 10 minutes.

    Real triumph was the lighting which was always perfect on voyage anyway. A large portion of this episode was filmed with the red emergency lighting on. If you couple that with disappearing crew then it's a winner.

    Richard Basehart's son has a brief line in this episode. I do hope he didn't mind his son disappearing along with the crew.