Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 1 Episode 26

The Amphibians

Aired Monday 7:30 PM Mar 08, 1965 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • One of the best of the series, the story is exciting without being bloated with unnecessary subplots like so many others in the series tend to be.

    Scientists working in an underwater laboratory decide to create a race of amphibious humans.

    Time and again, Irwin Allen programs show more interest in the sizzle of melodrama over the steak of thoughtful science fiction, but this episode is more straightforward and still tells a good story.

    Sure, it's loaded with science mumbo jumbo, but it starts with a half-plausible explanation of life's evolution under the sea and the embryology of terrestrial organisms. Of course, then it goes on to the wackiness of surgically implanted gills that end in microphone caps that are glued on the neck of actors (amazingly spotted as "proof" of "amphibian experiments" on videotape by Nelson). But leaving that aside, the plotting is brisk and deals with one topic at a time. The underwater scenes are good - though almost all episodes seem to feature one shot of divers framed against sunlight on the surface (even when supposedly taking place 100s of fathoms down) and the mushroom-shaped science lab is not one of the better miniatures.

    Skip Homeier, one of the 60s TV's poster boys for crazy followers of insane ideas, is his usual memorable self here, spouting dialog proclaiming man's destiny as creatures of the sea. What makes this installment one of the best examples of "Voyage" is its simplicity, a terrible idea that goes more and more wrong, the Sea View countering the unfolding plot step-by-step, and a dramatic conclusion that while scientifically dopey at least brings all the issues to a satisfying finish.
  • This one is intriguing to watch, being full of psychological overtones as well as being action-packed.

    For a change, Nelson is not on the side of the obsessed scientists. For another, these mad scientists literally are mad.

    We don't really see much change in the character of Dr. Jenkins, but it's rather creepy to watch Dr. Winslow's descent into insanity. He agonizes every step of the way, only to eventually come around to Jenkin's way of thinking. By the end of the episode, he's saying of Jenkins, "You're right, you always are."

    They seemed to have learned how to speed up their process. It took three months to adapt Dr. Jenkins' system for underwater, as well as perform the necessary surgury (and kudos to the special effects people for a thrifty yet effective prop for the artifical gills!) Three months after that, they've not only changed over Dr. Winslow, but three other people, and are in the process of changing two more.

    It's never mentioned in the episode, but Jenkins and Winslow must have been either brainwashing their "recruits" or drugging them with more than the body-altering stuff. Even if the "recruits" decided that they liked being amphibious, there surely should have been some natural resentment at being forced into it, but we see none. They are all silent, docile, and unquestioningly obedient. And Angie--! I realize that back when this was made, attitudes about women and their "place" was considerably different, but surely there must have been some women viewers gritting their teeth over Angie's treatment. If this episode had been filmed nowadays, they probably would have shown Angie being selected for...ummm...personal reasons, but here it's quite obvious why they grabbed her--they wanted someone to do the housework for them! At one point, Angie is sent out to lure two of the Seaview divers into a trap. She then helps haul them back to the habitat, then goes out again immediately to help place explosives on the Seaview. Back from this errand, she's not even given time to dry off before Jenkins sends her off to get him something to eat.

    Just a few minutes after Winslow is fretting about hurting or killing the men on the Seaview, he makes the statement that if they're not gone in two hours, they'll have to be destroyed. He has one last gasp at reason when he notes that he's discovered a definite change in his brain patterns, but he quickly accepts Jenkins reasoning that "change" doesn't necessarily mean "bad change".

    We see a rarity on the Seaview when the explosives go off. Chip Morton is injured in the ensuing rock 'n roll, and we find that four others have been as well. Normally, the men get tossed about like marbles in a tin can with nothing to show for it. You would think that sprains, strains, cracked ribs and concussion would be commonplace on this sub.

    Nelson is out of the picture for most of the episode (I do wonder if Richard Basehart had been ill again) so Crane is left to handle things by himself. He does a pretty good job of it, although I was irritated with the confrontation between Crane and Winslow. Crane is unable to make any dent in Winslow's convictions, but he does not use the one argument that should have given Winslow pause for thought--namely, that he was not using volunteers for his experiments, but altering people by force. He also makes no mention that Winslow and Jenkins would be criminally liable for the kidnappings alone.

    It's interesting to see the growing power struggle between Winslow and Jenkins. It seems obvious that if Seaview had not interfered, one of the men (most likely Jenkins) would have ended up killing or imprisoning the other. They were both getting drunk on power, and you can only have one person at the top.

    I think that, with their growing belief in their superiority, came a belief in the inferiority of non-amphibians. When Jenkins sent Angie on her potientially suicidal mission (and who was he going to have cook for him if she died!) he seemed quite satisfied that dressing her in scuba gear would be an effective disguise, and the Seaview would assume she was one of their kidnapped divers who had managed to escape. The suit was the wrong color, to begin with, and Crane not only saw immediately that there were no tell-tale bubbles coming from the mask, but he instantly deduced that she must be carrying explosives, and quickly yanked her out of the gear.

    I thought it was rather funny at the end, when Winslow had threatened his way off the Seaview with his bomb. Having gained their freedom, he was going to destroy Seaview anyway--and then Crane locked them in the escape hatch. Winslow seemed astounded that Crane would do such a thing. That culminating scene with them getting the hatchway open, and then shooting the bomb out the torpedo launch, was very exciting, although I don't understand why Crane waited so long to give the order to launch it--or why he yelled the order to fire into the microphone instead of to Kowalski, standing a few feet away.

    The ending is disquieting, with Winslow still stubbornly convinced that he was right, and also quite certain that the changes are unalterable. We never find out. Hopefully the more recently changed people would have been altered back without problems--but it would have been interesting to see Winslow come back in a later episode.
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