Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 1 Episode 2

The City Beneath The Sea

Aired Monday 7:30 PM Sep 21, 1964 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • Seaview's first dip into the spy business, not to mention their first confrontation with an evil genius. An interesting villain, a girl (appreciate them while they last) and some gorgeous miniatures make this a fine outing.

    Seaview is called in to investigate the unexplained sinkings of two research ships, the second one, the "Dana" having been destroyed while going to the aid of the first, unnamed ship. Kowalski has been diving in the area, but the water is too murky to make any clear identifications. A net had been sent down to gather up some debris. The net brings up a mass of seaweed--and a diver. Crane notices that the diving gear does not match that used by the research ships. Crewman Malone spots a bomb fastened to the dead man's leg. Quite properly abandoning protocol, he bellows at officers and crew alike to get it overboard. The net hits the water--and the men hit the deck--just as the bomb goes off. The dead diver is a mystery. Just who was he? If the corpse had been from one of the sunken ships, there would have been no point in dressing it in a wetsuit. Presumably the diver had been working for the bad guys. Had he died in an accident, or been executed for misconduct--or had he simply been slaughtered to provide bait? Wanting the ones who set the booby trap to think that they were sucessful, Nelson has the Seaview park on the bottom, merrily blowing bubbles, although this considerably slows down the repair work, especially to the left elevator plane. Crane speculates that someone is trying to drive all shipping out of the area, but why? Nelson focuses on an island that the research ships had used for supplies and additional men. Crane decides that the best way to find things out is to go in undercover. He swims ashore with a bundle (travelling light) and takes a room at the Athena Hotel, in room 25, under the name Lee Glenn. He dresses somewhat like a merchant seaman. He calls in to report (we will find, in this early episode, that they really go overboard on the "Overs" after each line of radio dialogue). He's to check back in 12 hours--at 0400, which I kind of think is four in the morning, isn't it? How nice. Crane looks about the room and bathroom for a place to hide his transmitter, finally settling on the underside of the sink, which seems really silly. Why not just carry it with him, or find a better hiding place? He goes out and sets to work, letting people know that he's a deep-sea diver for hire. Coming to the local bar, cafe, cantina, whatever--Crane asks the barman about good places to skin dive, as the local divers are rather close-mouthed on the subject. A man sitting nearby starts gesturing excitedly. Crane learns that the man, Dimitri, is a former diver who is now crazy following a diving accident during a salvage job. He used to be able to speak a few coherent words, but is now completely mute. This is the first out-of-the-ordinary bit of information Crane has come across, so he questions Dimitri, with the barman as "translator". Dimitri claims that he had seen a "city beneath the sea". Crane asks him to show Crane the location. Having been brought to a stretch of beach, Crane leaves Dimitri perched on the rocks and goes in. About all there is to be found are thick weeds. Crane suddenly spots a girl diver, who spots him and goes after him with her spear gun. Crane quickly gets the upper hand and hauls her to the surface, and then to shore. In the long camera shot, a casual look might miss Dimitri, lying amongst the rocks and sand--with the black-and-white film, he blends right in. As soon as Crane can stand firmly, he starts chewing out the girl, who claims that she had thought that he was someone else--an enemy. Considering that she's probably not seen Crane before, how did she figure that he was NOT the enemy? Just because he yelled at her? Coming further onto shore, they spot Dimitri, and Crane learns that he is--was--her father.

    Crane reports in--at four in the morning, unless he decided to call earlier. Crane states that he somehow believed Dimitri's crazy tale, which seems to have some confirmation in his death. Nelson gets coordinates of the location so that they can begin searching. Seaview is still under repair, so it will have to be the minisub. The two divers are ordered to report everything that they see--even a sardine. ("One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish....") After noting hard-packed sand, a cave, and some weeds, the report becomes more interesting with ridges and shelves that look like a stairway. Just as Nelson asks for more details, the radio gets staticky, and the sonar gets jammed. The water temperature rises, and the currents change--the minisub is caught up in turbulence. Patterson, on the other side of the room (Sonar for the moment seems to be where the radioshack will be in later episodes) reports that the controls are also showing interference. The minisub reports a blinding light as the sonar goes wild. They start to report something "looney"--and then cut off abruptly, leaving the men in the Control Room staring at each other.

    There's a nice, tender scene with Crane and Melina (enjoy it, we won't see many of these!). In spite of the other islanders treating her father like a pathetic clown, Melina firmly believes that her father did see something--and died for it, although the official report was an accident. Melina intends to keep looking, and Crane offers his help. Going back to his room, Crane finds a man casually sitting inside, who offers him a diving job. He then takes Crane to meet "the boss". Crane is taken into a large, fancily appointed room, to meet Leopold Zeraff. For some reason, the placement of a big chair behind Zeraff temporarily conceals the fact that he's in a wheelchair. I'm not sure how many evil geniuses are confined to wheelchairs in the spy world. Zeraff needs a diver right away--his first diver had had an accident. The implication is that Dimitri was working for Zeraff--but was he? Dimitri was on a salvage job--which sounds like Zeraff's description of the job for "Lee Glenn"--but on the other hand, perhaps he's referring to the diver that ended up in the Seaview's net. Zeraff offers "Glenn" $1,000 just to dive for him--and twenty-five percent of the take if he finds valuables. After "Glenn" agrees to the terms, Zeraff insists that he stay overnight--they will provide him with diving gear in the morning. Crane really should have protested more than he did--he could quite reasonably argue that he wanted diving gear that he was familiar and comfortable with. He didn't react much, in spite of the fact that he would not be able to report in. After Crane leaves the room, Zeraff reveals that he has possession of Crane's transmitter--which is urgently calling for "Captain Crane". This would seem to indicate that they expected him to be carrying the transmitter with him. I knew that sink was a silly place to hide it. Of course, Crane's probably inexperienced with this sort of thing.

    The following morning, Crane dives off the side of a fair-sized boat, following the anchor chain down. Very quickly, he's joined by two other divers armed with spearguns. No question of getting the upper hand this time--Crane is forced to swim along with them, and is brought up short by his first sight of the underwater city--a really marvelous miniature layout. The entryway to one of the domes is a cagelike structure, and Crane swims upward to an area he will later refer to as a "ready room". On the Seaview, Crane is four hours overdue for his checkin call. (Presumably that attempted call the night before was a separate piece of business, or else Crane and Zeraff had been up really, really late.)

    Melina searches for "Lee Glenn" at the Athena Hotel, and finds that no such man had been listed. A "sweet lady" on a world cruise is in room 25. Melina goes up to check anyway, and finds "Harriman Jones" looking for his off-and-on partner, Lee Glenn, who owes him 100 bucks. We find from Melina that Crane has now been missing for three days. Nelson tries to act unconcerned--Melina's worrying enough for both of them, anyhow. She takes him to the spot where her father had first washed up after his accident--and the same place that he died. Nelson walks down to the shoreline, and Melina is suddenly grabbed by someone, while another man opens fire at Nelson, who hits the water running. Coming back in to shore, Nelson calls in and requests a raft to take him back to the Seaview.

    Another diver approaches the city, pulled along by an underwater scooter (or whatever they're called). A seat on a rope is already waiting for him, and he is hauled up into the ready room. Zeraff is quickly stripped of his gear and placed in a chair. Some time later, Crane is led in to the presence. Zeraff calls him by his real name and rank. Crane has apparently spent the last three days being shown around the place--he's aware of all Zeraff's treasures, gadgetry, and weapons. Zeraff has been building his own world down below--which would be quite an achievement if his intentions had been a little different. He plans to eventually have a whole chain of cites, and take control of all underwater resources. He destroyed the research ships because they had gotten too close--he's not ready to have his secrets revealed. He will also destroy any other ship that enters the vicinity--including Seaview. Confident in his ship, Crane scoffs at this. Zeraff shows him a panel with which he can confuse and trap sealife and submarines alike--his gadgetry can jam up sonar and radar, as well as making acoustic devices too unreliable. (I think he's referring to hydrophones.) Seaview cannot find him. Crane says that HE found him, but Zeraff points out, reasonably, that it was the other way around. He sees Crane as negotiable merchandise--or perhaps Crane would be willing to sell out the Seaview and become part of Zeraff's team. Crane snarls that he's expendable, but Zeraff disagrees--and casually informs him of the fate of his minisub and divers. Crane is still certain that Nelson would destroy the city if he had the chance. Crane likens Zeraff to a man-eating piranha, which Zeraff takes as a compliment, but if you observe Crane's hand gesture, it's clear that he meant that Zeraff was a vicious little fish.

    Escorted back to his room, Crane quickly takes out the man. It's an interesting use of available material--Crane first blinds the man with the overhead light, then conks him with it. He quickly gets to the ready room and suits up. There's a briefly scary moment when a returning diver taps Crane on the arm, but it's only to remind him to "start his clock" so that others will know how long he's been out in the water. However, more divers are coming--bringing Melina with them, who takes a shocked look around and immediately starts to struggle. The gallant Crane immediately jumps to her defense. Rather surprisingly for the time, Melina snatches a knife and dives back into the fray, but she and Crane are quickly overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers. Crane is knocked out. He awakens to find Melina anxiously watching over him. (Anxiety seems to be her main expression.) She tells him about "Harriman Jones" and Crane keeps up with the pretence, although there's not much point in it now. Zeraff smugly interrupts their discussion, but is himself interrupted by the arrival of a supply ship. He threatens to toss Melina into a deep nearby trench to be killed by the pressure if Crane tries any more funny stuff, but he also tries to ensure it by having them handcuffed while he's away. This, of course, is not going to stop Crane. He contemplates the vent, recalls that most of the available men will be busy dealing with the supply ship, and jumps up to the vent, telling Melina to bring him anything that can be stuffed into it. Zeraff heads off into the water. I'm wondering if he insisted on dealing with the supply ship himself because he likes to be in control of everything, because surely a regular supply run wouldn't be that big a deal. Crane explains to Melina that the blocked vent will cause an dangerous alteration in pressure (I wonder how? Just one vent?) which could cause flooding. Alarms go off, Crane pounds on the door, the guard comes running. (I love it when a plan comes together.) They quickly trip him up and nab the keys to the cuffs.

    The Seaview, contrary to Zeraff's complacent belief, finds the underwater city. They slow down and rig for silent running. Crane and Melina, meanwhile, suit up and leave, grabbing a spare scooter as they go. The city's watcher notes the approach of the sub. Zeraff turns back, calling for missiles to be prepared. The guard adds the fact of Crane's escape. (Melina's escape is ignored.) Zeraff goes after Crane. When Crane spots him, he has Melina get out of the way (contrary to her previous actions, Melina obeys and lets the man do the hard stuff). There's quite an intense chase scene. The city fires at the Seaview, which avoids the missiles and sounds battle stations. Crane, being pursued, suddenly swings around and goes on the offensive. Zeraff, the man in the wheelchair, kicks his legs quite vigorously. There's a roiling, twisting confrontation (with the camera speeded up a bit) and then the chase is on again. On the Seaview, as Crane foretold, Nelson prepares to fire at the city, even though he cannot know that Crane has escaped. Unlike later seasons, there is no heavy-handed discussion of necessary sacrifices--Nelson only mentions, "There's no alternative." Closing in on Crane, Zeraff abandons his scooter and attacks, and the two men wrestle for the speargun. The fighting, like the chase, is also quite intense. Crane finally spears Zareff at close range and Zareff, feebly grasping at the spear, slowly sinks out of sight. Seaview launches her missiles. Although they are launched one at a time, the second one instantly catches up with the first. Crane and Melina take shelter--can they hear the sound of the approaching missiles? The destruction sequence was quite awesome--although they had to rerun the shots to get the effect of the whole city going up. Crane and Melina make it to the Seaview, where Melina is startled to find "Harriman Jones" aboard. Crane's comment to Nelson about doing better than "that hundred dollar deadbeat routine" or he'll go back to the Navy seems to indicate that he and Nelson have worked undercover before--when they were both serving on the Nautilus, perhaps? Nelson suggests that they get their "guest" back home. Crane seems more than happy to comply. All the crew in the Missile Room seem to find the situation funny in the extreme--are they just reacting to the presence of a woman on board, or does Crane already have a well-established reputation with the ladies?
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