Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 1 Episode 11

The Magnus Beam

Aired Monday 7:30 PM Nov 23, 1964 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • Standard spy fare, perhaps, but quite well done. The character of Abdul Azziz alone makes this episode worth watching, and there's a trio of excellent villains.

    It starts in a Middle-Eastern country called something like "Roscandara". An American U2 spy plane is passing overhead, apparently on a daily run. The scene shifts to a cavern, filled with the usual panels and blinking lights, and a bunch of men in uniform. Major Amadi is instructed to switch on something, which he does with relish. General Gamal is making the final demonstration of his new weapon--a weapon that will soon gain him control of the Red Sea area and the approaches to the Suez Canal. In a matter of weeks, he will be the greatest power in the Middle East. Maybe. A group of uniformed men suddenly rush into the room to arrest them--it is feared that the General will start World War III. They quickly discover that their handguns will not function. The activated weapon generates a magnatized field that keeps any steel-based machinery from working. Amadi gives you a glimpse of his nature by striking the arresting officer repeatedly with a riding crop. The men with the officer attempt to flee and are shot down with special guns. A few moments later, the plane crashes.

    The impression from the teaser is that the plane shot down was the first, but either Gamal wasn't satisfied with his "final demonstration" or else shooting planes is part of his long-range plan. On the Seaview, we learn that several U2 planes (they will later specify three) have been shot down. Crane is going in undercover to attempt to find out why. It's a very hasty spy run--he's due back in four hours. In that time, he's to contact an agent named Richmond and get in touch with Roscandara's "Underground." Back in the cavern, we learn that Gamal is aware that the Seaview is in the area (obviously his Intelligence service is quite competent). The Seaview is the one submarine in the world capable of gaining access to the deep underwater entrance to the caverns which house his Magnus Beam. Gamal puts Amadi in charge of dealing with the Seaview. Amadi demands a free hand, which the General is quite willing to give.

    Crane comes ashore, and quickly finds Richmond on the beach, clad in native robes. Crane has memorized maps of the area; Richmond only plans to take him to the main road, fearing that the authorities are on to him. He tells Crane to go to the Golden Parrot nightclub and talk to a singer named--well, he was right about them being on to him. A sniper plugs him, and he dies before he can give Crane the name. Crane hastily strips the robe off Richmond and takes off. Amadi, in the background, prevents the sniper from taking more shots at Crane. Coming to the city, Crane quickly ends up being followed. An ambush is routed when Amadi, also robed, jumps in to assist Crane. I've said it before--Crane needs some practice at the spy business. This is a classic maneuver for gaining the enemy's trust. After a brief exchange (which does not include introductions), Amadi leads Crane to the Golden Parrot nightclub. Crane takes note of a poster advertising the singer Luana. As a car pulls up the street, Amadi shoves Crane into a stairwell. One of Gamal's other top henchmen, Falazir, gets out of the car to confer with Amadi.

    The Golden Parrot does not live up to its fancy name. From the back stairs, Crane observes Luana singing on a bare, grubby-looking stage. She finishes her turn and goes up the stairs. You can guess from the audience that the next act is some comedy routine. Crane introduces himself as Jerry Richmond. Luana only hesitates briefly before bringing him to her dressing room, passing a girl who doesn't bat an eye at having a strange man come in. Luana knows Crane is not Richmond. Crane tells her of his death--which means that "They" know something of the Underground. Crane re-introduces himself and asks for her help--they need the location of the weapon that bringing down the planes. Luana prudently asks him if he was followed. Crane doesn't think so. He neither mentions the stranger who assisted him, or the car that pulled up outside. Luana knows about the weapon--it has something to do with magnetic force--but she doesn't know how to reach it. She does know of someone who might. At this point, Amadi shows up at the door--and Luana recognizes him as General Gamal's Chief of Security. Amadi claims that he is merely playing a dangerous role--he's worried that the General is leading them to war, and wants asylum on the Seaview. Once on board, he will lead them to the underwater entrance, where they can easily destroy the weapon. Crane's first reaction is to refuse (he's probably kicking himself at being gulled so easily) but Luana points out that they have little choice--either they take him to the Seaview or he could have the secret police after them. (A third option--killing Amadi--is not considered.)

    Amadi is brought blindfolded to the Seaview, while Luana makes arrangements for Crane to meet a certain man of the Underground. The four-hour time period has gotten a little stretched--Crane is staying an extra day. Luana brings Crane to the house of a curio dealer, Abdul Azziz. While looking at the house, a man hastens up to another man lying in the doorway, and they both rush away. Incredibly, neither Crane nor Luana take much note of this ominous action, other than to have Crane enter the house alone. The room seems empty as he comes in, and Crane calls out. A light flicks on, and Falazir welcomes him. Crane only accepts him as Azziz for a second or two--as Falazir rings a bell, Crane bolts. Unfortunately it's three to one, as Falazir's men begin clubbing Crane with their rifle butts.

    On the Seaview, Amadi shows them the way to the cavern entrance. Nelson insists on knowing more about it before he risks his submarine. Amadi assures him that there is plenty of room--it's 400 feet at its narrowest point, and 250 feet high at the entrance, increasing to 800 feet further in. (Sounds like a whale could swim in there in perfect comfort.) Nelson notes that there are no underwater defences, but Amadi counters that the entrance is so deep, nothing else can reach it, so defences are not needed. When Nelson asks how they managed to measure the cavern, Amadi replies that they used...something. (It sounded like "Fedometer"). Nelson says nothing, but his expression indicates that something is up. After Amadi leaves for the Missile Room, Chip Morton comments that the cavern could only have been measured physically--the device mentioned by Amadi would not work in a confined space. Nelson might have believed him if he had said that they used a diving bell. After ordering Chip to bring the Seaview to the entrance and stop at 1,000 feet, we find the Seaview coming to a stop--at 100 feet. Chip apparently missed a digit. They switch to silent running, which seems to be their only concession to the knowledge that Amadi lied to them. Nelson and Chip go to the Missile Room. Amadi is startled; he was expecting to lead them in the mini-sub, but Nelson found the entrance without his help (this statement seems odd--I thought that Amadi had already given them directions). Nelson plans to send the mini-sub himself, once they get inside and up about 1,000 feet. Nelson indicates that he's rather leery of the whole thing, the more so when he receives a message telling him of Crane's disappearance. Amadi denies knowing anything about it, and Nelson jumps for his throat. We don't get a chance to see how Amadi would react--the Seaview lurches, and all the suspended missiles suddenly swing sideways and cling to the wall, while small metal objects go flying. The lights go off, the communications are dead, and the hatchways are frozen shut. Nelson demands an explanation, calling Patterson over to threaten Amadi with his gun. Amadi is contemptuous; he knows the gun won't work. None of the metal machinery will work. Nelson now knows why Amadi was so anxious to lead them with the mini-sub. Instead, he's trapped along with the crew--and will die with them. Up to this point, there was a chance (albeit a very small one) that Amadi really was working against General Gamal, but now his actions are clear. Amadi seems to be the more dangerous of the two. General Gamal is a rather stereotyped despot, while Amadi is more oily, with an eye to the main chance. I can easily see him quietly undermining Gamal and taking over as soon as he judged it was safe to do so.

    Having made some connections somewhere, Luana comes to the house of Azziz's cousin (one of many) and meets up with the delightful Azziz himself. Azziz had become aware that the secret police were watching his place and prudently decided to move--unfortunately without notifying Luana and Crane. Luana explains what Crane had wanted to learn from Azziz. She makes it clear, however (after only knowing him a few minutes), that her primary interest is in saving Crane, not getting at the weapon. Some guys got it, and some guys don't. Meanwhile, back on the Seaview, they are rising up through the cavern. They can see this via the depth gauge, which uses a fiber needle, not steel, and is therefore unaffected. Nelson says that they are rising only a couple of feet per minute (which is in keeping with the passage of time in the episode) but the depth gauge (not to mention the outside shots) show them rising a heck of a lot faster than that. Above them, in the cavern, Crane is being punched out--the scene being discreetly limited to sounds and shadows. Falazir has no finesse. Gamal stops the beating and has Crane dragged out. Crane's looking pretty battered, but, considering that he should have ended up in a hospital or the morgue after being clubbed with gun butts, not so bad. There's a nice (well, maybe that's not the word) touch of contempt shown, as Gamal steps back and forth over Crane as though he no more than dust on the floor. He lets Crane know that the Seaview is in his power--it's merely a question of crushing her, or letting the men inside slowly suffocate. He wants to know Crane's underground contact. (Considering that they know about the Golden Parrot and Abdul Azziz, they should have a pretty good idea by now.) Crane, of course, is not saying anything, and Gamal recognizes that he won't. He orders Crane taken out and shot. Falazir brings two guards with him.

    In a splendid move, Azziz almost effortlessly takes the two guards out simultaneously. Reaching an outer doorway, Falazir gestures for the key--only then realizing that he's missing something. Crane may be battered, but he's quick on the uptake, although he has to hit Falazir several times before the man goes down. Crane promptly follows him. Luana (naturally!) hastens to his side. She wants them to escape at once, but Crane, knowing that the Seaview is helpless, insists on going THIS way. (Just how he knew which way was THIS way is a good question.) A quick jump back to the Seaview indicates that they've now risen high enough for divers to get out safely--provided they could get the hatches open. Back in the cavern, Crane, Abdul and Luana reach an area overlooking the weapon, which sits in an area that looks remarkably like Seaview's loading dock back in Santa Barbara. When a guard passes by, Azziz trips him up and Crane hauls him in--while the man never lets out a peep. Azziz goes off to fetch his cousins. Back on the Seaview, Nelson suddenly has an idea. He calls for copper wire and battery jumpers, and has the mini-sub moved over (for some reason, the mini-sub is unaffected by the beam. Is it made of aluminum?) Nelson's good at thinking up ideas, but he idiotically leaves Amadi hanging around loose, watching the proceedings.

    Azziz returns with one cousin and a bag of dynamite, then sends the cousin back off to bring the others. All they can do now is wait. On Seaview, Nelson (still idiotically, but they had to let the audience know) explains to Amadi how his countercharge will work. Amadi asks for some diving equipment--he will swim up and arrange their honorable surrender. Nelson treats this incredible offer with the amused contempt it deserves. He and his men will be doing the diving. It's not clear just how much time has passed--long enough for Crane and Luana to doze off. There is a sudden commotion across the way. Azziz hisses at Crane, who reacts instantly. Falazir has regained conciousness and notified the General of Crane's escape. Patrols are sent out, and Gamal orders the beam turned up full, which will destroy Seaview in short order. On the Seaview, a team including Nelson, Chip, Curley and Kowalski have suited up, arming themselves with aluminum spearguns. It is beginning to dawn on Amadi that they might possibly be sucessful. In the cavern, the trio scramble to get out of the way as a patrol approaches--leaving a stick of dynamite behind. Fortunately, the patrol have their eyes set for a larger target. Azziz's cousins finally arrive in a mass of fluttering robes--but they are going to need a diversion. Lacking one, Crane plans to go straight in by himself, but Luana holds him back.

    Nelson's cobbled-up gizmo will only be effective for 90 seconds. Patterson turns it on--and Amadi, with no guard or bindings--leaps to tear it apart. Patterson welcomes the opportunity to knock him flat. The escape hatch is opened, and they are on their way. (There's no explanation of just how they are going to get the OUTER hatch open, but perhaps the effect of Nelson's gizmo goes all the way up to the hull.) Having failed to locate Crane, Falazir proposes to smoke him out with gas cannisters. Seaview is now less than fifty feet from the top--she will be crushed in two minutes. The divers come up to the platform where the beam machinery sits. A guard on the catwalk is quickly speared and yanked into the water. Perhaps it was the splash that alerted Crane and Cousins to the fact that their diversion had been provided. The divers start rigging their own explosives. Another guard is hauled into the water, a third one knocked out. Gamal and Falazir spot the unconcious guard, and all heck breaks loose. Crane and Cousins dive into the action, leaving Luana behind, alone and unarmed. The diving team seems to have gotten hold of useable guns, and start returning fire. Azziz shoots Falazir, while Gamal manages to hit Kowalski. Crane instantly jumps to his crewman's aid. Azziz also hits Gamal (he must have been full of himself when they got home that night). Crane sets off the fuse, yelling at everyone to hit the deck (the enemy sensibly ducks with all the rest) and the Magnus Beam goes up with a satisfying burst of pyrotechnics. (One hopes that no crewmen were standing under the missiles when they popped loose from the wall of the Missile Room.)

    Back on the Seaview, Amadi is brought (finally secured and under guard) to the nose. (Crane, for some peculiar reason, seems to prefer lying in the nose, having the lovely Luana swabbing his wounded brow, rather than going to Sickbay and having the ship's doctor do the same thing.)
    Nelson is preparing to turn Amadi back over to his own country. Amadi attempts to claim asylum, but Nelson again treats this with the contempt it deserves, while Luana looks to Amadi's future with grim satisfaction.

    A good, action-packed show. Too bad they couldn't bring back Abdul Azziz (and his cousins, of course) in a later episode.
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