Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 1 Episode 8

The Village Of Guilt

Aired Monday 7:30 PM Nov 02, 1964 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • This episode introduces two plot devices that would become common on this series: the obsessed scientist and the man-made monster. Both are handled quite well.

    It starts out rather oddly; three drunken men rowing a boat. The name of the boat, the "Hummeren" makes it fairly clear that this is taking place in a foreign country. Suddenly the camera cuts away to a fearsome shot of a giant tentacle curling up out of the water. Something of the quality of the picture puts me in mind of a Harryhausen special effects movie. Moments later, another giant tentacle looms up over the boat. (This tentacle, by the way, does not resemble either the first tentacle seen, or the underwater octopus shots; it looks more like the extra-long tentacle of a squid--possibly a prop left over from the "Voyage" movie.) The boat is knocked over, and the scene darkens over the sound of the terrified men's screams.

    Seaview is out cruising, apparently doing nothing in particular. Nelson, Crane, and Chip Morton are listening to a radio broadcast about an incident in Norway. Three fishermen from the village of Tana had been attacked by what the sole survivor described as a giant sea monster. Crane is very skeptical of monsters, although he offers no counter solution. Nelson is more open-minded. A later broadcast gives additional information--the survivor, Johan Rolvaag, described the creature as snake-like, with yellow and black scales, and circular suction cups. The last description was borne out by the fact that Rolvaag's body is a mass of circular welts. Nelson immediately jumps up and goes to the world map on the wall. He recognized the description as fitting the tentacle of a cephalopod--an octopus. (I've never heard of an octopus with scales, but I'll allow for the man's state of mind--and the fact that he was drunk.) Crane is still skeptical--octopi are small and shy. But what if there was a giant variety? (I understand that that is quite possible.) Nelson is excited by the scientific possibilities, and naturally has Crane plot a course for Norway. They use the full diving sequence, adding the destination on at the end.

    Arriving at the shoreline of the village of Tana, they use a full surfacing sequence. Fishermen on the beach are busy about their boats and nets, but gradually all attention focuses out in the fijord. Crane and Nelson, in full uniform, are brought ashore in a rubber skiff. By the time they arrive, the only people remaining on the beach are reporters. Either Nelson is quite well known abroad, or he wired ahead that he was coming; one of the reporters immediately addresses him by name. The doctor treating Rolvaag has announced that he can recieve visitors today--it looks as though he will live. The reporters add that the superstitious locals will not speak of any sea monster.
    As they approach what is presumably Rolvaag's house, a young woman peers out the window at them. She moves to another room to check on Rolvaag, who's asleep. She steps back into the main room, obviously very agitated about something. In the bedroom, a man slips through the window and approaches Rolvaag, who awakens in time to see what's happening. He claws at the man's coat as the man smothers him with a pillow. Nelson, Crane, and the reporters arrive at the house. The girl tries to put them off, but the doctor, hearing voices, welcomes them in. Dr. Andersen is a fan of Nelson's (so perhaps the reporters did recognize him by sight). The doctor goes to check on Rolvaag, and finds him dead. The girl, following him in, spots a button on the bed and snatches it up. There is no comment on Rolvaag's sudden death, in spite of the fact that the doctor had reported that he would live.

    In the local tavern, as Nelson and Crane come in, conversations abruptly die. They walk up to the girl, who again tries to put them off, but Nelson is charmingly persistant. She suggests that the locals see the submarine as a bad omen. She also mentions that she is a schoolteacher, drafted into serving as a nurse for Rolvaag. The doctor has already left town, and the reporters, bereft of their story, have left as well. The girl seems certain that Rolvaag died in an accident, not an attack. Crane suggest that finding the wrecked dory will help clarify matters, but the girl scoffs at the idea of finding anything in the Tronda fijord. Nelson and Crane head back for the Seaview, feeling very suspicious of everyone. After they pass a parked car, Rolvaag's killer gets out, accompanied by an older man, and they hasten into the tavern. Out in the fijord, the mini-sub is sent out, while Seaview rests on the bottom. Sparks listens to the mini-sub's reports--which don't account for much. Frustrated, Nelson has the sub recalled, and prepares to return home. Sonar suddenly picks up odd sounds; a long-scale pinging that can't be identified. Nelson has the sounds piped in--buzzing murmurs and squeaks. They send for Curley--the "human sonar"--to see what he makes of the sounds. Whatever it is, it's coming closer. Curley can't identify the sounds, but finds them similar to the sounds of whales. Just as Nelson is laughing at this, a collision rocks the Seaview. Sonar can't identify what attacked them, but it's not necessary--Curley stares out the nose at a mass of gigantic catfish, who seem to find the Seaview quite fascinating (or maybe they've spotted all the tasty morsels standing inside). They now have their proof that something is odd in the state of Norway. They surface for a look around. A small boy (perhaps acting on a dare from his schoolmates, or simply curious) rows out to the Seaview and is allowed on board. The boy chatters away in Norwegian, confounding Nelson. Either someone realized the problem and sent for Crewman Gartern, or else Gartern happened to be on hand--he's Norwegian, and can question the boy. The boy has never seen a monster, and knows no one who has, but he does know that the fishermen were attacked in the Luda fijord, not the Tronda--the Luda fijord is a forbidden area. The boy's father suddenly bellows at him to get himself home. (Even if you don't speak Norwegian, you know that's what he's saying.)

    Having moved over to the Luda fijord, Nelson opts to send out divers rather than the mini-sub, led by Crane. (In spite of the fact that the men are all dressed in dark wetsuits, stock footage shows Crane emerging in a yellow suit.) There's some nice footage of the divers swimming through a lot of weeds. Someone spots a piece of the dory--and shortly after they find most of the rest, including the board with the name "Hummeren" on it. They make another find as well. Returning to the sub, Crane is carrying a chunk of tentacle, chopped off from a much larger piece that was too big to carry. As Crane shows off the tentacle, liquid pours out. It may have been just a trick of lighting, but the liquid looked white, giving an impression of some unpleasant body fluid--a nice touch if it was deliberate, a lucky bonus if not. Nelson identifies it as a very small part of the monster. On shore, binoculars spot the Seaview surfacing in the Luda fijord. Rolvaag's killer, the older man, the girl, and another man look apprehensive--the Seaview must have found the dory and the missing tentacle. The older man wants to stop their experiments. The killer, Lars, is indifferent to the deaths of three men--who were just drunks, after all. He is certain that the villagers will not speak of what they know. There is no explanation of the hold that Lars seems to have over a whole village--if they had all gathered together (with or without flaming torches) they could have descended on Lars' household and dealt with him fairly easily. The villagers have been paid for their assistance in the past, and therefore, to Lars' mind, they share in the guilt of the fishermen's deaths--although Lars feels no such guilt himself. The older man and the girl obviously do. Lars speaks of his great contribution to science. The older man counters that, while the experiments made sense in the beginning, they don't any more. The monster must be destroyed--or he'll call the police. The girl, Sigrid, who turns out to be married to Lars, is unwilling to betray her husband, who promises to destroy the monster--but only after his experiments are completed. The older man--the girl's uncle--reluctantly agrees to wait.

    Nelson has found that the retrieved tentacle contained some pituitary derivative--a manufactured product used to promote cell growth, which makes it certain that the monster is not a natural phenomenon. A call comes in from Washington from a Dr. Townsend, following up an inquiry Crane sent out. There is one man living in Tana who subscribes to scientific journals--Oskar Delgren, who had disappeared from the scientific community ten years previously. His last public presentation was on crossbreeding of marine life, with his assistant Lars Mattsen. Delgren had been trying to breed seafood for the world at a low cost. Crane points out that this is an admirable goal, but how does it tie in to a man-killing monster? (How indeed? Octopus is an acquired taste--you'd think they would concentrate on tastier specimens.) Nelson and Crane head back to shore for some more investigating, starting at the tavern--but the barman claims to know nothing of any man named Delgren. Nelson claims to know all about Delgren's experiments, hoping to provoke some reaction. They get more than he bargained for. Back at the beach, Crane pauses to shake sand out of his shoe. Nelson comments that Tana is a nice out-of-the-way place for a man to experiment. Someone above them hurls a small boulder down at them, then takes some potshots. Crane circles round. The camera angles showing Crane creeping up on the gunman are very well done. Crane grabs the man, and they tumble off the ledge--actually, it looks as though Crane deliberately hopped off. Down at the bottom, Crane hauls the man up and slugs him, leaving the rest to Nelson. The man claims to know no one named Dalgren. He also states he was only trying to frighten them away, not kill them--he's a crack shot, and could have hit them if he wanted to. (No mention of what that boulder would have done if it had fallen a bit closer.) A stranger hired him. He scrambles away when Nelson mentions the authorities, and Nelson lets him go. They head back to the Seaview. (Crane presumably has a lot more sand in his shoes now, but probably does not want to pause again.)

    Lars enters a room that has an open area of water. He turns one of a bank of levers, and we see the giant octupus writhing about. The lever opens up some area, which lets out a swordfish. The octopus grabs at it. (If you look closely, you'll see that the fish grabbed at the surface is lacking a sword.) Lars looks at his creation affectionately before ascending a ladder through a trap door to the room above. His assistant, Otto, is concerned at the risk Lars takes going down there, but Lars enjoys it--and states that "my child" has to be fed. Sigrid enters the room. Nelson knows about her uncle and his experiments, although her uncle, as yet, doesn't know about it. Lars says that it's only a matter of keeping Dalgren and Nelson apart--Nelson will be gone in a week. I'm not sure how he arrived at this conclusion, having seen how persistant Nelson can be. His own experiments will only last a few more months. Sigrid has turned cold to his touch (in point of fact, he showed much more feeling for his octopus than he ever showed for his wife). She shows him the button she found--she knows that he killed Rolvaag. Lars tries to justify his actions. Sigrid is starting to realize just what her husband is capable of--but she's still unwilling to betray him. She puts the button down and leaves the room. Otto comments that Dalgren would not stand for it if he knew the facts of Rolvaag's death.

    Seaview is sitting on the bottom of the fijord. Sonar picks up something. A diver is approaching, carrying a ticking device. Learning of this, Nelson and Crane head for the Missile Room on the jump. Kowalski, sensibly not waiting for orders, is already suiting up. Sonar identifies a magnetic timing device on the hull. Crane sounds General Quarters. (I'd love to know where that expression comes from. Why not just say "Battle Stations"?) Nelson suits up as the outside diver swims away. He and 'Ski swim out under the hull (neat trick, considering that they're on the bottom). The enemy diver watches as they find the device and wrestle with it. Nelson yanks out some wires with shocking casualness, and the ticking stops. He indicates that he's going after the diver. Kowalski comes back inside--the device had been merely a wound-up timer, with no bomb. Crane thinks that the device was bait for a trap--and Nelson is swimming right into it. He calls for all available divers (although we never see them put to use). Nelson chases after the enemy diver, who obligingly keeps pausing to make certain that Nelson will not lose him. Nelson follows him into a tunnel that leads to the underwater pool room. He notes a dripping wetsuit hanging on the wall (the diver must have stripped off incredibly fast). He comes up the trapdoor to face a gun. Mattsen welcomes him. Nelson addresses him as Dalgren's assistant, and Lars sharply specifies "former assistant"--and implies that he is now better than his former boss. It rapidly becomes clear that any previous desire for a worthy contribution to the world has been killed off by his need to prove that he's a better scientist than Dalgren. He shows Nelson one of his smaller experiments--a useful food fish (that also supplies rare chemicals) has been crossed with a strong fighting fish to make it more able to withstand predators. Nelson brings up the matter of Lars' "Seafreak". Lars, for no logical reason, wants to match his "Seafreak" against the Seaview--and too bad about the 124 men who will die if the Seafreak wins the day. Millions of people will eventually benefit (I'd like to know just how). Otto notes that the Seaview is diving (it must have hopped up from the bottom, only to submerge again). Lars prepares to take Nelson down to view his Seafreak (and provide a pre-fight snack?) Sigrid and Dalgren enter the room--Dalgren know knows that Lars murdered Rolvaag. Lars gives his wife a bitter look. He orders the three of them down to the pool room. Clearly, his wife is now seen as merely an obstacle to his scientific glory. Delgren grabs at Otto, who's holding the gun, while Nelson disarms him. During the ensuing fight, Lars goes below and heads for the levers. His anguished wife seizes the gun and tells him to stop. Lars ignores her threat, and Sigred nerves herself up and shoots him. He probably had time to wish that she was a better shot; he's stilll alive as he falls into the pool and into the arms of his "child". Nelson finally knocks out Otto. Dalgren shows him the shortwave set, then tries to comfort his stunned niece.

    The octopus heads straight for the Seaview--a worthy-sized prey. There is a major lurch. Nelson tries to get through on the radio--but they're all a little busy just now with Battle Stations. They can't shake loose, and leaks are springing everywhere. Sparks finally brings in Nelson's call. Nelson wants them to head for open water, but of course it's too late for that. He then tells them to power up and shoot a charge through the hull, even though it will put the ship at risk. The hull is charged, and sparks fly everywhere there's a panel to spark. The octopus drops away and falls to the bottom. Crane reports it "stone dead", although I'm not sure just how he concluded that--it's not likely that anyone wanted to go out for a close look. Nelson looks at the grieving widow and states that everything "will be" all right. One hopes for the lady's sake that he's right.

    What do you suppose happened to all those giant catfish? (If this episode had been made today, they probably would have noted the damage that such unnatural sized creatures would do to the local habitat.)
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