Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 2 Episode 11

The X Factor

Aired Monday 7:30 PM Dec 05, 1965 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • Don't get me wrong--it was a lot of fun. But silly. I kept thinking of episodes of "Batman."

    Come to think of it, Captain Shire has a good point when he says that a toy company is excellent cover for a spy ring. The combination seems so ludicrous.

    Security at the Nelson Institute can also be considered ludicrous. Dr. Liscomb is kidnapped right out in the parking lot, in broad daylight. One could assume that the man distracting the guard in the far background was doing so deliberately, but it was still a very poor showing.

    John McGiver is perfect for the role of the evil toyman. (There's a Batman villain for you.) We learn that Liscomb is a primary element for a very powerful new weapon (the "X-factor" of the title) but the significance of this is quickly swamped by all the "spy stuff". Liscomb is put through Kaber's conversion chamber to prepare him to be slipped past airport security. This is actually a quite effective scene. The toy background, plus the rather childlike background music contrast strongly with Liscomb's frightened screams. His appearance, however, was peculiar, to say the least. We find out later on that the conversion chamber gives the subject the waxy look of a mannikin, but that's not the impression I got. Rather, Liscomb looked as though the process had artificially aged him. I had visions of them walking this elderly-looking man past security people who were looking for a man of middle age.

    After the opening credits, Nelson (whose quarters have gotten another makeover) is called by an undercover agent at the Kaber factory, who notifies him about Liscomb's kidnapping. One wonders why this agent didn't call his boss, Captain Shire, directly. Nelson seemed to be unaware of Liscomb's kidnapping. Didn't his Institute see fit to inform him about the two dead men out in the parking lot--or haven't they noticed them yet? The agent, very carelessly, gets himself shot before he can tell Nelson where he's calling from.

    Kaber is understandably upset at finding a spy in his spy business, and decides to kill both Nelson and Captain Shire to keep his activities hidden. He finds that Shire is currently stationed at Pearl Harbor by consulting a little hula doll (how appropriate!). Quite oddly, he then burns up the paper with the information. I can't understand why; he'd already gotten rid of the enemy spy, and the paper required special equipment to read it, anyway. Why not just put it back in the doll?

    Nelson and Sharkey head off to Pearl Harbor in the Flying Sub, while Crane takes the Seaview back to Santa Barbara. While consulting with Captain Shire, Nelson does not leave Sharkey on guard aboard the sub, nor do they conceal it on the sea bottom. Instead, they just leave it floating out on the water (and how did they anchor it, by the way?) I wonder how many surfers, swimmers, boaters and other bystanders commented on that big, bright yellow thing floating out there. This highly classified submarine apparently doesn't have locks on its doors, either. An enemy diver comes right in and sabotages it.

    For a moment, it looks as though Nelson is going to realize the sabotage when he returns to the sub and finds a grip on the lower hatch out of place, but he merely kicks it back and settles in his seat. They must have gotten quite a distance before the sabotage kicked in--once they hit the water, they caught up with the Seaview pretty quickly. Sharkey's efforts to bypass the sabotage left him with burned hands for the rest of episode, which I thought was a very nice touch. Shire and Nelson decide on a direct, open confrontation at the Kaber factory, which gave Irwin Allen the excuse for a very long clip from the pilot episode. Considering that Kaber was trying to avoid suspicion falling on his factory, it was quite idiotic of him to mount such a spectacular attack--you could hardly pass it off as an accident! Nelson is the only one who survives--even though Kaber had determined to kill him. They put in a line later about Nelson being even more valuable than Liscomb--but the initial order had been to kill him.

    Another human touch for Crane--we see him nervously doodling as he speaks with someone about the attack. He orders Chip Morton to cancel shore leaves for the men--under the circumstances, you'd think they would have put off shore leaves until they had a better idea of what was going on. On the other hand, it gives us a chance to see Stu Riley's loud taste in jackets, not to mention Sharkey's irritating habit of assuming other people know what he has just been told--he chews Riley out for being ready to go on leave, leaving poor Riley to wonder what he missed.

    Rather than deal with Nelson promptly, Kaber elects to waste time showing Nelson around his place, starting with a view of Liscomb all made up as a giant toy soldier. There's a harrowing moment as they leave the room, as we see Liscomb's eyes frantically moving from side to side as they shut him back up in his box, proving that he's aware of what's going on.

    Having determined that Nelson is nowhere to be found at the crash site, Crane collects a posse and sets out for the Kaber factory. It's at this point that the story really becomes laughable--you can see it as either the end of a first segment of "Batman"--or "The Perils of Pauline." Kaber has shown Nelson his conversion chamber, and decides to give Nelson a direct demonstration. (Nelson handles this situation with much more dignity--not to mention wit--than Liscomb did.) Meanwhile, Crane, having cautioned his men about touching the electrified fence, goes straight up to the service gate and almost takes hold of it before they're interrupted by the arrival of a delivery van. The driver requests that the power be shut off while he opens the gate. Crane knocks him out with an incredibly flamboyant gesture--he nearly springs completely off the ground as he strikes. It probably would have been better if he'd done it more carefully, as the man recovers to warn Kaber in a matter of moments.

    Learning of the presence of Crane and Co, Nelson's conversion is delayed--which doesn't bother Nelson one little bit. Crane's group is cornered in a greenhouse. Why on Earth do they have a greenhouse in a toy factory? Crane and his men are disarmed before Crane grabs a hose (fortunately with the water turned on) and lets the guards have it. Again, they don't do a very good job in knocking the bad guys out, and they don't bother to disarm them--or pick up their own guns!

    Kaber starts up the conversion process again, although Nelson assures him that he needn't hurry. Sharkey cleverly deduces that a manhole cover in the vicinity might lead them to the power source of the factory, and they all dive in. They are pursued by a man who looks remarkably like a defector from the Seaview's crew. This man, with others, manages to corner Crane's group again, only to have Sharkey blast them with a burst of steam. They manage to shut off the power, which delays Nelson's conversion again (Nelson's really enjoying himself by this time). The nameless member of Crane's group has the sense finally to grab a gun, as does Riley. (Nameless was exceedingly fortunate, as he managed to avoid getting himself killed throughout this prolonged chase sequence.) They duck away from a burst of tear gas, and get out the way they came in. Once again, they haven't done a very good job of knocking a man out, and he recovers to turn the power back on.

    Kaber starts up the conversion process--again!--only to be interrupted by Crane and Co. In a supremely idiotic gesture, Kaber ducks into the conversion chamber, which, even if it hadn't been turned on, would have left him cornered. Freed from the table, Nelson instantly sets out to find Liscomb, leaving Sharkey to get shot down onto the table and start to go into the chamber along with Kaber.
    Crane keeps the table from going in, leaving Kaber to be converted alone. (Very convenient--they won't have to bother with handcuffs.) Crane checks out the wounded Sharkey by hauling his head up. Sharkey manfully avoids screaming in his captain's face, opting for a rather woozy look before sagging back onto the table.

    Back on Seaview, with Liscomb restored and the spy ring broken up, Crane does not react at all to Nelson's lousy pun. (This might have been prudence on his part--after all, Nelson is his superior officer.)