Fox // 1968 // 663 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jim Thomas // March 10th, 2011
The submarine Seaview is commissioned to investigate the mysteries of the seas. Usually it finds more problems than answers...
With this set, the Seaview lurches into the drydock of cancellation. If Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: Season 4, Volume 2 is any indication, said cancellation happened a couple of seasons too late. To give you an idea of the creative wasteland that is this set, just check out the episode titles:
* "The Return of Blackbeard"
* "Terrible Leprechaun"
* "The Lobster Man"
* "The Abominable Snowman"
* "Secret of the Deep"
* "Savage Jungle"
* "Flaming Ice"
* "Edge of Doom"
* "The Death Clock"
* "No Way Back"
Season One was pretty good; there was more political intrigue, and they brought in some good writers. Things degenerated into monster of the week tedium quickly, though, perhaps reaching an absolute nadir in Season Four's "The Lobster Man." Sadly, the title isn't the most ridiculous thing about the episode -- that distinction goes to the Lobster Man's explanation of how he can speak English and knows so much about Earth -- including everyone's names. You see, all of the sound produced on Earth traveled billions of miles through the vacuum of deep space, finally reaching the Lobster Man's planet. In space, no one can hear you scream, but in my house, my wife can hear me beating my head against the wall. When I explained why I was beating my head against the wall, she joined me (she's a science teacher).
There's also "Secret of the Deep," in which the sub is rammed by a sperm whale, which Capt. Crane calls a "big fish," even though he has to know it was a sperm whale, because a sperm whale rammed the Seaview back in Season One's "The Ghost of Moby Dick" (They just recycled the footage.). Richard Basehart (who, ironically, played Ishmael in John Huston's Moby Dick), probably made good money playing Admiral Nelson, designer of the Seaview, but the toll the series took on his soul is obvious. He's pretty much going through the motions here, barely hiding his disgust at the scripts. David Hedison (Licence to Kill), as Captain Lee Crane, goes in the other direction, throwing all of his considerable energy into each script, no matter how ridiculous. He singlehandedly salvages a couple of episodes, particularly "Nightmare" and "Man-Beast."
On the plus side, the show looks fantastic. Someone did a great job on the restoration, and because they only have two or three episodes on each side of the three flipper discs, there are no discernable compression artifacts. As a result, you get to enjoy the cheesy special effects in all their glory, whether it's seeing the same footage of the flying sub over and over again, or watching the model of the Seaview twisted back and forth or diving at sixty-degree angles.
With the extras, Fox may have set a record for the number of permutations of a given episode to be released. The broadcast version of the series pilot, "Eleven Days to Zero," was included in the Season 1, Volume 1 set. The first season was broadcast in black-and-white, but the pilot was shot in color, so the Season 4, Volume 1 set included the color version as an extra. This time out, we get two more versions of the pilot -- the unaired version originally screened for studio executives, and the version as originally broadcast. What's that, you say? Didn't you just tell us that the broadcast version was included in the very first set? Why yes, yes I did. This version, however, includes the commercials; apparently, a deodorant company was a major sponsor. Don't get me wrong: the pilot is certainly interesting, if for no other reason than showing just how far the show fell from its promising beginning, but enough is enough, guys.
Avast, ye guilty swabbies! The show is consigned to Davy Jones' Locker. Arrrrghh!
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 663 Minutes
Release Year: 1968
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Two Pilot Episodes
* Image Gallery
* Wikipedia: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (TV)