Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

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The Menfish
The Mechanical Man

Production information and notes by Mark Phillips
Story synopses, Mike Bailey

 

The Menfish  Airdate: March 6, 1966
       A doctor (Borgman) aided by his assistant (Hansjurg) has developed a process involving human pineal glands that turns fish into "Menfish."  Problem is, it kills the humans who "donate" their fluid.  Unaware that the two have been blacklisted by the scientific community, Admiral Nelson has granted them use of Seaveiw to complete their experiments.  But Nelson is tied up at a scientific conference, and old friend Admiral Park is on hand to greet the two, renewing bad blood between Park and Borgman (the Admiral was responsible years before for jailing Borgman for conducting his fatal experiments on humans.)  
Rear-screen projection provides a very real looking manfish.
Fish into menfish.  Why not?  We can do it!

John Dehner saw the throat and went for it.
Dehner goes for the throat as Borgman
  It's not long before a crewman (alas--poor Bailey) turns up dead and Borgman has himself a new manfish.  Admiral Park enters Borgman's makeshift lab in the missile room, discovers his latest experiment, the tiny manfish, and becomes irate.  He's about to abort the mission when Borgman pulls a gun, and with Hansjurg's help, does a  quicky operation on Park, installing a mind-control link in his brain.  Park thereafter proceeds to dance to Borgman's tune; he OKs the scientist's every request in a way that on a good day, would drive Admiral Nelson nuts. 

     Soon, menfish are haunting Seaview's hallways and bursting through her bulkheads as menfish will do.  All but one eventually succumb, but this one, having exited Seaview grows to titanic proportions.

Great L B Abbot and Howard Lydecker miniature work.
Watch out for them flyin' sparks.
Seaview fires a charge through the hull.  In year two, there was budget to individually animate these things.
Manfish versus Seaview
Crane versus (electrical) sparks.
Manfish versus big honkin' charge!

Great closeup of the Flying Sub.
Flying Sub rises to the task.
     Hansjurg's conscience kicks in and he wrecks Borgman's mind-control unit, freeing Park, who uses the Flying Sub to launch a volley of laser blasts into the monster manfish, sending him to Davy Jones's Locker.  
Damn them lasers!
Manfish no match for laser blast.


The Menfish 

Written: William Read Woodfield,
Allan Balter
Directed: Tom Gries
Guest Cast:
Admiral Roy Park....Gary Merrill
Dr. Sten Borgman....John Dehner
Hansjurg....................Vic Lundin

Guest Cast (cont.)
Johnson.....................Roy Jenson
Manfish.................Frank Graham
Diver..................Lawrence Mann
Bailey..................George T. Sims
Doctor..................Wayne Heffley
Collins....................Ray Didsbury
Forrester......................Ron Stein
Crewman......................Lou Elias


Captain Crane surprised by bursting manfish.   David Hedison says:  "I remember there was a great scene where I’m walking down a corridor and as I turn the corner, Whammo!  The manfish breaks through the wall and attacks me.  Now that was a nice stunt!"

Mark Says: Any realism is quickly destroyed by John Dehner’s campy mad scientist routine, which is better suited for the 1930s horror films. It's also unfortunate that such a good actor as Gary Merrill gets turned into an emotionally-flat slave so quickly. This episode is pretty standard and almost cartoonish but the last 15 minutes showcases Voyage’s best monster vs. Seaview struggle. The giant monster scenes are absolutely spectacular and this thrilling payoff is worth waiting for.
 

David Hedison and Gary Merrill


Mike Says:  Even in his absense, why was Nelson, a top scientist, oblivious to the fact that Borgman had been blackballed by the scientific community?  One wonders.  The script reads like a bad comic book.  Actor John Dehner took this tripe and ran with it for the nearest goalpost, flattening everyone and everything who/that got in his way.  It is painful to hear him ranting about "my menfish" and how he will create a new super-race.   Not that there isn't budget-o-plenty on screen -- there is, and that's part of what hurts -- that decent money was spent to create this silliness, which would have been more at home in Voyage's third season.  Thrilling pay-off or not, here's an episode that really deserves the deep-six.  Regardless of the circumstances, Richard Basehart must have been happy to miss this particular outing.  Who's to blame?  The story editor, writer(s), John Dehner for going over the top, and director Tom Gries for letting him.



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The Mechanical Man  Airdate: March 13, 1966
Drs. Paul Ward and Peter Omir are conducting a Mohole research drilling operation to reach the earth's core from the ocean bottom.  The thing is, Omir's not a man -- he's an android created by Ward, who now suffers from the Frankenstein syndrome -- Omir's got plans and not necessarily a healthy respect for his creator. When Ralph Verdon, a representative of the International Science Congress learns Omir's holding back on a new element which could provide limitless energy, he's furious.       One of many fantastic miniature shots created for The Mechanical Man.

For his trouble, Omir knocks Verdon out with an electrical charge, then absorbs his life's energy, a process which kills him and wreaks havoc on Seaview, causing explosions and shorting equipment and basically tipping off the crew that something funny is going on. 

James Darren and Arthur O'Connell. James Darren puts the heavy hand on Robert Riordan.
James Darren looking good on Seaview's big screen TV.
Omar and Dr. Ward.
Ralph Verdon strongarmed, about to die.
Crane and Morton getting suspicious.


Pressure on the Mohole project is building into the danger zone, a condition which threatens the entire world with earthquakes, tidal waves and worse.  Omir "fixes" the readings on Seaview so that they falsely register acceptable numbers, even as the drilling continues and the pressure mounts.  Ward tries to convince Omir to slow the drilling, but to no avail.  Eventually the driling structure comes tumbling down.

 

The real reading.



Great miniature drilling rig. Too much pressure means no good for miniature drilling rig. At least the base is left.

  Crane becomes suspicious and eventually attempts to stop the drilling and seal the shaft.  After much see-saw action, Crane confronts Omir at the underwater base only to learn that the android plans on converting him into an android as well.  Ward finally musters his will and turns on Omir, disintegrating both himself and his creation.  The earth's balance returns to normal with the project ended.   Ward meets his maker, takes Omir with him.

The Mechanical Man   

Written: John & Ward Hawkins
Directed: Sobey Martin
Guest Cast
Peter Omir.............James Darren
Paul Ward.......Arthur O Connell

Guest Cast (cont.)

Jensen.............................Seymour Cassell
Van Drutan.............................Cec Linder
Ralph Vendon...................Robert Riordan
Repairman...........Darryl Scott McFadden
Newscaster.........................Bartell La Rue


Mark Says: A dull android, a dull scientist and dull story. Although diving bells are destroyed, caves shake mightily with underground tremors and expensive miniatures are destroyed in a cataclysmic climax, this episode is totally uninvolving and it fails to capture.


Mike Says:   The themes herein could have made a tight and ecologically conscious story, but they lose steam and direction as the episode progresses.  James Darren always seemed a bit stiff to me when not pushed by a good director, and Sobey Martin was not, in general, the one to push.  All of this said, this production is vastly superior to the previous outing, the execrable "The Menfish" and is marginally satisfying.  And hats-off to LB Abbott and Howard Lydecker.  The miniature effects created for this outing are expansive, varied and finely executed.



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