of Watching
Voyage to the
of the


Mark Phillips, circa 2000, in familiar surroundings courtesy of computer manipulation.

By Mark Phillips

Happy birthday, Clay.

A young Mark Phillips toting
 wrapped Voyage board game
for friend's birthday-1967.

         I thought I had ruined my friend's birthday party back in 1967 and it was all because of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.  I was sure my gift, a Voyage board game, would please him.  But when he opened the gift, a dark cloud spread across his face.  He put the game away and opened the next gift.  The other kids wanted to play the board game immediately, but Clay refused and finally admitted to me, "That show kind of scares me, Mark.  I'll play the game when I'm older, okay?"

     His mother called my folks later, saying that Clay appreciated the game but that Voyage had scared him so much that his parents gave up watching the show.  I had heard of that reaction before.  My younger cousin ran screaming from our livingroom the minute she saw the giant squid in "Village of Guilt."  My Aunt was outraged and my older cousins desperately convinced her to let us watch the rest of the show.
     Being scared by Voyage was a thrilling roller coaster ride for me.  I shivered as The Indestructible Man smashed down bulkheads, with bullets bouncing off its impenetrable hide.  I wanted to warn the young newlywed couple who were eaten alive by the ravenous plankton during the first few minutes of "The Price of Doom."  I was angry whenever a Seaview sailor was mowed down by gunfire or killed by a monster.  I watched Voyage every week and considered it one of my favorite shows.

     What I didn't know then was that Voyage was often controversial.  It was designed as a straight-forward adventure show about a futuristic submarine battling enemy spies, stopping natural disasters and disarming threats of nuclear warfare.  However, the real-life Navy crew of the USS Jack objected to the show's lack of discipline, and Parents Magazine accused the show of stirring up "political hatred."
Watch out! Here comes more giant Plankton!
Giant plankton, filmed here in miniature, scared the daylights out of young viewers of Voyage's "The Price Of Doom."
The National Association for Better Broadcasts felt it was
"a nightmarish show, definitely not for children."  Clay and my cousin would have agreed with their assessment.

     The earliest memories I have of Voyage are from its first season as a four-year old.  It was broadcast Sunday afternoons on a Canadian channel.

     Yet as the series progressed, I don't remember the kids at school talking about Voyage.  In first grade I related the story of "Shape of Doom" to my classmates. It was about a giant whale that destroys a ship, swallows a 50 megaton bomb, attacks Seaview, then heads on a collision course with the Presidents aircraft carrier.  The kids listened intently but told me they preferred Walt Disney's animal shows and Flipper.

     My grandfather was a politician in Vancouver and often we would attend VIP dinners with him.  While visiting him in 1966, the Voyage episode "Deadly Creature Below" was starting on TV but we had to leave for a big meal at the Hotel Vancouver. I was disappointed because I had never seen Voyage in color before and it looked like a great episode.  Minutes after arriving at the Hotel, we were seated in a fancy dining room, and suddenly we all heard the sonar pings of the Seaview from the next room.  "They're watching Voyage!" my grandfather exclaimed.  He took me to the adjoining room and there were a group of   

It's the amazing two-headed trans-plant
"Deadly Creature Below"

mature and distinguished people sitting at a table, watching Voyage on a TV monitor.  I was at least comforted to know that some of the elite business people in Vancouver liked the show.

Around 1967, I bought my first Viewmaster, which featured 21 stereo reel pictures of "Deadly Creature Below."  But I didn't have a movie viewer, so my Aunt bought me a viewer and a Viewmaster reel called Wonders of the Deep.  "Mark, Wonders of the Deep will provide you with the history of the seas," she told me. I thanked her but reached for my Voyage Viewmaster instead.  "I want to see the Seaview fight the two headed jellyfish first!" My Aunt was not impressed.

     On the other hand, Richard Basehart and David Hedison once appeared as guests on The Mike Douglas Show, wearing their black flight jackets.  I couldn't have cared less.  I went outside to play.  As a kid, the plots of Voyage appealed to me more than its heroes, unless they were fighting rampaging monsters."

When our family moved to Creston, Canada in 1968, Voyage had been cancelled, although I only had a dim realization that the show had run its course.  Some months later, a group of us went down to a local pond covered with green scum.  Darrin, one of the older kids, decided to test his Aurora model of the Seaview.  He had two strings attached to the conning tower and one at the rudder.  Two miniature hockey players, which he had gotten from a cereal box, were glued on top of the bridge, alongside a tiny Canadian flag.  He gently pushed the sub out into the pond and we watched in disbelief as the sub turned on its side and started to sink from view.  "No, no!" Darrin screamed as he pulled the strings to retrieve the sub, but the strings broke loose and the model quickly sank.  Bubbles rose from under the green muck.  It was an ill-conceived launch and I was the only kid who understood the significance of seeing the Seaview lost forever.  No one considered salvaging the sub, since the pond was deep and filled with biting water bugs.  The Seaview is still down there at the bottom of that pond.  Darrin tried to convince me to give him my unassembled Aurora kit so he could try another launch but I refused.  He sheepishly bought a unsinkable toy speedboat instead.

Doomsday--one of Voyage finest hours.
"Doomsday", a classic episode, but alas,
for young Mark, no scary monsters.
When our family moved back to the States in 1970, I discovered Voyage playing at 7am on KIRO-TV on Saturdays.  Dragging myself out of bed was not easy and occasionally I'd fall back to sleep.  These were all b/w episodes, mainly espionage shows and while they were fun to see, I was disappointed in the lack of monsters.

     In 1972, our family spent the summer in Northridge, California and I saw Voyage listed in the newspaper.  "The crew faces a monstrous mummy!"

     Good grief, for the first time in four years, I had the chance to see a color episode. I couldn't believe my good fortune.  I checked channel 56 that night and sure enough, the reception was crystal clear.  The next day, I turned on the TV, anticipating action, adventure and excitement.  What I got was static, fuzz and noise.  The station had simply disappeared during the daytime and I was incredibly disappointed.

     During 1973-1974, Voyage was airing to great ratings on Seattle's KTTV channel 13.  Unfortunately, we lived outside of Seattle and couldn't get the station.  I could only read TV Guide story synopsis's about prehistoric islands, seaweed monsters and time travelers.  Occasionally, we visited Seattle, and once I was able to LISTEN to the episode "Death Ship" (the picture was gone due to technical difficulties).  I also saw "Graveyard of Fear" and it confirmed my memories of how fantastic the show was.  It annoyed me that current TV fare such as Chase, The Magician and Six Million Dollar Man couldn't match this kind of excitement.

     In 1975, while visiting Pike Place market in Seattle, I accidentally stumbled upon a giant barrel filled with photographs from Voyage.  I couldn't believe it.  I plowed through the bin and dug out dozens of photos.  I only had 8 dollars on me, forcing me to select only the best, which included Captain Crane with a mermaid, Admiral Nelson trapped in a force field and beautiful Karen Steele posing against a control panel.

     A year later, I wrote to KSTW Channel 11, the leading independent station in Seattle, asking them to bring Voyage to the airwaves.  Their broadcasts of Twilight Zone and Outer Limits on weekends had been a big success.  A nice programming lady named Kathy wrote back and said Voyage had been secured for their schedule.  It soon debuted on weekends and from 1977 to 1980.  I finally saw all of Voyage.  The episodes ranged from the absolute best, such as "The Mist of Silence", to the dregs, like "No Escape from Death", which was a budget saver with stock footage.

     When the excellent first season episode "The Sky is Falling", about friendly aliens trapped on Earth ended, my Dad, not exactly a Voyage fan, exclaimed, "That was a great episode."  Generally, the series was still entertaining and well acted by a terrific cast.  Many of the special effects were still impressive.  There wasn't a shred of pretension in the show, which gave the series an innocent, endearing quality.     

Richard Basehart confronts aliens on of Voyage's best science-fiction episode.
1st season smash hit, "The Sky is Falling"

     But I was surrounded by a malevolent media that enjoyed taking swats at Voyage with cowardly, dismissive attacks.  A critic for a major Seattle newspaper got the bright idea in 1974 to conduct his own poll of the worst TV shows ever made.  Me and the Chimp, Queen for a Day, Gilligan's Island and I Dream of Jeannie were the top "nominees," along with Voyage, which he called, "an endless spool of mindless material...a yellowing rerun of annoying nonsense."  The now defunct newspaper Monster Times labeled Voyage "a nauseating loser" and Movie Monsters called it "a kids show masquerading as science fiction."

     Even the Seaview was demeaned when the sub appeared as stock footage in a Wonder Woman episode in the late 1970s.  Now retitled "The Stingray", Seaview was a enemy drone sub that ended up being blown to bits by Wonder Woman.

     Kate Jackson proved to be a kinder soul when she appeared on a retrospective of ABCs past programming in 1978.  "When TV producers ran out of ideas, they looked up, and then they looked down," she said.  "Waaaay down, to the bottom of the sea."  The

Hunting for Cap'n Ahab I am.
Effects genius L.B.Abbott's whales theatened Seaview on more than one occasion.

resulting clip, of the whale swallowing the diving bell in "Jonah and the Whale," was scratched and faded but it was still an effective tribute to Voyage.  When the clip was over, the celebrity-laden audience erupted into enthusiastic applause.

End Part 1,
Memories of Watching Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
 by Mark Phillips