Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Series Basics and Episode Landmarks, Season Four.
Courtesy I.A. Fan, Ray Westafer

A brand-new selt of wheels and claw arms for the Flying Sub

     Fourth Season Landmarks

    The fourth season of Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea premiered September 17, 1967. There were again 26 episodes, and with them, Voyage crossed the 100th episode milestone. This landmark remained unbeaten by an American science fiction series until Star Trek, The Next Generation. For the record, Captain Crane (David Hedison) was in all 110 episodes of the series. The 1966-67 seasons of Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and Lost In Space are generally considered the weakest of both shows. Although ratings were good, everyone involved knew both shows had more potential. The 1967-68 seasons were therefore targeted for improvement.

     With the demise of The Time Tunnel, Irwin Allen could focus his attention and staff on these two classics, and it showed. Lost In Space went through a transformation similar to the one Voyage experienced with its second year. Significantly, there was a new vehicle, the Space Pod, whose creation was obviously influenced by the successful Seaview/Flying Sub relationship. Also notable was a change in format, with the Jupiter 2 in flight, rather than marooned. The VTTBOTS format did not lend itself to the infinite possibilities of outer space, but Allen and his team still pushed the envelope, showcasing:

    1. Chip Morton.
    2. New props and hardware for the Flying Sub.
    3. Many new special effects.
    4. New incidental music.
    5. A wild car chase.
    6. Some First Year-type drama.
    7. New Diving Bell Adventures.
    8. A revised theme and new opening credits starting with the ninth episode.
    9. Dynamic plots, including a trip to Venus, a volcanic lava pit, intense Nelson/Crane conflicts,             a jungle-choked Seaview, atmospheric ice caves, and a cavern full of flying saucers!

     The fourth year was full of adrenaline, and a string of exciting episodes kept the pulse pounding. One might say the fourth year was full of testosterone, as there were no females at all this season.

     Episode Specific Landmarks:

     Episode 1, "Fires Of Death": Season Premiere! The Seaview spins on her axis. First use of the Flying Sub's full-size stern prop. Motion Picture-level set design and special effects. Great make-up too (by Hollywood makeup master Ben Nye.)   
    Episode 2, "The Deadly Dolls": First use of the restyled pull-down laser control. Two of Voyage's most famous guest stars: Vincent Price and the Nelson Puppet!
The ill-complected Victor Jory turns in an over-the-top performance as Dr. Albert  Turner.
Victor Jory has seen better health.  From "Fires of Death"

    Episode 3, "Cave Of The Dead": First use of the Flying Subs manipulator claws. The Flying Sub's landing gear is visible for the first time. Some of the best Nelson/Crane dialogue. Richard Basehart's rambling, distracted Admiral Nelson is a classic. Based on the legend of the Flying Dutchman, this episode gives new meaning to the expression, "skeleton crew"!

Mr Morton in outer space.
Bob Dowdell set for wild ride in "Journey With Fear."
        Episode 4, "Journey With Fear": Chip's greatest adventure. He does astronaut duty; and he is temporarily blinded. The Seaview launches Chip's space capsule. The dive/emergency klaxon now sounds like a police cruiser. The only visit to another planet. Bernard Herrmann music from Journey To The Center Of The Earth provides a unique mood for the Venusian landscape.

     Episode 5, "Sealed Orders": The slow motion scenes include an abstract version of the Paul Sawtell theme.

     Episode 6, "Man Of Many Faces": Lee Crane owns a Shelby Cobra roadster. Pushes the envelope with gritty drama and a fresh car chase.  Stock footage of the Flying Sub launch is inverted so we get to see her and the Seaview from the starboard side!

     Episode 8, "Time Lock": Interesting new views of the Control Room "rock and roll" from outside the observation windows, including the closing of the collision screen.

     Episode 9, "Rescue": A new opening is introduced with a re-scored Paul Sawtell theme. (The new opening in the second year was also introduced with the ninth episode.) These are the credits which freeze-frame the teaser and lead through to the sonar scope action stills of Basehart and Hedison. (They are similar to the new "countdown" credits on Lost In Space.) On a trivial note, the word "and" is inserted for the first time between the actor's names. Surprisingly, the Seaview is not in this opening! The closing credits and theme remain unchanged.
Rock and roll from a wet point of view.
Control Room rock and roll shot from beyond the transparent ports.  Note the bubbles.

    Episode 10, "Terror": The Seaview and the Flying Sub fire on each other! The discussion in the finale is eloquent of the Nelson/Crane chemistry.

     Episode 12, "Blow Up": The most intimidating character in the whole series--Richard Basehart's portrayal of a paranoid Admiral Nelson.

     Episode 14, "The Return Of Blackbeard": A refreshing plot twist places Chip aboard the Flying Sub.

     Episode 16, "The Lobster Man": January 21, 1968: Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea airs its 100th episode!

     Episode 20, "Man-Beast": The Diving Bell is launched a record four times. The Leith Stevens score creates a different mood for this thriller. Some of David Hedison's best work.

It's a junle out there!       Episode 21, "Savage Jungle": Pushes the envelope with jungle-choked sets. The crew's slow carbon dioxide poisoning is a Voyage classic.

     Episode 22, "Flaming Ice": Rare later season appearance of the Conning Tower set. Standout features include a frozen Control Room. Gelid's dialogue is a cut above the usual "we shall conquer you" drivel.

    Episode 23, "Attack!": Episode percolates with unique music and costumes, a note on pacifism, a cavern full of flying saucers, and a landmark action scene of Sharkey, Crane and Nelson diving into a lagoon. Robek's "noxious weeds" speech is heavy material for an Irwin Allen production.

     Episode 25, "The Death Clock": The Flying Sub's stern prop is used again.

     Episode 26, "No Way Back": March 31, 1968. The 110th episode! Season Finale. Series Finale.   Sequel to "A Time To Die". (Mr. Pem returns.) All regulars appear except Doc. (Patterson has a cameo.) The Nelson Institute for Marine Research is included too. Most gut-wrenching scene of the series. (The teaser, where the Seaview is -----------------.) The last line of Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea is spoken by Admiral Nelson: "I'm afraid the world isn't quite ready for that yet."   
     From 1964 through 1968 something special happened on ABC TV.
Henry Jones as the  Quixotic Mr. Pem.
Henry Jones as Pem, one last time

---Ray Westafer

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