This was a rather spectacular (by 60s standards) sci-fi underwater adventure with some of the FX still good even today, an academy award winner leading the cast, and an emphasis on action that made more modern sci-fi shows such as “Seaquest” look and feel weak and derivative. Unfortunately, this show ultimately became overly formulaic to the point of exasperating redundancy and it shows through in this collection.
In these 13 episodes we have Captain Crane and others brainwashed by aliens into destroying Seaview, Admiral Nelson brainwashed by Russians into destroying Seaview, Crane brainwashed by a re-animated mummy into sabotaging the Seaview, Crane and others brainwashed by a giant, anemone-like seamonster into taking over Seaview, Crane and others brainwashed by more aliens into….hell, I’ve lost track.
Also, it seems the scriptwriters have discovered a new toy, and they wield it like a newly pubescent boy. That is (drumroll)….the CIRCUITRY ROOM! Ta-DA!! Yes, folks, you get to watch at least a half-dozen times back to back as various villains and monsters make their way to this curiously unlocked vital area and wreak havok by pulling plugs and wires while the sub rocks and rolls and sparks shoot out of the consoles for some reason. Running concurrently will be the liberal use of plastic explosives to blow open hatches in several episodes as well (again, back to back).
Further, many of the episodes here are rehashes of the first half of this season. Nelson has a recurrence of his lycanthropy from an earlier 3rd season episode, another heat monster menaces seaview, more aliens need the sub’s reactor, etc. Then, there are episodes with plenty of stock footage from previous episodes recanned as new stories. One episode, “No Escape from Death” is composed almost entirely of this footage and almost made me not buy this set, it offended me so badly. This is just plain lazy writing, and the worst part is that some of these episodes might have seemed a lot better if they had been separated from the others thematically, rather than foisted on an unsuspecting public like some kind of collection. Richard Basehart seems so frustrated that he rudely snaps out his lines, while Rob Dowdell tries hard not to roll his eyes once or twice if you look close. David Hedison just looks like he wants the day to be over with.
I must make mention of one other aspect of this series. Since its premiere, we have seen that they keep small arms in various places. Here is a list of what I’ve seen so far:
1. Arms locker in the bow of the sub.
2. Arms room somewhere among the corridors of the sub.
3. A pistol in a small compartment next to the control room
4. Nelson keeps a pistol in a safe in his quarters.
5. Crane keeps a pistol in the desk in his quarters.
6. A crewman surprised by villains while at work pulls one
out of his toolbox!
7. A crewman attacked among storage shelves pulls a pistol
out of what appears to be a cigar box(?!!).
Why do they bother to arm themselves when they use their weapons on each other far more than on any enemy? I mean, I hate political correctness as much as the next guy, but this is a bit much.
Don’t get me wrong, I have some personal favorites here, such as “the Fossil Men” and “the Creature”. “The Wax Men” is an unusual gem here as it really does create a creepy and disturbing atmosphere. As a fan, you can enjoy these as long as you aren’t expecting much. Just bear in mind that these are the episodes that gave weight to the harsh criticisms leveled against this show. I had been enjoying these sets immensely, and halfway through the 3rd season, figured my memories of many bad episodes were over-reactions on my part, but this set brings home to me why the show had been an embarassment to some. It practically made me feel cheated by the producers.
I’ve read that there are several good episodes in the first half of the final season, so I look forward to it, but must recommend this one (and probably the last half of the final season) to fans and compleatists; if new to Voyage, this is probably not the place to start.
Look in remarks and you’ll see I was corrected on an error. Thanks are in order to Mr. Reginald Garrard. I thot Basehart had won the AA for his role in “Moby Dick” with Gregory Peck, but I guess, though nominated, he didn’t go home with the trophy.
Was this review helpful to you?
Like my friend Kenneth said there is much in this compilation that is a rehash of episodes and seasons past that can be condemned. However, there are still some highlights that can be savored.
Of course, the principal actors, all eight of ‘em (Richard Basehart, David Hedison, Terry Becker, Del Monroe, Paul Trinka, Richard Bull, Arch Whiting, and Robert Dowdell, , get their share of screen time. But, careful eyes will notice the “unnamed crewmen” – the blond guy, the brown-haired guy, the short Latino, and, yes, the black guy – bouncing around in several installments, with no lines but their appearance is noticeable. They can “rock and roll” with the best of them as the Seaview experiences another explosion or attack from a deadly creature.
There is an extensive use of stock footage but there are some installments that provide some new glimpses of the Seaview, the Flying Sub, and the control room.
As far as the individual episodes are concerned, I found something praiseworthy to be said about several of them:
“The Brand of the Beast,” a sequel to “Werewolf” is much more entertaining and better acted than its forerunner. “Werewolf,” in my books was just bad.
“The Creature” features veteran ham Lyle Bettger as the protagonist, a scientist linked to a malevolent plant growth.
“Death from the Past” has two fun Nazi’s from World War II trying to take over the world for the Third Reich. Don’t bother to understand how they hadn’t aged in thirty-five years. The ep is just loads of fun with guest stars John Van Dreelan and Jan Merlin as the swastika-wearing officers.
Though the effect is rather cheesy, “The Heat Monster” sports some wicked lines, delivered with relish by Jim Mills, who would pop up several times as the voice behind the “monster.” Alfred Ryder is the guest star and he puts in another memorable characterization.
“The Fossil Men” has rocklike humanoids attempting to take over the world (GASP!!!) and even though their existence is implausible, the premise is engaging.
“No Escape from Death” tries to muster up some of the drama of the more serious first season, incorporating a lot of sepia-tinted footage from that season into the storyline. ‘Not a bad show and it provided a interesting “explanation” on how the three crewmen were rescued from the belly of a giant jellyfish.
“The Mummy” recycles a lot of Bernard Herrmann’s score from the Gary Cooper/Susan Hayward film “Garden of Evil.” It’s the use of Bernie’s music that enhances a rather routine installment.
Finally, it is Robert Drasnin’s inventive score, along with the marvelous Michael Dunn as “The Clown”, which makes “The Wax Men” one of the best in the entire four-season run of the show.
As the reader can probably tell, I really liked this half of season three much more than the first half. Stories may have been rehashed but there was a little creativity in them.
I just wish there were some commentary from surviving cast members or some other extras, the bonuses that we DVD buyers have come to suspect.
But, considering that this may be the last set for some time, I suppose we should be grateful for having seasons one through three.
I sure hope they release season 4.I would like to have the whole show not just the first 3 seasons.This set is as the others are just fine”"I love all the episodes.Even the ones that some people think are bad.Its not complete without season 4 so please release it fox”"