Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea Season Four, Volume Two DVD Review

The Towering Irwin-O (Allen) produced an absolute television classic in Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea. It is in every way the template for what Gene Roddenberry later achieved with Star Trek.

voyage

Voyage ran from 1964 to 1968, and the first two seasons were shot in black and white. The final 13 episodes of the series have just been released as Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea Season Four Volume Two. It is a three-DVD set, and it is fantastic.

I am a bit of a “Trekkie” as you might notice from my profile picture. Be that as it may, I believe that every single episode contained on this set stands up well (and often tops) anything the original Star Trek series came up with. Obviously, the difference is that the mighty Seaview submarine is underwater. But this is certainly no deterrent to hostile aliens, the ghost of Blackbeard, or Earth-bound enemies (read Russians), intent on world domination. Only the Seaview, and it’s counterpart -- the Flying Sub, can save humanity.

First of all, the look of these episodes is simply magnificent. Irwin Allen will always be linked to “cheesy” effects with programs such as Lost In Space and Land Of The Giants. Okay, fine. I defy anyone to show me a program airing on network television in 1968 that has the richness of tones that Voyage does. Shots of the Seaview underwater or Flying Sub literally flying above the ocean, then submerging, are just beautiful.

Then there are the stories. How can you deny “The Lobster Man?” He is an alien from a crustacian planet whose intent is to turn Earth into a total ocean for his people to colonize. Later we get “Flaming Ice,” featuring the Frostmen. The Arctic Ice-Cap is melting, causing huge tidal waves and mass hysteria. Seaview is sent out to investigate and finds aliens from a sub-zero planet heating up the Cap to get their spaceship out. A lot of these plotlines make no sense at all, which is part of the fun.

Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea is science fiction at its best. As a bonus, the set offers up the original, unaired black and white pilot, plus the more dramatic version -- complete with the commercials that aired with it. The commercials themselves are a hoot. We get ads for Allerest allergy meds, Breck shampoo, and (my favorite), one for the brand new Teflon product, made by DuPont, complete with the kicker line: “Better living through chemistry.”

By 1968 (the year these episodes originally aired), the Baby Boomers had taken those words to heart. Sometimes one looks at shows like Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and thinks, “That guy must have been on acid.” I know that is not the case. But Irwin Allen came up with something mighty special with this series. I know that Star Trek found its second life in syndication, and I firmly believe that was from the sheer power Desilu Studios exerted. You want I Love Lucy? Fine, you take Star Trek too. If Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea had ever gotten the exposure it truly deserved, this would be a very different article. In the end, it is simply me shouting to the (most likely) already converted. It is worth repeating though. The final 13 episodes of this Irwin Allen production are 100 times better than what you may (or may not) remember. Truly excellent TV.

By Greg Barbrick

About the author

Greg Barbrick has been watching TV so long he remembers watching first run episodes of Star Trek.

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1 Comment
On: Thursday, February 3, 2011
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

"Better living through chemistry." 

Can't believe that was used to pitch a product, and without irony! 

Seriously, I would love to check out this show as a big fan of the original Trek, sounds like really cool stuff. Thanks Greg !

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