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Series / Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

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Nelson, Crane, and the Seaview.

A 1964-68 Irwin Allen Sci-Fi show starring Richard Basehart as Admiral Harriman Nelson and David Hedison as Captain Lee Crane, and set on the experimental nuclear-powered research submarine, Seaview. The ultimate use of the Recycled Script: almost every episode can be summarized as "Monster of the Week is defeated by Laser of the Week." The first season, filmed and broadcast in black & whitenote , featured more serious and thoughtful stories, along with a greater Cold War emphasis. When the series switched to colour starting with the second season, it was used as an excuse for a big dramatic storyline during the switch, and the introduction of a new version of the ship.

Based on the 1961 film of the same name, in which our heroes defeat a global heat wave (caused by the then recently discovered Van Allen radiation belt catching on fire) through Deus ex Nukina. No, seriously. The movie's storyline was later on recycled as a series episode titled "The Sky's On Fire", complete with copious amounts of Stock Footage from the motion picture.

An aquatic recycling of Wagon Train, it preceded Star Trek: The Original Series by two years. Compare with its Spiritual Successor SeaQuest DSV.

Voyage to the Bottom of the Tropes:

  • Adaptational Badass: The Admiral Nelson of the movie never sees any physical action. The Admiral Nelson of the series sees his fair share of fistfights, shootouts, espionage field work and running away from (and blowing away) monsters.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: The Admiral Nelson of the movie is an Insufferable Genius that edges enough on The Neidermeyer that an important plot point is people within his ship (especially the movie version of Crane) actually hoping that his theories are wrong. The Admiral Nelson of the series is a pretty serious example of A Father to His Men.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted in "The Human Computer". The Seaview's new ship-controlling computer system works fine. It's the enemy saboteur on board that's the problem.
  • Air Vent Escape: Played with in "The City Beneath the Sea", where plugging up an air vent, rather than crawling through it, leads to Crane and the Girl of the Week escaping. Played Straight in many episodes afterwards.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Aliens invariably invade the Seaview, and only the Seaview, instead of Tokyo, New York City, or other such places that aren't isolated arenas several fathoms under the sea.
  • Alone with the Psycho: "The Human Computer" takes advantage of this trope to create a Bottle Episode with a Minimalist Cast (except for the first 10 minutes or so). The Seaview is chosen for the trial run of a computer that will operate the sub automatically. Crane is supposed to be alone on board, but a Soviet saboteur has stowed away with orders to steal the computer's secrets — and also kill Crane and Make It Look Like an Accident so the Russians won't be held responsible for an act of war. Most of the episode consists of Crane and the spy stalking each other throughout the ship.
  • Bald of Evil: Most of the members of the villainous group in the pilot ("Eleven Days to Zero") sport this.
  • Batman Gambit: "The Last Battle" features two of these.
    • Nelson is kidnapped by a group of latter-day Nazis, who have been grabbing geniuses and faking their deaths because their leader, Schroder, wants to Take Over the World and use his captives as the basis of a new Master Race. Nelson gets the other prisoners to help him build a MacGyvered telegraph so he can send the Seaview their location. Unfortunately, this is just what Schroder wanted, since his real plan is to capture the Seaview, use its nuclear missiles to start World War III, and create the Fourth Reich out of the ashes.
    • However, the Admiral turns the tables with a side order of Xanatos Speed Chess. Nelson's next plan is for the captives to create primitive bombs to blow up Schroder's operation. But then, we learn that Schroder has anticipated them again because one of the prisoners is a mole who de-activated the bombs! Fortunately, Nelson has already seen through the traitor and re-activated his bomb. Bye bye, Schroder.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: The titular monster from "The Abominable Snowman" seems to be a straight example at first, but turns out to be a human scientist who's somehow been transformed into a murderous mutant by his own Weather Control experiments.
  • Blob Monster: In "Cradle of the Deep", Dr. Janus is a well-intentioned scientist who puts the Seaview at great risk as part of an experiment to create life from inorganic matter. All he gets for his trouble is a glowing, pulsating thing whose uncontrolled growth puts the ship in further danger. In the end, he helps Nelson destroy the creature — at the cost of his own life.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Both being brainwashed to kill your friends and being almost killed by your brainwashed friends were consistent threats on the Seaview. Practically Once an Episode consistent.
  • Body Snatcher: If it wasn't brainwashing, the other ever-present threat was having your body taken over by malevolent aliens/ghosts/etc. Captain Krueger's use of this trope is probably the show's best example, since "The Phantom Strikes" was well-received enough to warrant a rare sequel, "The Return of the Phantom".
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: When Crane is captured in "The Silent Saboteurs", he's allowed to live because the villains want to question him about the Flying Sub, although he's warned that he'll be killed if he tries to escape.
  • Chummy Commies: While the show is far more likely to feature Dirty Commies when communist countries appear, there are exceptions. "Hot Line" features two Soviet scientists, Malinoff and Gronski, who are sent to help deactivate the nuclear reactor aboard a crashed Soviet rocket before it irradiates the nearby San Francisco. Both men act polite and helpful toward the crew, and while Gronski is an imposter and saboteur, the real Gronski behaves pleasantly before he's killed or drugged and then replaced. Malinoff undergoes a crash course in diving so that he can deactivate the device underwater without complaint and cordially drinks a toast with the Seaview's officers at the end of the episode.
  • Cold War: Several episodes, especially in the first season, use this as a backdrop.
  • Cool Boat: The flying submarine, as well as the Seaview itself.
  • Cool Plane: The flying sub, introduced in the second season.
  • Decoy Protagonist: In "Eleven Days to Zero", the original pilot, the narrator introduces the original captain of the Seaview, John Phillips. Phillips is shot dead less than five minutes later.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: "Time Bomb" shows how this trope can go wrong. Crane poses as a Russian soldier to find Nelson; however, Nelson sees him from the back and attacks him. Fortunately, he soon gets a look at Crane's face and recognizes him.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: In "The Lost Bomb", we learn that Chief Sharkey's full name is Francis Ethelbert Sharkey, and a lifelong friend who shows up on the Seaview needles him by calling him "Ethel".
  • Fail Safe Failure: In the first season episode "Doomsday".
  • Fictional United Nations: The "World Government" that issues missions to the Seaview.
  • Fish People: Voyage was a sci-fi series with an underwater setting that often used Monster of the Week plots, so it's not surprising that the crew of the Seaview encountered characters like this occasionally.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The downed alien in "The Sky is Falling" is quite ugly by human standards. So, when talking to Admiral Nelson, it takes on a form it feels Nelson wouldn't find offensive: that of Nelson, himself. And it later does the same for Capt. Crane.
  • Framed Face Opening: Used in the Title Sequence from the second season onwards.
  • Gag Dub: Episode "Werewolf", where one of the protagonists is infected with a germ that turns him into a werewolf with the reactor core's radiation, was famously gag-dubbed by Mexican comediant Trino into the protagonist "getting" AIDS in the hand from Captain Patterson, going to the reactor core to take a dump believing it's the restroom, and transforming into a monster from the AIDS.
  • Heroes "R" Us: The Nelson Institute of Marine Research.
  • His Name Is...: In "Secret of the Loch", Scotland Yard Inspector Lester radios Nelson and Crane that he's found out the truth of what's going on at Loch Ness. And he's killed by the fake Nessie just before telling them the rest.
  • Leprechaun: "The Terrible Leprechaun" has twins - one good, one evil.
  • Mildly Military: The Seaview technically belongs to the NIMR, but the crew is comprised of civilian and Navy personnel. They're at the government's beck and call, which is presumably why they're trusted to pack nuclear missiles and single-handedly guard the world from undersea Communists and space Nazis.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: How "The Peacemaker" starts. Scientist Everett Lang helps an unnamed Asian nation (which is probably not Red China) develop a "proton bomb" that could destroy the world, reasoning that the country's Premier will be able to force the world to make peace. Once the job is done, the Premier declares that any peace will be on his terms, then has Lang and his assistants machine-gunned because they know too much and are no longer needed. Lang somehow survives and immediately decides to go back to the West.
  • Not the Nessie: The Reveal of "Secret of the Loch".
  • Ocean Punk: The oceans are another Cold War battlefield, and if the men of the Seaview aren't dealing with spies they're fighting monsters, aliens, spirits, science run amok and oceanic versions of the Negative Space Wedgie.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Italian-British Gia Scala actress isn't the most convincing Russian scientist in "Jonah and the Whale."
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: In "The Mermaid", Captain Crane captures, well, a mermaid, who is depicted as a vaguely flirtatious Cute Mute with telekinesis.
  • Perverse Puppets: The titular puppets in "The Deadly Dolls". Most of them steal the bodies of the crew members, but one, the delightfully creepy Nelson-puppet, remains in puppet form throughout the episode.
  • Plant Person: In "The Plant Man", the titular creature isn't really an example; it's more of a monstrous mutant that attacks anyone in its general vicinity.
    • Plant Mooks: Ben Wilson wants his scientist brother John to create a whole army of the things that will do his bidding.
  • Pursued Protagonist: “Turn Back the Clock” begins with Jason Kemp fleeing from dinosaurs at the Earth’s core and fashioning an air bag from some shed dinosaur skin to escape underwater. However, it turns out that he isn’t exactly a protagonist and his cowardice got two colleagues killed.
  • Recycled Title: The series did two unrelated episodes titled "The Creature".
  • The Remnant: One episode dealt with a Japanese holdout from World War II.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: Like Beverly Hills, 90210 decades later, the series had a different theme tune on exactly one episode - Jerry Goldsmith scored the season two opener "Jonah And The Whale" and wrote his own rather more serious theme to replace the brighter Paul Sawtell one. You can hear both themes here. He would later return to Irwin Allen territory.
  • Sealed Orders: In the aptly named episode "Sealed Orders", the orders are to dispose of a Neutron Bomb but the crew isn't informed until they are near said bomb's location.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Missile officer Corbett does this twice in "Doomsday". First, he can't bring himself to turn his missile key when a war alert is sounded. Then, he refuses to set a missile to explode beneath the ocean's surface, which would keep the episode's Fail Safe Failure secret from the public.
  • Spot the Imposter: A variation comes up during "The Silent Saboteurs". Crane is leading a mission into the Asian jungle to foil a plot against the American space program. He's supposed to rendezvous with a Major Li Cheng, but two agents (a man and a woman) show up, both claiming to be Cheng! Which one is telling the truth? Neither one, because the real Cheng is dead. However, the woman is working with the Americans, while the man is a traitor.
  • Stock Footage: Lots. "Irwin Allen" is basically synonymous with this trope. For example, the Seaview dove out of control into the seabed with monotonous regularity, always hitting the same rock. After the first few times, you'd think they'd move the rock.
  • Stock Scream: The Wilhelm Scream can be heard during the assassination that kicks off "Eleven Days to Zero".
  • Title Scream: During the Title Sequence.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The series was set during The '70s, roughly a decade ahead of when it was made.
    • "Doomsday", from the first season, sets the year at 1973, but it changes from episode to episode.
  • Twin Telepathy: In "The Plant Man", Ben Wilson and his scientist brother John share this. Unfortunately, Ben is a budding supervillain who abuses this power to order John around.
  • Victory-Guided Amnesia: The end of "Destroy Seaview!". Admiral Nelson is Brainwashed and Crazy for most of the episode, but once he returns to normal he doesn't remember anything he did in that state.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Everett Lang from "The Peacemaker". After the Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal incident, he helps Nelson retrieve and disarm the proton bomb... or at least, he pretends to. What he actually does is make himself the only person who can detonate the bomb, then demands that every nation disarm its nukes within 24 hours or he'll use it to destroy the planet. After the situation is resolved, Nelson says he hopes Lang will be judged for his methods, but not his goals.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The episode "The Sky Is On Fire" is one to the original movie, compressed in fifty minutes.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: The premise of "Time Bomb". American intelligence sends Nelson on a mission to confirm that the Soviet Union is storing illegal nuclear materials. However, the whole thing is a setup; a Femme Fatale Double Agent has secretly injected him with cesium, so he'll set off an explosion as soon as he's close enough to the radioactive stuff. This will trigger a nuclear war between America and Russia, leaving Red China (the instigators of the Evil Plan) in a position to be the last superpower standing and Take Over the World. Can Crane, a female American agent, and the femme fatale (whom they're forcing to help them) find Nelson in time to warn him?
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: An early example is Jenkins from the first season episode, "The Amphibians". Experiments give him the ability to survive underwater, along with heightened senses and strength, and makes him power-mad.