Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fifty Year Voyage: 1966 Chronicles “Monster from the Inferno”

The 1964-1965 television season marks the fiftieth anniversary of Irwin Allen’s classic sci-fi TV series VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, and we continue that celebration with a VOYAGE installment of an old project of mine – “The 1966 Chronicles”.

Before there was a TIAH Blog, there was “The 1966 Chronicles”. 

1966 was, and always will be, my absolute favorite year for pop culture.  And this is reflected in “The 1966 Chronicles”, but with an interesting twist.  “The 1966 Chronicles” was a series of TV episode commentaries, but written AS IF I WERE IN 1966, seeing these shows for the FIRST TIME, with the only the knowledge of prior seasons – and with ever so much the hint of an anomalous “glimpse of the future to come”.

Maybe you watched an old TV like this in 1966!  I wish I watched it with her!
So, if you were hanging out with me, or reading my writings on THE DAY AFTER THE SHOW ORIGINALLY AIRED, this is more or less what you’d get.  

The commentaries that made up “The 1966 Chronicles” were limited to those TV series that aired in Fall 1966, that were released on DVD at the time (prior to mid-2008), and were in my DVD collection.  That way I ACTUALLY DID watch the episode, and then commented on it. 

Thus, there were no reviews of BATMAN '66 and THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (not yet released), or BEWITCHED (didn't have it then, have it now). 

There were 22 installments in all, before I moved on to Blogging, and they are all eligible to become Blog posts, if you desire. 
So, let's go with the Fall 1966 premiere episode of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, Monster from the Inferno” - which, coincidentally, just aired on ME-TV Saturday evening / Sunday Morning, November 30, 2014, OVER FIFTY YEARS after the series premiered! (How about that!)

VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA: “Monster from the Inferno”  (Airdate: 09/18/66)

FantasticThe closer we get, the more these readings resemble human brain waves!”

So declares Admiral Harriman Nelson, to open the third season of what, after an outstanding second year, has become my favorite prime time TV series of 1966. 

 And what a delight it was to see that establishing shot of the Submarine Seaview gliding through the depths toward the eager Sunday evening viewers of ABC TV.  Yes, Richard Basehart as Admiral Nelson and David Hedison as Captain Lee Crane, two of television’s most unflinching heroes, are back for another year of underwater science fiction thrills.  

By now, the rest of the crew are practically old friends – Lt. Cmdr. Chip Morton, crewmen Kowalski and Patterson, and returning after an absence of the latter part of last season is the character of CPO Francis Sharkey!  Sharkey was last seen recovering from having been badly busted-up in the mid-second season episode “The Sky’s on Fire” many months ago but, happily, appears fit for duty again! 

Sharkey's back (Left) and so is Doc (Right). 

Something's Out There!  
And, just in time too… as the “Monster” from the title is a big, boulder-sized, disembodied BRAIN, fallen to Earth from outer space and radiating waves from the ocean floor that have caused a “thousand mile communications blackout”, which Nelson’s crew and “special guest visiting scientist” Lindsay (actor Arthur Hill) have come to investigate.  

The Brain makes First Contact.

Lindsay quickly falls under the influence of the creature, after having received a massive shock from it in the show’s teaser.  The Brain communicates with its newfound thrall, slowly at first before building in both Earth/English vocabulary and overblown intensity.  “In the water… I entered your mind… I speak to you alone…” 

Its telepathically transmitted dialogue is an odd mix of both spooky and hammy – delivered in the familiar voice of the LOST IN SPACE Robot, by the Robot’s voice actor Dick Tufeld!  Yes, really… Will Robinson!  

The Brain is taken aboard and stored in the ship’s lab specimen tank.  In short order, it also enslaves Crane, “takes over” the Seaview by interfacing with its computer banks, and energizes itself by drawing power from the sub’s nuclear reactor.  

As it becomes more powerful, it also becomes increasingly arrogant, spewing such over-the-top gems as: “In time, there shall be others like me – and then man will live to serve us – and only to serve us!”  And, of course, the expected:  “I grow in power all the timeFEEL MY POWER!” 

The Brain ultimately kills a rebelling Lindsay.  Nelson frees Crane from its influence, and overloads it with energy by pulling the dampening rods from the reactor.  Our lobed friend hardly goes quietly.  

I will not be defeatedWe were created to ruleNo living creature in the universe has ever stood in our wayThe galaxies have bowed their heads to usThere cannot… There MUST NOT be defeat!”  And, while we wonder if there are any “Anger Management Clinics for Huge Cosmic Brains” in outer space, Nelson ejects the creature back into the depths of the sea – where its over-energized form explodes into oblivion! 

As Nelson and Crane reflect on the episode’s events, sans their usual episode-ending coffee, we viewers do the same, having just witnessed a rollicking good adventure, chock full of the type of fun and excitement that is the hallmark of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA!  

How good it is to have it back, as part of this wonderful year for television science fiction and adventure!  More fathoms of fun to come next week – with a werewolf on board!

If you dare, there are previous installments of “The 1966 Chronicles” on this Blog for you to explore:  

The Fall 1966 premiere of LOST IN SPACE.

The Fall 1966 premiere of STAR TREK.


Chris Barat said...


"Are you pondering what I am pondering, Admiral Nelson and Captain Crane?"

"We think so, Brain, but there's just one more thing we don't understand!"


TC said...

And the tag line, spoken by Admiral Nelson, was, "It's been a long day." By then, defeating alien invaders had become a routine chore in the daily grind.

Joe Torcivia said...

“Pondering”, Chris?

“Pondering”… Hmmm! I can’t think of ANY characters who would do that, here on September 18, 1966!

Um, there was that member of Top Cat’s gang named “Brain”, but I don’t think he “Pondered” much of anything. So, in failing to get your reference, my face isn’t exactly “Red”… more, it’s just a little “Pink-y”.

Joe Torcivia said...

By the same token, TC…

I can think of only TWO previous alien encounters for Admiral Nelson and Captain Crane, as of September 18, 1966 – “The Sky is Falling” in 1964, and “The Monster from Outer Space” from late last year.

There was also that ROBOT that returned to Earth from a space flight in “The Indestructible Man” in 1965, but he doesn’t really count.

Actually, these were so good that I find myself wishing Seaview would encounter MORE alien visitors!

I’d really like to chat longer with you guys, but there’s a fresh, twelve-cent Gold Key issue of UNCLE SCROOGE by Carl Barks, waiting for me to read. Speaking of Aliens, it’s about “Micro-Ducks from Outer Space” ! I think it’ll be great!