20th Century Fox continues to release Irwin Allen’s television series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in manageable sets that limit the impact on fan’s wallets with Season Three, Volume One, the first 13 episodes of season three, which ran from September through December of 1966. Season three is a turning point for some fans as the series moved its primary focus on Cold War espionage stories to science fiction and fantasy stories. Werewolves, plant monsters, and a lot of aliens replace enemy spies as the major antagonists for the crew of the SSRN Seaview. Allen had success the previous year with Lost in Space, which may have explained the increase of extra-terrestrials.
The stories don’t hold up well after 40 years, even unintentionally silly at times, although the actors get credit for always playing it straight. Relatives are sure signs of trouble for the crew, whether its Kowalski’s brother Stan from “Deadly Waters,” Patterson’s dead father from “Thing From Inner Space,” or Admiral Nelson’s ghostly ancestor in “The Haunted Submarine.” The only sub I have ever been on are the ones at Disneyland, so I can’t claim a lot of technical knowledge about them, yet I found myself surprised at the frequent use of firearms inside the vessel. I kept waiting for leaks.
The sets look great, although their size make the submarine enormous. The bridge looks great, especially the ocean water outside the windows. The special effects are hit and miss. Sometimes they work well, and can just as easily leave much to be desired. The model shots of the Seaview and the flying sub, known as FS-1, looked good. However, the flashing lights signifying an alien takeover of a man’s body and the photography and “costume” that make a komodo dragon appear to be a dinosaur stretch believability to its breaking point.
The bonus features for this set include episodic photos, publicity photos, and six minutes of interviews, including audio from 1966 with David Hedison, who played Commander Lee Crane. The most impressive is the inclusion of the panels from an entire Gold Key comic based on the series.
Aside from fans of the show, this season of Voyage will be a tough sell for any but the most serious of sci-fi television devotees. The best way to watch it is with a few friends who enjoy sharing laughs over bad television and alcoholic beverages. Dan and Hester Butler-Ehle have created a drinking game for the series, dealing with clichés, Seaview hits the ocean floor, and contra-clichés, a character who visits Seaview is still alive at end of episode. Although they caution against playing with season three, as long as you have a place to sleep or a ride home, you’ll be fine.