Tuesday, May 31, 2005

a childhood of underwater sundays

“Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” was a sci-fi series that aired from 1964 to 1968. It is much less known than other series like “Star Trek”, though it is essentially an underwater “Star Trek”, or “Lost in Space”, the most famous series created by “Voyage” creator Irwin Allen. It starred Richard Basehart (whom you may recall as “Wilton Knight” from the first couple episodes of “Knight Rider”) as Admiral Harriman Nelson and David Hedison (who played “Felix” in “Live and Let Die” and was also on “The Young and the Restless” for about three decades) as Captain Lee Crane. Both men also had single-episode roles on “Perry Mason”, “Hawaii 5-0”, and other assorted character actor vehicles of the time. Their “Enterprise” was a giant suckerfish-looking futuristic submarine with the unfortunately unimaginative moniker of the “Seaview”. There were races of sea people to encounter, some friendly and some hostile, mostly living in “Sealab”-like underwater bubble cities or under one giant snow globe-looking sphere. There were giant sea creatures, of course—mainly jellyfish, as they were most easily faked in the primitive special effects of the day. I also think they battled a couple of giant underwater cyclopses over the course of the series, stumbling dramatically and very “Trek”-like from one side of the bridge to another during each week’s climactic skirmish. It was longer running than “Trek” and just as campy, from what I recall, though it has never received a fraction of the post-mortem attention. Maybe it had something to do with the bland, unimaginative sets or boring khaki uniforms. Perhaps it just goes to show the power of Shatner.

At any rate, I mention it now because the series never fails to pop into my head during each of my bi or tri-annual church visits. It was there a couple weeks ago when I sat in the First United Methodist Church of Florence, AL on Mother’s Day. The local ABC affiliate always played “Voyage” after “Looney Tunes” and just before we had to leave on Sunday mornings during my much more church-active childhood, and I have been unable to disassociate the two ever since.

When I got home on Mother’s Day I was happy to find a number of websites, some with “Voyage” drinking games, on the Internet. I have yet to find a church based on the series but do not doubt that there possibly exists on in some corner of the universe.

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