| Sunday, May 17 2009 @ 02:56 PM EDT
|ELEVEN DAYS TO ZERO
Music-Paul Sawtell (some of which is on CD)
The Robot from LOST IN SPACE (okay, not the Robot but the same voice--Dick Tufeld) says, "This is the Seaview, the most extraordinary submarine in all the seven seas. Its public image is that of an instrument of marine research. In actuality, it is the mightiest weapon afloat and is secretly assigned the most dangerous missions against the enemies of mankind. In command of the Seaview, Captain John Phillips; and in overall charge of scientific projects, the creator and builder of the fabulous ship, Admiral Harrimin Nelson. This is Seaview's top secret submarine base. It is carved out of solid rock and is located on the southern California coast, 500 feet beneath the famed Nelson Institute of Marine Research. Few men know of its existence and fewer men even suspect its purpose." While this narration goes on, we see shots of Seaview, the Captain, and the Admiral; then the secret base. A coded message 777 from Washington DC comes in via seaman Kowalski to Admiral Nelson's code 452. Nelson asks for confirmation. A car drives out of the secret dry dock base of Seaview. It goes to the main gate where the painter on top of the gateway paints a large white X on the roof of the car which contains Nelson and Phillips and a few other officers. The motorcycle escorts are attacked by a helicopter which kills the motorcycle guards and Phillips with machine gun fire. The car crashes. Nelson jumps out as the car burns and we see a shot inside and out of this--as the car turns over and over, the window bursts into flames and the interior follows--killing the men still alive in it. Nelson shoots the assassin who was firing now from the ladder of the helicopter. The man falls off and into the ocean. A slip of the effect of him falling and then inter cutting of him falling into the water provides a jerky transition but it is an adequate scene and a fantastic start to the series--a wild move was to kill off what was supposedly the main character of John Phillips. The unaired color pilot of this episode has a different main theme but the syndicated version of the black and white version has the regular Seaview theme.
Titles of ELEVEN DAYS TO ZERO look like the VOYAGE logo--wavy letters designed to look like the ocean churning. Nelson and others in a large room watch films of hurricanes, floods, dams crashing down, and other disasters. Nelson claims in 11 days a titanic wall of water will destroy the coastal regions of half the world. Seismologist Dr. Claude Selby and his aide Dr. Fred Wilson (played with panache by Ed Albert) verify Nelson's findings. The Bering Straits, Hawaii, the British Islands, Western Europe, and the East Coast will all be affected (some sources claim Russia and Japan are mentioned--but in the black and white aired episode they are not). One of the men dressed in a lighter officer outfit, supposedly a General (maybe from the Air Force, Marines, or Navy), claims they should evacuate at once. This man is smoking. Wilson suggests they adopt Nelson's plan for the President's approval--successful evacuation would be impossible. The plan: detonate a nuclear device near the North Pole which will break the force of the tidal waves created by the two massive earthquakes. Nelson reminds them four of his best men and Capt. Phillips (some sources say Mark Phillips) were killed by a power with which they are all too familiar--they want death, all governments crippled, and world domination. The plan is voted in and the Chairman (who reappears in MIST OF SILENCE) tells Nelson the Secretary requisitioned Capt. Lee Crane from the Navy. Nelson calls him a fine officer who served with him on the old Nautilus. Wilson has had some dealings with him and finds him an unimaginative, by the book officer. Nelson explains he will take his chances with Crane, ignoring Wilson's assessment. The Chairman offers Nelson a cigarette from the case on the table, warning Nelson the enemy was really gunning for him. The cigarette case is later in the enemy control room (how it got there seems to be a mystery--the opposing General who voted "Nay" may have been a spy). The General who voted "nay" was smoking, left the meeting first, and was sitting closest to the cigarette case. This General was wearing a blue officer's outfit (Army? Marines? Air Force?). Two of the men in the mostly foreigner-like populated complex looks American or British) with a tape of the chairman's warning to Nelson and probably the entire meeting. At first, I thought perhaps the chairman himself was one of the enemy. The enemy leader is called Dr. Gamma in the credits but as far as can be seen, the name Dr. Gamma never appears on the broadcast episode. Another important side note is that in the original color pilot ELEVEN DAYS TO ZERO, it is quite clear that Dr. Gamma is played by Werner Klemperer (of HOGAN'S HEROES) and the lines are the same but the voice is different; however at other times, it is clearly Theodore Marcuse. The aired black and white version cuts out close ups of Werner's face. The color pilot differs in other ways as well: the Dr. Gamma scenes are well lit as opposed to the black and white aired version which are dark and dim. The leader wants to exploit the misfortune of the western world and make Seaview fail in its mission. Crane sneaks aboard Seaview in dark clothing, going into the conning tower, and down into the control room. Kowalski--Ski for short, CPO Curley Jones, seaman Malone and other men stop him finally--but he punches Ski first. This was a test. Crane yells, "Your security should have stopped me before I came on board!" Later while readying for the mission in the Missile Room, Ski tells a teasing Malone that Crane must have been wearing brass knuckles. Curley arrives and Malone asks what the poop is. Curley looked up Crane's service record--he was intercollegiate middle weight boxing champion (for 2 years). Malone is impressed, "No wonder he decked you, Kowalski." Nelson brings Wilson to the deck outside and he is cold to Lee when Lee says a warm hello to him. Wilson just responds with, "Oh, hello, Crane." Lee tells Chip Morton, the exec, to hurry and get them underway. In his cabin, Lee is putting on a tie, checking it in a bathroom mirror when Ski comes in with his gear. Lee tells him he will stow it and apologizes to him about his jaw. Ski says, "Forgive me for asking, sir," but he asks if he served with the Admiral before to which Lee responds yes to--his first Navy assignment. SKi tells him the Admiral considers the Seaview crew pretty special. Crane reacts hot tempered yells at Ski who merely tells him Nelson is waiting to see him right away in the observation nose. Crane lightens up and slaps Ski's shoulder, "Why didn't you say so in the first place," and leaves, more at ease. Lee comes down the nose ladder to see other officers, Chip, Wilson, and Nelson there, planning. All but Nelson leave. Nelson questions Lee's method of entering the ship. Lee found the gate search thorough enough but the security aboard lax. Nelson yells his own back at Lee now, then tells him he didn't get very far (Malone had pulled a gun on him). Nelson tells Lee that someone recently declared Lee unimaginative but Nelson himself finds that an exaggeration---Crane's own entrance proved his imagination. Nelson tells Crane not to think of the crew as a ragtag civilian crew--they are highly trained specialists in a wide variety of fields. Sparks calls; Seaview is to dive soon; Lee may open their secret sealed orders. In Nelson's cabin, they talk about the orders. Seaview and crew are to be considered expendable but Nelson hopes Lee will bring them all back alive. He calls Lee, "Lad," and tells him he cannot tell the crew about the mission--the crew can take their pressure for themselves but if they knew about their families being in danger--the sub could become a floating pressure cooker. Lee was a bit confused at first--in the Navy he told his crew every detail of every mission. Nelson tells him in a sense they are at war with a worldwide force, that they should run submerged. Seaview is ordered by Lee to dive. Stock from the movie shows us an elaborate dive sequence. Lee watches on the periscope as the water moves over the sub's bow and stern (it isn't anything like what Seaview should look like but it will do). At 90 feet, Lee orders Chip to set them at full speed ahead. Chip asks, "In these waters?" Crane says, "That's right, Mr. Morton." Ski whispers to Malone, "How do you like that--a routine cruise to nowhere and he wants to kill us getting there."
The enemies track Seaview. In the nose, Lee tells Wilson he knows his job when Wilson reminds him about planting the bomb and getting Seaview as close as possible to the ice floes. Nelson tells him Seaview is not expendable until after the triangulation adjustments are made. Seaview shakes; Lee and Nelson run up. Depth charges hit--a strange looking drone plane is dropping the charges. Seaview vertically dives to 1000. Stock footage from the film is of men shaking. These include a man in the hallway with a food tray, men in the Mess Hall and Crew's quarters. The music by Paul Sawtell is fitting and sounds very like the Max Steiner score for the original KING KONG (a compliment to Sawtell). Nelson mentions radar can't reach Seaview now (radar---that's for up in the sky). Missiles and firing systems are knocked out. A crewman's voice (obviously Del Monroe's) from the Missile Room asks, "Captain, what the devil's going on?" Nelson tells Lee to tell them as little as possible. Crane tells them it is top secret and they are now on war alert. Sonar has intermittent readings. The sonar mast has been knocked loose and dragged along the hull. Nelson feels this could end the mission--navigating under the ice without it is suicide. Reminding him he didn't volunteer, Ski complains to Malone that Crane has kicked his compass but Malone already feels, "The Skipper knows what he's doing." It is 6 days to zero with no time for evacuation as Nelson and Wilson figure it while conferring in the nose. Seaview is on the bottom. Wilson feels that they have blown it. Lee suggests they go out and find the mast, surface, repair it in one hour, and get going again. Lee will go with the two divers; Nelson protests--Lee is too valuable to the mission but Lee counters with him with, "If we fail nothing will make much difference." Nelson tells Lee to pick his men. Malone and Curley report to Crane, who is suited up, in the Missile Room. Curley presents himself and Malone as the crew's best divers. Lee wonders about Curley, who is a bit overweight, "Sorry, Chief." Curley wants to go. Nelson tells Crane, "Don't judge his ability by his looks, Lee, he's a fish underwater." Crane lets Curley go and Curley smiles. Wilson tells them he will be the fourth. Crane warns him, "That's no swimming pool out there, doctor." But in reality it was! Wilson suits up, telling him he happens to be the best diver on board. Crane uses sarcasm, "Forgive us, we almost left without you."
A word about the first season: the stories and characters were all very good with only a few of the goofy episodes that would later permeate the third and fourth seasons. One thing it did not have in its favor is the look of the sub and other hardware. The second season is much more preferable in design of the Seaview. For one, the design looks more modern in the second season, even if it is not realistic--the Flying Sub could not fit in the front of the Seaview--if you compare the interiors with the exteriors. This is not too hard to overlook.
I do feel that having the nose on one level and the control room on the other as in this first season takes away from the enjoyment of the show. Characters spent lots of time going up and down the ladder to and from the nose area. The Control Room crew, instead of looking out the viewports, would have to watch the action on a screen or, worse, on sonar and radar. This, while much more truthful, did not help the stories move along smoothly, nor did it help visually.
Thus, the second season, making the nose and the control room all one area is much more direct with its action and movement from window nose to the Control Room than this first season. In season one, the action had to either be split between nose and control room or had to stop so we could see what was going on above in the control room or below in the nose. And this limited what characters could take place in the action above or below. Season two took care of all that by making the nose and the control room together, eliminating story time spent going up and down from one to the other. It made sense and was one of the best things the show ever did. The Flying Sub also helped bolster the more modern look.
The first season also reminded me a bit of the old FLASH GORDON chapter serials---I bring this up at the point in the review where the divers go out the tubes. The tubes in this season were a sorry affair. Not only did they look flimsy but unreliable and very old for the 1970s. In addition to this, the piping, hatchways, and especially the hatch exit out of Seaview, have an antiquated look about them that just does not bode well for a futuristic series. Fortunately, most of these ancient looking set pieces were replaced for Season Two, where Seaview looked very modern and futuristic, if a bit too big and improbable. The black and white also added to the older, classic look along with Paul's music, which, while excellent, reminds one of the old FLASH GORDON chapters, the Universal 1940 FRANKENSTEIN series, films from the black and white TARZANs (some of which Sawtell scored), and 50s monster movies. More on this with VILLAGE OF THE GUILT. Everything seemed a bit too "old" for this to be a scientific, upbeat, progressive series and that all changed in year two.
Nelson and Chip watch the divers swim past the nose windows. The music is quite beautiful here. Crane sees a swordfish-shark which he spears with a spear gun. Just then a squid attacks him just as he seems to find what they are looking for. The squid attack, lifted from the movie, is effective. It grabs him in a tentacle and whirls him toward it.
The divers use spear guns on the squid, which is giant. They free Crane, with Wilson doing the most to stop the monster. They use flares on the creature. One of the divers grabs the squid's tentacle in what looks like a flub. The squid bleeds as the men attack it some more. Back in the Missile Room, Crane jokes how he feels like a sore loser..., "And I do mean sore." Crane thanks Wilson, who returns with the very small sonar mast...or a part of it. Wilson seems to lighten up a bit, "I told you I was the best diver aboard." Seaview surfaces for repairs. We then cut to a nice medley of scenes, accompanied by some of the nicest music ever used on television. Seaview continues on. They reach under the ice floes, some ten to twenty feet thick. The sonar man gets a flash reading astern. Nelson feels they may have to blast their way out of the ice but the firing system isn't yet repaired. There are two hours to zero. A sub is coming at them. The enemy on the sub (voice heard only) calls the enemy leader and his men. The sub is ordered to open fire. It attacks Seaview via the movie stock footage of the sub chasing the Seaview down below crush depth. Seaview rigs for attack, hearing the missiles pass. Wilson wonders how they can outrun a torpedo. Lee answers at the same time as he orders into the mike, "Dive! All dive!" He also asks Nelson, "This is your baby, Admiral, how much pressure can she take?" Nelson feels about 2400---the other sub cannot take that much, Nelson says, "She'll blow." Crane spouts, "She'd better!" Seaview is at 3200 feet. The enemy sub is ordered deeper and it blows up. Seaview shakes. Seaview surfaces nose up (stock from the movie). The enemy leader orders Drone 4-C to resume attack. Lee, Nelson, Ski, and Chip watch from the conning tower as the Snow Cat (with Wilson and Malone in it) leaves Seaview. There is also a huge bomb on a carrying tractor and a ramp from Seaview to the ice. The Snow Cat (which makes an appearance in THE HEAT MONSTER) leaves with one hour and twenty minutes left before the first quake.
The first quake hits Seaview, shaking Curley, an officer, and Nelson in the nose. Alarms go off, water hits Curley. Nelson asks for the figures to be run through number four computer. Wilson calls for a reading but the drone attacks again. The blasts hit the Snow Cat, Wilson and Malone get hit by ice. The plane went under Seaview's radar screen. Nelson waits for Wilson's report, "It may be all over--stand fast and wait is all we can do." Nelson was certainly a bit of a pessimist in this episode with Crane pulling the optimist. If Nelson were testing Crane's ingenuity and good outlook, it was a heck of a time to do so. Wilson calls in. The ice on Wilson and Malone looks kind of fake. The bomb is undamaged but Malone's leg is broken and Wilson took a shard of ice on the shoulder. The Snow Cat is buried under a ton of ice. The next quake is due in three hours and 44 minutes. Crane wants to go dig them out. Nelson asks, "And if you can't...?" Lee's answer, "Then you'll have no choice...pull the plug and scramble."
32 minutes before Seaview must dive. Chip, Ski, and Nelson talk on the conning tower. Ski asks if Captain Crane went out there knowing they might have dive without him. Crane and Curley move through some very nice snow effects (some of the only snow we see in Irwin Allen TV--the other moments include a few LOST IN SPACE sequences--SPACE BEAUTY and THE GALAXY GIFT). ELEVEN DAYS TO ZERO had a full fledged snow storm. Enemies make the drone return. Crane fires a flare, enabling Wilson to lead him to the Snow Cat. Ski tells Nelson and Chip that Sparks has lost all radio contact with the others--Crane and Wilson. There are four minutes to go. Curley and Crane get Wilson and Malone out and clear the Snow Cat. The missiles are repaired on Seaview. Chip warns Nelson they are five minutes past their dive time. Ski pleads, "We leave and they're dead!" Nelson yells, "And if we don't...everyone's dead!" The Snow Cat is moving now and moves out with the four men on board. Chip is ordered to prepare to dive and does so without hesitation--unlike when orders are given in the future seasons, in this season, orders, even orders the men don't like, are carried out right away. But the drone plane is picked up again. Nelson orders it to be destroyed...blasted out of the sky. Chip does this order...and the interceptors from Seaview's upper deck holes blow the drone up. We see the blow up from the enemy viewscreen. Chip then order all dive. Nelson sees something in the snow and yells triumphantly, "Delay that! There they are!" The reunion is a joyous one as it returns to Seaview, other men helping the foursome. The music must also be commended here, adding to the snow, joy, and danger of it all. Nelson orders a crash dive and they all prepare to clear the deck. Later in the nose, Wilson, his arm in a sling, scolds Nelson, "You shouldn't have waited for us. That double blast will kill everyone on board." They are 30 minutes too close to the impact. The second quake hits and the bomb goes off. Controls burst, Seaview shakes, alarms go off. Crane orders the nose camera on. Ice falls all over Seaview and we see it at the windows in the nose. There is 650 from keel to bottom. Seaview goes down to 1000. The enemy leader, bald, and an obvious parallel to Blofeld in the James Bond movie FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, tells his men a terrible blunder has been made--they have underestimated their adversary and overestimated themselves. While reminiscent of Blofeld, Gamma (if that is his name) is calm and doesn't kill off his own men--at least not the ones in the room with him as Blofeld used to do this. He tells the men they must never repeat this blunder.
Seaview's nose: water at the window as it hits surface. They will reach port in two hours. Wilson thanks Crane properly for saving his precious hide. Crane tells him he couldn't lose the best diver on board. Crane figures he'll be going back to active duty in the Navy; Crane adding, "Now that Seaview's job is over."
Nelson says, "Seaview's job is never over. As long as there are destructive forces in the world, as long as there are secrets of nature being probed..there'll be work for us on missions just as vital and dangerous as this one."
Curley delivers message--one that Nelson, he, and Wilson seem aware of already. The message tells him he is out of the Navy. Nelson tells him, "Of course, how else could you accept the post of permanent captain of the Seaview---that is, if you want it."
Crane smiles and nods at the two men. They raise their cups to the new captain of the Seaview.
REVIEW and NOTES: Paul Zastupnevich is the enemy controller of the drone in Gamma's headquarters. Lots of stock footage which would be a staple of VOYAGE throughout its four years. This one, while very good, is also quite strange: the heroes and villains never really meet, it being a contest of strategy. The footage fits in well. Unfortunately, the recent CD of this episode's music doesn't do it homage---most of it is missing and some of it sounds reproduced (poorly)---and the wait music during the fourth act is not there at all--too bad, it is a great score and should have been done justice. The conning tower is used most during this season and it looks great here. The entire Seaview deck is a bit on the thin side when compared to the model we see under the water and riding on the surface but it is adequate and also brave for just trying to be a standing set. The interplay between Wilson, Crane, Nelson, and the agitation between all including the crew and Crane (mostly Kowalski--who seemed to be a real complainer here) makes things most interesting. Wilson was a bit arrogant but in the end he lightened up. The Arctic sequences were well done and for once in an Irwin Allen production, it really looks like outdoor snow and ice! Mr. O'Brien also appears in this episode and the copy I've seen in syndication has the VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA logo reappear at the very end of the end credits.
Paul Sawtell music graced the following TARZAN movies: One of the first full musical scores for any TARZAN film--TARZAN TRIUMPHS (1943 with Johnny Weissmuller vs Nazis), TARZAN'S DESERT MYSTERY (1943-Weissmuller and with giant spider and several enlarged "dinosaur" lizards and Arabians--almost a practice session for his VOYAGE scores), TARZAN AND THE AMAZONS (1945-Weissmuller), TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD WOMAN (1946-Weissmuller-one of the best TARZAN films), TARZAN AND THE HUNTRESS (1947-Weissmuller and the last to feature Johnny Sheffield as Boy, the last movie to feature Boy who was named ONLY Boy), TARZAN AND THE SLAVE GIRL (1950-Lex Barker's second Tarzan film), TARZAN'S SAVAGE FURY (1952 and Lex Barker's fourth Tarzan film and one which had a new "Boy" named Joey), TARZAN AND THE SHE DEVIL (1953-Barker and also starring Raymond Burr as a baddie), and TARZAN'S HIDDEN JUNGLE (1955, Gordon Scott's first Tarz movie).
Nelson Riddle, best known of his 60s TV BATMAN fame, did several scores for TV's TARZAN show in 1966 to 1968 (Ron Ely was Tarzan with a boy called Jai). Riddle wrote season 2's ESCAPE FROM VENICE many parts of which were used again in season 2, 3, and 4.
Henry Kulky (Curley in VOYAGE) appeared as an eye patch wearing villain named Vredak in Lex Barker's first TARZAN movie called TARZAN'S MAGIC FOUNTAIN (1949), the movie which dealt with a fountain of youth type area in the jungle.