1/04/2011. Contributed by Rod MacDonald
region 2 DVD: pub: Revelation Films Ltd B004BFZA5U. 32 hours 9 DVDs 32 black and white episodes and extras. Price: GBP 39.99 (UK)) stars: Richard Basehart and David Hedison
check out website: www.revfilms.com
Irwin Allen (1916-1991) was a magnificent showman who worked in the movies and television. He will be largely remembered for making disaster movies such as ‘The Towering Inferno’ and ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ plus Science Fiction in the 1960s which included ‘Lost in Space’, ‘Land Of The Giants’, ‘The Time Tunnel’ and ‘Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea’. His shows were packed full of adventure and action with everything having to be as big and as fantastic as the sets allowed. In some ways, Irwin Allen was a kid let loose in a huge toy shop where nothing was impossible.
Having made a successful movie called ‘Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea’ in 1961, he then went on to make the TV series of the same name for 20th Century Fox Television. It was originally broadcast in America on ABC television. The first series contained 32 one-hour episodes shot in black-and-white and it is this first series which is reviewed here. It has been released by Revelation Films as a boxed set DVD collection containing nine DVDs, all the episodes and lots of extra features.
Irwin Allen's output was phenomenal. In making the four TV series mentioned above he surpassed anyone else in history because at one time he actually had three shows in production simultaneously. Apart from this he was also working on movie ideas. It's very doubtful if someone would be able to do this today but these were the swinging 60s in America, people were going to the Moon and everything was possible!
The first season of ‘Voyage’ ran from 1964 to 1965. At that time, the world was gripped in the Cold War between the West and the East and this was reflected in the content of contemporary television. It was a contest between the free world and the tyrannical despotism of communism, so we were led to believe and with so much at stake all media was basically a reflection of this war. We were not fighting physically on the battlefield but in the hearts and minds of people around the world and what better way to fight this than a TV series involving a super-submarine.
The submarine was called Seaview. On board, Admiral Harriman Nelson played by Richard Basehart and the man made up to Captain, Lee Crane played by David Hedison, were the main characters but there were lots of other regular stalwarts in the show. Unlike most other submarines, the Seaview had glass panels in its front so the occupants could actually see where they were going. Probably this would not be practical in a fighting submarine but it did make good television. Apart from that, it was packed full of modern electronics with lots of flashing lights, controls and computers.
This DVD collection contains the hitherto unseen pilot episode. Their mission is to stop a massive earthquake in the North Pole which would cause a devastating tsunami to destroy the Pacific area. This was to be accomplished by detonating an atomic device. Trying to stop them, a shadowy clandestine government with secret weapons which included an unmanned drone. Now, much of that seems familiar.
The 32 episodes of season one take you on a mind-bending voyage through the oceans. Quite a lot of the conflict is Cold War stuff but there are also encounters with aliens and monsters from the depths of the sea. Some of the scenes are repetitive with the same clips appearing in several different episodes. The special effects by today's standards seem primitive with rubbery-looking octopus and squashy squids but this is all part of the fun. Remember, the episodes were made in the early 60s and they were also in black-and-white.
Lots of familiar guest stars make an appearance, including Leslie Nielsen and Robert Duvall. The series was a launching pad for the careers of many well-known actors and you'll have fun identifying them. New technology also appears such as a mini-submarine and a diving bell. In fact, Voyage was very innovative in many respects.
The DVD with special features is a bonus. There is material from Irwin Allen himself, lots of images from the series plus interviews including a very interesting talk with the Captain, actor David Hedison. This extra material rounds off the package.
This DVD collection represents good value for money. You get all the episodes with nothing left out at a price which is approximately 1 pound per hour. This is the UK version. The collection has already appeared in the USA but in a different DVD format. If you watched this when it originally appeared on TV it will be a trip down memory lane and for younger people out there it will be a new experience.
Irwin Allen's vitality and energy come through in ‘Voyage’. It's now half a century since the movie appeared and almost as much since the TV series began. It was to run for another four seasons, such was the success of the concept, and 110 episodes were made. Subsequent seasons were in colour. By purchasing this you are getting a piece of history. Definitely recommended.
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