Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: "Jonah and the Whale"

Recently I got back into watching old TV shows.

Well, that's a lie.  I never really left.  What I should say is that I got out of watching TV shows on VHS tape.  The DVD revolution has hit me hard and aside from watching a lot of must-see cult movies that are now available on disc, I was also taken away with TV shows on DVD.  They're addicting.  No commercials, truly uncut (another bane of commercials), and in a good condition.  And since most of my TV shows are copies from friends--perfectly legal, they copied them for me from the original broadcast--their condition was bad to begin with, horrible when you go from watching a digital representation on a disc.

Kinda like today's subject.  But I'll get to that later.

Sadly, the downside to TV shows on DVD is that while a lot of them are coming out, a few aren't.  Those few is what powers this site.  At the time of this writing the only two Irwin Allen produced shows are available on DVD in some form:  Land of the Giants through Columbia House and Lost in Space.  There have been hints of The Time Tunnel but according to, still no solid word yet.  Today's subject is still in limbo.  Which is a damn shame, since the quality of VTTBOTS episodes range from very good quality in Season 1 to horrible in Season 4.  A good example is the final episode "No Way Out" in which both copies I have has a very nasty negative splice in the ending credits.  The sad thing is my direct copy is from The Sci-Fi Channel circa 1999-2000, the other is from some independent TV station in the '80s.  Exact same damage.  These episodes are in truly rough shape.

Anyway, today's experiment is the first color episode that the show ever had.  Unfortunately, the episode itself isn't much to write home about.  The story begins with a beautiful Russian scientist using the Seaview's remarkable capabilities as the first submarine with windows to find the diving bell of her dead lover.  After the first expedition down in the diving bell Apple fails thanks to whale migration,  Admiral Nelson (Richard Basehart) takes her down again where they find the bell.  Some really dull acting occurs--typical Russian/American ideological blather that was only beginning at this time and ended around 1990 if memory serves--and is interrupted as Captain Lee Crane (David "Al" Hedison) reports another whale is flying by, a really huge and fast one.  As the Apple is pulled up to the Beautiful Russian Scientist's regret, it's too late...the whale swallows the Apple whole.  As if you couldn't guess that from the title.  Come on, I'm not a religious man and I saw it coming!

The rest of the episode consists of Crane and the Seaview trying to get Nelson and the BRS out of the whale.  To their credit, they do the most simple approach:  drug the whale with a torpedo-sized hypodermic (okay, it's a 'warhead,' they weren't goofy enough to spend time creating a miracle device) and swim down the whale's gullet with a rope to pull it out before the Apple runs out of air.  After a lot of suspense and commercial breaks, they succeed in pulling the Apple out of the whale without killing the giant creature.  Everybody's happy, and the episode ends.  Now, in episodic television it's easy to do plots like this:  take a problem and spend most of the time going about the solution.  On that part the episode succeeds:  aside from a few boring points it does keep you from getting bored.  However, special effects do provide a few moments of disbelief, as I shall list now to demonstrate the bullet-point option on this Mozilla composer:

BOTTOM LINE:  A bad episode is one that bores you to tears and this didn't do that.  While in hindsight there's nothing to really write about it--how can you convey suspense accurately in a short review--it does its job.  The only bad thing I found was that it had a lack of a Flying Sub (its debut would be the next episode) and a new theme sony which was only used in this episode.  So it goes.  All and all, worth a watch.  Four out of Four Stars.





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