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Voyage to the bottom of the sea as Cold War Science Fiction

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Episode dedicated to Voyage to the bottom of the sea from the book Beneath the surface, by Randall Clark
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Beneath the surface
Voyage to the bottom of the sea as Cold War Science Fiction
By Randall Clark
Excerpt from the book "Space and time: essays on visions of history in science fiction and fantasy
A crew of men with vaguely defined military ties, on a submarine called the Seaview, traveling around the world under the sea to fight an
assortment of monsters, megalomaniacs, and natural disasters may sound like a simple premise for a television series, but it gave the ABC
television network one of its first hit series, Voyage to the bottom of the sea, in 1964. During its time on the air, the program achieved many
noteworthy accomplishments. The series ran for four seasons, making it the longest running science fiction television series of the 1960s.
Voyage to the bottom of the sea was also the first science fiction television series by film producer and director Irwin Allen and thus became
the foundation for Allen's fondly remembered slate of science fiction series, which include Lost in Space, The time tunnel and Land of the
Giants. Based on a successful theatrical film of the same title from 1961 and produced and directed by Allen the project became the first
science fiction television series to be adapted from a motion picture. Not for another twenty five years would another television series based
on a film, Alien Nation, make it into even a second season< in the meantime, television viewers witnessed multiple high-profile failures such as
small-screen versions of Planet of the Apes, Logan's Run, Starman and Westworld (the series was titled Beyond Westworld). Indeed, if one
ignores genres altogether and simply looks at television series based on motion pictures, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea's four year run, while
certainly not placing it in the same category as a blockbuster like M*A*S*H, makes it one of the ten most successful series adapted from a film.
Clearly Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea had something special going for it, but today, for several reasons, many overlook its accomplishments.
The series has never had the dedicated fan base of Star Trek or many other science fiction TV shows< in fact, it does not even have the
following of Allen's Lost in Space, and may not even be as well remembered as The Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants. Apart from the four
standards of 1960s TV shows tie--ins -comic books, lunch boxes, board games, and model kits- Voyage to the bottom of the sea has never
been highly merchandised, not even when the series was still on network television. The show will probably never receive the same treatment
as Lost in Space, a series reworked as a 91997 big budget film with an Oscar-winning actor playing the male lead. Further-more, the program
rarely appears in reruns in syndication or on cable television. At the time of this writing, in fact, the series remains the only one of Allen's series
not to have all of its episodes released on DVD. The once popular series has been largely forgotten while series that were less successful at the
time are better remembered: there are more than twice as many episodes of Voyage to the bottom of the sea as there are the original Outer
Limits, but which evokes a stronger memory today?

Television series fall out of favor with viewers after several decades for many reasons, including the obvious explanation that audience tastes
almost inevitably change over time, but perhaps the major reason that Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is not particularly popular today is the
same reason for its undeniable popularity in the mid 1960s: Voyage to the bottom of the sea, more than almost any other science fiction of the
period, remained very much rooted in a specific place and time. Despite being set in the then near future of the 1970s and the 1980s, the series
was so immersed in the Cold War era that it could not be translated easily into another: to watch Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is to witness
a perfect fusion of 1960s fears, hopes, idealism, and pragmatism. Moreover, unlike The Twilight Zone, the series did not mask its social
commentary as allegory. With Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, viewers knew that, to use an idiom from the period, "what you see is what you
get". This program presented a series of episodes in which Americans overtly fought both agents from other countries and monsters to
preserve their freedom.

To fully understand Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the series must be placed in the larger context of mid-1960s American popular
culture. Seen this way, the series was a by-product of two social phenomena that had sweeping and powerful effects on the country -the space
age and the Cold War. (For the most part, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea largely ignored a third significant cultural phenomenon of the
decade, rock music and youth culture, although it did add a young surfer character in seasons two and three.) The crew of the Seaview
routinely fought enemy agents from countries that, while rarely identified, clearly represented the primary foreign threats to the United States
at the time, specifically the Soviet Union, "Red" China, and Cuba. The Seaview triumphed over foreign powers it encountered by employing
technology a bit more advanced than any science actually available to military or intelligence agencies at the time, with military discipline.

But the exploits depicted on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, with their fusion of espionage and science fiction, were hardly unique
to the series and in fact could be found in every popular mass medium. Similar fictional agent protagonist of Len Deighton's novels, Adam Hall's
Quiller novels, and a host of paperback series featuring Bond imitations with names like Matt Helm, Ed Noon, and Joe Gall. Hollywood featured
the Bond and the Derek Flint films as well as film versions of the Helm and Quiller series, along with three films adapted from Deighton's novels.
The comic pages starred Modesty Blaise, who also appeared in novels and in one film. T.H.U.N.D.E.R agents, the Doom Patrol, Nick Fury and the
agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Doctor Solar, Nukla and Judomaster appeared in comic books. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea shared some key
characteristics with these other works. The protagonist in all these stories worked for their countries to save the world from Communists or
some other oppressive group, usually from a foreign nation. Furthermore, both heroes and villains were dependent upon scientific gadgets and

weaponry to achieve their goals. Finally, all of these science fiction vehicles emphasized the protagonists' human side, despite their amazing
feats (admittedly more in the Bond novels than the movies and not at all in the Flint films).

The futurist genre dominated television, too. Espionage and science fiction abounded in 1964, the year Voyage to the Bottom of the
Sea launched. That fall, in addition to seeing spies defeated by advanced technology on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, viewers could watch
The Man from U.N.C.L.E, arguably the most science-fiction oriented of the many spy series that appeared on television during the 1960s. Rod
Serling's symbol-laden The Twilight Zone had ended its five-year run earlier in the year, but The Outer Limits less allegorical than Serling's
program but still inclined to address Cold War paranoia more indirectly than Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, had just started its second
season. My Favorite Martian (which had its character s fight enemy spies more than once) allowed viewers to laugh at the concept of alien
invasion. The witty and hip That was the week that was regularly joked about both the Cold War and the space race. Children could watch
another series about a technologically advanced submarine, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's marionette show Stingrays, and Jonny Quest, the
action-adventure cartoon from I-producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, which frequently featured young Jonny and company fighting
Eurasian villains. In addition many espionage and science fiction episodes appeared in series that did not have espionage and science fiction
basis -Rob Petrie, Herman Munster, Fred Flintstone, and the castaways of Gilligan-s Island, among others, all had encounters, real or imagined,
with spies. And this was just in 1964< the number of espionage-science fiction hybrids would continue to grow during the four years that
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was on the air, all focusing in a similar fashion on scientific progress and secret government-controlled
technology.

Amid this outburst of science fiction programming, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was developed as the adaptation of the 1961
movie, which provided the premise for the series in general and the plot for the series' pilot in particular. The Cold War themes of the television
show echoed those found in the film, albeit in muted from. In the movie, the Earth faces a crisis after meteors penetrate the Van Allen belt,
which catches fire and causes the planet's temperature to rise, threatening the extinction of humankind. Admiral Nelson (Walter Pidgeon), the
designer of the Seaview, takes the submarine on an unauthorized mission to launch an atomic missile into the belt, an action which he believes
will extinguish the fire. Quickly the crew and the audience learn that an unidentified saboteur exist onboard; she is finally identified as the
submarine's psychologist, who offers no specific explanation for attempting to sabotage this important mission but who could be viewed as the
agent of a foreign government. Still, the film merely hints of the Cold War, and the saboteur is actually somewhat less important to the plot
that another character, a religious fanatic who wants to stop the Seaview because he believes the fire in the Van Allen belt is the result of an
act of God.

In adapting Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea from film to television producers placed greater emphasis on the Seaview itself. A
notoriously thrifty producer, Allen routinely reused costumes, sets and stock footage from one project to another; he had three different-sized
models of the Seaview constructed for the film, along with some rather elaborate sets representing the interior of the submarine that he did
not want to waste. In the series' first season, in particular, Allen tried to film as many scenes as possible in the submarine because the movie's
salvaged sets alone were worth forty thousand dollars. In this way, the Seaview became as important a character on the program as any of the
human cast members.

But what began as a cost-saving venture eventually enhanced the show, both as a drama and as a reflection of the Cold War era.
First, it allowed Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea to explore the use of submarines as Cold War weaponry. While subs had been used for
warfare as far back as World War I, developments of the late 1950s and early 1960s had put submarines back into the public imagination and
tied them directly to Cold War tensions. Nuclear-powered subs and the ability to extract oxygen from the ocean's water made it possible for
submarines to stay submerged for long periods of time and travel great distances; an American submarine, the USS Nautilus, had sailed under
the North Pole in 1959 an another, the USS Triton, had sailed around the entire globe one year later. By this time both the United States and
the Soviet Union were arming their submarines with ballistic missiles. In the eyes of many Americans, submarines had suddenly been altered
from archaic leftovers of the World War II into a cutting-edge technology, rather like a spaceship that just happened to travel under water.

Set ten years into the future, the technology of the television series' Seaview was even more advanced than was shown in the film.
In the pilot, the vessel is described as "the most extraordinary submarine in all the seven seas" and "the mightiest weapon afloat". While the
submarine is well known to Americans, its full purpose is not, a concept perfectly designed to play upon Cold War fears that a lot of the
scientific devices viewers saw were not exactly what they appeared to be. In the series' pilot, viewers are told that the Seaview's "public image
is that of an instrument of marine research" but that it is "secretly assigned to the most dangerous of missions against the enemies of
mankind." Like a superhero, the Seaview has a secret identity with a secret hideaway as well -the submarine's loading dock has been carved
into stone in the California coast. As the pilot episode succinctly explains, "Few men know of its [the loading dock's] existence. And fewer men
even suspect its purpose." Undoubtedly a strong part of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea's appeal lay in the fact that it presented the United
Sates as the leader in submarine technology and overtly stated that Americans used that technology only for good causes (even if the Seaview
must be presented to the public behind a cover story, with its true missions a secret). Unlike the film, the television program does not establish
direct ties between the Seaview and the U.S. military. In the series, the submarine is owned by Admiral Nelson's private research institution.
Cooperation with the Navy and indeed with the American government is clear: the Seaview receives most of its missions from the military, and
the submarine's captain, Lee Crane, is a naval office on loan to Nelson's institute. The blending of the military and private sector was familiar to

audiences because of the space race. This portrayal of military/civil cooperation allowed the producers of Voyage to show the crew of the
Seaview as acting in an official manner without actually implying that the American government itself was engaging in any covert activity.

The use of a submarine as the primary setting had other impacts on the series, some that were perhaps subtler and more
psychological. According to series star David Hedison, who portrayed Crane, the producers of Voyage did their best to exploit the
claustrophobic atmosphere inherent in a television program that took place on a submarine. While some characters, and specially Captain
Crane, left the Seaview fairly often, a majority of the crew spent most of their time aboard the submarine. Tensions could run high in almost
any episode, even when there was no particular threat to the crew's safety, and the series captured the isolation and helplessness the men
(and they were men; unlike the movie, the television series had no women aboard the Seaview) often felt while at sea. Crew tension is indicted
as heightened by the lack of women. For instance, in one episode, a crewman attacks a superior officer who will not grant him leave to visit his
pregnant and ailing wife.

The crew was also shown as having to worry about sudden attack. To emphasize the state of danger in which the crew served -and
to save Allen some money- the producers quickly created a recurring gimmick they nicknamed "rock and roll": to simulate an attack on the
Seaview, cast members were told to throw themselves to the left of the sets while the cameras filming the episode were swung to the right.
The obviously staged "rock and roll" scenes have become somewhat fondly remembered by the series' fans and even inspired some jokes and
parodies, but they did create the essential feeling that the crew of the Seaview were always at risk. Watching the men in their state of
confinement must have resonated with the audience, who themselves must have felt somewhat trapped in a world that had recently offered
them Sputnik, the Cuban Missile Crisis, John Kennedy's assassination, the Vietnam War, and urban unrest. If it was difficult to get a leave from
the Seaview, it was impossible to get one from mid-1960s America. But even on a less abstract level, watching a television series set on a
submarine and the tensions that these men experienced week after week could only remind viewers of the tensions between America and
other nations, even if viewers were not aware of this at the time.

The claustrophobic Seaview could, however, travel almost anywhere -as viewers were reminded every week, this was a voyage to
the bottom of the sea -and in the four-year run of the program, the submarine went on missions to the Arctic, the Antarctic, and many
locations in between. While the military nature of the program, essential to its Cold War background, means that the characters on the series
were not exactly free to come and go at will, they did have overall control over where the vessel went. Significantly, this quality directly
contrasted with all the other Irwin Allen series from the 1960s. Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel, and Land of the Giants were all about characters
who are trapped in a place -or in the case of The Time Tunnel, a time- that they do not wish to be. The emphasis in these series is placed first
on survival, then on returning home. Furthermore, the advance technology that forms the bases for these programs also played a part in
leaving the protagonists stranded in the first place.

In Voyage, on the other hand, the emphasis is not on escape but on control. Beginning in the pilot episode, in which Crane sneaks
onboard the submarine as a means of testing the Seaview's security, episodes consistently depict the submarine as a powerful device, capable
for great feats, that is under the authority of the United States and must remain so at any cost. Many episodes of the program show enemies
attempting to gain control of the Seaview, either through manipulating the crew or through seizing the submarine outright. But even though
the crew members of the Seaview may sometimes lose control over their circumstances, they always regain it. There is never a hint, as there
always was on Allen's other programs that this technology (developed by and owned by Americans) could become a problem for those who had
been entrusted to employ it. Voyage is an unabashedly pro-science series, with the sleek and impressive Seaview at the heart of that positive
attitude towards science.

The program is also unabashedly pro-scientist. Through the series' run, Admiral Nelson repeatedly identifies himself as a man of
science who uses rational thought when making important decisions. In fact, Nelson sometimes comes into conflict with the military, whose
leaders want to act out of instinct and distrust of the unknown: by presenting Nelson as correct in almost every conflict, the program endorses
the United States' scientist over its military, perfectly natural for an era during which astronauts were heroes and soldiers were beginning to
become objects of controversy.

The always rational Nelson has no parallel in Allen's other series, which tended to present characters who were more impetuous and
administrators who were less effective. The characters in The Time Tunnel, for example, are stranded in the past because one of the scientists
who invented the time travel device tests it prematurely in response to a senator's threat to cut off the projects' funding. It is impossible to
imagine a similar situation occurring on Voyage.

Another major change that was made in the transition from Hollywood movie to television series was a greater awareness of the
Cold War. Communist villains, along with a few unreformed Nazis, appear throughout the series' run particularly the first season. The changes
can be seen as early as the series' pilot; although the same framework was used as the basis for the movie and the pilot, some significant
changes were made to the story. Notably, greater emphasis was placed on the Cold War, which had done nothing but intensify in the three
years between film and television program. Instead of meteors hitting the Van Allen belt, the potential disaster here comes from earthquakes
in the Arctic Circle that will produce massive tidal waves. The entire world is no longer at risk; the tidal waves pose threats to both American

coasts and to Western Europe. Significantly, Eastern Europe and Asia, Communist strongholds at the time, are not endangered and in fact it is a
mysterious individual from this region, who refers to the United States and Western Europe as "our enemies" and intends to prevent Admiral
Nelson from accomplishing this mission. This villain, who is seen only from behind and who has no name, was intended by Allen to be the
recurring nemesis of the Seaview, but BAC did not want to feature such a character on a regular basis. The fortuitous decision by the network
freed the series' writers to dream up as villains a variety of megalomaniacs in a wider range of settings than a single character would have
allowed; nevertheless, these villains always hinted of Russia or China. This time the reason for opposing the mission is clearly stated: foreign
powers will seize control of free nations in the chaos that follows the tidal waves. Finally, instead of a saboteur on the Seaview, a spy in the
upper echelons of the U.S. military reports to the unidentified foreign powers.

Although the series is set in the 1970s and 1980s, the producers made no attempt to create a futuristic tone for the program.
Characters wear clothing of the 1960s, speak slang from the 1960s, and most important of all, face the political concerns of the 1960s. Plot
points from the series sound like a checklist of America's political issues at that time: an attempt to assassinate the president, the Seaview's
being ordered to launch a nuclear missile, brainwashing, nerve gas used against the crew, a peace conference disrupted by Communist agents,
the apparent death of everyone on Earth except for the crew of the Seaview, and an American nuclear weapon falling into the wrong hands.

To illustrate these concerns, two episodes from early in the series' run merit particularly close examination. The first to be
considered, "The Mist of Silence," the series' fourth episode, is a surprisingly political piece; in his book Irwin Allen Television Productions,
1964-1970, author Jon Abbott calls it "the darkest, grimmest episode of the entire series." The plot is clearly inspired by the story of Che
Guevara and Fidel Castro in Cuba. The episode begins with an assassination attempt against President Alejandro Fuente, who recently seized
control of an unnamed Latin American nation. As a result of the failed attempt, Fuente, who has been outspoken in his hatred for the United
States and "a friend to any of its enemies," surprises the American government by asking to defect to America. A government official identified
only as "the Chairman" arranges for the Seaview to transport Fuente to Washington, D.C., but warns Nelson that Fuente may not be sincere in
his desire to defect and further adds that the man might be carefully manipulated by his nation's military, the real power behind his puppet
government that keeps Fuente alive only because of his propaganda value with his people, who view him as "a hero of the revolution." Joining
the crew members of the Seaview as they transport Fuente to the United States is the leader of the government in exile, Ricardo Galdez, who is
in fact the unsuccessful assassin from the opening scene. In a scene that echoes the relationship between Guevara and Castro, Galdez explains
that he and Fuente had fought together but became bitter enemies after the revolution because "Alejandro hated tyranny only so long as
someone else was the tyrant." In the attempt to reach Fuente, several members of the Seaview crew are captured and ordered to make anti-
American statements. When Captain Crane refuses, several of his men are executed. Reportedly, ABC opposed the executions as being too
potent for television audiences but Allen insisted on including this plot element. These scenes are quite powerful and the sight of Americans
being systematically taken before the firing squad in a foreign country must have had an incredibly dramatic impact.

Jus over a month later the series aired its ninth episode, "Hot Line." This episode centers on possible accidental nuclear detonation,
a topic that had already been impressed upon the public mind by the release of the films Dr. Strangelove and Fail Safe earlier that year. The
episode also drew upon public interest in the "hotline" that connected the White House and the Kremlin hat had been installed just over a year
before following the Cuban Missile Crisis. In this episode, the Soviet Union has lost control over one of its satellites; unable to destroy it, the
Kremlin determines that the satellite will splash down into the ocean off the coast of California. Should the nuclear reactor on the satellite
detonate, the resulting radiation will kill tens of thousands of Americans. It is up to the Seaview to transport two Soviet experts who can defuse
the satellite before detonation. One of those experts, however, has been replaced by a double agent who has been ordered to sabotage the
Seaview's mission. The episode is noteworthy not just because it seems remarkably similar to genuine societal concerns of the time but
because it is actually somewhat sympathetic to the Soviets. The premier seems genuinely horrified when he learns the satellite will land so
close to California, and one of the experts who defuses the satellite joins the crew of the Seaview in a toast after the mission has succeeded:
"To our homes," he says, "wherever they may be". As a symbol of his overcoming unwavering Cold War loyalties, he acknowledges that he has
come to prefer champagne to vodka.

The espionage series that were so commonplace in the first season of Voyage did not disappear at any point in the series' run but
certainly became less prominent in seasons two through four. Jon Abbott suggests that such a change was necessary to continue to attract
viewers, as audiences were being bombarded by spy stories by 1965. Whatever the reason, producers decided to emphasize science fiction
more, asking writers to come up with scripts featuring monsters or creatures as often as possible. But even the program's episodes with heavy
science fiction elements continued to reflect Cold War concerns. A doppelganger theme became a recurring plot motif throughout the series'
final season, with the Seaview crew either facing evil versions of themselves or facing other crew members who had in some way become
possessed by an outside presence, thus altering their thoughts and behavior. This sort of possession story is of course a staple of science fiction
but became particularly prominent during the Cold War, when it became a perfect metaphor for Soviet subversion. The doubles that viewers
see on the Seaview, whether actual duplicates or the genuine crew members in a possessed state, are cold, disloyal, and incapable of thinking
for themselves. In other words, these doubles have all the disagreeable characteristics that Americans attributed to Communists, and they can
be seen as representing Americans who were converted into Communists.


The first of the "double" stories, season two's "The Cyborg," in many ways set the tone for the other such episodes to follow.
Certainly it is appropriate that the double in this case be a robot, as a robot not only echoed viewers' fears that they might someday become
mechanical in their behavior, but also represented fears of technology that was misused by enemies. A scientist named Tabor intends to use his
cyborgs to create a "one world government"; he believes that the cyborgs are perfect for running such a government because, unlike humans,
they are not motivated by love, hate, or friendship. As part of his plan, the scientist intend to use the Seaview to launch a nuclear attack -to
accomplish this he kidnaps Nelson and replaces him with a cyborg. The scientist and Nelson have some revealing discussions about the merits -
or flaws- of the unemotional cyborgs. When told that the cyborgs are superior to humans, Nelson replies, "Mechanically, you mean." The evil
scientist acknowledges, "Well, they've never written a sonnet." The rogue scientist is himself particularly interesting. His name, Tabor, is very
close to "robot" spelled backwards, indicating, perhaps, his disaffection from humankind. "Cyborg" ends when one of the cyborgs develops
emotions and helps Nelson; Tabor is killed. At the conclusion, Nelson notes that emotions can be both a human's greatest strengths and
weaknesses.

Over the next three seasons, the crew of the Seaview would be taken over by aliens in the episodes "Monster from Space" and
"Shadow men" and by a sea creature in "The Creature". Nelson was possessed by an alien in "Day of Evil," as was Crane in "The Deadly Cloud."
Duplicates of the crew would appear in "Deadly Dolls" and "The Wax Men." The latter seems particularly relevant to the Cold War as it
presented Crane, the only crew member who had not been replaced by a double, as fighting for freedom against the sinister duplicates. The
series even featured two tales of supernatural possession as a ghost attempted to take over the body of Admiral Nelson in "The Phantom
Strikes" and "The Return of the Phantom." Significantly, the ghost was the spirit of a German U-boat commander. Although World War I-era
Germans did not pose a genuine threat to Americans in the 1960s, East Germans were certainly seen as enemies. In each of these episodes the
crew of the Seaview persevered and individualism triumphed, either because the possessed characters asserted themselves and regained their
personalities or because they fought and overcame the duplicates who would usurp their rightful place.

As frequent as the doppelganger stories were, they were not as common as the monster stories that the program began to rely on in
the second season. But even the monster stories, while usually devoid of espionage, still reflected Cold War concerns. Giant creatures are in
fact another staple of science fiction in post - World War II America. The giant creatures seen in many science fiction films - and with increasing
frequency on Voyage were usually the result of some sort of encounter with radiation and can be interpreted as the embodiment of viewers'
fears of nuclear war. The Seaview's first encounter with such a monster actually occurred during the first season, and the show explicitly states
that the monster is the result of a scientific experiment gone awry. In "The Village of Guilt" a scientist has been using an extract from pituitary
gland to experiment on sea life in the hopes of creating enormous creatures that could be slaughtered and used to feed the entire planet. Thus
the Seaview encounters a school of catfish bigger than small boat that were produced by these experiments. But one creature has gotten out of
control and killed three men; it is up to Admiral Nelson to bring the experiment to an end. This episode is a fairly typical science fiction
cautionary tale warning that humanity must not interfere with nature. Another first season episode, "The Amphibians," would make the same
point a bit more strongly by having its scientist experiment on humans. Subsequent episodes would not offer a scientific explanation for the
existence of the threatening creatures; they would simply arrive and pose a threat to the Seaview. This lack of explanation actually
strengthened the episodes in certain ways by adding to their sense of paranoia; if audiences did not know exactly why these creatures existed,
then they had to assume that these monsters could attack at any time or any place -much like a nuclear weapon.

The series understandably has a more ambivalent attitude towards aliens than towards monsters, since its aliens are more
intelligent and therefore capable of rational behavior. Unfortunately, as any science fiction fan knows, that rational behavior does not
necessarily preclude the aliens posing a threat to Earth. Voyage presented several episodes with alien characters, most of which had titles like
"The Heat Monster" or "Deadly Invasion," and centered on alien beings as menaces. Occasionally, however, an alien would be, if not friendly to
Earth, at least not hostile either. In "The Sky is Falling," an alien's ship has crash landed on Earth and needs to refuel. Nelson attempts to assist
the alien while the military prepares to attack it. This episode stands with "Hot Line" as one of the few pacifist episodes broadcast during the
series' run.

Despite, or perhaps due to these types of imaginative episodes, the show's audience was decreasing, and Voyage to the Bottom of
the Sea was cancelled at the end of its fourth season. It was just one of many science fiction and/or espionage programs to leave the airwaves
that year: audience tastes had changed and escapist television shows undergirded by anxiety about foreign threats were now out of favor,
replaced by programs that had more social relevance. After launching Land of the Giants, producer Allen largely moved from the science fiction
genre, becoming famous for his disaster movies in the 1970s.

Today, most discussions of influential television series of the 1960s do not dwell on Voyage, if it is mentioned at all. But for four
years, years in which America itself went through some astonishing changes, the Seaview was a constant presence on television. The show,
week in and week out, told audiences exactly what they wanted to hear -that there was a foreign enemy abroad, that the nation was strong,
and that science could be their salvation.



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