Rerun Junkie–Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Oh where would I be without my LSD nigh nigh show?

Where the weird shit lives
Where the weird shit lives

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is a 1960’s Irwin Allen television show based on an Irwin Allen film of the same name. The show features the crew of a submarine called the Seaview which is headed by Admiral Nelson (Richard Basehart) and his right-hand man Captain Crane (David Hedison) and all of their wacky hijinx.

Okay, they only seem wacky because this was ’60s sci-fi and the first season (in black and white) was much more serious in tone, featuring mostly Cold War-inspired espionage and foreign baddies along with some sub-in-trouble episodes and only a few really weirdo episodes. Most of the sci-fi came from the submarine and the tech that everyone was using.

When the series went to color in the second season, that’s when things really started getting fantastic and stayed that way until the end of its four year run. In that time, the poor crew of the Seaview dealt with ghosts, werewolves, clowns, wax men, lobster men, a literal fire man, frost men, shadow men, a leprachaun, and my personal favorite, sentient seaweed, among other wild things. The crew, which included Chip (Robert Dowdell), Chief Sharkey (Terry Becker), my favorite crewman Kowalski (Del Monroe), Curley (Henry Kulky, who sadly passed away after the first season), Patterson (Paul Trinka), and Doctor (Richard Bull, aka Nels Oleson from Little House on the Prairie), always managed to come out victorious (though many nameless crew members often bit it in the course of victory, though no one ever seemed to mind) and probably could have used a pay raise, extra leave time, and maybe some PTSD therapy for the shit they’d seen.

"Sir, there's something on sonar."  "Probably some science experiment gone wrong. Let's poke it with a stick."
“Sir, there’s something on sonar.”
“Probably some science experiment gone wrong. Let’s poke it with a stick.”

And they saw a lot. They ended up inside whales and jelly fish. They disappeared. They went back in time. They transported murderous gorillas and mermaids with not much better temperaments. They diffused bombs and battled saboteurs. Everybody got kidnapped at least once and Chip ended up on Venus (sometimes I think he probably wishes they left him there).

They also saw a lot of people for a crew that spent most of their time on a submarine that always seemed to be on fire. Guest stars included: John Banner and Werner Klemperer before they went to work at Stalag 13; James Doohan and George Takei (this was probably great training for their Star Trek journey); Ed Asner; Tom Skerritt; James Brolin; Jill Ireland; Batman heroine Yvonne Craig and Batman villain Victor Buono; my horror movie love Vincent Price; Paul Fix, Jacques Aubuchon; June Lockhart, who didn’t have to do laundry for a change; John Fujioka; Brooke Bundy; Irene Tsu; John Dehner, John Hoyt, Nehemiah Persoff, John Anderson, Kevin Hagen, and Peter Mark Richman because I think it was required by law for those guys to be on your show in the ’60s and ’70s; Michael Constantine, who worked under the same law, but for more decades; Michael Ansara; George Lindsey; Leslie Nielsen; Robert Duvall as an alien (this is when I knew the series was going to really be something); James Frawley; Victor Mature; Nicholas Colasanto long before Cheers; Frances X. Bushman; James Darren; Patrick Wayne; John Cassevettes; Michael Dunn, whom I immediately recognized under his clown make-up the second he smiled; and if you pay attention to the crewmen in the background, you’ll see our old friend Marco Lopez (Emergency!) in about twenty episodes of the last two seasons.

This is one of those shows where it was probably absolutely amazing to the viewing audience at the time, especially after the show went to color, but now is pretty hokey looking with some really far out storylines. I mean, the lobster man was something to behold because it didn’t quite look like either. And I’m not joking when I say the Seaview was always on fire. It seems like something in that sub is always on fire. Even the Garvey’s barn didn’t burn this much.

But it’s a super fun show.

I couldn’t get to sleep on Saturday nights without it.

Really, what IS that?
Really, what IS that?

Rerun Junkie– Little House on the Prairie

Everyone watched Little House on the Prairie during the 70’s/early 80’s. Well, except me. I was handicapped by the fact that I wasn’t born until 1980 and when the show went off the air, I was just figuring out that commercials weren’t TV shows and Scooby Doo was the best thing in my world.

However, this show has been re-running in my area since it ended it’s first run, so it’s not like I’ve been deprived of it. In fact, I’ve probably seen the first ten minutes of every episode. Why? Because that’s exactly how much of the show we could watch before we had to leave for school. And as far as I was concerned, that was ten minutes more than I wanted.

You read that right. I didn’t like the show.

This caused me displeasure.

In fact, I so didn’t like this show as a kid, that I went out of my way to avoid it as I aged (we can’t say “matured” without risking my pants suddenly igniting) into an adult.

Until my local rerun supplier changed it’s line-up. Instead of Hawaii Five-O at 2, I ended up with Little House on the Prairie and there was nothing else on at the time (because 16 episodes of Bonanza a day is excessive and that’s all I had to choose from when this all started). So I left it on, but I didn’t like it.

And like a point-of-view monster waiting to spring on an innocent, young girl, this show clubbed me over the head and now I’m knee deep in the reruns and loving them for all the wrong reasons.

Everyone knows this show, but let me recap for those like me who have gone out of their way to avoid it. The show is based off the books of the real Laura Ingalls Wilder (I managed to avoid reading those as a kid, too; really didn’t like this show when I was young). It features Charles Ingalls (Michael Landon) aka Pa, Caroline Ingalls (Karen Grassel) aka Ma, Laura “Half-Pint” Ingalls, later to be Wilder (Melissa Gilbert), Mary Ingalls, later to be Kendall (Melissa Sue Anderson), and Carrie Ingalls (Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush). Later the family added Grace (Brenda and Wendi Turnbaugh)  and adopted children Albert (Matthew Laborteaux), Cassandra (Missy Francis), and James (Jason Bateman) because the Ingalls collected children like I collect baseball cards.

The town included Isaiah Edwards (Victor French) and his family; Jonathan Garvey (Merlin Olsen) and his family; Doc Baker (Kevin Hagen); Reverend Alden (Dabs Greer); Laura’s husband Almanzo (Dean Butler) and his sister Eliza Jane (Lucy Lee Flippin); Mary’s husband Adam (Linwood Boomer, creator of Malcom in the Middle); Hester Sue Terhune (Ketty Lester), blind school helper and waitress; and the Olesons, Nels (Richard Bull), gossip Harriett (Katherine MacGregor), always-in-the-corner Willie (Jonathan Gilbert), and Nellie (Alison Arngrim), who set the standard for bad girls everywhere.

Such a lovely, conniving face.

Of course, I’m over-simplifying the town because it changed a bit over the years, people coming and going and whatnot. But those are probably the most familiar of the faces.

Well, the ones I could pick out of a line-up, anyway.

The Prairie was a popular place for guest stars, too. Louis Gossett, Jr., Billy Barty, Ray Bolger, James B. Sikking, Ernest Borgnine, Ernie Hudson, Burl Ives, Madeline Stowe, Red Buttons, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, James Cromwell, Gil Gerard, David Faustino, Anne Archer, Todd Bridges, and Anne Ramsey all did time on the show.

It was most definitely a family show, preaching love, faith, kindness, tolerance, compassion, generosity, and helping your fellow man. But it wasn’t afraid to kill anybody, either. Alice Garvey (Hersha Parady), Mary’s baby, Laura’s baby, Charles and Caroline’s only baby boy, James and Cassandra’s parents, and Mr. Edwards’s son John were among the casualties over the years. Not to mention to all of the tertiary prairie characters (thanks, Television Without Pity!) that bit it, too, including a disturbing two-part episode that involved the stalking and rape of a young girl that’s conclusion looked like the last act of Hamlet (that whole episode was just a ball of WTF, really).

In fact, lots of bad things seemed to go down on the Prairie. Caroline cut her leg and got a life-threatening infection; Mary went blind (and lost her baby); Laura’s house blew away in a tornado (and she lost her baby); Mr. Edwards was crippled in a logging accident; Carrie fell down a mine shaft; the Garvey’s barn was always on fire and Andrew (Patrick Laborteaux) got roughed up a couple of times more than anyone else; James was shot in the gut and in a coma; Albert…what didn’t happen to Albert? He was a travesty magnet.

Nellie also underwent a complete personality 180 when she met her husband Percival (Steve Tracy), which was a weird thing to be sure, but they were so cute together and Percival always took it to Harriett which was fun, so I really can’t complain.

I haven’t seen all of the episodes yet, though I’ve been watching it now on two channels. I have yet to fully enjoy the Jenny (Shannen Doherty) episodes. I’ve still got a bit of catching up to do, for sure.

And as disgusted as my younger self might be at the notion of me watching the show at all, I really don’t mind.

 

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