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A Real Find


At the end of January, 2003, Linda and I had the unbelievable opportunity to delve into the Special Archives Library of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  We poured over the many file boxes that pertained to the episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and while going through the many files, came upon the Writer’s Guide that IA did for Voyage.  This includes what the series was supposed to be about, bios of characters, do’s and don’ts for writing, etc. 


What is most interesting in all of this research is that, originally, Voyage was supposed to be ‘James Bondian’ in nature, with Seaview simply being used as a ‘vehicle’ for transporting the men from one place to another.  The majority of the stories were to have taken place off the boat, not on it.  In addition, believe it or not, women were supposed to have a place in the series as well. 

As we all know, ideas change from inception to fruition.  As you read through the Guide, you will automatically see what it was supposed to be versus what it became.  There are even what seems to be several inconsistencies within the Guide itself.  Above all, it has been interesting put all of this together…the Guide, the story scenarios, etc…and know that what was, what is, and what could have been are all different, yet all the same of the show that we’ve loved since childhood. 










     'VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA' is an exercise in action-adventure.  It has dash...verve...an honest, high-hearted approach to exciting entertainment.  In spirit, each episode contains the rapidly sputtering fuse, the breathless, desperate race against the clock, the gripping suspense of overwhelming danger.

     Obviously, then, this is not a show of social crusades, satirical comments or probing searches into the human psyche.  Such themes, fascinating and worthy as they may be, are outside the province of a series dedicated to the heady business of high adventure.


     But the very fact that the themes required are straightforward and fundamental means that great skill is called for in their development.  Motivations must be clear.  Events must proceed logically.  Plausibility is a key note.

     In a practical sense, themes may be divided into three broad areas:  struggles against the forces of nature; struggles against the enemies of mankind; any combination of the two.  Such themes lead naturally to stories of pure adventure, stories of mystery-adventure and stories with overtones of science fiction-adventure.






The style of writing desired for the series is deceptively simple.  Its main ingredients are action, pace, economy and tense excitement.

     Talk for talk’s sake – even talk for the development in depth of character – considered expendable.

The language used must have the ring of authenticity and dialogue exchanges will be used in all cases to advance the story, heighten the tension, increase the excitement, grip the audience.     Taut drama is the prevailing mood.  When there is romance, it must impel, not hinder, the relentless progress of the story.  Humor is welcome but it must proceed from the action and be part of the headlong dash that carries the viewer from the intriguing teaser to the crashing climax of each show.






      Where do we play our stories?




     This is not a submarine series, per se.  Its plots are not confined to a group of sweating men surrounded by the intricate plumbing of a sub interior as they listen breathlessly to the shattering explosions of depth charges.

     Not that such scenes won’t have a place in the series.  They will.  But they will be the exception rather than the rule.  In the vast majority of stories, the sub is merely a conveyance to get our principals to the scene of the action.  The greatest part of any one specific story will take place off the submarine.  Unlike the pilot, the typical submarine-type scenes…when they occur…will be incidental for the big climax of the story.

     And where is the big climax likely to occur?  Literally anywhere in the world.  The men from the Seaview may find themselves on some remote mountain peak, in a deep, unexplored cavern, on a desert or in the glittering jungle of some great capital city.

     There is only one rule for choosing the site of a story:  it must have a logical, intriguing, exciting reason for involving our characters.  That’s all.






     THE SUBMARINE Although, strictly speaking, not a character, Seaview is definitely a strong motivating force in the series.  It is a huge, radically designed nuclear submarine which carries a complement of twelve officers and one hundred twenty-five men.  Its most distinctive feature is a fantastic glass nose which makes the forward lounge an ideal place from which to view the awesome wonders of the undersea world.  It is this great glass nose which give the ship its distinctive look of a “Submarine of Tomorrow.”  But even more important, although less immediately apparent, are its other features…its missile room with its arsenal of nuclear warhead rockets…its mini-sub which permits two men scouting trips below the operating range of the deepest diver…its escape hatch which permits individual frogmen to explore ocean bottoms…its rows of efficient computers which can perform all the magic of the new machine brains…and its amazing ability to dive deeper and move faster than any ship ever designed.  These are a few of the characteristics making Seaview the world’s most efficient device for scientific research, exploration and defense.

     Seaview is not a regular Navy ship.  It is privately owned by the Nelson Institute of Marine Research…an organization of scientists with headquarters at Santa Barbara, California.  Its crew members are civilian employees, although nearly all of them are former naval submariners.


     ADMIRAL HARRIMAN NELSON, U.S.N. (Ret.) – the head of the Nelson Institute of Marine Research in Santa Barbara.  A brilliant engineer-scientist of mature middle age, he resigned his position as Dean of the Department of Science at Annapolis to form the Research Institute which bears his name.

     His imaginative and creative mind conceived the design for Seaview and his driving, forceful personality made it possible to bring the dream to reality.

     Even to those who know him best, it came as a distinct surprise when this dedicated and gifted officer gave up his Naval career to devote the rest of this life to science.  But only a handful of people know that Nelson’s retirement was in name only.  Actually he and his Institute of Marine Research serve as a powerful and secret intelligence force, ranging the world under cover of scientific research on missions of vital importance to the security of their country.


     COMMANDER LEE CRANE – young, virile captain of the submarine.  An outstanding athlete at Annapolis, he was graduated with honors and served with distinction in the submarine service before being detached from the Navy and assigned, as a civilian, to the command of Seaview.

     He has tremendous respect – amounting almost to awe – for Admiral Nelson.  The two men act as perfect complements and hold each other in mutual high esteem.

     Crane is equally respected by his men.  He has a rule, amounting almost to a fetish, of never ordering a man to tackle a dangerous assignment that he would not risk doing himself.  And his skill as an athlete, together with his natural resourcefulness, make almost any job seem possible to him.

     Needless to say, Crane’s qualities make him enormously attractive to women.  The attraction is mutual.  The fact that he as not yet married presents an almost irresistible challenge to every unattached female who crosses his path…and there are many.


     LIEUTENANT CHIP MORTON --  the efficient Executive Officer of the submarine.  Several years younger than Crane, Chip had originally set his heart on going to West Point and becoming a general but when the only available appointment was for Annapolis, he snapped it up.

     During his four years at the Academy and later on in his service in the Navy he took much good-natured ribbing about his “Army” background but he lets nothing stand in the way of becoming the best Naval officer possible.

     It was Nelson – remembering him from his midshipman days – who persuaded Chip to resign this commission and accept a post at the Institute of Marine Research.  Neither man has ever regretted the decision.


      CHIEF PETTY OFFICER CURLEY JONES – a jolly yet rugged old time Navy man who occasionally forgets that he is no longer a part of the Fleet.  Curley is from New England where, as a youngster he made a name for himself as a professional wrestler before quitting high school in his senior year to enlist in the Navy.

     He served in the submarine fleet through hitch after hitch and was indignant when he was told at last that it was time for him to retire.  He had served for years under Admiral Nelson and when the dreaded retirement became final he was overjoyed to accept the job Nelson offered him.

     But Nelson’s motives in hiring Curley were not altogether altruistic.  The man’s perennial good humor, his sympathetic understanding of any and all problems, his salty language and his earthy comments are a vital contribution to the morals of the ship.


      OTHER CREWMEN – There are, of course, many other distinct personalities serving aboard Seaview.  Their characters – which will emerge as the series grows – prove to be as divers and interesting as any cross section of picked men with highly developed skills.  As time passes, individual conflicts will arise naturally from the tension-packed situations in which they become involved.


     DR. GAMMA – This shadowy figure is the adversary who opposes the men of the Seaview in many of the stories which unfold as the series progresses.  “A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” Gamma is an individual of awesome power and unlimited ambition.  Even his name is unknown – “Dr. Gamma,” of course being merely a nickname.

     But his power is all too well known in the secret councils of every government in the world.  He seems to have at his command a veritable corps of skilled scientific brains…an elaborate network of secret agents…a seemingly endless arsenal of weapons…and a body of fanatically devoted followers – men and women who have pledged their lives to the furtherance of his cause.

     Gamma’s ultimate gold is world domination.  He seeks it through the spread of disorder and dissension…through the promotion of disaster and death and the undermining of civil authority.

     Gamma has many secret bases concealed in remote sections throughout the world.  From time to time some of them are detected and destroyed but others take their place.  If he has a single central headquarters anywhere, it has never been discovered.


      PROFESSOR “X” – most feared of all Gamma’s lieutenants, this shadowy individual is even more elusive than Gamma himself.  He has been called “the man of a thousand faces,” and “the chameleon” and both names fit him well.  A master of disguise and a consummate actor, he has managed to assume the identity of an individual so well that the man’s friends and even his relatives are deceived.

     This ability to pass himself off as almost any individual he selects, makes Professor “X” the most feared of adversaries.






The taboos are few but implacable.


A.             All the ordinary taboos set up in the interest of taste and morality;

B.             No spy stories in which the adversary is a representative of any recognizable government, even by implication (Gamma is the adversary we use in stories with an international spy flavor.);

C.             No supernatural stories;

D.     No story in which the elements of romance, psychological study or personal drama are permitted to bring the action to a halt.





In summation, there are a few vital points to remember:


1.             The action takes place a few years in the future, giving wide latitude in technical matters;

2.             Seaview is a civilian submarine, serving the Nelson Institute of Marine Research – yet secretly it is a vital espionage arm of the United States Government;

3.             The vast majority of stories take place largely away from the sub, which is used primarily as a means of conveyance to the scene of action;

4.             There is a James Bondian flavor to the series, which, of course, means that seductively attractive women often play a part and may involve Crane, Nelson, Chip Morton or – in fact – any one of the twelve officers and 125 crewmen of the sub;

5.             The teaser of each episode is virally important.  It must shock the audience – grip them…literally force them to watch the show.

6.              And the keynote is…ACTION!



 Story Synopsis Booklet

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