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The first (and some say best) season of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea went into its second half with strong ratings, a loyal audience, and 16 episodes that have stood the test of time. This compact 3-disc set presents all 16 of these 50-minute, black-and-white episodes with sound and picture quality so crisp and clean that it's hard to believe 41 years had passed between their original broadcasts (Monday nights at 7:30 on ABC) and this 2006 DVD release. Like all Irwin Allen productions, the show is characterized by simple, easy-to-follow plots, impressive production values on a limited budget, and special effects (mostly by pioneering effects master L.B. Abbott) that were state-of-the-art by mid-'60s standards. As Admiral Nelson (Richard Basehart), Commander Crane (David Hedison) and the crew of the double-hulled, nuclear-powered submarine Seaview continue their first-season adventures, most of these episodes deliver plots that will be comfortably familiar to any fan of sci-fi adventure shows of the '60s: obsessive scientists conducting radical experiments, power-hungry villains from behind the Iron Curtain (typically from the unspecified "People's Republic"), and international criminals engaged in nefarious schemes of global domination. Before the series shifted to color film (in the second season) and greater emphasis on techno-gadgets and science fiction, some of these first-season episodes involve extraterrestrial beings or monsters that would become more common in subsequent seasons. The best of these sci-fi episodes is "The Invaders" (original airdate January 25, 1965), guest-starring Robert Duvall (misspelled "Duval" in the credits) as a powerful alien awakened from suspended animation by an undersea earthquake. Other episodes feature such now-familiar guest stars as Edward Asner ("The Exile"), George Sanders ("The Traitor"), Leslie Nielsen ("The Creature"), a very young-looking Tom Skerritt (appearing briefly in the prologue of "The Enemies"), and such '60s TV stalwarts as Torin Thatcher, Skip Homeier, Alvy (Green Acres) Moore, J.D. Cannon, and Henry Silva. The most enjoyable episodes feature a deep-space robot that's been dangerously reprogrammed ("The Indestructible Man"); a giant sub-crushing jellyfish ("Mutiny"); modern-day Nazis ("The Last Battle"); humans surgically transformed into "The Amphibians"; an encounter with the Loch Ness Monster ("The Secret of the Loch"); and a cautionary tale ("The Human Computer") that may have inspired the later Star Trek episode "The Ultimate Computer." And while only a few of these episodes achieve genuine excellence, they're consistently well-written, and the father-and-son-like dynamic between Basehart and Hedison anchors the series with authentic naval authority. DVD extras include an amusing 5-minute blooper reel; a photo gallery of cover art from the highly collectible Voyage comic books published by Gold Key in the mid-'60s; and brief interview clips with David Hedison (looking great at nearly 80 years old) discussing the show's first season, his admiration for Richard Basehart, and the blooper reels that Irwin Allen compiled despite having "no sense of humor." For Voyage fans and anyone who's catching up on the best shows of the '60s, these DVDs offer loads of nostalgic entertainment.

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FX2233702 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Season 1 Vol. 2 DVD (1964) $29.98 $26.99