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As Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea moved into the latter half of its second season, the series continued its migration from Cold War plotting to an increased emphasis on sci-fi and fantasy adventure. For better or worse, this approach was a clear indication that VTTBOTS was reaching a creative impasse, and these 13 episodes collectively represent the series at its peak. Particularly noteworthy is the increased presence of the show's excellent supporting cast: Bob Dowdell ("Lt. Cmdr. Chip Morton"), Del Monroe ("Kowalski"), Terry Becker ("Sharkey"), Arch Whiting ("Sparks") and other series regulars are given more screen time in these episodes, which range from utterly ludicrous experiments in genetic engineering ("The Menfish") to sea-faring ghost stories like "The Phantom Strikes" (guest-starring the great Alfred Ryder as the undead spirit of a Nazi U-Boat captain) and its season-ending sequel, "The Return of the Phantom." These episodes demonstrate producer Irwin Allen's occasionally misguided willingness to stretch credibility to its breaking point, but that didn't stop some episodes ("Terror on Dinosaur Island," "Deadly Creature Below!" and "The Monster's Web," for example) from satisfying loyal viewers with the series' now-established blend of impressive miniatures (especially the large-scale Seaview submarine models) and cheesy monsters, the latter due to the series' limited budget. And while episodes like "The Sky's on Fire" (an uninspired variation of the VTTBOTS feature film) indicated the series' penchant for recycling plots, others like "The Mechanical Man" (guest-starring James Darren as a power-hungry android) are enjoyable '60s sci-fi that bear striking resemblance to the original Star Trek. While co-stars Richard Basehart ("Adm. Nelson") and David Hedison ("Capt. Crane") continued to command the series with solid performances, the real fun of VTTBOTS came from its guest-stars, and these episodes are no exception. The adventures of the Seaview included a wide variety of familiar actors including Michael Ansara ("Killers of the Deep"), the ubiquitous Nehemiah Persoff ("Deadly Creature Below!"), Robert Loggia ("Graveyard of Fear"), Albert Salmi ("Dead Men's Doubloons"), and assorted day-players like John Dehner, Seymour Cassell, and Arthur O'Connell. So, while the series reached its entertaining high-point with these episodes, it was also walking a knife-edge between occasional innovation and repetitive, overly familiar plots which kept sparks flying (and fires igniting) on the Seaview's bridge while Hedison and his fellow cast members struggled to find new ways to toss themselves around while sub (i.e. the camera) was buffeted by its latest underwater threat. Silly? Perhaps, but one thing is undeniable for every nostalgic fan who invests in these DVDs: Voyage never looked or sounded better. The DVD transfers are consistently pristine, and in the bonus interview clips with Hedison (looking remarkably healthy at age 80), the series co-star readily admits that while he was growing bored with his role, these episodes are a lot more fun that he thought when they were during production, a full 41 years before these DVDs were released.

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FX2240492 Voyage to the Bottom of Sea - Season 2, Volume 2 DVD (1964) $29.98 $26.99