Monday, 4 August 2014

Seabase Atlantica: The Whole Sorry Story - part two

In my previous piece about Seabase Atlantica, I referenced one Paul Morehouse upon whose original research these pieces are based on. He had managed to unearth fragments of the story of the TV series and the reasons for its ongoing neglect. Although he furnished me with a number of images and the odd photosopy, all I really have is the original article he wrote for us back in nineties.

The fact that 'Seabase Atlantica' was made was down to a number of unique factors at the time. The two major ones were the confidence the studio had in Irwin Allen's ability to “create another Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and the ever increasing financial problems that Twentieth Century Fox found itself in as the sixties came to an end.

Click to enlarge
The box-out to the right is taken from Paul's original article and sets up the lie of the land that the new series was born into together with the unique way that money was found to finance the show.

The over-confidence of the show's production team to produce episode-after-episode of the first season saw them continue to produce a second the following year without realising the series had yet to air on one of the major networks.

Eventually production stopped and the financial problems of the studio suddenly took charge of the situation. The cost and value of the show roughly equated to a sizeable part of the taxes owed by the studio to the IRS. In a bizzare series of top secret discussions between studio accountants and IRS investigators, a contract was drawn up that resulted in the US Government taking posession of 'Seabase Atlantica' – its assets, episodes and intellectual ownership – as part payment of the tax bill. (Apparently, one of the documents that Paul had also allegedly included a request from a leading Senator for the telephone number of Julie Andrews who had recently starred in Twentieth Century Fox's musical flop 'Star!' but whether this was followed up, is something between the Senator and Ms. Andrews.)

Click to enlarge
The second box out to the left is also taken from Paul's original article and explains the way that the series vanished from the face of television history and the legacy it had on future film and TV production.

There may well be hope on the horizon for television aficionados to finally see 'Seabase Atlantica' soon. 

More on that in part three.

SEABASE ATLANTICA – Episode Guide - part two

Season one - September 1969-March 1970

ROBERT YOUNG…Professor Jonathan Crutch
JAMES DARREN…Captain Anthony ‘Ziggy’ Shapiro
CHAD MARTIN…Aqua, the Mer-boy
JUDY ALLEN…Cindy Crutch
JONATHAN HARRIS…Voice of Debbie the Robot

Wr. Justin Addiss
Dir. Malachi Throne
Guest cast: Bill Williams Jnr (Caterpillar man), Tarquin Font (Butterfly man).
Whilst exploring a beautiful undersea forest, Ziggy and Susan discover a giant chrysalis which, when hatched, threatens to devour the seabase. Aqua the Mer-boy must get supplies of a rare seaweed that the creature feeds on to lure it into a trap in order to electro-fry it to death, However, the giant caterpillar turns into a mystical sea butterfly and departs into outer space.
(Actor Tarquin Font was working as a waiter at a local restaurant when the director noticed how much he looked like a butterfly and cast him in the episode.)

Wr. J E Selby (Irwin Allen)
Dir. Felix Feist
Guest cast: Adam West (Marlo Pernicker), Bill Williams Jnr (The Ghost of Amelia Earhart).
A wily accountant threatens to close the seabase down due to excessive costs. However, he quickly changes his mind when the resurrected ghost of Ameila Earhart kidnaps him. Prof Crutch is able to convince the dead sea ghost pilot to release the accountant before trapping the spirit inside a peutron capsule headed for outer space. (Bill Williams Jnr is actually wearing the same costume as Florence Henderson did in the previous ‘Ghost of the Airways’ episode. To hide his distinctive male features, the costume department issued Williams with a cloak which he could bring up to cover his face when necessary. Even though he was agile at this, in one later shot, you can clearly see stubble on Amelia Earhart’s chin.)

Wr. Anthony Wilson
Dir. Harry Harris
Guest cast: Bill Williams Jnr (Sludge man).
A giant sentient sludge creature from another dimension kidnaps Crutch and threatens to absorb his brain. Ziggy and Susan, with the help of Debbie, detonate its power supply and the monster turns into nothing more than harmless mud. (The original title for this episode - as written on an early shooting script in red crayon - was ‘Another Fucking Piece of Shit’.)

Wr. William Welch
Dir. Sobey Martin
Guest cast: David Wayne (Shuvvitch), Denver Pyle (Captain Vagishatt), Bill Williams Jnr (Pony boy).
The team discover a shipwreck with a vast chest of gold bullion aboard. Evil foreigner agents steal the gold that is, in truth, a weapon capable of disintegrating the free will of people’s minds. Jon Crutch is affected and raids the base’s peutronic reserves. Ziggy and Aqua the Mer-boy must stop him before Debbie is affected by the power drain and turns back into a giant fish-eating robotoid werewolf. (Bill Williams Jnr wore his own Pony boy costume for his scenes in the third act.)

Wr. Dan Ullman
Dir. Nathan Juran
Guest cast: Bill Williams Jnr (Golden Octopus man).
Cindy discovers a wishing machine, capable of granting her every wish, at the base of a long-dead volcano. The golden octopus man who guards it seeks her out in revenge, but is destroyed, along with the device, when the volcano is sent back in time by an alien robotoid from the planet Jupitarius. (This episode is actress Judy Allen’s favourite least worst episode according to her carer.)

Wr. Arthur Weiss
Dir. Harry Harris
Guest cast: Davy Jones (Locka).
Aqua the Mer-boy befriends an invisible force called Locka which, when smuggled into the base by Aqua, causes havoc and mischief by playing dangerous practical jokes on everyone. Prof Crutch loses his atomic powered fountain pen that, if tampered with the wrong way, will release deadly peutronic radiation and kill everyone in a ten-mile radius. The invisible force becomes affected by it and pleads with Aqua to join with him. Eventually, the force mutates into a giant invisible werewolf. Tearfully, Aqua the Mer-boy has to destroy his new friend by flooding his body with deadly gamma rays.
(This episode was banned in Saudi Arabia which is odd because the series was never broadcast there.)

Wr. William Welch
Dir. Sober Martin
Guest cast: Bill Williams Jnr (Man).
The asteroid Caligari is on a collision course with Earth. The only way to stop it is to create a megalonic field around the Earth using the Prof. Crutch’s peutronic piles. The heroic plan is dangerous and enemy agents are despatched to stop Crutch. Meanwhile a rampaging sea cucumber threatens Hawaii. (The episode features stock footage from the ‘Lost in Space’ episode ‘Blast off into Space’)

Wr. Shirl Hendryx
Dir. Harry Harris
Guest cast: Eartha Kitt (Pussy Queen), Yvonne De Carlo (Pussy General), Heather Young (Pussy Alpha), Bill Williams Jnr (Pussy man).
Intelligent Pussy men from the planet Skargyll invade Atlantica. Jon and Ziggy are forced into creating a giant fur bomb that will accelerate the hair growth of every man on Earth turning them into Pussies. Crutch discovers that the Pussy men are vulnerable to fresh water and drowns them to death. (Two specially trained cats were used in the final control room scene but were lost when special effect technicians flooded the set for the explosive climax of the episode.)

Wr. Bob and Esther Mitchell
Dir. Richard Donner
Cindy’s hair is turned purple when she eats a wild undersea pomegranate. Prof Crutch races against time to save her from becoming totally purple-ized but he has become infected by a leaking peutronic container and is in danger of irreversibly becoming a werewolf forever. (The television show that Cindy is seen watching in the first scene is actually footage from Irwin Allen’s unsold TV pilot for ‘The Astounding Captain Fish’.)

Wr. William Welch
Dir. Sobey Martin
Guest cast: Fred Gwynne (Horton Crabtree), Bill Williams Jnr (Moon man), Ken Matthews, Jock Gaynor (Other Moon men), Bob May (Robo Centurion)
Jon Crutch’s old college friend, Horton Crabtree, is in league with insane aliens from the backside of the moon who plan to extinguish the sun and plunge the Earth into total darkness and invade it as well. Just in time, Ziggy is able to radio control a giant mirrored satellite into orbit so as to reflect the sun’s rays onto the alien base, burning the vile moon men and their army of robot Roman centurions forever. (Munsters actor Fred Gwynne claimed not to remember “a bloody thing” about filming this episode in his autobiography… but we know he did.)

Wr. Harlan Ellison
Dir. Jerry Hopper
Guest cast: Bill Williams Jnr (Blue puff creature operator).
Cute furry blue creatures that develop and multiply at an alarming rate plague Atlantica. They break into the base’s peutronic stores and begin to grow in size. Jon Crutch has to inject them with a rare seaweed serum in order to poison them forever. (The blue furry creatures were actually purchased en-masse from a local toyshop. Their eyes were removed and their bodies were stuffed with red jello for their final scenes. Harlan Ellison is the pen-name of writer Cordwainer Bird.)

Wr. Richard Shapiro
Dir. Sobey Martin
Guest cast: Bette Davis (Lizard Queen), Dianne Summers, Karen Steele, Bill Williams Jnr (Lizard Women).
An old and ancient race of Amazonian Lizard women is discovered by Crutch who, believing them to be evil, eradicates them with a giant peutronic bomb.
(In the Lizard Queen’s bed chamber, the portrait hanging on the wall is of actor William Conrad and was originally used in an episode of the western series ‘Have Gun – Will Travel’ that the Cannon actor directed once.)

Wr. William Welch
Dir. Harry Harris
Guest cast: Herve Villechaise (First amphibian).
Small green amphibian men from Mars pay the base a visit but Prof Crutch is unable to decipher their electronic language and he electrocutes them. (This was actually the 14th episode to be completed but was left on the shelf until the spring because someone had forgot about it.)

To be continued in part three by clicking here.

Seabase Atlantica: The Whole Sorry Story

Written by Andrew-Mark Thompson

Based on material originally written and researched by Paul Morehouse and first published in the magazine ‘FanGrok

With humble acknowledgement to the work of Adam Richards and Owen Richards.

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