Friday, 8 August 2014

Seabase Atlantica: The Whole Sorry Story - part three

Since it's production in 1969, Seabase Atlantica has been largely forgotten about. The reasons are a mixture of legal and cultural. The few who saw it in early morning syndication in the US would rather forget about it as would the 'talent' who appeared in it. It's certainly not mentioned on James Darren's otherwise impressive resume.

In recent years, a few have made efforts to rectify this and in the mid-nineties, the magazine 'FanGrok' was the first to a publish a (slightly inaccurate) episode guide. Thanks to Paul Morehouse, we know the reasons for its shady past.

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Today however, I'm pleased to announce that the series will finally get a wider audience. The many political and legal obstacles that have prevented even the publication of images from the show have now been crossed. The complete series will be available on DVD from next month. We've managed to put together on a limited budget a selection of special features to accompany the HD remastered episodes. We even managed to convince some members of the original cast to contribute on the grounds that we will release it away with or without their own defence of their actions. The first 1000 copies of the box set will include a special 'Seabase Atlantica' calendar depicting many unseen photos from the show.

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All-in-all, it looks quite good having seen some of the test discs. I hope to include more details in a future post. 

Andrew-Mark Thompson

Season two – September-December 1970

SHELLEY WINTERS…Doctor Hanna Bourbon
JAMES DARREN…Captain Anthony ‘Ziggy’ Shapiro
CHAD MARTIN…Aqua, the Mer-boy
JUDY ALLEN…Cindy Crutch
JONATHAN HARRIS…Voice of Debbie the Robot

Wr. Stirling Siliphant
Dir. Irwin Allen
Professor Crutch, after a severe mental breakdown, is replaced by kindly matriarch Dr. Hanna Bourbon as commander of Seabase Atlantica. Aqua the Mer-boy discovers a giant starfish and is taken over by it. The starfish dupes him into thinking he’s the ghost of Blackbeard. Dr. Bourbon exorcises the ghostly spirit by placing a peutronic headband on Aqua to disperse the phantom. The radiation from the headband gives the Mer-boy unexpected telepathic powers that prove useful in later episodes.

Wr. William Welch and Irwin Allen
Dir. Harry Harris
Guest cast: Zsa Zsa Gabor (Mer Queen), Linda Evans, Stella Stevens (Mer Maids).
Green, scaly but beautiful mermaids capture Aqua the Mer-boy, wishing to use him to help them reproduce their race as all men on their home planet have been wiped out by a verminous space plague. Aqua telepathically communicates the location of the Uranian base to Dr. Bourbon, who launches a rocket with her, Ziggy, Susan, Cindy and Debbie the Robot on board to rescue him. But the rocket has to face a meteor storm before it reaches their friend. (Dynasty’s Linda Evans thought she was only contracted to film one episode of this two-parter and was shocked when she discovered it would involve more days filming than she really wanted. The producer was forced to lock her in her Winnebago for the duration of filming to prevent her running off.)

Wr. Peter Packer
Dir. Sobey Martin
Guest cast: David Carradine, Goldie Hawn, Dennis Hopper, Bill Williams Jnr (Hippies).
Susan is turned on by magic undersea mushrooms and become deliriously hallucinogenic. She is rescued from a man-eating crayfish by a tribe of gentle underwater hippies, desperate for new supplies of the wonder fungus. Ziggy rescues Susan and entombs the hippies forever at the bottom of the sea.
(The giant mushroom prop actually heralds from the original 1939 MGM production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’.)

Wr. William Welch
Dir. Sober Martini
Guest cast: Bill Williams Jnr, Rick Springfield (Werewolves).
Ziggy is infected by a virulent peutronic virus that turns him into a werewolf. He goes berserk and releases another werewolf, being transported to the base, from its cage. They go on a killing rampage and, as more and more people becoming infected, the werewolves threaten to take over. It’s a race against time as Dr. Bourbon and Susan struggle to find an antidote before the entire world is taken over.

Wr. William Welch and Irwin Allen
Dir. Harry Harris
Guest cast: Zsa Zsa Gabor (Mer Queen), Linda Evans, Stella Stevens, Bill Williams Jnr (Mer Maids), Eddie Boyle (Dog).
The rocket lands on Venus but Aqua is now under the thrall of the sexy Mer Queen. Dr. Bourbon is tortured and forced into the pit of mud to wrestle to the death with the Mer Queen whilst Ziggy and Susan are rescuing Aqua. The family return to Earth after the Mermaids’ power source is sucked out.

Wr. Jack Turley
Dir. Harry Harris
A giant purple cloud approaches the Earth and releases yellow and pink spores in the oceans, from which an evil turquoise and vermilion seaweed parasite emerges. Hanna must lure the creature into an extinct volcano, where Debbie the Robot is waiting to ignite a peutronic incendiary device. The volcano erupts bathing the parasite in hot lava and burning it to death. (Footage of the volcano erupting was taken from an NBC news report that one of the show's technicians had taped the night before shooting started.)

Wr. Wanda Duncan and Bob
Dir. Sobey Martin
Guest cast: Henry Jones (Prof Sphere), Bill Williams Jnr (Sailor man).
Ziggy discovers the body of a man wearing an old fashioned sailor’s uniform and, in turn, stumbles across an ancient undersea civilisation peopled by the crews of vanished sailing ships. They are ruled over by the megalomaniac Professor Sphere, who plans to destroy the world with a giant atom crusher that will release super-heated plankton into the Earth’s core and split it open. He gets drowned when his security kitchen is flooded.

Wr. William Welch
Dir. Harry Harris
While swimming near the base, Cindy is swallowed by a giant sea anemone, which duplicates her form and sends it back to Seabase. The duplicate plans to turn the peutronic reactor on to over and infect the base with deadly radiation, in turn converting everyone into dangerous zombie werewolves. Just in time, Aqua finds the real Cindy’s body. He returns with her to help Ziggy grapple with the duplicate and toss it into a seaweed threshing machine. (This is another of Judy Allen's least favourite best remembered episodes according to one of her carers.)

WR. Bob and Esther Mitchell
Director Harry Harris
Guest cast: Peter Mark Richman (Gonadski), Lloyd Bochner (Swasslehoffmann), Bill Williams Jnr (First and second vampire man).
Evil red agents kidnap Hanna and Susan and are then attacked and killed by two blood sucking vampire creatures. But with the two women now buried alive in an undersea grotto with less than an hour’s worth of air, it’s a race against time for Aqua the Mer-boy to telepathically locate them without himself becoming trapped and sucked to death by the savage vampire devils that guard the cave system. (The Russian embassy in Washington complained about the portrayal of their citizens as blood lusting vampires. A letter appeared in Pravda a month after the episode's transmission, denying that it was based on fact.)

Wr. Dan Ullman
Dir. Harry Harris
Guest cast: Jonathan Harris (Dr. Crutch), Bill Williams Jnr (Midget fire eater).
An underwater circus visits the Seabase but unknown to the denizens of Atlantica, the lead clown and ringmaster is, in truth, the insane Dr. Crutch, who has escaped from his top secret, high security lunatic asylum and plans to blow up the base. Luckily, Debbie the robot recognises her former master’s voice and electro-zaps him.

Wr. Bruce Geller and Irwin Allen
Dir. Sutton Roley
Guest cast: Mike Connors (TV’s Joe Mannix), Kent Smith (The Murderer), Bill Williams Jnr (The other suspect).
When a visiting scientist is murdered on the Seabase, Dr Bourbon is forced to bring in outside help in the form of TV’s Joe Mannix. The private detective is forced to use all of his wits to identify the murderer before he strikes again spelling doom for the base and its crew. (Mike Connors agreed to appearing in this episode as a forfeit for losing a round of golf with Shelley Winters.)

Wr. William Welch
Dir. Ronald Neame
Seabase Atlantica is infiltrated by mysterious sewer dwelling entities which attack and devour people in bathrooms. Ziggy and Aqua the Mer-boy are miniaturised and sent down the plumbing in a two-man sub. They destroy the creatures with special anti-septic grenades. (This episode utilised the sub from the movie 'Fantastic Voyage' after the director discovered it on the 20th Century Fox lot under a tarpaulin. Sadly the prop was not in the best of condition and the show's budget did not allow any restorative work to be carried out on it. Look closely in the second act and you can see the phrase 'What's jammin kid?' graffitoed just by the escape hatch handle.)

Wr. Irwin Allen
Dir. Sobey Martin
Guest cast: Bill Williams Jnr (Evil tree).
In this special Christmas episode, Dr Bourbon, Ziggy and Aqua the Mer-boy journey to investigate a strange light that falls into the sea. They find what appears to be a Christmas tree sent from the stars. Returning with it to the base, they are horrified to discover that it is really a deadly space conifer that has been sent to pave the way for an all-out invasion of planet Earth. The tree paralyses Dr Bourbon and Ziggy with stinging needles but just in time, Aqua telepathically convinces it that it is an ordinary Christmas tree and is a worldwide symbol of peace and goodwill. With the conifer frozen, Dr Bourbon is able to destroy it forever with a powerful defoliant and Christmas is saved.

Wr. William Welch
Dir. Harry Harris
Guest cast: Warren Stevens (Dr. Gammynekker), Bill Williams Jnr (Toad tongue operator).
The crew of the Seabase find themselves lost in the Mojha desert under threat from the giant toads of Dr. Gammynekker. The evil doctor plans to use his toads to threaten the UN with annihilation but Dr. Bourbon is able to stop him and he is devoured by one of his toad minions during a freak electrical storm caused by his peutron ray bomb.

9/8/2014 STOP PRESS: The DVD release of 'Seabase Atlantica' has been postponed due to unforseen legal issues with the estate of Irwin Allen.

Seabase Atlantica: The Whole 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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