Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sea Hunt: Target USO

** Ahoy! Spoilers! **

"It was shiny and circular like a flying saucer."

And underwater, not in the sky.

I'm watching a rerun of an old TV show called "Sea Hunt" about the adventures of a ex-Navy frogman, Mike Nelson, portrayed by Lloyd Bridges. Usually the flippered hero is out chasing crooks and assorted other bad guys but this time around he's investigating reports of a sea monster off the coast of Mexico. He responds to an urgent message from a friend living in the area of the sighting.

The episode is entitled "Decoy," from the first season of "Sea Hunt" (First broadcast: Sept. 20, 1958). You can watch the episode at this link.

Whatever this unidentified submerged object is, when it approaches the shore, whales go nuts, jumping out of the water. It also emits a strange sound that is picked up by underwater microphones. One fisherman claimed it had eyes that burned and long flowing hair.

When the object is detected by an underwater microphone, Nelson -- ready to go in his scuba gear -- grabs his camera and dives in to find out what the mysterious visitor could be. But the turbulence from the speeding object is too much: he's tossed around like a seahorse trapped in a sealed aquarium bolted to the bed of a pickup truck with bad shocks racing down a potholed street. (How's that for a simile?) The visitor disappears without Nelson even getting a glimpse.

Time for a different tactic. Nelson has some nets rigged up and the object is trapped. He goes down and sees the visitor is manmade: it looks like a submerged Sputnik satellite.

The strange device is still active but Nelson knocks it out by pulling off its radio antennae. Later, after contacting US Naval Intelligence, he talks with an officer about the device.

The Navy lieutenant says that it's an underwater satellite, akin to a space satellite but one that orbits underwater. He doesn't know who made it but it could have been manufactured by one of a dozen countries, big or small. This is the 1950s. Days of the Soviet Union. How many countries belonged to that union? Those commie bastards! But whenever the Cold War situation rears its ugly head in a "Sea Hunt" episode, the foreign nation behind a particular oceanic bad deed is never named.

As for the details reported during its previous "orbits," the burning eyes were a couple of "light sensitive discs" on the sphere. The long, wild hair was kelp it had picked up along the way. If this thing created such strong turbulence, wouldn't kelp be torn apart and forced away before clinging to it?

Don't pay attention to science when watching an old TV show like this. For example, it's explained the small submerged satellite caused the tremendous turbulence from its great speed. And its great speed, Mike Nelson observes, was created from the device "using the pressure of the water itself for propulsion." Huh?

During the denouement Nelson tells one of the fishermen that he doesn't blame him for thinking the device was from another world.

But Nelson's friend, the one who called him in to investigate, says: "Who can say with all that is happening today?" Spooky.

Another episode - "Underwater Narcotics" - from Season 3 matches "Decoy" for being offbeat. Here is a plot description:

(First broadcast: Aug. 27, 1960) "Mike discovers a plant growing profusely on the ocean floor that turns out to be a hybrid cannabis..."

Underwater marijuana? I don't use drugs but, man, that has to be one salty smoke. The kelp aftertaste must be a killer.

Unfortunately this episode doesn't seem to be available for viewing online. I caught it on the This TV network early one morning.

1 comment:

Doug said...

Clearly there was some kind of government conspiracy forcing the producers to explain away the UFO as a mere satellite. The specious science only makes it more risible. Genius.