HAIL TO THE CHIEF
DIR-GERD OSWALD (who also directed many OUTER LIMITS)
June 24, 1973 on a Sunday--Tobin (no, not the cantankerous war monger from THE SKY IS FALLING) who is really Scotty from STAR TREK tells Destroyers to stand by. Half a million people are outside. Tobin gets rid of a newsman and goes into the sick man's room who everyone is worried about. This is the one man who can keep peace at the Geneva Conference in 1971 and who was being counted on to keep peace this time too. The plan must work. A helicopter will take the man to a destroyer--he must spend no more than 30 minutes in the helicopter and he has only 36 hours to live unless they operate. Tobin says the man's name, "This man is Henry Talbot McNeil--the president of the United States."
Seaview is at a dock in Norfolk, Virginia--what Nelson feels is a hospitable town. Nelson and Crane are in full dress with hats and all. General George Beeker (John Hoyt) needs a double A security crewman. Ski is called (he wears a white sailor's hat). Beeker tells them the rest of the crew are restricted to the sub. Crane asks on who's authority--the Seaview is a civilian ship. Beeker insists--on his authority. They all leave. Ski waits in the office and eyes the girl who leaves as well as the secretary. Ski tells her after some small talk, that he is not in the Navy--he works for a research outfit. The girl (Susan Flannery) is not the regular secretary--she's out so this receptionist is in--from the steno pool. Her glasses pick up the conversation in the office. Ski reads a magazine. The President was in South America on vacation for just before the NATO talks in Geneva--which will be in one week. They now have a political and medical problem, therefore both sections of the government are involved. Dr. Kranz (David Lewis-ex-Edward Quartermaine on GENERAL HOSPITAL soap opera) suggest a Dr. Taylor for the destruction of the hemotomin in the President's brain. The President took a fall (Gerald Ford maybe?) and took on serious head injuries. A subdeural homtoma--a blood clot under the lining of the brain. It can be removed using brain surgery but Dr. Taylor's MGQ machine is developed to dissolve the hemotoma. If it cannot, then surgery will have to be performed. The government men say, "The Seaview can solve several of our problems." It has security (hahaha--see THE BUCCANEER and THE HUMAN COMPUTER). It has the best and most advanced medical facilities afloat. It will rendezvous with a Destroyer in the Caribbean at a prearranged time. CNO will outline the course. Ski will be the courier and deliver this in SEALED ORDERS which can be opened only with a key that Nelson will have--there are only two like it. Nelson has one, the sender of the message the other. A fat chubby, cigar smoking leader of the enemies is told this by the girl secretary receptionist. Beeker puts an arm bracelet band on Ski's arm and locks it--the orders are inside on microfilm. He is to follow the route prescribed. Ski, on his way out, asks the girl for dinner when he has shore leave--shore leave which he expects just after this mission. She says maybe, then, after he leaves, opens an antenna on his glasses--LRO to 7X35--confirm courier via motorcycle. Ski is on his cycle. The guy from LAND OF THE GIANTS-GHOST TOWN-the tramp sets up a wire trap which causes the cycle to crash and Ski to fall.
Ski gets up and a woman named Monique (Nancy Kovak-a frequent BEWITCHED and I DREAM OF JEANNIE guest star) stops in her sportscar. She has long dark hair (a wig it seems) and dark sunglasses. She calls over two men as Ski passes out. They put him in an ambulance and search him, finding the arm band on his left arm. They put it under a scope and read it: TOP SECRET-72+A+4. They read the orders (THE PRICE OF DOOM music). This sequence reminds me of the much later MISSION: IMPOSSIBLEs where the IMF would take a crook and do all sorts of things to him in a fake ambulance set up. They take a copy of the orders for decoding. They put Ski back out near the girl. He eaves to her and goes off on his cycle, not realizing how long he was knocked out. Ski goes to Seaview and to Nelson, telling him about the minor accident. Nelson uses his key to open the arm band and take it off. He takes the microfilm out. Elsewhere: old man Dr. Taylor is telling his colleague (aide?) Dr. Laura Rettig about his trip to Norfolk, telling her he feels comfortable with her in charge of their radiology unit in the hospital. He cannot divulge more and she seems to understand. Laura will be left in full charge of the clinic. Dr. Taylor and she part and he is run down, on purpose, by a station wagon which pulls away. Laura yells out his name. Later: Laura seems recovered--she and the fat chubby man are in a dark room together. Laura demonstrates the device Taylor was going to use to save the President. She has gloves and protective goggles on. The egg she fires at smokes. The outer surface looks the same but inside--the molecular structure has been changed. It is now powder and can be crushed by the pair. The ray was a cure but with the magnetic element in the ray turned to a higher intensity it becomes a death ray, destructive power from what could have been a cure at lower intensity. Her instructions are clear--the President should have a death by natural causes. The phone rings. Laura answers it and seems to smirk a bit. She hangs up and says, "Dr. Taylor died--he was a very fine man." She and her boss don't seem to really believe this and both do not seem too broken up about this. That bitch. Seaview orders: South-south east off the Virgin Islands in 13 hours at 40 knots, one officer, one crewman, the President will be sent to Seaview in a diving bell to Seaview; there must be no surfacing. All of this has been done to keep it all a secret. Curley reports the surgical team is on the dock. Dr. Adams is the anthethsiologist and a nurse is on board as well. Laura arrives with a flamboyant dress, hat, and smoking a long cigarette. She claims to be the radiologist. She gives her bags over to the man Morgan, the security person. Lt. Baker will show her to her quarters. She crosses the catwalk. Seaview moves off from the city harbor and then dives to 200 feet (Seaview theme). An officer comes down to the nose. En route Dr. Jamieson (Malcolm Atterbury) located the hemotoma via an encelphelogram. Dr. Krantz tells Laura this. He and Dr. David Adams inspect scrubbing. Laura (who seems to be called by a slightly different last name at times--like Redding for example) is left alone in her curtained off section of sickbay. Laura readies the death ray device, flipping a switch (good music used throughout this scene and the whole episode).
Seaview is at 200 feet at 35 knots. Chip gets a reading from the engine room--40 knots. Crane asks Curley to run a check. The gyro repeater states the course is 235 but it is really 170. Lee says, "This is a better ship than we thought---it's going in two directions at once!" He suggests that they entered some magnetic zone. Nelson dismisses this but says, "Or maybe the magnetic zone has entered us." Watches, instruments, compasses, and three different chronometers have all gone haywire. Nelson runs to Sickbay and questions Rettig about it. Morgan (Ed Platt of GET SMART and perhaps the Chief here too!) She lies, then tests her machine---no change in the interference. Of course, Laura has a special shut off switch for the death ray and can make it look like the problem is not coming from the machine. Crane tells Chip to put detection devices to the computer. They are getting magnetic feedback and work on finding out their location. LOST IN SEA. Seaview tilts. Nelson in the hallway shakes. A Navy man carrying a tray, falls (film VOYAGE), Sickbay shakes too. Curley, Clark, and Crane run to the pressure room. An explosion aft 7 or 9 is causing this. Nelson grumbles, "It would be--that's the most inaccessible part of the ship." Clark wants to free it by hand. Nelson warns him if the arrow is three points past the red zone he has to flood the compartment. Crane says with a cracked valve wither they fix it from the inner hull, sink, or race back to port. Clark insists he fix it and goes in. He passes sparking wires, water, divider frames but finally finds the stuck valve. There is other minor damage all over the ship. Nelson tells Curley to stand by to crack the hatch over the entrance. Curley asks, "With Clark still in there?" Nelson yells, "Stand by!" Seaview shakes. A hose falls and steam comes out. Clark has found the valve but the point is one half away from the red line. Clark drops a wrench and gets his arm stuck in the turning turn wheel. The arrow is on the red line. Nelson calls in. Lee goes in. Nelson will wait three points past the red line. Crane knows this but goes in to find Clark anyway. He hears the man calling. Crane accidentally puts his hand on a pipe and it sparks at him. He calls. Crane, after much crawling around, finds and frees Clark. The arrow is two and a half points over the red line. Curley argues not to put the plate back over the entrance but does it when it hits three. Nelson orders him to break the glass for emergency valve to be used--then they have to go back to port! Nelson will wait ten more seconds. Curley starts turning but Nelson yells for him to wait. The pressure starts dropping as Lee frees Clark's arm and moves the valve. Nelson orders the plate off and Curley obliges, "Yes sir." We hear happy music. Slap happy good darn music. Seaview is on course. A surface craft at two o'clock arrives with the President on board. We hear Seaview theme. Crane lifts up the periscope and sees the destroyer out there.
The bell is lifted off the destroyer and moves past the periscope as Lee watches. Nelson, Crane, and radio man in the nose see the bell pass the nose window. They also see the Destroyer bottom. These scenes are marvelous with great effects. Crane orders Seaview ahead. Nelson smokes (Eaggahhh!). Seaview goes to 150 feet to meet the bell. The bell is near the hull as the sub moves under it and finally the bell lands safely on Seaview. The Missile Room transfers passengers from the escape hatch. Commander Jamieson goes to Rettig and Adams and is introduced by Krantz. The President was not conscious at all since the afternoon. They do not need to scrub down, Krantz insists, since they will not operate if the MGQ works. Ski looks at the President being taken past, "That's the first time I saw the President up close." Curley responds, "The next time you see him--I hope he looks better--a lot better." Sickbay: Jamieson looks and says the hemotomin is in a good place for surgery. Krantz continues to sing the praises of the MGQ (is he a spy too?). They begin to use it--or rather allow Laura to. Blood pressure is lower as the device warms up. Laura makes her switch. The machine becomes intense and she puts protective glasses on. Krantz now seems worried that it is too intense. Chip looks at controls flip, "There they go again, capt'n." Laura uses her secret switch but this time, the computer is cut in and gives Nelson the area of the interference-range 60-Sickbay. "Sickbay!!" Nelson runs down to Sickbay and pushes past the guards just in time to run into the room and stop Laura, "Stop that machine!" Laura fights him on the other side of the device, aiming at the President's head, "I'm not going to let you stop me, now!" Nelson turns the device away from the President. Laura tries to aim it at him but lab beakers and other devices and equipment are blasted. Nelson pulls the wires out and it stops. A guard of Morgan's arrests Laura, who snaps, "Don't touch me!" Nelson will be happy to remove the machine and have it dismantled. Seaview is at dead stop as the surgery begins. Official music is heard at Norfolk dock. Nelson and Crane watch in full uniform dress with hats as an ambulance leaves. Nelson says, "Another write up for your memory book, Lee, a personal thank you from the President himself." Crane spots Beeker coming up to the Seaview via a catwalk. Crane says, "Uh oh." Beeker is saluted by both. He thanks them and tells them they, and the Seaview's men are restricted to the ship until a press conference can be held to tell the world about the President's condition. They can't take the chance the story will leak out first until the White House notifies the press themselves. Beeker says, "Nice job, well done." He leaves. Nelson says to Crane, "Let's go, Lee. We don't know anyone in Norfolk, Virginia anyway."
REVIEW: Hail to HAIL TO THE CHIEF. There are no monsters, no gunplay, no fights, not too many shake up the sub (although in season one almost every shaking sub scene was used effectively to fit the story and not overdone--by season four the focus was the being shaken about), not much by way of violence, and no brainwashing. For all of that, even though, at first, it may seem slow and unmoving due to not having any of those usual VOYAGE trappings, this episode rises above almost all the others. We really do care what happens to the President, despite the fact he is not characterized in this episode. Everyone else is so concerned--it rubs off. I also like the way the enemy got away with intercepting Kowalski--totally. The sterling cast makes this one worthy. Viveca Lindfors, now big in theatre, was an excellent enemy agent, akin to the Russian (Lotte Lenya) lead female spy in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, however, here, the spy is much more mature, sly, and womanly, not to mention much more devious. Her fight with Nelson in the Sickbay as she tries to shoot the deadly beam at the President is short but exciting. I also remember the murder of the good and kindly Dr. Taylor--via a car--and the enemy woman's reaction...very cold and calculating. The idea of the President having to be operated on evokes FANTASTIC VOYAGE, even though in that movie it was a badly wounded scientist, not the President. The other plot--that of a cure ray being used as a death ray--has been done before and with more emphasis on the device (THE INVISIBLE RAY with Karloff and Lugosi is one standard example and a very good movie to boot). However, here, the story intermixed with the spy stuff and the political intrigue is quite good. The scenes with Clark in the vent were tense and knowing Clark was not a regular crewman but a sometimes crewman made it more so--he could have died in there. This scene as well as Crane's rescue of him is used in NO ESCAPE FROM DEATH. Kowalski being knocked down and the female secretary spy in the office---and they waylay Ski on his motorcycle as he delivers sealed orders about the operation is memorable. The ending with the Seaview crew confined to quarters is ironically funny and Nelson's line, "Let's go Lee, we don't know anyone in Norfolk anyway," is also fun. A large supporting cast of pros makes this one watchable and entertaining. I must also give accolades to both Basehart and Hedison again. Basehart makes the last few scenes of the show--when he fights Laura in the Sickbay believable and exciting in an episode that has been building to this for the whole hour! Hedison injects wry wit and humor into Crane in season one, humor which can be appreciated. It is too bad that he seemed to frustrate on this by seasons three and four--he is absolutely brilliant in this season--even more than usual---his encounters with all kinds of people in this season--stuffy, by the book officers, snoopy scientists, obsessed men and women, frightened crewmen who have families, THE HUMAN COMPUTER, and here, the idea that Seaview is telling him it can go in two directions, gives Hedison a chance to show off his acting ability, making Crane human and humorous in a role that could have been dull but isn't thanks to Hedison. Amid others also see LONG LIVE THE KING, THE SKY IS FALLING, THE CREATURE I, CRADLE OF THE DEEP, and MUTINY (in his dealings with Admiral Stark) for more of this Crane wit injected by Hedison. He could also, project fear as in MUTINY, grimness as in SUBMARINE SUNK HERE, and deadly seriousness in almost all the shows. Hedison should be much appreciated by all Allen fans and VOYAGE fans. A look to Nelson or to Chip in reaction to something another character says, a frown or glance, does it all from Hedison and this must be said of Basehart as well. They knew how not to let the submarine upstage them.