THE GHOST OF MOBY DICK
Jim Bryce, a young boy, is steering the cruiser of his father, Walter Bryce as the family hunts a huge whale. When Walter orders Jimmy to go full throttle so they can harpoon the whale, Jim says they are too close. Walter tosses him aside and gets close. Walter's wife, Ellen tells him the whale is twice the size of any whale they have seen. Walter fires the harpoon-electrode into the whale, which dives. It surfaces up under the ship, cracking it in two and turning it on its side!
Six months later: Seaview dock: trucks pass by. Crane and Nelson discuss the whale mission which is given top priority via a message from Washington DC. Walter is Nelson's former student and has formed the Bryce Institute of Advanced Marine Research. Ellen (although at times, it sounds like Helen), Bryce sees Harry first. It has been ten years...now she is Dr. Bryce also and was the prettiest student to ever have disrupted his classes, Nelson teases her to Crane. Nelson goes on to joke that they should not allow sailors on sabbatical to teach in co-ed institutions. Walter comes in, crippled. Nelson is sorry about their son, didn't know about Walter and finds that Walter doesn't want his sympathy. It was in the South Atlantic that they found the huge whale--which was over twice 80 feet long. Nelson tells Walter that Crane, as a sub commander, has to be of a skeptical lot by nature. Ellen tells Crane she is not along to darn socks and cook. She is a vital part of this mission (if not the Jupiter II mission a few years later!). The mission: to take an electro cardiograph of the whale's heart--via the core of a sending device Walter already implanted in the whale. He tries it on Crane's heart. After Nelson and Crane leave, Bryce and Ellen disagree: she understands what he is really after and will find a way to stop him. Seaview cruises the surface as we hear the great Sawtell theme song. The devices on Seaview in the nose will record extra energy and electricity of the mammalian heart--a heart that would fill the nose room and is two to three tons in weight. Walter tells Nelson he has not learned about women since he is still a bachelor but no one, Walter says, ever really learns about women. Crane and Chip with command hats on, are on the conning tower and see nothing. They are near where the cruiser was wrecked. Chip, a few moments later, sees a whale. Bryce goes up with Crane's binoculars to view it from the conning tower. Crane follows. Then they go down to the nose and while Crane claims it is the biggest whale he's ever seen, Bryce tells them that whale is not half the whale they are after! Bryce tells more about the mission: the research can save human lives by giving them more info about the heart...humans have heart attacks if they are 20 to 30 pounds overweight but the whales...Nelson backs him up with saying the human heart research with the info they will collect is invaluable. Chip spots a whaler (Russian? Japanese?); Nelson asks Sparks to raise the whaler captain who tells him the whale they are after was spotted by him 30 days ago but his crew wouldn't go after it. Bryce wants better speed by going underwater and Nelson agrees. Seaview dives and we hear the theme song again. Crane tells them to go two thirds speed--not realizing they were in a race. When he sees Nelson in the curtained door entrance, he orders full speed ahead full.
Ellen goes to Bryce in their cabin, wanting them to turn back and go on living. Bryce yells at her that the whale killed his son but she calls the whale just a dumb creature. She goes on to tell him that he wants the whale to pay for something he did...he killed Jimmy. He hits her in the face and the force slams her against the wall and down. She won't let him help her up as he tries, "All the revenge in the world won't change anything." Sparks pipes sonar into the control room system and they hear the heartbeat pounding all over the ship (which makes the scenes more tense as the heartbeat-like music did in BLAKE'S 7-third season closing episode and the BLAKE season four opening episode). Nelson, Crane, and the Bryces go to the nose as the whale is head on. Seaview stops and the whale merges close to the window, hitting it. Crane says, "I take it all back," referring to his previous skepticism and questioning to Bryce, "...nothing is bigger than that!" They will get an EKG on the whale but must tranquilize it first. It passes Seaview. Curly and Ski prepare the tranquilizer. The whale passes in front of Seaview and then turns tail. Seaview follows it but the whale then turns again...on full collision coarse! Seaview turns full right rudder (and we see the full bottom in clear shots). As the whale follows unfortunately we also see a string pulling it (at least on the pristine copy I've seen, the clearness is so good that every detail is viewed...including the string in this case!). That aside, the special effects as the gang watch the whale from the Seaview window are great and are not equaled even later on in the series (JONAH AND THE WHALE and THE SHAPE OF DOOM)! The model work is also quite good. Chip and Lee watch the whale on the mini screen in the control room. The first tranquilizer misses and the whale hits the mid ship starboard side. The ship shakes, leaks spring out, storage hatches 3, 8, and 12 are flooded and the whale hits the other side of the Seaview. Seaview sinks to the bottom
Seaview is tilted to one side on the bottom. Diving back, Curly comes into the Missile Room hatch tube--the emergency repair crew did what they could; Chip reports damage control has one half speed and the internal ribbing structure is weak. Chip says, "Any more hits like that and this sub is going to be the sea and the view with both ends going in opposite directions." Crane feels humiliated by having this done to them by a fish but Chip says, "Calling that whale a fish is like calling Babe Ruth just another baseball player!" Men are working on the hall structure, bracing it with wood or metal. Crane wants to go back to port. They are in the whale's natural habitat...the underwater mountain range they have fallen into. Walter wants to stay and so does Nelson. Crane tells him and Nelson that he is in command of the ship. Crane gives Ellen a look to talk to Harry. She does, "This whole mission is cloaked in an aura of respectability. He doesn't care anything about heart research anymore...all he cares about is getting to that whale...he will destroy you, me, the Seaview, everything." Nelson tells her he will take the readings first, no matter Walter's state. Crane comes to talk to Nelson privately. He tells Nelson he is responsible for the safety of everyone aboard ship, the sub is damaged, and he can't risk lives. Nelson weighs the lives of those on the sub against how many will be saved through the heart research. Crane realizes Bryce only came here to kill the whale. He and Nelson argue. Crane snaps, "You're becoming just like him!" He hands Nelson the book Moby Dick and mentions Ahab. Nelson says, "I know all about Ahab!" Crane forces him to read from it---passages well read by Basehart who starred in the movie MOBY DICK. Nothing mattered but hunting the white whale--nothing but Ahab's supernatural revenge. Bryce is in scuba gear and when Nelson grabs his arm to stop him, Bryce tells him he thought Nelson would understand. He tells Harry he sees it in his eyes...he does understand. Nelson tells him he was used by Bryce and can't let him go. Bryce hits Nelson in the head with a harpoon handle and Nelson falls. Seaview is up at one half speed and can only surface run. It goes up but Bryce is already swimming off. He sees Seaview moving away.
Seaview is on the surface. Crane asks Chip to get Nelson and have him join him on the Flying Bridge (con tower). Chip finds Nelson on the floor of the Missile Room and Nelson refuses to go to Sick Bay. Patterson passes them, working. Nelson goes to the control room and orders them to go back down. Crane belays it and tells Nelson why while Ellen, listening in the doorway hears him. They discuss Bryce and his madness as well as risking their lives if they go down. Ellen comes out and tells Harry that Walter is insane--she says it hurts her to say it but it is true. She saw it coming onto him for some time now. His mind is twisted and warped by his desire for revenge. Nelson orders Lee to bring the ship about but Crane says, "No." Nelson argues, "We can't leave him there to die--he can save millions of lives." Crane orders reverse coarse and tells the crew the situation---Dr. Bryce has no chance of survival unless they go back. Ski and Curly are working on leaks, commenting briefly on Crane's assessment of the sub's state. Seaview dives and then turns and unfortunately we see another string pulling it! Ski gives Curly the 20 dollars he borrowed from him in Hong Kong six months ago. Curly just stares (this bit was lifted from ABBOTT AND COSTELLO who did it in various places most notably in PARDON MY SARONG). Seaview moves from 200 feet to 300 feet. They hear the heartbeat from the two hundred ton whale which passes over Seaview and we see its shadow pass over Bryce. He seems to lure the whale away from Seaview, then shoots it but his line gets caught on him and the whale takes him up toward the surface with him. Nelson orders Lee to try to follow them. Seaview blows tanks and surfaces. The whale pulls Bryce along the surface; Nelson and Crane see him from the conning tower using binoculars. He is trapped and the whale dives, drowning Bryce, who took his mask off in his struggle. In the nose of the Seaview, Ellen goes to Harry, "Don't blame yourself." Nelson calls it a waste--he could have done more to stop, he feels. Ellen says no, he couldn't...,"...he was dead before he ever set foot on this ship. It's almost as though he died the very first time he saw that whale."
NOTE: An engrossing story, difficult to stop watching, even after the fifth viewing or more! The effects are not matched, even today, with computer graphics but there are those two string incidents. June Lockhart, Richard Basehart and David Hedison do top notch acting in this one and there is more drama than usual. The black and white filming adds to the episode as the bleakness of it deepens. The closing music over the Tag is often used music which adds to both the melancoly of it and the affirmation of human surviving through incredible odds...and being able to enjoy living on. It is a touch sad as well and is used again and again...and never bores. Great episode. Some sources, ill informed, believed the GHOST of the title THE GHOST OF MOBY DICK to be literally the ghost of a whale. While this is not too outlandish for VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, this is simply not the case. The ghost is figurative.