Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sealab 2020 (1972)

Sealab 2020
Stars: John Stephenson, Ross Martin
16 episodes

In short: Scientists and some kids living under the sea (not in a pineapple).

History has caught up with Sealab 2020 and it's a safe bet that we won't have underwater research labs that can house hundreds of people within the next four years. Perhaps Sealab 2120 would have been a better choice for a name for the show. But it's unlikely that the prolific animation factory that was Hanna-Barbera Productions were thinking of posterity when they put this one together.

I watched my share of animation when I was a kid - it's what one did - but animation and comic books have never been a strong interest of mine. I don't recall watching Sealab 2020 all those years ago at an age when I might have been in the target audience but it looked interesting and so I thought I'd give it a look.

Sealab is an underwater research station that's home to about 250 people. This being a Saturday morning cartoon, there are also a number of kids on hand. Underwater research isn't exactly a gripping topic and so much like Miss Marple finds herself in the midst of a maelstrom of murder in her small English village so do the Sealab crew find themselves involved in various exciting events, with plenty of good uplifting messages - often on matters of environmental import - thrown in for good measure.

One episode finds the gang dealing with a space probe that lands in the ocean nearby and in another they're squabbling with a team of oil drillers. There's a giant squid, Aztec treasures and a sub that crashes into the base and damages its nuclear reactor. And there's a hunter who seems to driven by his hunt for a whale. Sound familiar?

Of Note:
Perhaps not as forgotten as I thought it was, the show spawned a Cartoon Network spoof - Sealab 2021 (2001-05) - which ended up running for more than three times as long as Sealab 2020. Featured Ann Jillian, who had already been starring as a child actor for more than a decade.

"Deep Threat" (1/1)

I started at the beginning with this one - although I don't expect to continue. The first episode of the show finds the base in peril from leaking barrels of radioactive waste. One of the characters speculates that they might have been a carryover from the Seventies, when they apparently did such unthinkable stuff as polluting the ocean - those clods. A sub-plot finds a couple of the kids getting lost. I should have taken notes, I guess, since I watched this one a week or two before sitting down to write about it. I remember that it all turns out okay but the details have mostly faded from memory. I still like this as a concept for a show but the execution left quite a bit to be desired.

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