11 October 2007 | redryan64
Dangerous Assignments, Mysterious Foes, Gorgeous "stuffed" Bikinis, Getting Caught in the Kelp and The 'Bends'! All in a Day's Work for Mike Nelson!!
The freedom of having your own Sea Going Power Boat, the excitement of going on underwater adventures a rugged,an's man of an adventurer and lovely(and so well endowed!) assistants in fine Bikinis were all definite selling points for "SEA HUNT"(1958-61).
Just what was the reason for producing a sort of sea going "gun for hire"* series. Let's look closely now. There must be a some clues around.
If we were to look back just a little, we see the RKO Radio Pictures production of UNDERWATER! (1955). It starred Jane Russell, Gilbert Roland, Richard Egan and Lori Nelson as a quartet of very attractive Scuba Diving Adventurers working on salvage in the Carribbean, including a Pre-Fidel Cuba. The film was moderately successful and was memorable not necessarily for its story as for the looks of the principals in swimming suits. Fine, shapely Women Folk in some really keen 2 piece bathing suits (Woo, woo, woo, woo!) are always a plus for the Guys; and the presence of rugged, athletic men folk displaying their best beefcake "poses" is equally pleasing to the Gals.
And there is one element that is a true legacy of this old RKO Feature. It is on the Soundtrack contained in between the musical queues and themes. It is the Recording of "It's Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White", written by Louiguy and Jacques LaRue and performed by Damaso Perez Prado and His Orchestra.
Anyone who hears this Insturmental or Song (with Lyrics)will not soon forget it. Its Carribbean Beat is so very lively and its rich use of the Brass Section of the Orchestra is Powerful and instantly renders instant impression and memory. The 45 RPM Record of this Song made it to the Top 10 most Popular Songs of the Week for many Saturday Evenings on NBC TV's "YOUR HIT PARADE". We can't remember just how many weeks nor just how high it got. (Maybe some one can fill us in on that one item, please!) So, we got back to "SEA HUNT" and its own odyssey in getting on "the Tube". The public had taken to UNDERWATER! all right, but would they go for a TV Series.
ZIV TV Productions was getting a reputation for putting out a type of product that, for the most part, didn't get signed on by the Networks for the multi-station hook-up treatment. But they had been having some great successes with Television Syndication.** By that we mean, offering a Series for Stations for showings on a one to a TV Station per each Market Area. (Much like the various Newspaper Syndicates "sell" Comic Strips to various Papers around the Country, and World, even.
So, we got 'Mike Nelson', himself, in the physical presence of Lloyd Bridges. Mr. Bridges had been around for approximately 15 years or so and had turned in some very memorable performances in mostly supporting and highly varying roles in a couple of Boston Blackie movies (with Chester Morris)to THEY STOOGE TO CONGA (3 Stooges 1943), SAHARA (also 1943), HOME OF THE BRAVE (1949) and THE WHISTLE AT EATON FALLS(1951).
Lloyd brought a very convincing manner to his characterization, along with a fine, convincingly athletic physique, having the look of a guy who makes his living with his physical abilities. He took very well as the Diver's Diver, whether it's performing duties on board ship, or fathoms beneath the Sea.
And Lloyd did take to the role quickly, but contrary to a lot of misinformation out there, he was not familiar with S.C.U.B.A.*** prior to landing this Mike Nelson gig. But the Athletic Mr. Bridges proved to be a quick learner, as so many of the close-up shots underwater revealed that there was no doubt about it, that it was Lloyd with the mask, the bubbler(air tank) and the flipper fins.
Stories almost always involved the helping-out some client for pay, much like a Private Detective would. So what if the client was a lovely Lady who looked good in the Bathing Suit, all the better.
Like so many of the other ZIV/UNITED ARTISTS TV Productions,"SEA HUNT" possessed a fine, haunting Opening Theme and Closing, along with some original incidental music and queues.
At one time, I believe that "SEA HUNT" was the top syndicated TV Series, a success that ZIV Series had known before with the likes of "SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE"and "HIGHWAY PATROL". As far as the showing venue for this underwater saga, here in Chicago it was shown late night (after 10:30 P.M.) on WNBQ TV, Channel 5 (our NBC Affiliate, now known as WMAQ TV).
And I can remember just who was the original sponsor in this particular market was. And there were even on scene commercials done by the Star! How well we can remember and visualize Lloyd as Mike Nelson, riding on his Power Boat. And as we were being invited to return the next week and watch ".....another adventure of "SEA HUNT", sponsored by the G. Heileman Brewing Company of LaCrosse, Wisconsin' the makers of Old Style Lager Beer!", all while Mike was toasting us, raising an Old Style Bottle. (Shame on you, Mike! Drinking Beer on your moving Boat! We're tellin' the Coast Guard!) Then, the Boat would leave the dock, accompanied by the Sea Hunt Theme and rolling the Credits.
NOTE: * More figuratively than literal, Mike was for hire and things ran very much like a Deterctive Story.
NOTE: ** ZIV's Syndicated successes included "SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE", "WEST POINT"(and its clone "MEN OF ANNAPOLIS"), "SEA HUNT" and "HIGHWAY PATROL".
NOTE*** And of course, SCUBA is a acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.