Show Type: Adventure
Produced: February 1957-1961 (156 episodes)
Released: January 1958
Producer: Ivan Tors
Mike Nelson..... Lloyd Bridges
Sea Hunt was one of the best-remembered programs of the 1050's and one of the most successful syndicated shows of all time. The networks, in fact, had turned it down because they felt the possibilities of a weekly series set underwater were too limited. They were so wrong.
Mike Nelson was an ex-Navy frogman who had become a free-lance undersea investigator. Traveling around the world on jobs, he brought up stolen goods, rescued a trapped flyer in a sunken plane, located hidden clues and encountered an number of underwater criminals - one of which that was just about to blast his way into the vault of a seaside bank!
His employers were insurance companies, a Hollywood moviemaker, salvage firms, and sometimes even the U.S. Government. During the later seasons, he more frequently went on missions connected with national security, a job one might expect the Navy to do.
Sea Hunt had a great deal of action including occasional chases on a sea scooter and underwater fights, but the main attraction was the surreal world of the deep blue sea. When the series began, about 25% of the action took place under the ocean. "We weren't sure at first how much underwater stuff we could get by with," says producer Ivan Tors. "But we soon found out that was what the audience wanted - water, water, and more water!" Soon, more than 1/2 the show took place beneath the waves, with much of the remainder aboard Mike Nelson's boat, the Argonaut.
Sea Hunt presented some of Hollywood's more unusual production problems. Filming had to be moved around, from Southern California to Florida to the Caribbean, to follow the warm water. As a result, this was one of the more expensive 1/2-hour shows, costing about $40,000 per episode, despite the small cast of only Lloyd Bridges. Filming was done at depths of 20-40 feet - beyond that stuntmen were used - and only 3 crew members went down with the actors, cameraman director and producer. The crew had to contend with Barracudas swimming within camera range but one never tried to take a bite out of anything or anyone! Sea-sick actors were a greater problem. "Their faces get so green you can't shot them," complained Tors. "It would be too ghastly to put on TV even thought it is presented in black & white!"
Advising the series on authenticity were a number of experts, including ex-Navy frogman Jon Lindbergh, son of flyer Colonel Charles Lindbergh. Underwater photography was by Lamar Boren, one of the country's leading undersea cameramen. However, authenticity was not always possible. For instance the wrong kind of fish would swim by for the area where the story was supposedly taking place and Mike always dived alone, something professionals would never do.
These things hardly mattered. Viewers made Sea Hunt a major hit during its four years and watched countless reruns throughout the 1960's. Actor Lloyd Bridges enjoyed making the series immensely. An all-around athlete in college, he took to skin-diving like a fish. "Surefire way to escape Los Angeles smog... I love every minute of it!" He even used his young son, Beau Bridges, in several episodes.
"Sea Hunt may best be described as an adventure series in depth." - The New York Times. "An epic so watery that Lloyd Bridges' colleagues tell him they have to drain their TV sets after watching the show." - TV Guide.
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