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"The Underseas Explorers"

Produced by: William Cayton

Written and Directed by : Fred Ladd

 

A newly re-discovered classic, The Underseas Explorers is an animated educational cartoon that was first shown in 1961.  A true collectors item, it has been proclaimed to be "ahead of its time." Owing to its inclusion of an "island boy" character similar to "Hadji," it has sometimes been referred to as an underwater version of "Johnny Quest."    Onboard the tiny atomic submarine "Hydronaut," a small group of underwater adventurers set out to explore the oceans and circumnavigate the globe under the North Pole (the Arctic Cap).  During their televised journey, they discover the original landing site of old pirates.  Professor Scott meets undersea creatures including an unexpected underwater duel with an eight-legged octopus.  

The title has often been incorrectly referred to as: The Undersea Explorers, The Underwater Explorers, The Underwater Adventurers, Journey to the Bottom of the Sea and many others.

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The cast includes: Professor Scott, Bobby Scott (his grandson), a young island-boy, an underwater diving expert "Jacques" (like the world-famous Jacques Cousteau), and a navigator and doctor.

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Professor Scott
(as himself)

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Bobby Scott
Professor Scott's Grandson

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"Rhombi"
The Native Island Boy

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Bill Kincaid
The Submarine Navigator

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Jacques Duvall
Underwater Diving Expert

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Dr. Claude Meecham
The Ship's Doctor

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The actual underwater film video sequences depict many species of underwater marine wildlife including: fish, sharks, sponges, hermit crabs, manta-rays, shrimps, snails, starfish, sea urchins, oysters, clams, sea turtles, moray eels, octopus, sea-anemone, barnacles, coral and more.  They put on diving gear and venture outside the deeply submerged submarine to discover many aspects of animal reproduction, feeding-habits, natural disguise and camouflage, self-defense, and the many wonders of natures underwater world.

Regrettably for people attempting to search for this title, partially due to the rarity and scarcity of existing information and images of these 'Explorer' films, the titles are incorrectly cited and perpetuated on Internet websites.  Until I recently notified them, as of 2/15/2004, in the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, William Cayton's name is incorrectly listed in the film archive database as William "Caxton".  Berkeley's information is stated as being taken from the incorrectly cited "Macmillan Audio Brandon Films Catalog, 1979-80, p.403".  Still worse yet, is that the Library of Congress LOCIS database has the same incorrect information.  After being notified by this webmaster  on 2/15/2004, Berkeley said they will change their info.

This type of problem applies equally to both "The Space Explorers" and "The Underseas Explorers" series.  In recent email discussions, and in keeping with the webmasters desire to document the facts as accurately as possible, Mr. Cayton and Mr. Ladd have been consulted on these discrepancies, and these are their responses in their own words.


(Question) From Webmaster to Fred Ladd: 02/27/2004

Can you tell if the name of the series so often quoted on the Internet is correct or not?  I thought that the actual name was "The Underseas Explorers," and not the name cited below in red?  Also, do you recall what year it was first shown? Internet Excerpt: "There was a similar educational series like this called JOURNEY TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. It was similar in concept to SPACE EXPLORERS, made up of Eastern European animation cut together with live action footage about undersea life. Again, well done, but I liked SPACE EXPLORERS better. There was also another serialized adventure, JOURNEY TO THE BEGINNING OF TIME, but this was entirely live action cut together with the same narrative technique used in the other two series."

(Answer) From Writer and Director, Fred Ladd: 02/28/2004

The answer to your question: The title IS "The Underseas Explorers".  And it is, indeed, a kind-of  'HydroSpace Explorers'. Animation style is more modern, but -again- we have a kindly, aging professor (like Jacques Cousteau or Professor Nordheim) showing a young boy (like Jimmy Perry) what the ocean bottom is like. Live sharks and things are shown on a screen inside a modern submarine (the sub, animated, is a kind of underwater "Polaris 1". And, instead of "Smitty" navigating the Polaris, the navigator is a middle-aged scholarly guy who we sometimes played for humor and comedy.)  There's another boy, Jimmy's age, in the story, too--a Polynesian boy. The boys find pirate treasure in the South Seas.

I can't remember the exact year when we made that picture.

Yes, we did do "Journey To The Beginning of Time". A Czech filmmaker, Karel Zeman,  had made a film about 4 boys --12 or 13 years old -- who go backward in time. Bill Cayton & I got 4 American boy look-alikes, put them in a boat on a lake in Manhattan's Central Park, and filmed them appearing to enter a cave that's a kind of Time Machine: the boys (the Czech kids) come out the other side and into an earlier geological time period.  Eventually they meet pre-historic creatures (Zeman's puppets; he was an expert puppeteer) and keep going back, earlier and earlier in time.

 

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The Underseas Explorers,
The Space Explorers and The New Adventures of the Space Explorers
are copyrighted by Radio & Television Packagers, Inc.
All original images and sound clips are courtesy of Radio & Television Packagers, Inc.
Animatoons™ is a trademark of Radio & Television Packagers, Inc.

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All rights reserved. This material may not
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Last Updated 04/17/2004