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Sealab 2020: A Classic but educational series that was the next to last of the Hanna-Barbera produced adventure shows of the 1970's and for good reason
The short-lived action/adventure animated series "Sealab 2020" was very distinguished from other Hanna-Barbera produced cartoons of the early 1970's by its exceptional and quite unique for its production design of that era. This was a show that was in fact part "Jules Verne",part "Ivan Tors",and part "Irwin Allen" The animated designs for this series came from the great Alex Toth who did many production designs for several Hanna-Barbera cartoons(and Toth was responsible for bringing a lot of Hanna-Barbera classic characters from the 1960's including "Jonny Quest","Dino Boy In The Lost Valley","Birdman!","Space Ghost","Mighthor","The Herculoids",not to mention was the designer behind another great H-B cartoon of the 1970's..."The Superfriends").
"Sealab 2020" was a surprisingly interest,with its mix of action and adventure with a lot of science fiction thrown in plus it was well balanced in the educational and creative aspect as well. About this show. "Sealab 2020" had a very short run of 13 episodes. It originally first aired as part of NBC-TV's Saturday Morning schedule from its premiere on September 9, 1972 until December 2,1972. During its first season only 13 of the original episodes ran from September 9, 1972 through December 2, 1972(which included three episodes that never aired during its original broadcast on NBC). Repeated episodes(all 13 episodes were rebroadcast)ran from January of 1973 until September 1, 1973.
The concept of this show was fascinating beyond belief. A team of scientists working at a large research base under the sea.....250 people who were researchers and biologists worked here under its research facility under the sea,lead by Dr. Paul Williams(voiced by Ross Martin of "Mr. Lucky",and also "The Wild,Wild West" fame)and was conducted by a team of expert team members who were associated with Dr. Williams. Mike Murphy was the Captain of the facility(voiced by Hanna-Barbera stock player John Stephenson,and later on in some episodes by H-B voice-over regular Mike Road). Other team members were Captain Murphy's children,teenage daughter Sally(Pamelyn Ferdin),and her little brother Bobby(Josh Albee). Sparks(William Callaway)was the communications officer at the research facility,while Hal(Jerry Dexter), Gail(Ann Jillian),and Ed(Ron Pinkard)were the divers and biologists who worked aboard the facility and each day the team faced new challenges in just every episode as they faced the dangers and discoveries along the depths of the sea. Other voicework for this series came from other Hanna-Barbera stockplayers including Casey Kasem, Mike Road, Henry Corden, Janet Waldo, Joan Gerber,and Paul Frees just to name a few.
In some perspectives,the show had a different tone than most of the Saturday Morning cartoons that were all over the place during the 1970's. During that decade,the violence was eliminated for all Saturday Morning TV,and with the case of "Sealab 2020",it was part science fiction and not to mention part educational as well....teaching kids about the various sea creatures and information about the ocean environment. Some episodes were good while others were just as boring and dull in a perspective. For one,it lacked the sense of adventure of "Jonny Quest" or the other H-B superhero shows of the period("Sealab 2020",was the next to last of the action adventure shows Hanna-Barbera produced during the 1970's),but let's face it...it's wasn't another knockoff of another repulsive and annoying sequel to "Scooby Doo","Yogi Bear",or "Flintstones" spin off,that were all over the place during the 1970's when Hanna-Barbera continued to make spin-offs of their original shows.
When the show ended its original run on NBC,cable's USA Network brought it back in the mid-1980's as part of its "USA's Cartoon Express" program in reruns,and most recently after a 20 year hiatus,repeats have ended up on Cartoon Network's Boomerang channel,and "Sealab 2020" will celebrate its 40th Anniversary come 2012.
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