Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Nose-talgia: "Diver Dan"

In the early 1960s an unusual and incredibly exciting -- well, at least if you were a little kid -- live-action children's show made its debut. Diver Dan was a cartoon-length continuing underwater adventure tale, a seaworthy soap opera about the world of title character Diver Dan (who wore one of those big old diving suits with a screw-on helmet), his fishy pals -- and a few enemies -- and the beautiful mermaid Miss Minerva who had a crush on "the diver" (as she referred to him) but would swim away whenever he came nearby. Diver Dan and Minerva were played by real people, but all the fish were marionettes, with names like Baron Barracuda and Trigger Fish (two villains, the Baron with a monocle and a Nazi accent and Trigger Fish his dumb henchman with a big cigarette hanging off his lip), Skipper Kipper, Finley Haddock and so on.

It was like the juvenile fantasy version of Sea Hunt, and like much kids' entertainment back then, drew on the adult world's melodrama to fashion fairly intricate plots, however fanciful. I was crazy about the show, and so were my sisters, and many baby boomers' early notions of romance might include the chaste but intriguing Diver Dan/Miss Minerva flirtation. Lest you think I'm the only one (besides that mermaid) who carries a torch for Diver Dan, the series has been released on DVD, so I'm not nuts.

Here's one of the early episodes for you to enjoy!


Jane said...

An absolute treasure. I too was a Diver Dan fan in the days of yore. It was part of a long line of underwater obsessions that also included the Don Knott's movie, The Incredible Mr. Limpett. Great blast from the past Liso-matic!

Lisa said...

My gosh, have we ever spoken of your underwater obsession? I was a TOTAL Limpet nut, too, and many other underwater things also. I think Diver Dan was one of the earliest for me!

Jane said...

I once wanted to be a mermaid at the old Silver Springs theme park in Florida. I also had a big synchonized swimming phase.