I've been watching the old ZIV syndicated series Sea Hunt, starring the stalwart Lloyd Bridges as diver and all-around good guy Mike Nelson, overnights on the local This-TV outlet out of Tampa, Florida. I've always thought the Sea Hunt theme was full of foreboding and hardly made scuba diving seem like a frivolous activity. David Rose's ominous musical intro sounded more like horrible death by drowning was just around the next big underwater outcropping, where some giant manta ray lurked, waiting to charge you. (Which actually happened in an episode I watched the other morning...)
Scary? You bet! Exciting? Undoubtedly, as it clearly didn't scare everybody away from diving and definitely fostered an appreciation for the underwater world in many viewers.
Sea Hunt was exec-produced by Ivan Tors (pictured right), a Hungarian animal trainer-turned writer/producer whose adventurous output included other fascinating projects like the completely terrifying 1954 robot sci-fi movie Gog, the Flipper series and movies, Gentle Ben, and one of personal favorites, the Africa-set Daktari starring the dashing khaki-clad Marshall Thompson as a jungle vet.
Sea Hunt's distribution outlet was ZIV, a syndication outfit founded by the man of the same name. I'm sure many babyboomers fondly remember watching several of ZIV's signature series, including SH, no-nonsense Broderick Crawford in Highway Patrol and the earnest Science Fiction Theatre (also from the aforementioned Ivan Tors). Check out ZIV's Wikipedia entry for a full list of the company's output. Ziv was quite the TV powerhouse back in the day, and there's no denying the appeal of the lower-budget but compelling productions which were a staple on stations building up their daytime and afternoon line-ups.
We watched these shows instead of cartoons, which were not available 24/7 like they are today. Did watching shows like these create a hunger and appreciation for more adult drama when we watched TV? I think so, for many of us. We transitioned from ZIV-level shows to great 1960s primetime series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. or The Wild Wild West, shows with tremendous younger viewer appeal. (I'm not exactly sure what kind of appetite constant cartoons creates in today's kid audiences, but I have my suspicions.)
Sea Hunt episodes are also available on Hulu, and check out this terrific article on the show from TV Party.
Lloyd Bridges in Sea Hunt...seek it out and revel in its dramatic theme song!