Monday, July 25, 2011

Classic Serials: Undersea Kingdom (Faster-Paced Version), Chapter One

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to present, in more or less weekly installments, the full version of the 1936 Republic serial Undersea Kingdom.  Back in 2008-9, I cut each episode down to ten-minute installments (with the exception of the double-length Chapter One, which got two installments), partly to amuse myself, and partly because YouTube had a ten-minute limit on individual videos then.

You'll notice two other things about this video, compared with the full-length ones I'll be posting: 1) it's much fuzzier, because it came from a lower-quality source; 2) it's in a smaller viewer, because back when I posted it, YouTube only put it up in 360p, unlike the new videos, which you will be able to see in 360p or full 480p.  I suppose I could re-upload my old files to fix (2), but (1) would limit the usefulness of it.  I could also use my current source to re-create the edited version.  I don't really have an answer to that, except basic laziness.

And now, the original posts from October 25 and November 1, 2008:


Today and the next twelve Saturdays, we bring you episodes of the 1936 Republic serial Undersea Kingdom. This week, it's the first half of Chapter One. The first chapter of a serial was often longer than the others, so as to draw the audience in for the long haul. Starting with Chapter Two, I think we'll be having full chapters each week.

I say "I think" because I'm editing the chapters to give them a snappier pace. You have YouTube to thank for that. They now have a ten-minute maximum length for videos. And rather than break Undersea Kingdom up into 25 or more episodes, I decided to indulge my amateur editor's eye. I'm doing them week by week, so I don't know if later episodes will stubbornly refuse to stay coherent when cut to ten minutes. But having watched the whole serial before, I doubt it.

This week's installment represents the first seventeen minutes of Chapter One. You're spared lengthy sequences of "Crash" Corrigan winning the Army-Navy football game and wrestling, as well as the antics of the "comic" relief. Don't thank me; I'm just doin' my job.

I think my favorite part is the little clip introducing Monte Blue as the vicious Unga Khan. I love how he gives us his Evil Eyes, slowly raising them, then looking to the side. I wonder if he practiced that in the mirror.

Lois Wilde's intro is my second favorite, with her little "I am clearly not taking this at all seriously" moment.


Welcome to the latest installment of our snappier edit of the 1936 Republic serial, Undersea Kingdom.

This time, I sculpted the latter thirteen minutes of Chapter One into about seven minutes, forty-five seconds, exclusive of opening credits and recap.

Biting the dust this time was a segment of Crash and co. exploring Atlantis a bit, Unga Khan sending his army after them, and Crash single-handedly giving them the runaround... a chunk of about four minutes that comes to absolutely nothing. In fact, that shot in our version, with the arriving Juggernaut catching our heroes' attention as they leave the vicinity of their sub...? That's actually them returning. Most of the rest of the editing was a matter of tightening up the cliffhanger resolution and getting dragged down to Atlantis.

They mostly had very utilitarian editing in Undersea Kingdom. Usually, when someone speaks, they're on screen. I saved a little time by getting a little fancier—cutting to the depth gauge while Crash is still talking, and cutting to Briny and Salty while the Professor is talking about them. (Originally, the former shot came after Crash's line, and the latter shot was a longer, earlier standalone bit.)

This afternoon, I checked out the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of Chapter One. I'd seen it before and remembered they'd cut out a chunk, but couldn't recall where. With the aid of a commercial break, they go straight from Diana's "What a story this will make for my paper!" (Part One, 6:47 in our version) to Unga Khan watching the sub as it's dragged down (a shot I excised, just before Part Two, 5:21).

In short, they cut the whole departure/crazy guy sequence. I'm almost embarrassed I didn't even consider that, but I'd kind of latched onto Crazy Guy as a Part One cliffhanger. Still, without that bit, I'd have had to keep the sports action, and I prefer it the way it is.

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