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Author's Note: I realize that this node is woefully out of date. Sealab is no longer being made, and it is only rarely aired on Cartoon Network any more. I also have nothing written down about Tornado Shanks, who took over Sealab after the departure of Captain Murphy to fight in the Great Spice Wars.

I hope to have a chance to rectify these soon. But as the intrepid reader has, no doubt, already noticed, I haven't been noding very much since I became a father, and with each successive child that chutes from my wife's fertile womb, I have even less time to partake in my once favorite pasttimes, including noding. This includes updating. However, I will make an effort to bring this node up to date, and finalize it with the same dignity with which Sealab itself was finalized.

Thank you.


~\o        o/~
If you're lookin' for me,
you better check under the sea,
cause that is where you'll find me
o/~        ~\o

First, the vitals

This section used to say when Sealab 2021 was shown, however Sealab 2021 is no longer part of Cartoon Network's adult swim late-night block. It was laid to rest in April 2005 after 5 glorious seasons of fun and adventure. The harbinger of doom for Sealab was the death of the beloved Harry Goz - who was the voice actor that portrayed Captain Murphy, the shows primary character. Each episode was 11 minutes long and appeared in 15 minute slots containing 4 minutes of commercials. Sealab 2021 was produced by 7030 Productions for Cartoon Network's Williams Street Studios, which are also responsible for other great adult swim programming such as Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, and Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law. It was produced and directed by Adam Reed and Matt Thomson.

Now, the non-vitals, but good to knows

In 1972, Hanna Barbara came up with a cartoon called Sealab 2020. The purpose of this cartoon - besides providing entertainment to kids of all ages - was to present a futuristic vision in which children could learn about the importance of saving the environment. The show's setting was on Earth at the bottom of the sea where Dr. Paul Williams led a crew conducting a study to research living conditions in an underwater biodome with 250 residents.

It is arguably the worst cartoon ever broadcast. There were 13 episodes of this show, before it was terminated in 1973.

Sealab 2021 is a parody of this television show, using the animation from the original series and employing various cut and paste techniques to completely modify the premise and dialogue, and occasionally adding new elements to the animation - for example, the episode where Stormy set his hair on fire, new fire was superimposed over the original artwork. Later episodes of Sealab contained more and more original artwork, as less and less Sealab 2020 footage was used.

The premise of the parody is that Captain Hank Murphy has gone insane and taken command of the Sealab. No research is conducted in the sealab any more, and any environmental consciousness has been completely stripped from the cartoon. Instead the crew are running around trying to satisfy their base urges, or agitating their fellow crewmates, or pirating cable television so Captain Murphy can enjoy his favorite show, Chopper Dave, for free.

Hilarity Ensues.

With the exception of a few running gags, there is very little continuity on the show. Every character has died multiple times, and Sealab itself is blown to bits in many episodes. Characters lose body parts, become helplessly addicted to illicit drugs, get set on fire, blow up, get tattoos, become robots, or ostrasize themselves, only to be returned to their original condition the following episode.

The Elite Sealab Crew

The actual rank, and job descriptions of the crew are somewhat vague, but you can get the general idea of each member's ostensible purpose after a few episodes.

  • Captain Hazel "Hank" Murphy: He's obviously the leader of the crew, but the captain is concerned with little more than watching Chopper Dave on free cable and using his Happy Cake Easy-Bake oven to make cakes. He has a penchant for maniacal laughter and awkward silences. Harry Goz provides the voice for this character, not to mention the cute little popping noises that the captain likes to make occasionally. His counterpart on Sealab 2020 was Captain Mike Murphy.
  • Sad Note: Harry Goz, the voice of Captain Murphy passed away on December 5, 2003. In the show Captain Murphy has left Sealab to go fight in The Great Spice Wars.

  • Captain Bellophram "Tornado" Shanks: In an episode called Tornado Shanks, a football coach named Tornado Shanks answers the classified ad to take Captain Murphy's place aboard Sealab after Murphy disappeared to fight in the Great Spice Wars.
  • The voice of Tornado was played by Michael Goz - the real-life son of Harry Goz.

  • Marco Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Marco is the first mate of Captain Murphy. He's not-so-affectionately known to Captain Murphy as "Mailbox-head". He's in love with his own rugged latin features, and he's the one who really runs Sealab, however he is as easily side-tracked as Captain Murphy. Marco, very affectionately known to himself as "Vitamin M", likes pick-up lines to the extent that he'll continue trying pickup lines well after he's been invited into a lady's room. He calls everyone "baby" ("No way, baby!"). Voiced by Erik Estrada. His counterpart on Sealab 2020 was Dr. Paul Williams.
  • Jodine Sparks: Sparks is the radio operator. He calls the captain Skip (short for Skipper) and is a big-time sarcastic bastard. He has a secret plan to drive the Captain even more insane, by hiding his favorite toys and having various kids in Sealab wet his bed while he's sleeping. Sparks was widely thought to be wheelchair bound, but as it turns out, he's not crippled, he's just really lazy. The voice of Sparks is provided by Bill Lobley. His counterpart on Sealab 2020, ironically enough, was Sparks.
  • Interesting Aside: Bill Lobley, the voice of Sparks was also the voice of Parkay Margarine. For the younger noders who have no friggin' idea what I'm talking about: in the commercials, the consumer of the margarine would spread oleo on their toast, and the little tub of Parkay would say "Butter" in a quick yet firm voice. Implying that the taste of Parkay says, "Butter". As an inside joke during the episode "Der Dieb" {the theif), someone stole Amish Dave's butter churn - and there was a butter shortage in Sealab.

  • Dr. Quentin Q. Quinn: Quinn is a super-intelligent african-american who is one of the few sane people on the crew. He's easily frustrated and often teamed up with Stormy who is dumber than dirt. Quinn's position was revealed in the episode Brainswitch, as Science Officer. He's got PhD's in four scientific disciplines, and a metric assload of patents. He's often found diving, and handling electrical problems around Sealab. The voice of Quinn is provided by Brett Butler. His counterpart on Sealab 2020 was Ed.
  • Derek "Stormy" Waters: Personally, he's my favorite character on the show. He's vain and stupid, and a child of privilege. He likes playing dodge ball and he sets his watch exactly fifteen minutes fast - that way he's always 15 minutes early. He's a diver, and "helps" Dr. Quinn fixing up problems around Sealab. Ellis Henican is the voice behind Stormy. His counterpart on Sealab 2020 was Hal.
  • I recently found out that Ellis Henican - voice of Stormy - is also an accomplished columnist for New York Newsday. Read some of his work, here:

    http://www.nynewsday.com/news/local/newyork/columnists/ny-ellishenican,0,3479711.columnist?coll=ny-ny-columnists

  • Debbie DuPree: She's a hot-headed hot blonde marine biologist, who is fighting against her biological clock. She's constantly frustrated with the crew because they totally ignore all her suggestions (presumably because she's a woman), and doesn't like to be called 'sister' by her fellow lady crewmates. ("I'm not your sister, dumbass"). Kate Miller gives Debbie her voice. She is violently jealous of Quinn, her lover. Her counterpart on Sealab 2020 was Gail.
  • Hesch: Hesch is an obnoxious little bastard who's rarely seen outside of the engine room. Most of the time, he's seen on Sparks's video monitor. Presumably on the old Sealab 2020 cartoon, he was an engineer who reported problems in the engine room, but he doesn't do much now except speak one word sentences and refer to himself in the third person. When Debbie was interviewing crewmates for a potential father of her forthcoming baby, Hesch popped up on screen and began shouting, "SEX! Debbie come down here! Give Hesch some sex!" The voice of Hesch is provided by M.C. Chris, who is the head designer of the cartoon, and also provides occasional soundtrack ditties like Fett's Vette, and the Hesch Birthday Rap.
  • I am currently uncertain of the reasons, but M.C. Chris has left Sealab 2021 - (and currently works for Aqua Teen Hunger Force), and the character Hesch has been phased out. Actually, he was killed off - Captain Murphy shot a golf-ball into the reactor core, and forced Hesch to go and fetch it. Normally, a character dies in every episode, or more frequently, all of them die - but Hesch was only seen once after that for a split second. Odds are not good for Hesch becoming a regular character again.

  • Dolphin Boy: The token kid on Sealab. He has the voice of a dolphin, and can communicate with hostile aliens for whom he is used for bait, and giant squid. The rest of the crew teases him mercilessly for being fat and don't really care much about his well being. No voice credit is provided, since the only sounds he makes are the squealings of dolphin. ON Sealab 2020, he was Captain Murphy's son Bobby.

Memorable moments

There have been 33 episodes aired over Cartoon Network. As much as I am going to miss Captain Murphy, who was the central character in the show, I am glad they are going to continue making these - because I haven't laughed at a cartoon in years, and this show honestly cracks me up. I can't think of any episodes which didn't have at least one part that gave me a belly laugh.

Like the one episode where they hired a Feng Shui decorator and every single character pronounced 'Fung Shooi' (Fang Shwee, Feng Shway) differently.

Another episode that had me in stitches was I, Robot, where a news brief which reported that they put a monkey's brain in a robot body, sent off an obsession throughout the crew where everyone decided what kind of robot body they'd have. Some wanted laser-beam eyes, others wanted the strength of five gorillas, and X-Ray vision.

The monkey, by the way, electrocuted itself by drinking its own urine.


Update: 4/30/02

I'm amused by some of the softlinks which have been added since I made this writeup, (including the ones that I made)...

The one about Mercury was from an episode called Waking Quinn, where Stormy throws an electric hair-dryer to Quinn while he's lounging in a pool (I said he was stupid). Quinn goes into a hallucinogenic coma and has some weird dreams. In one of these dreams, he's talking to a whale who throws this out for thought:

Ugh - humans and their filthy ravenous machines. Spewing out vile toxins. Did you know that the average fish, today, contains more mercury than a rectal thermometer? Would you eat a rectal thermometer? Answer me, damn you!

At which point Quinn, himself a fish in this dream, answers "No". The whale says "I would," and eats Quinn - then lavishes us with that quotable quote: Ah, mercury. Sweetest of the transition metals.

There's also a softlink to Doppelganger down there, which is clearly a reference to the episode called Lost In Time where Stormy and Quinn get caught up in this temporal loop after a fracture appears in subspace. They keep getting sent back 15 minutes into the past, and trying to notify the captain of this anomoly. He keeps thinking they're Doppelgangers, and has Marco beat the shit out of them with a wrench before throwing them into the brig.

That's also the episode where the otter quote came from.

The overlord reference comes from the Happy Cake episode where it's revealed to us that Sparks is actually an evil overlord bent on world domination.


Screw it! We got bigger problems than a butter shortage! (I never thought I'd say that!)

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