Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1948: The Kingdom Under the SeaReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: February 18, 1948-March 09, 1948
"The Kingdom Under the Sea"
Clark Kent has just received a telephone call from Candy Meyers. The private detective needs Kent's assistance in London, England on a case that is a matter of life and death. A couple of years ago, Meyers was hired to find a diamond necklace when he stumbled upon the fact that Dude McCoy, a jewel thief who was believed to have been killed before the war ended, had been found. Candy has learned that McCoy is alive. McCoy has asked to be left alone because he had a bad heart and made a deal with Candy.
Sir John Higginson, a famous scientist, and Sir Alfred Modridge, the king's personal physician, are two men thought to have perished during the war. McCoy says that they are, in fact, alive in an ancient kingdom buried under the Atlantic Ocean. McCoy has proof that Sirs John and Alfred have been kidnapped by criminals inhabiting the mysterious undersea land. Unfortunately, McCoy was shot before he could reveal the location. Clark and Candy only have a short time to talk to McCoy in the hospital. They must learn what they need to know about the strange underwater city before Dude McCoy expires.
Despite what the doctors had originally believed, Dude McCoy has come out of a deep coma. However, he only says to Scotland Yard Police Inspector Lansing, Clark and Candy to ask Tippy of the location of the undersea kingdom of criminals. Tippy is McCoy's parrot. Unfortunately, the bird has gone missing. A thorough search of McCoy's house and the questioning of a constable lead Candy and Clark to believe that Tippy was taken when McCoy was shot. As he looks for more on Tippy's whereabouts, Clark finds someone lurking around the grounds of McCoy's home. His name is Alf Higgins, and he is the one person that knows what happened to Tippy. Candy and Superman may have a the clue they need very soon.
Alf Higgins claims to have seen what happened to Tippy when Dude McCoy was shot. After Candy had taken McCoy to the hospital, Higgins noticed a large man with a golden ear ring and a sailor's walk leave the retired jewel thief's home with a birdcage. Inspector Lansing, Candy and Clark deduce that they can possibly find the person who has Tippy on the waterfront. While waiting, Candy remembers that Tippy often would say, "Hello, Dutch" whenever someone greets him. The trio encounter a fellow fitting the description given to them by Alf Higgins, and he has a parrot on his shoulder. Unfortunately, there is no reply to Candy from the winged creature. Feeling that they've reached a dead end, Candy and Clark return to their hotel, where a mysterious visitor awaits them. Can he or she be connected to this strange mystery?
Jimmy Olsen is the one waiting for Clark and Candy. The cub reporter had won a round trip ticket in a contest and had a week's vacation coming to him. After being brought up to speed on the recent events, Jimmy assists Candy and Clark in their search for Tippy. Hours later, the trio has no luck in finding Tippy. They then split up in order to cover more territory. Jimmy and Candy spot the big man for whom they are looking in a coffee shop. He has a parrot with him. Candy now wants to speak with the bird to see if it is Tippy. The private detective and Jimmy may wind themselves in grave danger.
Candy and Jimmy have just learned that the parrot with the burly sailor, whose name is George Desela, is in fact Tippy. Desela and his gang pursue Jimmy and Candy after the pair has taken Tippy. The detective and cub reporter are currently hiding in an empty packing case from the band of cutthroats. The men are about to leave until Tippy says, "Hello, Dutch." Jimmy and Candy are about to meet their doom, and Superman is elsewhere.
Desela's men and Candy Meyers are in a shootout. Jimmy has taken off his coat and hidden Tippy inside it. The cub reporter now has the empty birdcage, and Candy and he dive into the nearby waters. Meanwhile, as a bullet hits the private detective, Clark Kent's superhuman ears hear the sounds of the battle. Assuming his true identity of Superman, he rockets to save Candy and Jimmy. Fortunately, Meyers isn't seriously hurt, but Tippy is not where Jimmy had left him. The only key to the undersea kingdom has just disappeared.
Jimmy and Candy are in their hotel. They are very discouraged about what had happened on the wharf until Clark Kent arrives. The mild mannered reporter has Tippy with him. He had found the parrot as Superman. The trio is wondering how they can get the secret of the underwater civilization. Suddenly, Tippy reacts to the sound of an organ grinder. The bird mentions the number twenty. However, before more can be done, George Desela and his men are pointing guns at our hero and his friends. There seems to be no way for Superman to save Candy, Jimmy and Tippy without revealing his secret identity.
Clark has just convinced Desela and his men that he, Candy and Jimmy are wanted by the American police. They want to go to the undersea kingdom to hide. However, only someone Desela calls the Boss can make Tippy reveal the strange land's location. Kent and his friends are then taken to the Boss. The Boss wants five thousand English pounds in order to send them to the world beneath the Atlantic Ocean. However, if the Boss learns that our hero is not a criminal, Candy and Jimmy shall perish. Can Superman's plan work?
Cecil Burton, the man Desela called the Boss, is now on his yacht to the kingdom Under the Sea with Clark, Candy, Jimmy and Tippy the parrot. Burton reveals that Captain Dutch Mueller, Tippy's original owner, was his partner in bringing criminals and provisions to the underwater civilization. It was Mueller's boat that had sunk before the war had ended. This same ship was carrying Dude McCoy, who had stolen Tippy, and George Desela, the only two survivors of the incident. Captain Mueller trusted nobody with the location of the city. He had taught Tippy the location by singing "Blow The Man Down" to the bird. Burton presently has given the directions to Burton after hearing the music. Unfortunately, Burton has no intention of letting Clark and his friends see the land under the Atlantic Ocean. Knowing their true identities, Burton had our heroes' lunches poisoned. It looks like Superman will need to perform a miracle to save Jimmy and Candy.
Roughly one hour and a half since Burton poisoned Candy and Jimmy. Kent has learned which substance was used, and, as Superman, he rockets his friends to a hospital in London. As Candy and Jimmy recover, Superman returns to Burton's yacht. This time, he is in the blue and red costume of his true identity. The Man of Steel flies Burton to the location of Kingdom Under the Sea that Tippy had revealed. However, Superman will need to run a particular diving bell properly in order to enter the unusual land. Cecil Burton knows how to use it, but he may instead set a trap for his adversary.
Burton has told Superman that only George Desela knows how to operate the diving bell. The Man of Steel is presently returning to Burton's yacht to get the burly Desela. Taking the necessary devices and codes from Desela, Superman then takes Burton's yacht to the River Thames, where some men from Scotland Yard await. Shortly afterwards, Clark Kent, Inspector Lansing and the recently recovered Candy Meyers make preparations to go to the Kingdom Under the Sea. Clark inputs the necessary codes and tightens a wire in order to make Burton's device emerge near them. The excited trio now can't help but wonder what awaits them beneath the Atlantic Ocean.
An armed man named Pete Zellette has exited from the diving bell. The machine then goes back into the water. Desperate, Clark falls into the ocean in order for Superman to bring the vessel back to the surface. However, Zellette had tipped off the rest of the hidden criminals with the telephone inside the ship. Clark Kent, Candy Meyers, Inspector Lansing, seventeen policemen and even Pete Zellette himself have been left to perish in the stopped diving bell one mile Under the Sea. Superman may need to perform the impossible to save everyone.
There is a stunned silence in the diving bell as a man named Ripper Foy issues a threat to Clark and the other inhabitants of the diving bell. Even Pete Zellette cannot stop Ripper from opening the hatch of the ship. Unnoticed in the confusion, Clark changes into Superman and closes the door. He then resumes his reporter's guise before calming the panicking Candy Meyers. Inspector Lansing fears the worst, but Clark believes that because the crooks in the Kingdom Under the Sea do not know that everyone with him hasn't drowned, our heroes have an advantage. Candy, on the other hand, is not so optimistic. Who's right? Only time will answer that question.
The diving bell has arrived in the Kingdom Under the Sea. However, the villains within have planned for the fact that someone may have survived drowning. All the air leaves the room where Clark Kent and the others enter. Only Superman is conscious now. The Man of Steel takes on all of the criminals in the submerged city. With them now tied up, oxygen returns to Candy and the rest of the group, and Superman returns to his guise of Clark Kent. Sir John Higginson and Sir Alfred Modridge are then found. Unfortunately, they are unable to return to the London with Clark, Candy and the Scotland Yard policemen. One nefarious evil doer has gotten away and taken the diving bell to the surface. Superman will need all the power at his disposal to save the day now.
Candy Meyers is working with Inspector Lansing and Clark to modify a torpedo so that someone can get inside it before it is launched. That person is the mild mannered reporter himself. Once the projectile is ejected, Superman goes after the escaped criminal. The Man of Steel makes short work of his foe, and Clark Kent returns to the Kingdom Under the Sea with the diving bell. All of the villains are now bound for prison as Sir John Higginson says that he and Sir Alfred Modridge were needed to keep the submerged city's air systems going. Another mystery has been solved by Candy Meyers and Superman.
Jimmy Olsen has recovered from bring poisoned and is returning to Metropolis. Superman is doing the same so he can apologize to his young friend for leaving him out of his recent underwater adventure. However, when he returns to Clark Kent's apartment he finds something so shocking that he requires the help of Batman himself. How will the World's Finest Heroes solve "The Mystery of the Stolen Costume"? Tune in next week, gang for The Adventures of Superman to find out.
"The Kingdom Under the Sea" had potential. Unfortunately, the fact that most of the chapters crawl at a snail's pace brings down its quality quite a bit. The serial doesn't really get interesting until Clark and the others meet Cecil Burton, and that's after nearly two thirds of the story has been completed. Perhaps it should have only consisted of seven episodes instead of fifteen because much of the elements in the plot feel like filler material.
I've mentioned before that I think Candy Meyers is a wonderful addition to the supporting characters in The Adventures of Superman. However, for reasons that I am unable to fathom at this moment, Candy feels grossly out of character in "The Kingdom Under the Sea." This particularly occurs when Candy believes that everyone in diving bell with him will drown. He acts like that woman in the movie Airplane! that everyone lined up to slap. I found this to be rather irritating.
Speaking of irritating, the writers of "The Kingdom Under the Sea" spent too much time of the search for Tippy. This makes the audience lose overall interest in the serial's objective. Had this part of the story lasted only a couple of chapters, more time could have could have been spent on the underwater city beneath the Atlantic Ocean. As the story is now, the mysterious land feels more like a minor footnote rather than the plot device for which this arc was titled.
Normally, I devote a paragraph to the serial's main villain when I review The Adventures of Superman every week or so. However, "The Kingdom Under the Sea" doesn't seem to focus on one bad guy. It doesn't even devote that much time on the various evil doers throughout the story. This is another weak point in the entire tale. When Lex Luthor teamed up with various enemies of members of Justice League recently in the comic books, it felt like each nemesis had their time in the sun. Here, the criminals' appearances feel more like a cameo along the lines of Wolverine's at the end of The Incredible Hulk #180. In Wolvie's case, the readers get to know him in the next issue. Unfortunately, there's not any character development for the inhabitants of "The Kingdom Under the Sea."
Overall, "The Kingdom Under the Sea" lacked editing and character development despite gaining some steam toward the end of the serial. Next time, Batman aids Superman in solving "The Mystery of the Stolen Costume." Let's hope that turns out to be more exciting, Superfans. Until we meet again, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky. Now, go to your local comic shop, buy some of the Superman related books and go read some of the other fine articles and reviews on the Superman Homepage. You'll be glad you did.
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