|“Below in the deep there's adventure and danger,
That's where you'll find Diver Dan.
The sights that he sees are surprising and stranger
Than ever you'll see on the land…”
Starring a deep sea diver, a beautiful mermaid, and a cast of undersea puppets, Diver Dan was one of the most unique puppet shows of TV’s early years. John Ferlaine modeled the program after his comic strip “Fish Tales,” and in transferring it to the small screen, he helped pioneer an innovative filming technique. The entire show was filmed through a large fish tank, allowing real fish to mingle with the puppet stars and giving the proceedings an “authentic” look.
The kind and wise mermaid Miss Minerva ruled this undersea kingdom, but Baron Barracuda constantly plotted to take over. And so, Diver Dan dove in to the rescue, traveling everywhere from the Baron’s lair to the lost kingdom of Atlantis over the course of his adventures. The adventures themselves were presented in serial form (104 in all), with each episode lasting only a few minutes before the obligatory cliffhanger ending.
Dan and Minerva were the only “humans” on Diver Dan. Everyone else—from the Baron and his bumbling flunky Triggerfish to good guys Scoutfish, Finley, Sawfish Sam, Hermit the Crab, Sea Biscuit the Seahorse and Doc Sturgeon—were all some form of marine life. Amazingly, veteran voice artist Allen Swift (a Howdy Doody and King Leonardo regular) did the vocal work for every one of these characters.
Airing only in local syndication, Diver Dan never got the national exposure of Howdy Doody or Kukla, Fran and Ollie. It remains relatively unknown today, but if you’re looking for one of television’s sunken treasures, this is it.
“He protects and he saves his friends under the waves,
That's where you'll find Diver Dan.”