Full Fathom Five

Season 2 episode 21
Mark’s note:

It’s in episode, “Full Fathom Five” that Sonny utters the words, “You bet your bippy” during an argument with Will. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “bippy” is used euphemistically for an unspecified part of the body; generally understood as equivalent to butt or ass. It’s not that I think “bippy” is a racy thing to say at the 8 o’clock hour on prime time network TV. What I find curious is that Sonny would use pop-culture jargon from the TV show Rowan And Martin’s Laugh In. When I heard “bippy” come out of Sonny’s mouth I had to rewind to make sure I had actually heard it!

I also researched the title, “Full Fathom Five”. I know a fathom is a particular depth of water, but I was curious what five full fathoms were. To my surprise Wikipedia informed me: “Full Fathom Five” is an oft-used Shakespeare reverence. In fact, it’s the second stanza of a poem in The Tempest, spoken by Ariel to Ferdinand and referring to Ferdinand’s drowned father.

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell
Hark! Now I hear them – Ding-dong, bell.

Prior to modern diving technology, an object lost in five fathoms of water (30 feet) would be considered irretrievable. Hats off to Jimmy Sangster! Not only for quoting Shakespeare at the 8 o’clock hour on prime time network TV, but also for penning an episode of a road show that spends more time on the ocean than it does on the highway. Those feats more than makes up for “bippy”!


Barry’s Bits:

We shot the episode “Full Fathom Five” in Bayou Le Batre, Alabama…. Location, Location, Location.

When you think seafood, you must think of the Bayou, the Seafood Capital of Alabama. And please remember, Movin’ On filmed in Bayou Le Batre long before “Forrest Gump” or “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Movin’ On always lead the pack!! What a wonderful location the Bayou is…. beautiful blue water, colorful shrimp trawlers, industrial processing plants, and the wonderful lilting Gulf Coast accent.

My favorite writer, Jimmy Sangster, and favorite director, Leo Penn, combine their talents and deliver a lovely episode. It begins with Sonny explaining the “Legend of Sonny Pruitt” and his love for his buddy, Jack Nulton, a shrimp fisherman who saved Sonny’s life when, after a night of carousing, they stumbled into the Bayou and were almost “chomped” by a ferocious alligator. Will is having none-of-it and watching Sonny struggle to be believed is a great laugh.

Jack is played by Ted Gehring, an actor I met on the set of “Oklahoma Crude”, a George C. Scott, Faye Dunaway movie written by my friend Marc Norman and directed by Stanley Kramer.

Searching for Jack, Sonny and Will visit the dock, the processing plant, and Jack’s home. In all three places they’re told of Jack’s odd behavior and his indifference to the shrimping business. When Jack and Sonny finally meet up there’s the traditional “trading of stomach punches” to prove who’s toughest; both have a book stuffed in their pants to protect their abs.

Sonny stows away on Jack’s boat and discovers that Jack thinks he’s found an underwater treasure, a one million dollar payroll that sank in The Battle Of Mobile Bay. Sonny dons SCUBA gear and goes over the side to search for sunken treasure with Jack. Thus begins several sequences of splendid underwater footage. It occurred to me, that Movin’ On dared to go where other TV series feared to tread…. the underwater scenes are done wonderfully and will be appreciated by all who take it a look.

To finance the extreme cost of salvaging this windfall, Jack mortgages his boat and Sonny mortgages his truck. As you can imagine, Will is troubled that Sonny is risking losing the truck. While Sonny continues diving, Will makes a few hauls and since he’s the only one with any cash, he takes over as Captain of the boat, giving orders and pulling rank.

All ends well. Several salvaged artifacts are authenticated by a museum. Their value is just enough for Jack to keep his boat and for Sonny to keep his truck, allowing all to go back to what they know best…. Shrimpin’ and Truckin’.