Deep Submergence Vehicle

Just the other day I finished watching the DVD set of the first -- and, in my opinion, the only real -- season of the 1993 NBC sci-fi drama series SeaQuest DSV. I remember fondly when it debuted on TV. Quantum Leap was all too soon ending its run, and Star Trek: The Next Generation was heading into its final season (though I don't recall now whether or not we all knew at the time that it was their final season), so my appetite for good science-fiction was at one of its all-time peaks for me. And SeaQuest was a lot like an undersea version of Star Trek: TNG ... up to and including a way-cool main title theme, voiced over with a neat-o introduction by its captain!

I liked SeaQuest for the same reasons I liked Star Trek: TNG -- the smart way that they would integrate real-world science, and believably extrapolate on speculative science, in each episode. I also loved the first-season family of characters ... they were all real and likeable, and they all seemed to actually have a place in the crew. I loved the late Roy Scheider as the stoic captain ... Royce D. Applegate was endlessly likeable as the crusty old security chief with a heart of gold ... Stephanie Beacham lit up the screen as Dr. Kristin Westphalen ... I'm not sure if I had the bigger crush on Tim O'Neill (Ted Raimi) or Miguel Ortiz (Marco Sanchez) ... and who can forget the impish Ben Krieg, charmingly portrayed by John D'Aquino?

I was positively overjoyed when I heard that it was being released on DVD since, during the year it aired, we lived in a podunk town in the middle of nowhere, where the cable reception was about as good as bad TV aerial antenna reception. As a result of all the ghosting and static, we could barely see anything in the typically dark underwater CG optical shots, some of the most thrilling of the show. And what was beautiful about how the first season played out was that, since the producers weren't sure the show would be renewed, its "saga" was closed out nicely with no loose ends left untied, and no sort of a cliffhanger ending. So people like me feel no need or compulsion to buy the second season if we don't want to.

And boy, did I not want to. I don't know why the producers (or, more likely, the network) felt they needed to completely upend the show, throw out two-thirds of the cast, and replace them with some of the most bland and derivative characters ever to grace a sci-fi show -- and, most unnerving, they were all so uniformly young and attractive that it threw what credibility the show might have otherwise had left right out the window. I watched it on TV back then, but I don't even remember if I made it all the way through the season ... I don't think I did. The other thing that more-or-less ruined the show for me was how they veered into the more outlandish "fantasy" elements of sci-fi instead of staying grounded more in reality, which was half of the charm of the show (the original cast being the other half).

Fortunately the DVDs retained one of the best elements of the show's first season: the closing-credits segments in which oceanographer Robert Ballard explained some of the real-world science that inspired each episode. But unfortunately, they missed the boat (no pun intended) on including some good extras: most notably remembrances for deceased cast members Jonathan Brandis and Royce Applegate (Roy Scheider hadn't yet passed away when the set was released). Might I buy the second season out of curiosity, to see if I may have too hastily passed judgment on it back when it aired? Maybe ... if I find a low-enough price tag on it.

No comments: