Picture of the First Season seaQuest cast

seaQuest DSV Season 1 and Series Review

  • Series: seaQuest DSV
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 23
  • Discs: 6
  • Cast: Roy Scheider, Jonathan Brandis, Ted Raimi, Don Franklin, Frank Welker, John D’Aquino, Stacy Haiduk, Stephanie Beacham
  • Network: NBC
  • DVD Format: DVD, Color, Standard, PAL, R2
  • Review Originally Published on my Live Journal 3/24/2012, now hosted on Dreamwidth

I first saw seaQuest on the Sci-Fi channel (back when it was the Sci-Fi channel) in daily syndication. Since I had missed the show when it aired, it was nice to catch up with it then. But, the show was like three different series with almost the same name (Seasons 1 and 2 were “seaQuest DSV”, Season 3 was “seaQuest 2032”). The first season and the best was a show more based in science – with an optimistic outlook and an emphasis on exploration and incredible undersea rescues. The second season, which I’m currently re-watching, had more of a science-fantasy approach. If your memory of seaQuest is of lots of bad CGI sea monsters, and Roy Scheider with a full beard – you saw the second season. The third season was a disaster on wheels – almost the entire cast was pulled from the series (including Scheider, who only shows up in a couple of episodes as a guest star).

The Set-Up (First season): In 2018, following a series of geopolitical conflicts and wars, “The Peace” has been established. Economic confederations rule the globe – and have turned to the Oceans, for farming, living and working underwater, research and discovery, etc. The peacekeeping force for the Oceans is the UEO – United Earth Oceans, charged with defending the fragile eco-systems of the Earth (several ecological disasters have also occurred), central organizing for the world’s scientists and explorers, and, when needed, as a military force – set to keep the peace. As the “police of the Oceans”, the UEO also runs rescue operations for the new civilian operations in the oceans: farms, mines, manufacturing, etc.

The seaQuest is the flagship of the UEO – her biggest, fastest, best-armed, and capable of diving the deepest submersible. She’s the brainchild of Nathan Bridger, a man interested in science and a member of the Navy and the UEO. During the first season, Bridger is called back to be captain of the seaQuest. Bridger had left the project when his son was killed in action and retired from the Navy and the UEO. He had moved to an island with his wife, but she soon passes away as well, leaving him alone.

In the pilot, seaQuest’s captain (Shelly Hack) has a nervous breakdown and nearly starts a war, or at the very least an international incident. The UEO desperately tries to get Captain Nathan Bridger (Roy Scheider) back. The SeaQuest was Bridger’s baby – he designed her and meant the ship to be an exploration and research vessel for science. The boat is also equipped for and expected to handle rescues in the ocean. So when the UEO (United Earth Oceans, a paramilitary peacekeeping force) contacts him to command seaQuest, Bridger says no way. But, as these things do, he’s convinced to come back and take the helm. However, Bridger’s management style is not typical Navy brass, and he doesn’t approach things from a military viewpoint. Yet, he is able to use the ship’s power and weapons when needed. A few episodes into the first season, it’s revealed that Bridger has a high psi rating – which gives him an advantage in negotiating.

The first season crew forms a nice ensemble group – and I missed that in the second season. And yes, this is the show with the talking Dolphin (Darwin) – Bridger’s “pet” whom he rescued and nursed back to health. Darwin had been caught in and washed ashore in a fishing net. However, the “talking” is given a scientific explanation for this futuristic series (set in 2018) – Lucas Wolenczek develops a “voc-corder” which takes Darwin’s clicks and whistles and translates them through a computer, after a basis of words are established. Frank Welker of The Real Ghostbusters provides Darwin’s voice. Hey, it’s no worse than Babel fish translators online. (Update: or machine translators like Google Translate. JM, 2019).

The villains in the first season were always people, or corporations, and not angry sea monsters. The issues sometimes vaguely environmental, but not over-done. Other episodes, such as “The Good Death” dealt with human rights issues. Still, other episodes dealt with providing deep-sea rescues in impossible (and big) situations. The SeaQuest was the biggest, fastest, and had the ability to dive the deepest of any ship or sub in the UEO fleet – so it was best one to send to the worst disasters. In other words, this show inherited part of its make-up from another of my favorites: Thunderbirds.

I liked the character interaction as well. Bridger, a widower, slowly began to fall for Dr. Westphalen, a divorcee with grown children. Bridger also became pseudo-father to 16-year-old Lucas, wunderkind and computer genius, but not nearly as annoying as Ensign Crusher. So Bridger, the man who had lost his wife and son at the beginning of the series, was beginning to form a new family – on the seaQuest. And, in a sense, the entire crew could be looked like a family, though it’s almost cliche to say it. I also liked Krieg, the morale and supply officer (think Klinger without the dresses) who had been married to the ship’s third in command, Katie. And the wonderful Ted Raimi plays the ship’s communications officer, who is also an expert in languages.

The first season of seaQuest had a wonderful optimistic quality to it. The boat, seaQuest, was a research and exploration vessel that participated in rescue missions as well. In many ways, it was an undersea Star Trek. I wish the show had stayed that way!

The show was fun – and I wish they had kept the first season cast and concepts for the entire three years. I flew through watching this series – watching four discs this past weekend and having two marathon sessions of watching a full disc (4 episodes) on Monday and finishing up on Tuesday.

A note on versions: I bought the PAL set because it’s single-sided discs in a six-disc set. According to the notes on Amazon, the US version is four double-sided discs. I hate double-sided discs! Copy quality was nice and crisp – I love actual film, as opposed to videotape! However, to watch the version I bought one does need to have a region-free and multi-system DVD player that’s capable of correctly outputting a PAL signal to a US (NTSC) TV.

DVD Extras are minimal and consist of deleted scenes on nine episodes. Also, Dr. Robert Ballard’s facts about the oceans and science on the ending credits are intact.

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