The series follows the adventures of the high-tech submarine seaQuest DSV 4600, a deep submergence vehicle operated by the United Earth Oceans Organization (UEO), a global coalition of up-world countries and undersea confederations, similar to the United Nations. The UEO was created following a major showdown of nations and confederations at the Livingston Trench in the North Atlantic Ocean that occurred circa 2017 as depicted in the pilot episode, "To Be Or Not to Be", and it remained a recurring element for the duration of the series. The seaQuest was designed by retired naval captain Nathan Bridger and built by NORPAC (a military organization mentioned in the pilot) and given as a loan to the UEO after its creation. The storyline begins in the year 2018, after mankind has exhausted almost all natural resources, except for the ones on the ocean floor. Many new colonies have been established there and it's the mission of the seaQuest and its crew to protect them from hostile nonaligned nations and to aid in mediating disputes as well as engage in undersea research, much of which was still in the preliminary stages when the show began production in 1993. Bridger, though originally reluctant due to a promise he made with his wife after their son, Robert, was killed in a naval military action before her death, is convinced to return to the navy, under the auspices of the UEO, and assume command of the seaQuest. The first season's storylines primarily dealt with plausible oceanographic research, environmental issues, political machinations of the world and the interpersonal relationships of the crew.
In the first-season finale, Bridger sacrifices the seaQuest to prevent an ecological disaster and for a short time it was not known if the show would be renewed for another season. The series had suffered in the ratings, as it was pitted against Murder, She Wrote on CBS and Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman on ABC. When it was decided the show would return, NBC and Universal used this opportunity to change the show's format, beginning by relocating the show's production from Los Angeles to Orlando. Several cast changes were also made as both Royce D. Applegate (Chief Manilow Crocker) and John D'Aquino (Krieg) were released by NBC as the network wanted a younger cast for the second season (D'Aquino subsequently returned for a guest appearance in the third season). Stacy Haiduk (Hitchcock) informed producers that she did not wish to relocate to Orlando for the second season, having just returned to Los Angeles after spending four years in Florida during the production of The Adventures of Superboy. Stephanie Beacham, who as Dr. Westphalen was one of the first season's strongest characters, was also hesitant to relocate to Florida. Beacham also blamed continued disputes between the network and the show's producers as a major reason why she did not return.
Joining the series for season two were Edward Kerr as Lieutenant James Brody, seaQuest`s weapons officer; Kathy Evison as Lieutenant Lonnie Henderson, ship's helmsman; Rosalind Allen as Dr. Wendy Smith, the boat's new chief medical officer; Michael DeLuise as Seaman Anthony Piccolo, an ex-convict who has genetically engineered gills and Peter DeLuise as Dagwood, a prototype genetically engineered life form (G.E.L.F. or "dagger"—a racial slur) who serves as seaQuest's custodian. As the seaQuest itself was rebuilt in the storyline, it allowed for the sets to be redesigned for the new Florida location and a shortened version of the Emmy award winning main title theme was instituted as the series returned to the airwaves on September 18, 1994 with the two-hour television movie season premiere, "Daggers". NBC and the show's producers also decided they wanted more traditionally science-fiction oriented episodes this season, a direction that was explored toward the end of the first season when seaQuest discovered a million-year-old alien ship entombed in the ocean floor in the episode "Such Great Patience." The second season explored heavy science-fiction concepts such as genetic engineering, aliens, parapsychology, time travel and various "monsters of the week" (including killer plants, a giant fire-breathing worm, a prehistoric crocodile and an ancient demon.)
Roy Scheider was vocal in his anger at the show's new direction. In an interview given during the second season, Scheider averred: "It's childish trash... I am very bitter about it. I feel betrayed... It's (the new season) not even good fantasy. I mean, Star Trek does this stuff much better than we can do it. To me the show is now 21 Jump Street meets Star Dreck." Scheider felt the series had strayed too far away from its premise, and that he "became more of a combat commander than a scientific commander and I hadn't signed up for that." He added that after moving production to Florida, the show was "going to present human beings who had a life on land as well as on the boat... we've had one script that has done that (the episode 'Vapors')," Scheider said. "The other shows are Saturday afternoon 4 o'clock junk for children. Just junk—old, tired, time-warp robot crap (making reference to the much maligned episode "Playtime")." As Scheider explained, "I don't do this kind of stuff... I said (to the production executives), 'If I wanted to do the fourth generation of Star Trek, I would have signed up for it. I wouldn't have done seaQuest. You guys have changed it from handball into field hockey and never even bothered to talk to me.'" Scheider's comments left him in trouble with some of the executive producers, including Patrick Hasburgh who, in reply, had strong words for Scheider as well: "I'm sorry he is such a sad and angry man. seaQuest is going to be a terrific show, and he is lucky to be part of it."
By the end of season two, seaQuest DSV was again suffering, partly attributed to a perceived decrease in the quality of the writing as well as preemptions by NBC due to sports coverage. The possibility of cancellation appeared likely but NBC kept the show in production after plans for a new series titled Rolling Thunder to replace seaQuest DSV were canceled. Producer Lee Goldberg claimed the new series was canceled because the premise was "awful." The season finale, written as a possible series finale, involved the seaQuest and her crew being abducted by aliens and forced into a civil war on an alien world where the ship appeared to be destroyed and the crew presumed dead.
Template:Quote box Blaming continued disputes with producers and abandonment of the show's original premise, Roy Scheider requested to be released from his contract with NBC. However, the network only partially agreed and demanded that Bridger would make several appearances throughout the third season. Edward Kerr had been very frustrated with the episode entitled "Alone" (reportedly, Kerr hated the script so much that he walked off the set, which is why Brody does not appear in that episode) and also wished to exit the series in the third season, which is why his character was critically injured in the season finale, "Splashdown." However, NBC would only agree to release him from his contract if he continued to play Brody for a few episodes in the third season so his character could be killed off for more dramatic impact in the episode "SpinDrift." (Because of rescheduling, the episode "Brainlock", with Brody still alive, aired after the character's death.) Rosalind Allen was released as her character proved to be unpopular with the audience and because producers felt that her character's telepathic abilities wouldn't fit with more serious tone planned for the new season. Marco Sanchez (Sensor Chief Miguel Ortiz), who had requested to remain with the series, was also released after NBC decided it wanted the principal cast number dropped from ten to nine, leaving Jonathan Brandis (Lucas Wolenczak), Don Franklin (Commander Jonathan Ford), and Ted Raimi (Lieutenant Tim O'Neill) as the only three cast members who remained with the show since the first episode. The marine trivia presentations at the end of the show, formerly hosted by oceanographer Dr. Bob Ballard in the first season and the principal cast in the second season, were dropped entirely. The show itself was renamed to seaQuest 2032, with the storyline pushed ahead ten years after the end of season two.
In the season premiere, the seaQuest reappears on Earth, its crew mostly intact, ten years after their abduction at the end of season two. Captain Bridger retires to raise his new grandson and Michael Ironside joins the cast as the more militaristic Captain Oliver Hudson. Originally, Ironside refused to take over from Scheider as star of the series. "I saw so many problems that I couldn't see where I'd be able to do the work I wanted to do." claimed Ironside. Also considered for the lead of the series was actor Jonathan Banks, who had previously appeared in the first season episode "Whale Songs" as radical environmentalist Maximilian Scully. After weeks of negotiations where Ironside offered producers a number of changes to the storytelling structure of the series, which were agreed upon, he finally signed on. "You won't see me fighting any man-eating glowworms, rubber plants, 40-foot crocodiles and I don't talk to Darwin." he said. Though not cast as the new lead of the series, Jonathan Banks would reprise his character of Scully in the third season. Also joining the cast was Elise Neal as Lieutenant J.J. Fredericks, who serves as seaQuest's sub-fighter pilot. Steering story lines back towards more reality-based themes, the third season attempted to blend the sense of the first season with some of the unique elements of the second season, while at the same time, pushing forward in an entirely new direction altogether as the UEO faces the threat of the Macronesian Alliance and the ever growing corporate conglomerate Deon International. The series is perceived as becoming much darker than it was in the previous two seasons, focusing less on science as it had in the first season and science fiction as it had in the second season and more on international politics. While these changes were met with mostly positive reactions, ratings did not improve and NBC cancelled the series after thirteen episodes. The final network airing of seaQuest 2032 took place on June 9, 1996 after 57 episodes.
- seaQuest DSV DVD Official Universal Studios Site
- "seaQuest DSV" at spacecast.com Canadian science-fiction channel's show page
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- New Cape Quest seaQuest DSV
- http://atlantisdsv.newcapequest.com/library/atlantis.htm The Seaquest Navy
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