As promised, the Bill Warren legacy continues with another superb interview from the October 1994 edition of Sci-Fi bible Starlog. The late (and much missed) Royce D. Applegate gets appropriate column inches here, telling tales of his humble beginnings in showbusiness, right up to the point – to everybody’s astonishment at the time – where his seaQuest tour ended.
Always a straight talker/shooter as evidenced by his very long list of appearances in episodic television and more, Applegate’s account of exactly what happened behind the scenes of seaQuest during and after its first season reads as the most honest and believable yet. A science-fiction fan himself, Applegate seems more convinced than anybody that seaQuest should’ve embraced the genre rather than sail against it much earlier on, its exclusion costing the show viewers.
Applegate was also seemingly acutely aware of his character and how to get the best out of it – at once citing his displeasure with the ‘fish poop’ episode while acknowledging his best was ‘Bad Water’ where he memorably sang ‘Drunken Sailor’ to roust a weary crew. Admittedly disappointed and still bitter about NBC’s decision to ground him for the second season, his universal praise for Roy Schieder – sentiments shared by most of the cast if not the producers – meant his time aboard the seaQuest was a creatively fulfilling one. Look no further than the scene in the final episode of season one where Bridger Gives Crocker a parting gift, only to discover Crocker’s wife has left him and he’s got nothing to go home to. The lack of this kind of poignant human drama in season 2 – ironically now having embraced its sci-fi roots – meant season one would remain the most memorable of the entire series.
Applegate went on to appear in plenty more film & TV projects in the proceeding years, always projecting the charm and blue-collar sensibility of his roots. Yet his role as Chief Crocker is the one for which he’s most, and probably best, remembered.