For a writer trying to avoid comparisons with Star Trek, Rockne S. O’Bannon’s original vision to have Darwin the Dolphin already established on the seaQuest like ‘Spock on the Enterprise’ doesn’t seem to help the cause.
In the continuation of Joe Nazzaro’s conversation with the seaQuest creator in Starburst #188 however, we learn this was the least of his problems back in the day, and that many of his ideas went adrift thanks to studio nervousness and the inevitable pressure caused by maintaining the quality of a ‘Television Event’.
Indeed, O’Bannon’s insights about TV series slow-burn popularity is still as valid today as it ever was, and the burden of expectation generated by the name ‘Spielberg’ had made it nigh-on impossible to overcome (just as it had with his small screen debut Amazing Stories years earlier. )
Apart from the further explorations of the characters, however, its interesting to read the original plans for what became the isolated episode ‘The Stinger’ where O’Bannon confirms the intention was to have the ‘undersea motorcycles’ deployed like the Colonial Vipers in Battlestar Galactica (a concept later resurrected as the Specter Squadron in seaQuest 2032).
Whatever grand ambitions O’Bannon had for the future of the show were swallowed by the knee-jerk reaction to ratings and the ushering in of new producers to fix what probably wasn’t broken. The audience was not to be fooled, however, and in a useful comparison to Star Trek, (for once) pointed out the Next Generation’s first season was inconsistent at best and that patience could be rewarded. As if that wasn’t enough, William Shatner himself would guest star in the first season episode ‘Hide & Seek’ (bottom pic) only further highlighting the similarities.
With O’ Bannon’s premature departure seaQuest was deprived of its creative source way too early and soon meandered off course as a consequence. Far from ‘letting imaginations run wild’ as advised, ‘unfulfilled potential’ would become words that were not only synonymous with seaQuest at the time, but would sadly define it for decades to follow…
Award-winning costume designer Ingrid Price has been dressing for prime-time since the early ’80’s. Chances are you’ve seen her work on many of the most popular and enduring shows on television, with no less than eight seasons of Law & Order: Criminal Intent to her credit alongside such contemporary fare as Nurse Jackie and The Mysteries Of Laura.
Delve deeper into Ms. Price resume, however, and you’ll discover that after Wardrobe Supervisor duties for the big screen on such notable projects as Single White Female, Mississippi Burning and The Godfather Pt. III, one of her first big, solo assignments was for a little science-fiction show forging ahead with its second season after a problematic first.
So it is with considerable delight that, for the first time anywhere, the seaQuest VAULT presents an exclusive conversation with the lady herself, where the full extent of her vision and contribution to the series can finally be revealed, illustrated by way of original Continuity Polaroids from the SQV Collection…
The evolution of seaQuest through vintage print media continues with the candid insights of show creator Rockne S. O’Bannon, who infamously jumped ship after submitting the pilot script. While the SQV will feature several of O’Bannon’s accounts in future posts, this cover story from Starburst #187 is as good a place as any to chart the show’s troubled course with a great interview by Joe Nazzaro.
At the time of publishing (March 1994) seaQuest had been inexplicably pulled from the schedules in the UK, only serving to further alienate its audience . Thankfully, the coverage here meant the show didn’t disappear off the radar completely and those wishing to catch upon episodes would benefit from the thin critique of David Bassom’s episode guide until the remainder of the first season aired…
British actor William Morgan Sheppard has died at the age of 86.
The star of Star Trek, Dr Who and Mad Men died on Sunday January 6 in Los Angeles, California.
He leaves behind an actor son Mark Sheppard, with who he starred in several productions, including the TV series NCIS and Doctor Who’s The Impossible Astronaut, where they played different aged versions of the same character.
William was born in London in 1932 and graduated from RADA in 1958.
He enjoyed 12 years as associate artist with the Royal Shakespeare Company and appeared in Broadway productions of Marat/Sade and Sherlock Holmes.
His film career began in the 1960s with Strongroom, Tell Me Lies and The Roses Of Eyam, before progressing to Hawk The Slayer, The Elephant Man and The Sea Wolves in the 1980s.
William also appeared in Wild At Heart, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and 2006’s The Prestige, where he played Merrit.
His last film role was as Wil in 2016’s Last Man Club, which followed an uncredited appearance in 2009’s Star Trek and 2008’s Over Her Dead Body.
William is survived by his wife and children.
“He was a really nice guy. All of those scenes were done live, with him set up off set with a camera feeding the video projector…” – Fred Tepper