“I spent two great years in the art department of seaQuest DSV/2032.
I remember those years mostly in terms of the sets and locations and what had to make for them instead of the content of each episode. My favourite aspect of the show’s design was all the futuristic iconography (like the UEO and SQ logos, etc.).
I used them everywhere that made sense like labels, signs and props. I ended up contributing many other logos and graphics to that same universe-more so than any other series or movie I’ve worked on since…”
– Mark Bradley
“So when you’re over here, we just gotta meet up…”
It had been 20 years or so since I last breathed that distinctive Florida air, but the smell and humidity was unmistakable. I was back alright. Though the family & I had anticipated changes post-covid, even we were surprised how little and how much things had changed in our beloved Orlando. In some ways it was like we had never been away, and in others, you could really tell the economy had taken a beating. Buildings crumbling, theme parks Overrun, customer service poor – none of which we had experienced on our (many!) visits prior.
For my part, while I was happy to be back (there’s still no place quite like it) nothing would be the same since they went ahead and demolished my sacred inverted pyramid at St. Pete’s Pier a few years back. Surely I had made the most of this accidental discovery of this seaQuest staple when we spent the day last we we there, but never did I think such a futuristic building would be considered dated enough to pull down. It was heartbreaking to think I’d never see it again.
Between that, the closure of the Backlot tour at MGM studios and my favourite store Sci-Fi World, I wondered if there was anything left out there especially for me to enjoy – or had times changed and things inevitably moved on? It was during a melancholy afternoon of Magic Kingdom madness when I got the message above from Jon Janes – a young ‘Questie who I’d been in touch with for some time but had never actually met. The proposition was to meet up with noneother than Mark Bradley – the Art Director for the show no less!!
It all brought to mind when I’d convinced my dad to drive us down from Orlando to West Palm beach, having just had a conversation with the late John Kachmar. I was so hellbent on getting to his seaQuest Costume Museum that I’d made two inches on the map sound like a short distance. To me it was worth the six-hour round trip (even if the ‘museum’ was actually John’s front room). Such were the things that friendships were built on and memories were made.
Thankfully the trip to Mark’s estate would be that much shorter, with Jon picking me up from EPCOT as it was halfway there. Though one should always use caution when meeting anybody you’ve only spoken to online, even I was surprised just how quick Jon and I hit it off – he was enthusiasm personified and spoke just as quick as he drove.
In no time we arrived at Mark’s gated community and through to his house. His welcome was warm, friendly and engaging, which also serves as the best description of him as a person. As we were ushered into his front room It became apparent that a creative lived there – discretely placed alongside the traditional American decoration you would spot such things as Boba Fett’s blaster mounted on the wall, and a full-size VINCENT droid from The Black Hole seemingly hovering behind the dining table. “Its not finished yet” Mark would interject as he caught us staring agog.
Mark had prepared for our arrival by fetching out his totes. A lot of totes from his loft & garage. No way this could all be seaQuest related, could it?? Jon & I knew time was limited, he was flying home that evening so we just got stuck in. Grown men on Christmas morning complete with childlike reactions to every new discovery made. Mark sat with us patiently and unaffected, none of this was new to him but we could tell he enjoyed seeing our eyes light up over and over.
As a fan with a particular penchant for costume, imagine my wonder where I found the Season One jumpsuits (thought to be destroyed) in a seemingly bottomless tote, complete with their undershirts and accompanying continuity polaroid. Not just a few but the entire crew. True to myth, we found all of them had indeed been stripped of their patches in order to be re-used for Season Two. It had been over 20 years and there they all were, Hitchcock, Crocker, even Chief Shan folded away like they were worn yesterday. Mark had preserved everything perfectly. As we went through the costumes, having fun trying to recall episodes in which they were used and by whom, Mark would lament that, having worked on the show, he didn’t really appreciate any of it until long after, but thought it was cool at the time so kept it. As Jon sat there furiously examining labels and stitching for reference to produce his own uniforms, and I sat there cradling Roy Scheider’s screenused uniform, we couldn’t have been more grateful he’d made that decision back in the day.
Then there were the props. At one point Mark produced what looked like a Nuclear Briefcase and inside were treasures we could barely comprehend. The seaPOC. The iconic vPal and Stun Gun. Launch keys, keyboards, signage, even parts of the killer plant from that season 2 episode. It was all wondrous to not only see, but to hold, photograph and spend time with. We all paused to reflect on Jonathan Brandis uniform when Mark found it, collectively glad its been so well looked after to honour him by.
After what felt like mere minutes we were on the road as none of us had eaten – luckily Mark knew of a local barbecue shack nearby. As we drove round the estate it became clear that many in the community were involved with the local studios – with driveways occupied with as many DeLorean Time machines and other film/TV vehicles as SUV’s. Mark casually informed us that the furniture from the seaQuest Wardroom currently adorns a dining room in one of the many beautiful villas.
With time running out, Jon and I started to pore through the tonnes of paperwork from another tote, containing everything from scripts to production notes to budget memo’s and service charges for one animatronic Dolphin. While it was all mesmerising of particular note was Jon’s discovery of the James Lima’s original three view sketches of the seaQuest herself. To date, only the side view had been published so seeing them all together was a highlight. Among my favourite illustrations were the Confederation logos by John Eaves and the earliest blueprints for the bridge (some quite different than what was ultimately built). Though e could’ve easily spent the next 12 hours going through paperwork alone (me in particular not wanting to let a vintage magazine with Roy Scheider cover go at all) we were ushered upstairs as Mark mentioned he had some models for us to see. In amongst an impressive collection of vintage toys (the Six Million Dollar Man and Mego Black Hole collection with – yes! – an original cloaked Humanoid figure). there were shelves lined with incredible studio scale models. Indeed, Mark’s office looked like how I imagined Universal Hartland did at the height of its output – The Battlestar Galactica, the Buck Rogers Starfighter and Hatchet Fighter. All looking as if they had just come off the soundstage. And for us? The unfinished resin buck of the 2032 Specter sub and what appeared to be an unpainted Monogram kit of the seaQuest on an improvised wooden stand that turned out to be no less than Captain Bridger’s desk model.
And so, breathless and somewhat dazed, we finally said our farewells. Mark had been a perfect host – our only regret is that we weren’t able to spend, oh I don’t know, the rest of the week together. We had tried to assimilate so much in a our short time that pictures had been taken instinctively rather than set up, (the best of which can be viewed in the gallery below) but Mark had assured us that the unreasonably huge pile we had left for him to scan would materialise at a later date.
Having been so utterly spoilt by the visit I was reminded how, even in the absence of the other seaQuest landmarks so dear to me and lost to time that the memories continue to endure. Thanks to Mark & Jon, I was able to make all new ones safe in the knowledge that this incredible collection exists and resides with the right custodian. As sitemaster and self-appointed historian of seaQuest DSV it gives me great satisfaction to share this wonderful archive with fans who truly appreciate its legacy.
Video (Click on image)
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