We continue the fascinating barnacles-and-all story of the creation and development of seaQuest with these two contrasting vintage articles. The first, Christopher Bland’s piece for Starweek Magazine from 1993, is a vanilla promotional write-up that, like most others, attributed the show’s shaky start to its young co-executive producer.
Tommy Thompson’s replacement, (‘Relief Pitcher’ David Burke) while going to great lengths to credit Thompson as a ‘terrific guy’ nonetheless echoed the general perception that Thompson had indeed been ‘overwhelmed’ by the production. ‘Big Bear’ Burke was now assuring the nations press that the show was back on track, (despite admitting it wasn’t too far off in the first place) none of which made for a positive introduction for audiences to the show.
Two years later after the show’s cancellation in 1995, Thompson finally got an opportunity to tell his side of the story to TV Zone’s David Bassom, where in the second of a two-part conversation he passionately refutes any claim that he caved into any ‘pressure’ and left of his own accord.
Resolute in his belief that the show was going to sink based on the leading man’s insistence on the show having an educational rather than an action/adventure theme, the resulting clashes between Thompson & Scheider became so counter-productive Thompson confessed to jumping ship rather than having been pushed. In his defence at the time, Scheider professed “His (Thompson’s) vision was different. What he does he does very well, but I didn’t think he was the right guy for this show” whereas Thompson’s lasting impressions of Scheider were “He’s a good actor, but not a very nice guy”
Ultimately Thompson may have walked the plank but soon fell into another, more lucrative collaboration with Paramount while seaQuest’s troubles continued throughout the first season and beyond. Ironically, the theme of the show was changed to that of ‘traditional science fiction’ for the second season and while Scheider continued to protest, one can’t help but think Thompson’s input may have been a welcome and positive one with such experience in the genre had he stuck it out…