While I’ve tried to chart the course of seaQuest’s history in a loose but nonetheless chronological order as best I can, occasionally material that’s new to me will surface, and some slips by completely. Now that the bottom of the In-tray for Season One is finally in sight (has it really been five years already??) an opportunity was taken to look back over posts, and I discovered this piece from November ’93 was one of the latter!
Indeed, its clearly early days as Starlog correspondent Bill Warren strolls around the set (identifying key pieces from the yet-to-be-aired episodes Games and Give Me Liberté as he goes) conveying the atmosphere and pace of the production well. With cast members affable and excited to be part of the show as ever (including Ted Raimi as – yes! – Mack O’Neill) the trouble behind the scenes is prevalent in this first of the articles from the World’s best sci-fi magazine of the era.
Though Rockne O’Bannon’s vision had been retained (for now) and the direction of the show seems unified at this point, creative casualties (such as Producer Tommy Thompson, see earlier posts) are starting to mount. Of all the comments made by producer Philip Segal about the show, his musings about man not ‘growing gills and walking into the sea’ bizarrely foreshadowing what was to come is probably the most poignant…
UK Starburst reporter Pat Jankiewicz picks up up from where US Starlog (below) left off for the ’94/’95 Yearbook. Though apparently well into season 2 at the time of writing, Ted Raimi’s character Lieutenant Tim O’Neill is still being referred to as Mack in the ‘talking Dolphin show’.
And speaking of Darwin, Raimi expresses his delight at the storyline from season 1’s ‘Hide & Seek’ being reprised for season 2 while revealing the that not only is the Dolphin fake for much of the time but that star Roy Schieder had particular fondness of the real one. While Raimi speaks fondly of his ‘rambunctious’ co-star (and his enduring association with a little movie called JAWS) and his love of jokes on the topic, apparently Raimi’s impressions of his colleagues on the show were the stuff of legend.
Also of interest are Raimi’s observations of Director of the aforementioned Shark tale and Exec. Producer for seaQuest, Steven Spielberg – whom he suggests was much more pro-active behind the scenes than what was generally thought. Recalling their introduction as similar to ‘meeting someone’s dad’ Raimi nonetheless confirms that it was indeed Spielberg’s show…
We’ve covered the stars, Directors, Producers and even the Designers for the first season of seaQuest and now the SQV resumes its mission to bring you the full and complete history of the show as we plunge into the first of the supporting cast interviews. Presented above is the first of two vintage features on Ted Raimi – or Lieutenant Mack O’Neill as we knew him.
What’s that? Mack O’Who?
Bad enough that what would become one of the series stalwart characters (staying aboard for all three seasons) is referred to here as ‘seaQuest’s Uhura’ but at the time of printing, the show was well into its first season where the character of Tim O’Neill was already a fan favourite.
So how did the mistake come about? In fairness to Bill Warren and Starlog Magazine, chances are the name change had yet to happen as ‘Mack’ would be referred to in not only the pilot script but the first few episodes. The reason for the change is still not known to date (a tweet to Mr. Raimi to clarify might work) but in any event, the right moniker won out.
Indeed, Raimi himself already had a colourful history before gaining notoriety in seaQuest and solidifying his cult status later as Joxer in Xena: Warrior Princess. Still very much active today, Theodore Raimi, brother of Director Sam has always spoken very fondly about his time aboard seaQuest. As for what he had to say about season 2 back in the day, however, look out for the next post…
While Richard Lewis was credited as Production Designer for Steven Spielberg’s undersea adventure series, the real auteur of the show’s pioneering visual style was a young man named James Lima.
indeed, as one of the ‘founding four’ (The others being creator Rockne S. O’Bannon, Production exec. Philip Segal, and Amblin President Tony Thomopolous) not only was Lima responsible for the final designs of the interior and exterior of the futuristic submarine and supporting vehicles but also the creator of the series iconic logo (designing the ‘LimaOblique’ font from scratch).
As described in the 1993 ‘Submerged Special’ from UK Publication TVZone above, Joe Nazzaro’s feature on the design of seaQuest reveals that despite originally being conceived as a ‘large aircraft-carrier type’ of vehicle, the seaQuest went through many incarnations before Lima wowed producers with a more organic design based on his philosophy of ‘Nautical Nouveau’. His concept for the main sub, for example, was unabashedly based a Squid, and the U-boat’s ‘offspring’ (the ‘Stinger’ and the ‘Speeder’) followed the same aesthetic. So radical were his creations that they were an instant hit with the target demographic and hurriedly translated into model kits and toys to kick off the inevitable merchandise campaign.
Lima would eventually be made visual effects supervisor, overseeing his creations in the many demanding CGI sequences. Though critics had originally branded the show’s visuals ‘dark and murky’ the underwater FX sequences were gradually improving with each episode under Lima’s direction. With 10 episodes of the first season in the can, however, Lima, like so many other key creative personnel (O’Bannon included!) decided to part ways with the show and move on to features (his next project being Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days).
Thankfully the production was shrewd enough to maintain Lima’s visuals for the remainder of the first season and beyond (despite a proposed Hammerhead revision of the sub for season 2) and though the show would go on to showcase an impressive armada of vehicles throughout its three-season tenure, none would surpass the standards and sheer innovation as initiated by Jim Lima, the true designer of the seaQuest.