The Kershner Cut..?

The second and final part of the retrospective on legendary director Irvin Kershner comes from Issue #69 of Starburst magazine, where interviewer Joe Nazarro teases out some startling commentary on the seaQuest pilot broadcast in the fall of 1993 –

Foremost among the revelations here is that Kershner’s version of ‘To Be or Not To Be’ was in fact never aired.  Despite his cut being preferred by most, NBC executives intervened and re-shot and re-edited without his input.  To add insult to injury, the network edition was recut entirely for European territories with around 20 minutes of footage excised.

The problems with the beleaguered production had started early according to Kershner, who, while enthused about the concept (and casting of Roy Scheider) was less than enamoured with the script.  Branding it simply ‘very bad’ Kersh seemed to share Scheider’s concern early on that the focus of the show was not exploration but ‘who sends the torpedo’s first’.  Between this and the constraints and politics of shooting for Television (as opposed to features where the Director has creative control) Kershner is clearly frustrated about how his contribution was diminished and rightfully outraged about how his work was butchered.

In the midst of this, the turmoil during production about who did have creative control of the show was seemingly never fully resolved.  From creator Rockne S. O’Bannon’s unprecedented early departure to Quantum Leap Producer Tommy Thompson’s furious on-set clashes with Scheider (more about that to come!) all compounded by Executive Producer Steven Spielberg’s absence meant the show could and would not depart on an even keel.

Despite the odds being against him, Kersh, (who died in 2010 aged 87) managed to deliver the highest-rated Drama Fall Premiere in six seasons for NBC with a 17.8 Rating and 28 share.  Kersh himself may not have been proud of it but his efforts were acknowledged by by the Writers and Artists Agency (who took a out a congratulatory ad in Variety) and the pilot is still regarded by many as one of the best episodes of the first season.

Having left such a legacy (not to mention being responsible for countless global box-office receipts) it seems almost evident and proper that The Kershner Cut of the seaQuest pilot should rise from the depths and be not only released in his memory, but as testimony to a visionary whom, for all we know, may have set the seaQuest on the right course…


My Captain, Cont’d…

The premiere issue of the (very) short-lived sci-fi magazine Not Of this Earth contained features on both men at the helm of the upcoming show for the NBC network produced by Steven Spielberg –

Indeed, this wasn’t the first rodeo for veteran actor Scheider and Director Kershner (having worked together years before on Loving) with both going on to contribute to numerous genre projects and considerable box-office success.  The powerhouse combination of their names, plus Spielberg meant that executives were probably justified in their belief they had the hit of the season in their grasp.

With the pressure on once an order for a full 22-episode season was made, filming the pilot for seaQuest DSV would represent a challenge for the actor on his first television series (Scheider had sworn off TV since Assignment: Munich) and a Director also more accustomed to shooting for the big screen.  However, despite the limitations of the set and a script in need of a few more revisions, ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ was nonetheless a huge ratings success and set the bar for subsequent episodes.

While Scott Nance interview with Roy Scheider is one of very few coversations on record with the actor about the series, look out for more insights to come from the much-missed Director as the SQV posts more vintage interviews with Kirshner about his experiences on the pilot.

Finally, although it may not seem that posts are few and far between recently, I direct your attention to the Main Menu navigation bar above where I have spent considerable time updating and reorganising to build up the site to make it even better.  The SQV is always a work in progress and relies heavily on contributors and fans so please DO go to the ‘Mission’ page to submit any suitable content.

Meantime, I’m especially proud of the recent features ‘Six Hours On The Set’ and ‘Farpoint Encounters’ as well as an update and revision to the pages ‘In Print’‘Playmates Toys’ and ‘Cast & Crew’.  Did I also mention the first season Episode Guide is complete backed up by a new Publicity page to support it?  hopefully you can see I’ve not been resting on my laurels and for anybody curious about me and my motivation/passion for this page, please check out the post below for The Geek Authority’s YouTube video where I chat with the wonderful Lorenzo Marchessi.

Stay safe ‘Questies – MUCH more to come..!