The Trials Of Rockne Concluded…

The SQV closes the file on series creator Rockne S. O’Bannon with this compelling piece (again from Joe Nazzaro) published in Starlog #204 – chronicling the young writers career and ultimately – the creation of seaQuest DSV.

For whatever conflicts that arose behind the scenes leading to his premature departure after delivering the series pilot, O’Bannon’s candid responses here indicate that at the time of writing (midway through the first season run) he seemed reasonably content with his creation but frustrated at all the unfulfilled potential.

O’Bannon also offers some good insights as to why the critics were seemingly lying in wait to savage the show from the outset, due to the association with Spielberg and his uneven track record for television.  One wonders if the show may have endured less scrutiny in Spielberg’s absence, but conversely, would the 22-episode order ever have been placed without Amblin’s clout?

Regardless, by all accounts it seems that the lack of Spielberg’s involvement hurt the show early on and disillusioned producers and cast members, in particular star Roy Scheider, who (according to a recent interview with Stephanie Beacham) repeatedly demanded to know Spielberg whereabouts.

The answer, of course, was in Poland, directing Schindler’s List, only ever managing to visit the LA set on one occasion.  Later, by his own admission, Spielberg regretted not delaying the production of seaQuest for a year so he could give it his full attention (and even direct some episodes) but it never came to pass.

Also intriguing are some of O’Bannon’s original concepts for Darwin and characters such as Dr. Shimura and one Gabriel Harpe, best friend and closest rival to Captain Bridger.  Both characters would never see airtime but the character of Harpe especially had been planned as a recurring foil – his profile first outlined in the seaQuest Season 1 Bible and subsequently (as Geoffrey Harpe) in the novels Fire Below and The Ancient.  Thanks to the diligence of seaQuest fans, however, an unfilmed script featuring Harpe’s debut is now available for the first time.  ‘The Agony And The Ecstasea’ turns out to be an ambitious but fairly routine episode, with Harpe, for all the investment in his creation, a somewhat uninspiring villain.

As a footnote, O’Bannon didn’t go on record about seaQuest for decades until last year, where he penned a heartfelt tribute to arguably the best-known of his creations.  It really is a touching piece and offers great closure to the show – found exclusively in the liner notes of the recently released seaQuest DSV Deluxe Edition Soundtrack and available for purchase here



All Aboard…

With news surfacing last month that the colonisation of of the ocean is finally becoming a reality as predicted, its only natural that the fictional equivalent should be enjoying somewhat of a resurgence –

Indeed, the return of seaQuest DSV to the airwaves is long overdue and currently winning new fans on both sides of the Atlantic, courtesy of NBC’s new Peacock streaming service and re-runs on the Horror Channel here in the UK.  This has also been compounded by the out-of-the-blue release of the Deluxe Expanded Edition of the Original Soundtrack by John Debney – a collection fans have clamoured for.

Probably the most significant development, however is the recent merging of the SQV with the most popular and active seaQuest Facebook group Beneath The Surface, where yours truly has been added as a moderator (alongside creator CJ Brittingham).  What’s most gratifying about this group (besides the daily increase of members!) is the passion for the show and the well of creative talent its inspired.  So impressive were some of the skills apparent that I reached out for contributors to help make this website the definitive online archive of the show (as it was becoming too big a mission to complete on my own) –

Therefore I’m delighted to announce that the result of the first of these collaborations is now live – starting with the exclusive all-new Season 1 Episode Guide This page features both synopses, review and links to Blu-Ray screen-captures and links to downloadable PDF copies of the original scripts! 

Before I go any further, let me introduce you to some of the newest recruits whose work will be showcased in future pages and posts –

No. 35799-D

Name: Charles Mento
Rank: Lieutenant
Duties: Episode Reviews
Bio: Longtime sci-fi 
fan and prolific
writer with offbeat
style and encyclopedic
knowledge of cult TV

No. 22813-A

Name: Cora Ortiz
(A.K.A Lylianne Ware)
Rank: Lieutenant JG
Duties: Episode
Bio: Collector and
fan-fic writer of 
seaQuest-based novels
& short stories.

No. 77932-B  

Name: Kim Malinowski
Rank: Chief Warrant 
Duties: Media Reviews
Bio: Established author, 
poet. Writer of 'Death, 
A Love Story'and Numerous
articles for publications

The SQV also acknowledges invaluable contributions from Julie Esteves (Scripts),  Damian Sobieraski (Imagery) Christopher Spencely (Imagery) Brian Kidd, John A (Props) Ryan Paquet (Articles) John Billings (Props) Gary Kester (Reviews) Justin Boggan (Reviews) and Travis Karlgaard (Scripts).

Finally, a special mention for both Jon Janes of the seaQuest costuming group DET ONE for his dedication and applying his enviable talents in offering an exclusive outlet for ‘Questies (courtesy of his etsy store), and also industry professional Mark Bradley, graphic designer for the second and third seasons of seaQuest – look out for an exclusive interview with many never-before-seen images..!


One Last Salute…

The SQV has just learned of the sad passing beloved actor Richard Herd – our very own Admiral/Secretary General Noyce.

As tributes pour in for one of the best character actors and familiar faces on TV in a career spanning almost 50 years, we present an except from ‘Tales From The Cult Film Trenches’ , featuring a rare interview with Herd where he speaks candidly about his time on SeaQuest, sharing his affection for his co-stars and giving a unique insight into the production…

“I was a recurring character on SeaQuest –  here’s how I got the role – I had done what I consider my very best piece of work on television.  I did a character called Captain Galaxy aka Moe Stein on an episode of Quantum Leap (Future Boy).  I did the last episode of Quantum (Mirror Image) as well, reprising that character.  SeaQuest came up, and Tommy Thompson who wrote Future Boy was one of the producers on that show.

The pilot for SeaQuest was directed by Irvin Kershner, who had directed the Empire Strikes Back.  I had met Steven Spielberg when I was up for a role in the movie 1941, but I lost that part to Robert Stack.  I went in and auditioned for SeaQuest, and then Kershner had me back again, to be approved by Spielberg.  I believe it helped that Tommy Thompson was the fellow who worked on Quantum Leap.

Everybody wanted SeaQuest to be a success, including all of the Star Trek fans.  The Trek Science-Fiction show type of fans were looking for a new show to latch on to.  You do not know the opportunity that was presented to SeaQuest.  There was no show on at that time that was even remotely like it.  Today there a sci-Fi shows all over the place.  At the time, there was nothing besides SeaQuest, except for Star Trek:  The Next Generation really.  They wanted it to be a success, and the people behind the scenes and everybody working on the show wanted it to be a huge success too.

They had a huge response to the first couple of shows, then they had too many producers, too many people became involved, too many suggestions.  I also believe that it wasn’t set that far enough into the future either – it took place sometime around 2024 (2018!)

Still, the show had a fabulous cast.  We had some good directors and and we had some good guest stars – William Shatner, Topol…Some wonderful people came on.  Then they paid for bigger names; we later had Charlton Heston on as a guest.  However the producers started to tinker with the show.  What they did after the first year was a terrible, terrible thing.  They just about fired any actors involved over the age of 45.  They dropped myself, Royce Applegate and a couple of others.  They then replaced us with these nice kids; we used to refer to it as Sea Hunk.  The show was then moved to Florida, supposedly to save money on sets and locations, and they ended up spending more money to to put all these people up in houses and whatever, and give them cars.  However, they did not save any money.

They brought me there to do a couple more episodes for the second season but it was a disappointment.  But I will tell you one thing, if I were called to work with Roy Scheider again, I would be there in a minute.  He is one of the best actors I have ever worked with.  He was the kind of person who tried to make the show better, he was a tough guy – but a tough guy in the right sense that he cares about the work, and he wanted it to be better…” 

In customary fashion, the last word goes to Dr. Kristen Westphalen herself, who posted this message on her facebook page earlier –