Episode 01/02 (Pilot)
“TO BE OR NOT TO BE / THE NATHAN BRIDGER INCIDENT”
Directed By: Irvin Kershner
Written By: Rockne S. O’Bannon / Tommy Thompson
Airdate (US): 09/12/93
Production Code: 68901
After Captain Marylin Stark almost triggers an undersea war, Admiral Noyce enlists the help of her former XO Commander Ford to track down the elusive Nathan Bridger, former Naval Captain and designer of the UEO’s flagship seaQuest DSV, the world’s fastest and most advanced submarine in the world. Luring back the retired Captain turned scientist proves harder than imagined, but Noyce persists and lures him aboard and soon Bridger finds himself among a crew of soldiers and scientists at each other’s throats. Meanwhile, seaQuest’s systems start to malfunction and fail while a renegade submarine lurks in the ocean depths with a familiar face in command…
This episode moves fast and the flow is natural as we meet the whole ensemble of the talented, likeable cast. Roy Scheider as Nathan Bridger adds class right away to the show with a wonderful backstory – I didn’t realise at the time that there is a whole alternate history for this future world. The music by John Debney is wonderful, too. Shelley Hack, one fifth of Charlie’s Angels plays the duplicitous Captain Stark (whether intentional or not, the first of many Voyage to the Bottom Of The Sea references) who is relieved of command by the straight arrow Commander Jonathan Ford, played by the wonderful Don Franklin.
I can say that this pilot, especially the first episode more than resembles Voyage – Seaview/seaQuest, Stark’s name comes from a Voyage episode and the failsafe she was trying to deploy against orders comes from Voyage as well. It is widely known, maybe, that Steven Spielberg met with Irwin Allen’s widow Sheila to discuss obtaining the rights to his sci-fi shows – Spielberg planning at least on doing Lost In Space and Voyage to the Bottom Of The Sea. What he found was that unfortunately she didn’t have all the rights. At the time Sliders was on TV and doing okay so maybe he backed off trying to do The Time Tunnel, as Sliders didn’t involve time travel usually but travel to different alternate and parallel Earth’s, it was somewhat similar. Instead he created one of the best science fiction shows ever, Earth 2 (probably the best), a more serious Lost In Space, and seaQuest DSV, which had a similar trajectory to Voyage: serious action based first season, out there second season with aliens and monsters, and a back to basics third season with serious stories and action again.
Captain Bridger might as well be Admiral Nelson a few years after Voyage was supposed to have ended, say the late 1980’s. Instead we have 2018. When he gets to the ship he designed but never saw built…he notices changes and meets others of the crew. This includes Stacey Haiduk, initially so grand as the by-the-book now turned sort of heroine sympathetic figure as Lt. Comm Katherine Hitchcock. He also meets his deceased son’s former roommate or college chum Lt. Benjamin Krieg, the man in charge of…entertainment and keeping up morale played by the ever lovable John D’Aquino (in one of his first scenes he’s berating a crewman for ordering only family films for the Sub (“This is not a monastery!”).
Bridger’s re-uniting with Chief Security officer Manilow Crocker (named after musicians perhaps?) is fun as it starts out as Crocker chewing Bridger out and ends up showing them as old friends. The sadly departed Royce D. Applegate is so good a fit as this character.
Marco Sanchez as Sensor Chief Miguel Ortiz and Ted Raimi (later the wonderful Joxer on the wonderful Xena show) as Lt. jg Tim O’Neill round out the cast and their roles are not yet expanded though Ted has an early scene telling the evil disobeying Marilyn Stark her orders are not to fire. Richard Herd plays Nathan’s old friend Admiral Noyce who lures Nathan back to the sub command – another compelling character.
But the best two I saved for last. Stephanie Beacham as medical Dr. Kristen Westphalen, who oozes charm, strength, and charisma. Beacham was excellent in the long overlooked Sister Kate. She’s great at comedy, she’s great in this show and I love her!
Sadly, we also lost Jonathan Brandis at his own hand, mostly because Hollywood had abandoned him once he became an adult and perhaps there were other things that were going on as well that we don’t know of. Love him and almost everything he does. In this, he’s basically Wesley from Star Trek: The Next Generation but with more of a role and better character development. His character, Lucas Wolenczak, has created a way to translate dolphin language, which he uses on Darwin, Bridger’s only regular contact for a few years after his wife died (yes, his wife and son are deceased).
So everything is set up here and the interaction is well done and Scheider keeps things light and airy, though they have the tendency to go dark quickly. His meeting with each crew member shows, already, his great rapport with all of them. There’s also dramatic conflict among them and promising futures for the series.
This was highly entertaining. The end sets up a confrontation that will happen between a pirate sub headed by Stark and seaQuest, now given or nearly given to Bridger to command. In a smart move for the character and the show, Bridger does not allow Ford to give up command to him. A deleted scene shows the evil Stark using what seems to be an electric prod with a knife on the end to kill a resisting officer!
Part 2 plays out mostly how I figured it would with Bridger taking command (I guess they just keep an extra spot with Ford still in command, too?). The businessman villain seems to lose a son and will the son or he or both be back? Will Stark be back? She’s organized insanity, too and Hack plays it well but… that last scene where she’s losing it completely while her men rush for…a mini sub? That was the one scene that made no sense. It was sort of…oddly directed.
In any case the pilot was quite okay and I can see how it sold. I like the scene where Bridger puts on the uniform for the first time and intimidates two crew members in the hallway…
“THE DEVILS WINDOW”
Directed by: Les Landau
Written By: David J. Burke & Hans Tobiason
Airdate (US): 09/19/93
Production Code: 68916
While on a mission among ‘Black Smokers’ – undersea hydrothermal vents – Darwin the Dolphin becomes dangerously ill. Bridger has to make a choice to set his closest companion free or try to find a cure for him against the clock before a historic opportunity to drop a research platform is missed…
The Devil’s Window begins the episodes that end with a bit of real life science. This and the episode are about a ‘Black Smoker’, real life hyper-thermal vent.
It’s unusual in that there’s no real villains, just a desperate and somewhat sad situation. It’s very surreal to watch Crocker with Bridger, but their relationship is fun. It’s even more surreal and odd to see Roy and Jonathan – both of them now passed on – in scenes with only each other, talking about life and death, especially death.
The episode is good but muddled. First, O’Neill and Bridger get a telepathic message from a sick Darwin. How did Darwin get sick? Someone released an old ‘thing’ that has poison in it? Who? Were these seaQuest crewmen? The team that the guest star Roscoe Lee Brown has assembled is working there too? Maybe? None of this is clear. To add to the mess, Westphalen warns that the bacteria that’s living here can be highly toxic but the doc, Raleigh Young, (played by Lee Brown), says the living organisms around them are thriving. Is he looking for these to help cure cancer as he mentions carcinogens. What got Darwin sick?
To add to this, Bridger takes the sub to his old and ‘crazy’ friend Malcolm Lansdowne, played by a charismatic Robert Engels, who’s a big producer, too. He tries to help Darwin and suggests they get him back to his pod before he dies, which he is sure to do. He also warns about the bacteria and viruses.
The episode is all over the place and yet not bad. It just doesn’t seem to go anywhere -Darwin’s mom brings them anti bacterial seaweed. In all of this, in order for Young to calm down, Westphalen gives him a calming sea movie and music. His platform drop into the black smoke chute has to be delayed or maybe it’s retrieval? Not sure. So two good episodes but the second was sort of…It could have been better.
“TREASURES OF THE MIND”
Directed by : Bryan Spicer
Written By: David Kemper
Airdate (US): 09/26/93
Production Code: 68918
The seaQuest makes the archaeological discovery of a lifetime when they stumble upon the lost Library of Alexandria – buried with numerous treasures and documents still intact. However when various nations attempt to lay claim to the priceless collection, Bridger is forced to act as intermediary before the site risks being destroyed…
With a great guest cast, a coherent mystery, a touch of supernatural ESP, an interesting discovery beneath the sea, some political intrigue, a hint of romance and more, this episode surpasses the pilot’s two eps and the third/second to become a favourite. And although the Libyan delegate and ship attack, physically, they are not the out-and-out villains of most sci-fi shows. This is a plausible, reasonable storyline. Like The Devil’s Window, a lot is going on but this time it comes together easier and with more sense and fluidity.
Lucas is having…designs shall we say, on Hitchcock and though this comes to nothing in this episode, the deleted scenes show more of this and a resolution, which is nice. There’s a leak aboard the seaQuest and not of the water kind as someone is giving away info about the discovery of the Great Library of Alexandria. Richard Herd’s real wife Pat appears as the wife of Admiral Noyce when Bridger calls them late at night (I think they named her Janice?). Three UEO ESPer’s who have the Psi Factor come aboard to find the link and the female of the three is to get into Bridger’s head to find out if it’s him. She and he develop a good relationship and there’s a welcome hint of romance.
It all works out in the end, even if the two older gentlemen’s reasons for wanting to leak info is sort of ridiculous (they want to break away and be left alone by the UEO with their constant missions. I’ll say this for the writing – this is a novel motivation for betrayal without making them evil). I love how the ESP men misjudge Bridger who tells him that his mind doesn’t rule such decisions…his heart does. It’s a touching moment and well played. In fact, all of this is well played. I love Bridger’s smashing of one of the artefacts, proving he will destroy them rather than lose one human life due to the fight over who gets what from the discovery.
I also like Ford getting along with Westphalen, his enthusiasm for excavating contagious. I like that they softened their relationship even if they don’t focus on it. The focus is mostly on Bridger and his relationship with the female ESP’er and later, her father and his desire to help them if they help him. Overall, a really good episode…
Directed by: Joe Napolitano
Written By: David Venable
Airdate (US): 10/03/93
Production Code: 68904
During an unorthodox mission to transfer a dangerous mass murderer in a cryochamber, the SeaQuest discovers that the prisoner, Dr. Rubin Zellar, has posed as the warden and is now at large on the boat. Zellar is captured but manages to escape shortly thereafter and threatens the crew with a biological agent that he will release, killing everybody aboard, unless Bridger fires on UEO headquarters . Meanwhile Dr. Westphalen comes to the realisation Dr. Zellar was the man responsible for her brother’s death…
Games is a taut, highly tense episode with a main villain who’s evil and revels in it. He’s also a bio-chemist and uses biological weapons to deceive seaQuest’s crew while also posing as the doctor who was sent to watch the killer.
He’s killed the Warden and switched places with him, supposedly hiding a toxin inside the body. Zellar tells Bridger & Co. he’s planted it somewhere on the boat, which sees to be a bluff. He obtains seaQuest’s launch codes at gunpoint and gets Bridger and Ford to fire missiles in a surprising scene. They’re one step ahead of him.
Zeller, it transpires, was also was responsible for killing Westphalen’s brother and 499 others. This episode, while, entertaiing feels more like an episode of Star Trek and/or Star Trek, The Next Generation.
“TREASURES OF THE TONGA TRENCH”
Directed by: Les Sheldon
Written By: John J. Sackmar & Kerry Lenhart
Airdate (US): 10/10/93
Production Code: 68917
While on a deep dive in a seaCrab, Lieutenant Krieg has an encounter with a deep sea creature that nearly takes his life. Before he can head back to the SeaQuest, he discovers a treasure trove of mysterious glowing stones on the Ocean floor. Harvesting as many as he can carry – Krieg attempts to hawk them to a buyer, pitching them as the newest precious stone. Tensions rise among the crew as greed starts to take over as everyone vies for a piece of this unique commodity. Meanwhile, the SeaQuest herself comes under attack from the same bioluminescent cephalopod that attacked Krieg, and the science crew start to put the pieces together about the creature and the so-called stones…
Treasures is just the opposite of Games and just does not work. First, the seaQuest crew show uncharacteristic lack of professionalism. Krieg sees glowing rocks on the bottom of the ocean somewhat guarded by an unseen, badly realised CGI monster (it resembles a squid but it is not; more like a sea anemone and better glimpsed quickly or in bits). And does not report it. In the meantime, he hoards the glowing rocks to sell them to his ‘contact’ Murray Goldwater (can they get more stereotypical?).
Against his own advice Krieg tells Ortiz and then Lucas and soon the whole crew other than Ford and Bridger know and are using the SeaCrab’s to gather rocks for themselves for selfish reasons. This is wrong on so many levels. Even Hitchcock gets into it to get two for her mom.
As if this plotline isn’t ill advised enough… the other one has Yaphett Kotto in an embarrassing guest spot. Kotto plays Jack Clayton, a UEO Admiral on board to put the crew through military tests including…well, how fast the burners in the kitchen light. In addition, he spouts embarrassing lines, comparing himself physically to Bridger. Did the writer think this was funny? It makes Clayton seem unbalanced and ridiculous. At other points, he asks Bridger to strip to his underwear to compare muscles with him. Nathan does a kind of pull up to prove he’s better and also engages in a swimming race with the man. It’s all really stupid, none of it is funny or makes sense.
At first, I thought maybe the giant creature or the rocks or both were influencing the crew and maybe that was the original idea but no one acts responsibly or themselves here. It is, so far, the worst episode. It might fit into season two comfortably.
This episode makes Krieg as well as most of the others unlikable. Krieg was never the most appealing but at least he seemed funny and seemed like someone that might exist. In fact, the original idea of Krieg knowing Bridger’s son and being able to talk to him about it, is lost.
Oh, and the glowing rocks will lose their glow soon because they are in fact, fish poop, which as as good a metaphor as you could use for this episode. Bob Ballard explains that while the sea creature in the episode doesn’t exist, there is a fish thought to have gone extinct 66 million years ago that was recently rediscovered. Recently being in the 20th century: the Coelacanth.
Derived from the Greek ‘hollow spine’ Coelacanth is ‘Lazarus Taxon, an evolutionary line that seems to have disappeared from the fossil record only to reappear much later.’
He also mentions that the light deep-sea creatures produce is called bio-luminescence. The Smithsonian has a fascinating gallery of bio-luminescent fish here.
“BROTHERS & SISTERS”
Directed by: Bill Norton
Written By: Art Monterastelli
Airdate (US): 10/17/93
Production Code: 68906
When the SeaQuest is ordered to bury an old undersea munitions depot, they quickly discover it’s not abandoned as once thought. A family of children are residing there and it will take several of the crew members to earn the trust of the small clan to convince them to leave their home before it disintegrates. As they do, Lucas starts a romance with the eldest girl, Cleo, who in turn starts to trust him. It’s later discovered an accident during a supply run killed the kids parents and they are determined to stay in their tight group, but can Bridger & Co. evacuate them in time?
A fairly straightforward episode. Christopher Pettier plays Zachary Thomas, while Kellie Martin (who managed to be both annoying and spectacular all at once in often forgot series Life Goes On) plays Cleo Walker, the two who help four other children survive after, unbeknownst to them, three of their parents perish trying to return to their base. They all lived in an undersea munitions depot which is now being destroyed by tidal currents. One child, who seems adopted(?), gets the bends so Westphalen puts him in a hyperbaric chamber.
Zac refuses to leave because he mistrusts adults and endangers Ford and another crewman’s life. On the other hand, Lucas and Cleo form an easygoing sort of budding romance friendship which works. Krieg comes off as unlikable again as he offhandedly insults Hitchcock as she takes to one of the little girls and her maternal instincts kick in. Crocker babysits two twin boys who refuse to talk and give him a run for his money. Westphalen still comes off as the best character, solving at least three problems and getting Lucas to meet Cleo and show her around. The relationships are nice in this show and this episode does not have a main villain and that’s a good thing. Bridger shows command presence in getting Zac back to the seaQuest.
I like this episode a lot but it’s also bittersweet – in the late 80’s and early 90’s, four stars were prominent in the Teen and Movie Magazines: Jonathan Brandis, Christopher Pettiet, Tobey MacGuire, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Two went on to become major stars and the others passed way too soon. While Jonathan and Chris hardly have any scenes together it’s sad to see them both end the way they did. One of the last things Pettiet appeared in was the underrated MTV’s Undressed anthology. He was also in the last season of the Young Riders as Jesse James and a few other things – The Goodbye Bird was especially well done.
As for Brandis, he was in a pilot for an anthology hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and a few movies that never made it big but I liked a few of them, especially The Neverending Story 2.
In any case, this was a good episode and Brandis does a capable job. seaQuest was destined never be a huge hit but at least it was an easygoing, sparkly adventure that didn’t have major villains and heroes, only finding conflict with people in scientific situations. It would never make for rousing adventure but at least it was plausible. As it stands this is one of the better episodes…
“GIVE ME LIBERTÉ”
Directed by: Bill Norton
Written By: John J. Sakmar & Kerry Lenhart
Airdate (US): 10/24/93
Production Code: 68903
When a space capsule crashes into the ocean, seaQuest comes to the rescue and discovers that the astronaut inside is sick with an unknown pathogen. Unfortunately, seaQuest becomes ground zero for an epidemic as the unknown microbe quickly starts infecting the crew. It’s a race against time as Bridger hunts for the creator of the pathogen in hopes of finding a cure, while a rival confederation sends in a submarine to destroy all evidence of their bioweapon – even if it means destroying the seaQuest herself…
This hits close to home – as a Space Station where a virus was manufactured is found underwater with the dead crew still onboard. The virus affects Ford, Dr. Levin, and other members of the boarding party when they find the crew of a sea lab also dead from the virus. Bridger goes to find the surviving astronaut played by the great Udo Kier (see his strange list of credits—including Andy Warhol’s bizarre Dracula and Frankenstein and I think played a Vampire in Blade). Here he is Dr. Guy Peché and he has guilt over being a survivor and leaving an immune colleague who was trapped with others who went mad in an isolation tank. What’s not clear is that Bridger calls it a moment of weakness – but from who? Guy or the man who wanted out and asked to be let out? If Guy let him out, Guy would have died.
There’s also a strong implication that Guy was in love with the man who he allowed to perish. I’m also impressed that this show depicted a lesser known neighbourhood of France. I don’t really get Crocker’s French talk to the lady on the street and why she slapped him. Was that supposed to be funny? What was he asking her? Did he know what he was saying? In any case the North Alliance UEO members want the shuttle destroyed but it contains the body of the immune astronaut.
In the meantime, Ford seems quickly affected by the virus and is not himself. One funny moment is when Ford has a tantrum and rants, Lucas shuts off the mic and quips – “Alert, man overboard.” Stephanie Beacham – and I can’t say this enough – is a class act and lends her every episode something valuable.
The one aspect that didn’t work was, again, the character of Krieg. He seems as if he’s trying to help the isolated but he’s just obnoxious. It’s even hard to feel sorry for him when Ford grabs him and rips his protective suit, making him one of the isolated.
It’s also a test for Hitchcock as she has to command when Bridger and Crocker go in search of Guy to get him to see ‘Nathan’s world’
This is a terrific episode. It was the third one made but aired as the seventh – In fact, a lot of season one was aired out of order…
“KNIGHT OF SHADOWS”
Directed by: Helaine Head
Written By: Melinda M. Snodgrass
Airdate (US): 10/31/93
Production Code: 68924
While investigating an old shipwreck, the seaQuest crew start experiencing phenomena that can only be explained as paranormal activity – Bridger has an encounter with a ‘ghost’ while reviewing old footage of people boarding the ship for its maiden voyage and Dr. Westphalen becomes possessed by the spirit of one of the passengers – causing her to take a shuttle to the wreck. As As they venture through the ship to rescue her, the ship’s secrets are slowly unlocked…
The ubiquitous Halloween episode. Most TV shows have holiday episodes but this rises above those. Yes, it delivers the scares and some of them are done imaginatively: Bridger thrown across the room by an apparition, a ghostly hand coming from his hologram imager, (because unlike Star Trek: The Next Generation, seaQuest didn’t labour on gimmicky holograms and Holodecks), a door knob that bursts into flames and then freezes, skeletons in a flooded room, air pocketed rooms, blood or red liquid seeping from a door, green mist in a long corridor, Dr. Westphalen possessed by a stuck spirit of a lady named Lillian who has bitterness in her heart, illusionary fire, and more!
The thing about this is that Lucas is immune, the amateur para-psychologist Joshua Levin (a regular crewmember?) tells us. Thing is I thought children were susceptible to hauntings, but no matter, it gives Brandis more to do. Crocker also has his moment as a superstitious old sea dog, telling us that spitting gives sailors luck and that salt keeps the Devil at bay.
While most episodes of most other shows would condemn the lovesick Captain Wideman, the malevolent ghost, to Hell in the end, this show, sensitively…doesn’t. Attacking Lucas and finding he cannot hurt him as he did Kristen and Nathan, the ghost admits he wants forgiveness. He purposely sank the ship to stop Lillian from marrying his engineer Robert, who died from pneumonia trying to fix the engines. Lillian also died and the Captain killed himself. In the end, Lillian frees herself by forgiving the Captain and then Robert appears to take her to the afterlife. Robert, in an amazing moment of forgiveness, turns and also offers his hand to the Captain. The three of them leave together in a powerful, unexpected ending.
Then the show has to go and ruin it with a tacked-on ending aboard the sub. Horror movies and TV shows sometimes feel obliged to have a scary ‘shock’ payoff, the likes of which went out of style in the late 80’s but which movies even today feel obliged to use. The crew use badges that turn red (shades of the movie Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea) when the air grows stagnant and oxygen narcosis occurs. Was it all a hallucination? After Nathan closes the Captain’s Log we see his badge turn red and hear the Captain laugh. Totally unnecessary…
Directed by: Bryan Spicer
Written By: David Kemper
Airdate (US): 11/07/93
Production Code: 68921
When the seaQuest arrives to rescue a French sightseeing submersible after receiving their distress call, the team tasked with saving the vessel full of children ends up in need of rescue themselves. Forced to the surface, Ford, Krieg, Lucas and Dr. Westphalen now have to ride out an approaching hurricane in an emergency raft with the seaQuest unable to locate them. Meanwhile, the downed French submersible is running out of air and time as the crew of the seaQuest scramble to figure out a new way to find them before it’s too late…
I really liked this episode a lot and felt it lived up to the adventure premise, however further reading from people who know more about survival at sea reduced my appreciation of it. Most of it is based around the fact that Ford and Krieg do most things wrong in the survival mode on a raft at sea after they, along with Lucas and Kristen, have to abandon their launch and are on a raft stuck in the Sargasso Sea. There’s also the fact that a freshwater sinkhole probably couldn’t sink a Submarine. In the episode it almost sinks the Launch and does sink a French ship with two female teachers and several school children who justifiably cry throughout the episode. It also almost sinks seaQuest, which gets parked across the sinkhole while trying to salvage the French sub.
seaQuest also loses all electrical power when lightning hits a buoy attached to it. Crocker, in a sort of touching/silly moment, sings a sea shanty to maintain the crew’s spirits. Kristen’s idea of tying themselves to the raft works, Ford’s makeshift SOS from Morse Code and a camera also works so they do some things correctly. Lucas falls overboard and at one point thinks Darwin is dead in a touching moment.
Scheider is great in this episode but so is everyone else, even D’ Aquino as Krieg, who, finally chastised by Ford starts to act like a regular seaman rather than cracking jokes. Overall the episode doesn’t suffer from the seafaring inaccuracies and is touching, exciting, and different..!
Directed by: Les Sheldon
Written By: David J. Burke
Airdate (US): 11/21/93
Production Code: 68925
When the seaQuest’s air conditioning system breaks down it falls to Krieg and his shady contacts to procure the parts needed. He turns to “The Regulator’, an infamous black market dealer. When he boards the seaQuest to seal the deal, The Regulator ends up leaving with more than just his pay – he kidnaps Darwin, believing the dolphin has the answers to his existential theories…
Every sci fi show – heck most TV shows – have episodes where a larger than life anti-hero/villain/likeable/unlikable rogue shows up and breezes out just as fast. This is that episode for season one of seaQuest and it starts out light-heartedly as crewmembers (plenty of whom we’ve not seen before) have to share rooms because a circuit has burned out leaving areas of the Sub without air conditioning.
When Krieg’s contact, known as The Regulator, a loner genius with an Orangutan for a companion (that we later find out he tried to put gills in!) boards seaQuest with the merchandise, Lucas is so mesmerised by him that he confronts his own feelings about his function on the boat. Bridger talks to him about why his father left him there and Lucas learns it might not be just to get rid of him.
Despite Lucas’s early hero worship of the ‘cool guy’, The Regulator’s real name is Leslie Ferina and he turns out to be kind of a creep, luring and capturing Darwin when he discovers he can talk. Ferina (can you believe there’s an action figure based on this character? Was he meant to be recurring?) wants to find the find the centre of the universe and thinks Darwin can lead him to it. Turns out he’s right.
A really touching episode but it can’t make up its mind if the Ferina character is devious, villainous, mixed up, lonely, or sympathetic. It turns out he’s maybe all three…
Directed by: Gabrielle Beaumont
Written By: John J. Sakmar & Kerry Lenhart
Airdate (US): 11/28/93
Production Code: 68920
The seaQuest receives a mysterious distress call, arriving at underwater gold mining colony ‘Broken Ridge’ and given the cold shoulder . Due to the “Wild West” culture, they must send a member of the crew in undercover to discover who needs rescuing and why. Lieutenant Commander Hitchcock volunteers and goes in under the guise of a lounge singer. Once there she discovers the distress call came from the original owner of Broken Ridge, which has been taken over by a fellow miner who has staged a mutiny…
Some high calibre guest stars in this story – David McCallum of The Man From Uncle and later Ducky in NCIS plays bad guy Frank Cobb and David Morse from St. Elsewhere plays downtrodden prospector Lenny Sutter.
Cobb is one of the first seaQuest out and out unrepentant villains who is holding Sutter, his wife Joan, their son Gibby and his dog hostage. SeaQuest is sent a distress call and Sutter has to punch out Ford to get his attention covertly. Hitchcock goes in undercover as a singer (and the song isn’t bad) to get the family out after a warning is sent with the dog. It all works out after a big confrontation with Ford taken prisoner. The kid gets a gun to Ford so Cobb flees but Sutter, proving he’s a man to his son (is this an outdated concept?) tracks him down in the mine and punches him around.
Despite some outdated ideas, this isn’t a bad episode. It has action, good performances, and a reasonable logic. The production design on display here is also superb, really capturing the look & atmosphere of an outback colony trapped underground…
Directed by: Steve Dubin
Written By: Michael Cassunt
Airdate (US): 12/19/93
Production Code: 68923
Lucas Wolenczak is feeling unappreciated and it’s not until a special request is made for his presence at Node 3 – an information nexus for the world’s communications and internet – that he finally feels at home. Surrounded by fellow hackers and computer geniuses all around his age, Lucas is tempted to leave the seaQuest and stay there. It isn’t until the community’s leader, legendary hacker “Mycroft”, shows Lucas what their true agenda is that the young genius is left with a moral dilemma…
“BETTER THAN MARTIANS”
Directed by: John T. Krechmer
Written By: David Kemper / Dan Brecher
Airdate (US): 01/02/94
Production Code: 68926
When the space capsule from the first manned mission to Mars crash lands in the Andaman Sea the seaQuest is tasked with rescuing the stranded crew. The race to find the stranded Wayfarer first is on as the Montagnard Confederation desperately needs the political coup. Meanwhile, despite his grudge against the Space Programme, Bridger promises old friend Commander Scott Kellar he will rescue the precious core samples even if he can’t get to them in time…
Richard Herd makes a welcome return as Admiral Noyce and we see, rather prophetically, his consultation with a Black President (played by Stephen Williams). We also get a conglomerated Viet/Asian Confederacy President named Chi (played by James Shigeta of Die Hard) who wants to help rescue stranded Wayfarer astronauts in order to make a show of solidarity for his nations and his rule. His intentions are honourable but he mistakenly puts his trust in army General Tran, who wants money and holds samples that Bridger’s astronaut friend Commander Scott Keller has brought back from Mars, rocks that hold proof of organic life on Mars once existed.
seaQuest encounters adversary racing to Scott’s stricken space capsule: a mine field, enemy subs, and having their decoy of Crocker and Hitchcock in a launch captured. The relationship of Nathan and Scott is key here. For years they vied for funding; Nathan for the sea; Scott for space. What’s truly touching is their friendship, both seen through most of the episode and for a moment there’s great tension as it looks as though Scott and his three man crew might not make it out alive. In a bold move by the writers, seaQuest does indeed fail its mission.
Bridger also wrestles with something the President of the US suggests: that Nathan’s professional contention with Scott (played by Galactica 1980’s Kent McCord) over funding and losing it to him in the current climate might have hindered their recovery. I didn’t think it for a moment. Nor, did Ford. Their scenes together as well as in the next episode Nothing But The Truth as rather nice, Scheider does a great job in this (and every) episode.
This episode might be set in 2019 in SEAQUEST’s world. It probably started in 2018 and it’s odd now to hear a fictional “future” history (often the years in the 2000’s are mentioned with a fictional history, focusing on world changes that never happened and, of course, the sea), written in the early 1990s but now out passed by the reality of our 2020…
“NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH”
Directed by: Les Sheldon
Written By: David Kemper
Airdate (US): 01/09/94
Production Code: 68913
As the seaQuest prepares for safety experiment with only a skeleton crew, they intercept a distress call from another vessel. During the ‘rescue’ the SeaQuest is hijacked by environmental extremists, Their goal? To use the SeaQuest’s computers to gain access to various polluting entities around the globe and shut them down. It’s up to Commander Ford and crew to outsmart the commandos without having to sink the seaQuest first…
This episode is full of action and is a showcase for Ford while Hitchcock, ordered to tell the truth to the leader of a commando group that has taken over seaQuest, is played with true grit by Stacy Haiduk.
The leader is a former environmentalist for the UEO, Col. Schrader played by the talented John Finn, later of ‘Cold Case’. Schrader’s motivations to protect the environment are sound but he needs the security codes known only to Bridger (who despite not being onboard manages to competently face off with the villain over the Vidlink – calling him out by his full name when he refuses to show himself).
Here, everyone involved as seaQuest is running an experiment with a seven man crew (with Lucas and Darwin getting stuck on board as the Commandos raid), and has something to do. Crocker’s hurt and crawling through ducts to try to sabotage the wiring of seaQuest, Ford and Krieg, having their issues with each other (Ford might not sign Krieg’s recommendation papers at the start of the episode) in the near moment, work together to stop the Commandos and both almost lose their lives more than once. You almost believe they’d kill off Krieg, too, though he’s become more likable as the show progresses as he shows a genuine concern for his fellow officers, especially here and in the most recent handful of episodes before this.
The acting is all top notch. The two men agree they can’t rely on a wounded Crocker – they should have – Instead they plan on sinking the seaQuest with almost no way to save Hitchcock who is prisoner for most of the episode and for Lucas, who gets captured approaching the climax or toward the last half of the episode.
The story has some kinks but overall it is of a high standard and never boring. I love how Darwin helps out when he can and the scene of Ford holding onto him as he takes him through the water tube past a Commando is laugh out loud funny and exciting all at once. Only on this show. I love it. I also like how the holographic Professor Martinson (played in about eight episodes by the wonderful William Morgan Sheppard, who passed away in Jan of 2019 and who has a huge list of credits including ‘Doctor Who’ in 2011, ‘Poltergeist, The Legacy’, ‘American Gothic’, ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ and lots more!) distracts a Commando so that Ford can lock him Nathan’s room. And Jonathan Brandis, wow, great performances. This guy deserved better from Hollywood and from himself.
Though the lead commando mercenary hired by the Colonel is a hunter sadist type, the others are made up of an Asian female and those that give up when they realise there is no way to off the ship once the doors are sabotaged and it is sinking and they will die. Rather than fight to the death, they give up. One is played by Michael Reilly Burke, a big TV star later on but has a small part here. Another is Brent Hinckley, who also has a large list of credits.
Though Westphalen doesn’t appear in the aired episode, a deleted scene has her showing her concern and love for Lucas and a recovered (sort of) Crocker joking around a bit. Lucas hugs and thanks her for her concern. It’s a great moment that should have been left in the episode…
“GREED FOR A PIRATE’S DREAM”
Directed by: James A. Contner
Written By: David J. Burke / Robert Engels
Airdate (US): 01/16/94
Production Code: 68927
When Dr. Raleigh Young’s Magma Buoy erupts from the sea and lands on a remote island, the seaQuest crew encounter a group of treasure hunters who refuse to leave despite being told the Buoy’s data confirms a volcano will erupt at any moment. Ford & Westphalen have a race against time to convince the treasure hunters the UEO is not just after their discoveries and that they all need to evacuate before its too late…
While Stephanie Beacham and the regulars hold this episode together and guest character Raleigh Young returns and helps out, his presence can be aggravating but it is really the four treasure hunters on the island that do not work as full-fledged characters. The guest actors aren’t bad, it’s just the dialog they share and their rapport is neither great or realistic. And no one, knowing their lives are threatened, would stay on an island about to sink and/or explode from a nearby volcano.
Westphalen holds her own as she has to command seaQuest (with Nathan and Lucas on vacation in Pearl Harbor) and forced to take matters into her own hands. The scene where she orders torpedoes be fired to save the island may be her best moment. Another scene where Crocker attempts to play fetch with Darwin is also great fun – The humour makes the episode.
Stephanie Beacham shines in this sequel to Bad Water, a great foil to pompous windbag played by Roscoe Lee Brown reprising his role. The plight of the treasure hunters, stock characters all, is hard to empathise with given their ignorance in the face of impending doom – Their whole story doesn’t really work. That said, the episode is entertaining but not the best one of this season so far. Its good to see the character development – with Ford evidently easing up on Krieg and Krieg behaving more like the officer he really is.
Directed by: Bryan Spicer
Written By: Patrick Hasburgh
Airdate (US): 02/06/94
Production Code: 68932
The UEO tasks Bridger with tracking down eco-terrorist Maximillian Scully who is suspected of sinking whaling ships across the globe. The seaQuest is ordered to seek and destroy Scully’s submarine after it accidentally sinks a passenger liner, forcing Bridger into a dilemma to either pursue and kill an old friend or resign his commission with the UEO…
This is the first episode that feels is as if it needed to be a two parter or longer. It’s a riveting and emotive story, with Bridger wrestling with his conscience and eventually retiring due to pressure from creepy UEO General Frank Thomas. Thomas is forcing him to track and destroy a submarine manned by a mysterious former friend of Bridger’s and is itself destroying ships that are illegally sinking whaling ships)There’s some laugh out loud moments too (the efforts of Ford to NOT hand in Nathan’s resignation letter; Lucas’s efforts to avoid leaving seaQuest; Krieg bringing an illegal real beef cheeseburger).
It also sets up that the future’s food is healthier and that people care about things such as saving whales, cows, and the environment as well as the fact that there are those who cheat at all that (Noyce talks about people that still smoke cigars in restaurants though it’s illegal; Frank and his two cohorts at the UEO eat roast beef). It’s also unusual to see Bridger outnumbered by three old guys (though to be fair, Frank might be younger) and intimidated, which he clearly is. It’s also brave of a show to present their main character as such.
Krieg uses Navy Quartermaster Bickle, who will appear in the next episode, to get the illegal beef. The scenes where Nathan says goodbye to Lucas and then they reunite when he returns, are both touching and genuine.
It also sets up a romance between Westphalen and Bridger as they share a “more than friendly” kiss when he “retires.” Unfortunately, the talented Beacham only appears in this scene and one or two others. This thread could have been expanded upon and in future might. Similarly, not much is made of the fact that Darwin has to leave, too, parting him and Lucas.
While The Regulator is name checked, Bridger goes to his old friend Malcolm Lansdowne to find out more about who the mystery man is: it’s a man he spoke at the funeral of (hilarious dialog between Nathan and Malcolm, who appeared in a previous episode). Malcolm says, “He was touched.” It is Max Scully, who also appears in a future episode. The actor who plays Max, Jonathan Banks, is very good and sets him as a deeply motivated and complex character rather than just an obsessed villain.
Scully’s aides are African American Corbett and future Dagwood portrayer Peter DeLuise as Wiggins. Both are not mere henchmen but are multi-layered characters, maybe even more than Maximillian Scully. Both quit the whale ship destroying when Scully and they accidentally hit and sink a cruise ship. While it is apparent that there will be more survivors than casualties, some will be casualties. The two henchmen leave to give themselves up but we never hear of them again. Did they? They could have provided the name of who was behind this. It seems odd that DeLuise would be in such a small part.
I almost forgot another plot thread: when the two henchmen leave, Scully goes to play a holograph “boxing” game in a bar or some such place – we think, at first, to recruit new members but he’s just scouting new targets. Old vet Jack McGee (not the HULK chaser but a real named actor) plays Mike Lutz. McGee, like everyone else in this ep, has a long list of credits…including Space Rangers. This thread goes nowhere though.
Another odd thing is the timeframe. The evil UEO Frank (Francis) Thomas gives Bridger 24 hours to make up his mind. Are we to believe that Bridger makes up his mind, announces his retirement, has his orders disobeyed by Lucas, Krieg, and Ford, then flies to Malcolm to talk, hears about the cruise ship’s destruction, and returns to seaQuest in 24 hours? If it is longer (as it should be), then why didn’t Thomas take action within that 24 hours – such as ordering Ford to go after the sub? For Lucas to have been brought to mainland by Krieg and then hide in the ship…or was that all a lie and Krieg and he were in on it together? Either way, more time seems to have elapsed since Thomas threatened Bridger.
More could’ve been milked out of this entire situation. I wonder if there were deleted scenes or scenes in the script never filmed. This really does feel like a two-part episode and a good one. Not sure how Scully escaped and/or why Bridger was tricked or fooled but I’m guessing we will learn in a future episode when Scully returns.
A really good and deep episode detailing a possible near future and complex relationships between all involved…
Directed by: Jonathan Sanger
Written By: John J. Sakmar, David J. Burke & Patrick Hasburgh
Airdate (US): 02/20/94
Production Code: 68928
seaQuest enters an R&D competition to create a high speed single occupant submersible. Test pilot Lucas is ambushed during its trial run and has to be rescued by a mysterious man who identifies himself as a fellow dreamer. When the crew goes back to recover the wreckage of ‘The Stinger’, it’s disappeared, prompting an investigation into one of the competing design firms and a conspiracy to win the coveted UEO contract…
Lucas and Hitchcock work hard on a new prototype that the UEO will hopefully contract (but aren’t they…or at least Commander Hitchcock UEO employees?). There’s fun contention about the Sub should be called – with Lucas adolescent. dynamic ‘Stinger’ and Hitchcock insisting it be ‘Gazelle’. The episode starts with Lucas nearly dying in the Stinger as it is attacked by two men in a van from shore, men working for a man named Dinato. Another man pulls Lucas out of the water and tells him he is a dreamer – turns out he also once worked for Dinato. Krieg and Ortiz go on shore to find tracks that the Stinger has been stolen. In an earlier scene in a launch Tim gives Krieg a hard time about his record (backing into a volcano, nearly rolling seaQuest, and something about a tsunami) when Krieg says, “Never send a boy to do a man’s job.” There’s also evidence that Lucas may be 17.
Lucas wants a scar but Westphalen tells him that his pretty baby face will remain intact. She considers him still a boy but Nathan calls him a college graduate who will soon want a tattoo. In the meantime, the dreamer, Martin Tucker is kidnapped by Dinato’s men, led by Tom Green, who doesn’t want to hurt Martin but has to fire a projectile stunner to get him back to Dinato’s, who actually fired him and has the Stinger dismantled into what Crocker (who leads an effective raid on Dinato’s) later calls like a 1000 piece puzzle Nathan used to get at Christmas as a kid.
Martin has already escaped on his own, cleverly placing a whining sound device to down all Dinato’s men, while he has on ear plugs and he merely strolls out.
Next comes the race between Tucker and Lucas and oddly, the show has Lucas almost win but then lose. Nathan knew the reason why and didn’t tell Lucas or Hitchcock because they didn’t read the material he gave them. He feels they learn more by losing than winning. In any case, another good and serious episode, well filmed, well scored (a score that sounds a little like Richard LaSalle but isn’t), and well acted. I like that Ortiz and O’Neill, who usually get little to do, did a lot here, like helping Lucas and Hitchcock build another Stinger in 24 hours. One scene after that has Lucas fall asleep and seemingly dream a dream of winning is cute. This is, so far, the only episode that has “TONIGHT ON SEAQUEST” opening clips…
“HIDE & SEEK”
Directed by: Lindsley Parsons III
Written By: Robert Engles
Airdate (US): 02/27/94
Production Code: 68933
Renegade Dictator Milos Teslov escapes UEO custody and the seaQuest is ordered to apprehend him. Meanwhile, Dr. Westphalen is visiting Malcolm Landsdown to look at new virtual reality technology when they are attacked and held captive by Teslov himself. He wants the two scientists to help him create attack dolphins to take back waters that will give him control of his former empire. When Dr. Westphalen notices that Teslov’s son is fixated on dolphins and discovers the boy is autistic, she makes a deal with Teslov: if he will spare her and Malcolm, the seaQuest will give him safe passage. Her goal however is to help the man be able to communicate with this son via Darwin and abandon his quest to retake his empire. In the midst of all this, Bridger, Ortiz, Lucas and O’Neill seem to be sharing the same dream they believe is Darwin trying to communicate with them telepathically…
What can I say about this episode? William Shatner guest stars. He’s more than decent – or rather turns in a decent performance – as a man haunted, not by the fact that he’s killed innocents in his near takeover of the Eastern European countries in this near future of…2019(?) but by the fact that he had to…well, if I told you I might ruin it. He wants Malcom Lansdowne to use his dolphins to help his non-communicative son to …well, communicate. Of course, Dr. Westphalen is at Malcolm’s house (having a sort of courtship with him?) when Milos Tezlof takes over the island. Westphalen makes a deal: she’ll help if he spares Malcolm’s life. Later, Nathan seems jealous that this “romance” is going on because Malcolm, he declares, is crazy. Her answer is hilarious. “Yes, I know. He’s one of your friends.”
There’s also action as the an alliance led by Serbia(?) attack seaQuest, (threatening with a nuclear bomb on a rope!?) They want the terrorist turned over to them and while that happens, he escapes his cabin where he’s removed his ankle bracelet and bluffs Bridger into thinking he’s dome something to sabotage the boat during his pursuit.
The result is what one would not expect from an action adventure show and it has heart and yet from this show’s first season, one should expect the unexpected as it’s touching, warm, and loyal and filled with characters who want to better the world, not the least of which is Darwin the dolphin who has been sending messages to the crew of seaQuest – of peace it would seem. At one point its conceivable that Shatner’s unhinged despot would just seize Darwin for his needs but instead he’s revealed to be a devoted Father.
I love this show. At least this season. It has a warmth most action adventure shows – heck, most shows – do not. Everyone here does a great job, especially the legendary Shatner. Glad once again to see Tim and Ortiz involved…
“THE LAST LAP AT LUXURY”
Directed by: Bryan Spicer
Written By: Zora Quayton
Airdate (US): 03/20/94
Production Code: 68905
seaQuest escorts UEO Secretary General Andrea Dre to a conference at the Mondial – a new underwater resort built specifically for the summit. During a tour, Dre is introduced to Darwin and Lucas’ work with the dolphin. Impressed, she asks Lucas to accompany her to the conference to speak about the work he is doing onboard the seaQuest. However, in the middle of the summit the UEO leaders – and Lucas – go missing! While Bridger, Dre, and Admiral Noyce initiate a search, the resort’s owner is secretly holding them hostage until an amended copy of the UEO constitution is signed by all the leaders, allowing industries to have the powers they once enjoyed before the rise of the UEO. While Bridger and company attempt to figure out what happened to the leaders, discovering the plot originates with somebody of much higher standing…
The main villain in this episode surprised me even though Bridger suspected the person behind it. The people were all introduced as being such good people. I won’t give away who is behind it but a delegation of top representatives from all over the world are together in a room…and then they aren’t. The reason they’re gone is inventive and cool and by the way, and Lucas, through no fault of his own is among them. His speech to the World Leaders and his interaction with the adults is amusing, especially Secretary Andrea Dre who also has a nice rapport with Bridger as does Admiral Noyce, in a welcome return to a larger part of the action. Also returning is Vietnamese President Chi from Better Than Martians who has a few nice scenes with Lucas. The rock and roll theme here is also interesting and helps save lives. The look and atmosphere of this episode is almost cinematic – as are most episodes of this season – This one in particular reminded me of the Voyage episode The Deadliest Game…
Directed by: Les Sheldon
Written By: Patrick Hasburgh
Airdate (US): 05/01/94
Production Code: 68936
Commander Ford is put on leave after being convinced he’s seen a Mermaid during a test of a Deep Dive Suit. Meanwhile, Lucas gives in to the temptation to lie to Bridger in order to go to a party where Julianna, a fellow teenager he has a crush on, is going to be. During his hiatus, Ford runs into the woman he saw underwater, intervening when a kidnap attempt is made and is captured himself. Awaking in a secret underwater laboratory, its a race against time to save Ford from being experimented on by the rogue scientist known only as ‘Abalon’…
Abalon features Guest Star Charlton Heston as a man who has experimented on humans to turn them into gill breathing deep sea amphibians, much like The Amphibians episode of Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea. Again, though, I feel as if this episode could have either been two separate episodes (one sub plot here is about Lucas lying to Bridger about going to a party to lose his virginity with his girlfriend Julianna (from Photon Bullet) preparing by getting cologne and a condom from Krieg in a delicately played scene.
The main story has Ford going down deep and seeing Mika, a mermaid? A deleted scene shows Krieg talking to Ortiz and Ted (who maybe only appear here or briefly elsewhere) and new dynamic Chief William Shan played by favourite Dustin Nguyen (from 21 Jumpstreet and who adds some karate or ju-jitsu moves to the fight scenes, not that seaQuest had many of those) about how Ford has lost his mind after seeing a mermaid (Incidentally Capt. Crane saw The Mermaid in a Voyage ep).
Another happily deleted scene has Ford reporting that he saw a dilophosaurus or plesiosaur from the Mesozoic Era. That was another hallucination. Possibly. Ford is told to take 72 hours or so shore leave. This part reminded me of Voyage’s City Beneath the Sea and looks almost as if it were filmed in the same areas. And he’s kidnapped off the beach just like Crane, this time after a rousing fight from Ford, double body slamming two big, younger guys!
In any case, the encounter with Heston’s character makes it so that Ford is almost turned, too, also reminding me of Space: 1999’s Death’s Other Dominion when Victor was almost turned immortal. The escape from Abalon’s underwater sub pen looked as if it the man were about to seal it up in the deleted scene or destroy himself. In the finished ep, we never see any of that but get a cryptic message from Heston that he knows Nathan will be back. Would he destroy his base or seal it off? If so, we don’t get to see that here. Possibly a sequel was needed or maybe though about? In any number of episode of Voyage the Seaview had to fit into a narrow channel and some of this reminded me of that.
Lucas is said to be 16, almost 17. His not sleeping with his girlfriend is maybe something called for by Spielberg or the networks or the producers but it doesn’t quite ring true.
All in all, this ep hits the mark for entertainment – Abalon could have used its own story apart from the Lucas story or could have been a two-parter though that might have stretched it out too far. Mika is accepted far too easily by Ford, then by Bridger, then she turns against her father too readily. In addition, something could have been done with Darwin here. We also do not know how Heston’s character ‘created’ the three amphibians we do see: do they have mothers? They must, unless they were implying something else. Ford is going to take Mika out on a date even though she has gills on her back. Strangely nothing seems to come of this.
In any case, another story that makes you feel good, keeps you guessing, and keeps you entertained. And surely the condom scenes, if not the youths having sex scenes (or not as the case may be) must be some kind of record here. I know that James at 15 and James At 16 discussed these things but on a sci-fi show? That must be a record? It’s maturely handled here but it also seems strange that any TV show would avoid using the word from a 2020 perspective only then have Lucas not do the deed! 1994 was a very different time for TV. Then came Buffy…
“SUCH GREAT PATIENCE”
Directed by: Bryan Spicer
Written By: David Kemper
Airdate (US): 05/08/94
Production Code: 68934
seaQuest makes the incredible discovery of an entombed Alien Spaceship while investigating an underwater Earthquake. Bridger enlists the help of Scott Kellar to mount an expedition to the alien ship, but the away team quickly discover they are not alone. While Bridger and the rest of the crew watch the away team’s progress, sensors on the seaQuest detect an intruder travelling at unimaginable speed throughout the ship. Finally encountering one of the aliens, they realize that the odd speech pattern Darwin had been exhibiting is related as their stellar visitor takes an interest in the dolphin. They discover the aliens are in fact silicon based holograms tied to the ship and are here to deliver a message…
This episode is the sibling to Voyage to The Bottom Of The Sea’s ‘The Sky Is Falling’. Both have relatively benevolent aliens and a fairly good encounter between said aliens and humans, with misunderstandings happening first and a nasty military man (in this instance, the return of the obnoxious and idiotic General Thomas), trying to force a deadly encounter by attacking the alien spaceship.
One thing that plagues both Voyage and seaQuest is…are these military subs or not? Do they have to follow orders from the military or the government or not? Noticably missing is Bridger’s good friend Bill Noyce, who, in the wake of the Last Lap at Luxury is now the UEO Secretary General. Can’t he stop or outrank war monger Thomas? On the other hand, Thomas isn’t nearly as persistent enough as the military men that occasionally plagued Seaview in Voyage’s first season. But can Bridger just disobey Thomas and close his vid screen on him and get away with it? Is that realistic? Wouldn’t he be fired? He was actually relieved of command they all ignored it, Thomas included!
The Abyss, Deepstar Six, Leviathan, Sphere, Mystery Science Fiction Theater 3000’s awful movie Lords Of the Deep and probably others (Atomic Submarine in the 50’s probably started the whole genre?) are all about underwater discoveries of aliens. I thought this episode might be boring in the wake of all of those (not sure if those came first or after this or some did and some did not) but honestly, it moves, has pace, and is probably one of the best science fiction episodes of any series about an encounter with aliens (and yes, that includes Star Trek in any iteration). Well, almost aliens.
In some ways, this episode also reminds me somewhat of Space: 1999. Some of the design of the alien ship resembles both Lost In Space and Space: 1999’s alien interiors (especially 1999’s Mission Of the Darians).
The Alien ship has been there since about 1 million BC or its been there a million years from seaQuest’s time ( I wish I had that making of book with a total history of seaQuest’s universe and timeline out of storage) Bridger seems to be taking over others’ lines, moving Hitchcock from her chair and highlighting geologic points that would better be served if Westphalen said it. Kristen, at one point, puts her head on Bridger’s arm, seemingly implying a romance Again, like Space: 1999’s first season, the two hint at an underlying romance but act more like business partners. Mostly – but not always.
Then I thought it was a given that Bridger would go over to the ship…I mean after all he’s the star, right? He doesn’t. Unlike Kirk, Nelson, and Koenig in those other shows, Nathan stays on aboard his Ship. His space friend, Scott Kellar (Kent McCord from Better Than Martians) is back.
The design of the ship, of the dead alien, of the alien construct alien that apparently disintegrates Crocker (yes, kill Crocker, and about 34 or so other crew people…including the barely known William Shan – whom I love by the way) out of misunderstanding – well not so much misunderstanding but anyone who points a weapon at it. What’s really stupid is that…having seen and heard that anyone who acts aggressively is dissipated, the seaQuest crew continue to hold guns on it?
It seems to come as a surprise to everyone that the alien is communicating with Darwin…to meet the dolphins, not the humans…even to me…when…the episode starts out that way!
The music, the tension, the design, the build up, and more are all excellent…challenging many a cinematic presentation of the same nature. It all seems as if this is what it would really be like if aliens were met under the water.
Once more Lucas is front and center but here, we learn more about O’Neill – that he went to church (Ben, in a brief line, seems to have also) and always secretly wished we were not alone and that he never runs from anything (though needs Westphalen to draw him out of his guilt against his religious upbringing to stay on seaQuest). I have to admit I don’t get why seaQuest people have to leave before contact is made or known about. It makes Bridger appear as if he doesn’t trust a large contingency of his crew? Or is this just protocol?
In any case, it sounds like I’m being harsh on this episode but I’m not. I really loved it. It was riveting from start to finish and infinitely watchable, which is not what I thought it would be. Some critics suggest, strongly, that this show should never have had aliens in it. I am here to tell you that they’re wrong. Again. It was too tempting to have a sci-fi show and not do an alien episode and this was great. As long as the show doesn’t do it over and over (though I want to say, ‘Like Voyage to the Bottom Of the Sea’, there are really a lot less alien monster episodes than one might think – but added to sea-monster episodes and mad scientist episodes, well…yeah). As long as seaQuest only does it this one time – and maybe a sequel here or there – as this sets up that the aliens are going to answer a signal to come back to Earth…(would everyone at the table keep that secret from the UEO? Is UEO military and non-military?). So many questions…
One thing I do feel is unfair of me is that I keep expecting some Voyage tropes: people actually deep sea diving (which they did on Voyage) and the ship rocking and rolling (which is cool and admittedly they did far too much on Voyage but do far too little on seaQuest though they try in this episode). The theme and incidental music in seaQuest is very, very good but Voyage’s is better, IMHO and the Flying Sub is far cooler than anything on seaQuest. I’m also surprised Bridger didn’t consider that an empty launch approaching seaQuest couldn’t be used as a giant missile or bomb (as Seaview used against the fake Loch Ness Monster sub in Secret Of The Loch). That also reminded me of Space: 1999 when an alien robot monster arrives via one of their own Eagles (the pilots gone) in Beta Cloud. One aspect of the alien ‘hologram’ (If that’s what it is? I was a bit confused by that part) is that it could move fast and seemingly be in two places almost at once (and move through walls and water tubes).
In any case, a far better episode than anyone might think and better than the premise might imply..!
“THE GOOD DEATH”
Directed by: David J. Burke
Written By: Hans Tobeason & Douglas Burke
Teleplay by : Hans Tobeason
Airdate (US): 05/15/94
Production Code: 68931
A submarine suspected of smuggling emeralds is disabled by seaQuest and found to be carrying refugee children under the care of Dr. Westphalen’s wayward daughter. Bridger and Admiral Noyce realize the information the Amazonian Confederation gave them was false – they had wanted the sub destroyed to prevent the escape of the children in an attempt to control the population. When the rescue party is forced to the surface, the crew has to hide out in the Favela pursued by cruel General Guzmano, who will go to any lengths to cover up his crimes…
Remarkably, in the late 80’s and early 90’s it was reported that street kids in some third world countries and others – namely Rio De Janeiro – had death squads illegally hunt down and kill young boys who were ‘bothering tourists’, – namely just trying to live and fight for survival. This episode explores that but is understandably more sanitary than the real life stories. The opening of this episode is the way I wished every seaQuest started and maintained: a lot of action. We also find out Shan’s grandfather came from Vietnam (as a boat person? It seemed implied?) and ended up here – although we never find out where ‘here’ is – another thing in common with many a Voyage first season episodes: not naming the country of the enemy).
Shan knows some of the language. Since Ortiz knows a language close to the language of the country (Cuban, or was it Columbian?) he is chosen to go in to help the stranded Ford, Shan, Westphalen, and Westphalen’s daughter Cynthia. Cynthia had bought a sub to get some 60 kids out of the police state country that Ford, two of the older kids, Shan, Westphalen and Cynthia are now stuck when cutters bombed the sub after – get this – seaQuest shot its rudder and caused it to sink.
Fortunately, Bridger and Co. were able to get all the other kids off the sub while Ford’s team got the two off but his launch almost got caught in the sinking and seaQuest had to hide to get the cutters to leave. I guess Bridger could have blown the cutters away and this would have saved Ford a lot of trouble but then the episode would be shorter. Regardless, Bridger talks rings around the evil, paranoid and murderous General Guzmano, played with relish by long time veteran actor Luis Guzman, who is backed up by his Colonel Miguel (who is threatened by his boss). Guzman plays Guzmano to the hilt, using the annoying sheep sound to scare Miquel and up to now, he’s the one sort of camp villain and it works here as he doesn’t go too far with it.
Lucas has a nice rapport with Malik, the oldest of the street males, who nearly wreck havoc on board seaQuest in a good old fashioned boyish way. Knowing Lucas and Darwin, this sets up a rescue of Malik at the last moment by Darwin. I honestly thought and even expected that in that last scene on the beach that Malik might actually get shot and killed. Did I mention that I just love Shan and his character and love when he does the fight scenes. I can’t wait to see more of him in season two…Ah….
This reminded me of the Voyage first season Mist Of Silence (actually the third ep. made, I believe) where Crane and his men are being put to the firing squad one by one until Nelson does something or admits something that’s false. Although there are close calls and Cynthia is gravely sick (due to a shake of the launch and hitting her body and face against a bulkhead…see, all those shakes in Voyage would result in serious injuries – so SQ doesn’t have many), it all works in the end and Miguel does away with Guzmano (off screen but we do see his body). Cynthia’s plan was to show up at her father’s with 60 kids. He never could refuse her. Westphalen and he are divorced it would seem…
This was a tense, exciting episode.
“HIGHER POWER (AN OCEAN ON FIRE)”
Directed by: John T. Kretchmer
Written By: David J. Burke & Patrick Hasburgh
Airdate (US): 05/22/94
Production Code: 68937
Dr. Lawrence Wolenczak is realizing his dream of providing the world with free energy via his World Power hydroelectric plant set deep in the ocean off the coast of Australia. As the project goes online, the world celebrates – except for Dr. Wolenczak’s son, Lucas, who is bitter at his father’s celebrity which cost them their relationship and his family when his parents divorced.
Meanwhile, the seaQuest’s crew have reached the end of their tour of duty. Bridger starts saying farewell to crew members who are rotating out, including having a long awaited romantic dinner alone with Dr. Westphalen.
While World Power continues to power up in country after country, reports come in that there is destabilization around sectors of the grid where the underwater turbines are located. Dr. Wolenczak ignores the warnings until it’s too late – the central station itself becomes subject of the growing disaster as the underwater fissures start to open up around the station. As the globe is suddenly “un-plugged” the seaQuest races to World Power to assist and to see if Dr. Wolenczak is still alive. As Bridger discovers the ocean is cooking from an enormous river of exposed lava, he orders everyone to abandon ship. Crocker mounts a rescue mission to the World Power station and saves Dr. Wolenczak and other scientists. Alone aboard the seaQuest, it’s clear to Captain Bridger that the only option to prevent the catastrophe from leading to global ecological disaster is to sink the seaQuest and her activated warheads into the chasm in order to seal it…
Prior to the end of the first season, I found my three books of seaQuest and the single issue of the comic book (another was planned and advertised but never published) in order to prolong the life of the first season. I also searched out the many fanzines of fan fiction I collected in the mid 90’s to the end of the decade – and trust me there were many (mostly focused on the characters that didn’t get a lot of airplay like O’Neill, Ortiz, Ben, Hitchcock). Most stories focused on what people liked: the first season, though there were some second and third seasoners. I have to say that I never saw all the episodes and in the 1990’s I think I was switching back and forth between Lois & Clark, seaQuest DSV, and some other show that I can’t identify or remember. Thus, I never saw all of seaQuest and most of these episodes felt like I was seeing them for the first time.
The advent of the last ep of season was coming and I didn’t want it to come. I was looking forward to seeing it and yet – I was delaying it somewhat because I knew that ahead lay the devastating second season. This episode was touching between Nathan and Lucas and also furthered…or actually started the romance between Bridger and Westphalen. It’s about time.
Lucas’s father is featured and a lot of death occurs when his hydro electric plant goes haywire due to volcanic eruptions that threaten world blackout but – more perilously – will melt the ice-caps. Everyone’s is vying, before this, for going their separate ways. Crocker is retiring (though his wife Helen has left him) and feels unneeded, though he touched me when he offered to go save Lucas’s father although I’m not sure the present Krieg offered Bridger works…in either scene it is in.
Katie’s been offered a job on a tanker that she can’t turn down, though Ford already has (I wonder if this was decided before it was known that the production team was moving to Florida and Haiduk didn’t want to go?) turned down. Of the entire complex, only Lucas’s father and two others survive, to be launched out of there by Crocker. Bridger finally abandons seaQuest but has to go back to re-engage the failed auto pilot, almost perishing in the lava pit along with his boat – I totally forgot about the Stinger.
Earlier, celebrating the world light-up by Lucas’s poor attempt of a father, the gang get to spend time on the beach…and almost no one loses their shirt. The only one we see is Shan (as he’s got the body for it) and briefly, Ortiz. Everyone else is wearing far too many clothes. This was a chance to see everyone in full relax mode. In short, this 13 month tour is over for the gang, though Lucas will be back after they build another seaQuest. But how fast can that be done? When does Season Two occur? What year?
Also in short, this episode was a great one to go out on and I would have been looking for the next year to be even better (Voyage second year started out great and actually might be the best season) with more stories set under the ocean and perhaps sequels to be made from some of the other stories (certainly Marilyn Stark from the first two hour pilot could have returned, from Treasures Of The Mind you could have the obnoxious Egypt delegation, Rubin Zellar from Games could have returned, I would have loved to see the two main kids from Brothers & Sisters get involved with Lucas somehow as well as Wolfman, Julianna, and Biff, Frank Cobb and even The Regulator could have returned somehow, Max swam away at the end of Whale Song and does return, The Stinger’s eccentric would have returned as well as Shatner’s evil dictator from Hide And Seek, Abalon and Heston’s character seemed destined to return, and the aliens demanded a return —I think they do).
If only some of these happened and not under the circumstances of the second season. I will really miss those that leave, first and foremost Beacham’s Westphalen, who always kept the human side of things real and always related to whoever she was talking to, Nathan, Tim, Lucas, Darwin, Ford, Crocker, etc. That said I will also desperately miss Shan and hoped, as he was thrust into a very important place very quickly in the four eps he was in….that he’d return and do more of what he was doing. Crocker added things to the show that no one else could, too. Even Krieg, who seemed like a jerk, was leaving and I even grew to like him. I’d also miss Hitchcock. She had one major episode and seemed relegated to third position a lot of the time.
As for the Darwin stuff: it was well handled and it could have gone so horribly wrong and never did. It was dignified and fun, despite what Michael Ironside might later say. All of the Lucas/Bridger stuff is incredibly touching throughout season one and also takes on a more maudlin context as both Brandis and Scheider are gone from our world now. I miss both of them from the type of projects they were in and in general. I always liked both of them and always will.
I’ll miss stories of seriousness that take place under the sea. I’m sure there might be a few more (mostly during season three but maybe some in season two?) and not sure I even want to bother with season two but maybe with such low expectations…it might be okay? It’s odd how it followed the same trajectory of Voyage to the Bottom Of The Sea and in some cases, Space: 1999, though I liked 1999’s second season and loved almost all of Voyage, where monsters and aliens would be forefront.
I have to admit, though, while everyone was upset for Bridger when they thought he might be lost as well as the others at one point, they showed little love for the sub that was their home for 13 months..?
Also, I know little about baseball but …Does Lucas wear a different team jersey in every episode? (Forgot to mention the whole ‘Plays you like a drum’ thing from a few episodes ago – it’s hilarious and Bridger is more than a father to Lucas. And we never find out what’s implied…that Bridger’s son might still be alive and he never knew for sure? Since when? This only seemed hinted at in this final episode…