“Back in the day I was writing for television a lot, and one of my favourite periods was writing music for Steven Spielberg’s ’90’s shows.
SeaQuest came out of a relationship with Steven as the result of a pilot I did called The Class of ’61, which was about the outbreak of the Civil War and West Point cadets.
SeaQuest was one of Amblin’s big television sci-fi shows, and Steven personally asked if I’d do it. Of course I immediately said yes, and looking back it was an amazing time for me. I would get notes and input from Steven on episodes very often, which as a younger composer was an unbelievable experience.
As I recall there was an episode on that show about an extra-terrestrial visitor, and that was one of my favourites, as well as another episode about the ghost of a shipwreck victim that had a romantic twist to it…”
– Composer John Debney
seaQuest DSV – Original Television Soundtrack
Country: United States
Release Date: 14-Feb-1995
1. “To Be or Not to Be” – Main Title (01:03)
2. “To Be or Not to Be” – Preparing for Battle (02:50)
3. “To Be or Not to Be” – Bridger’s Dream (00:51)
4. “To Be or Not to Be” – Uncharted Waters (02:04)
5. “To Be or Not to Be” – First Engagement (03:17)
6. “To Be or Not to Be” – Darwin Speaks (00:58)
7. “To Be or Not to Be” – Dangerous Adversary (01:32)
8. “To Be or Not to Be” – To Adventures Bold (01:29)
9. “Knight of the Shadows” – Waltz With the Dead (02:45)
10. “Knight of the Shadows” – The Forgiving / Resurrection (04:50)
11. “Such Great Patience” – The Discovery (02:12)
12. “Such Great Patience” – Lucas Meets the Alien (02:30)
13. “Such Great Patience” – Solemn Oath (02:25)
14. End Credits (00:37)
Total Duration: 00:29:23
Review By Gary Kester
It may be because my entire life has been spent on or near the coast, but I’ve always enjoyed the differing ways composers find to give the impression of the listener being on or under water. The effects and instrumentation used to depict the latter particularly intrigues and satisfies me, from John Williams’ Jaws and Jaws 2 through Jerry Goldsmith’s Leviathan and Legend, James Newton Howard’s Waterworld and Elliot Goldenthal’s Sphere (amongst many others).
To this list must be added John Debney’s seaQuest DSV, which ranks amongst the finest TV music ever composed. While people have been rightly wowed by Debney’s recent musical contributions to Seth McFarlane’s hit show The Orville (more or less alternating episodes with Joel McNeely), those of us of a certain age know he already has plenty of form for providing excellent scores to weekly science fiction television.
After dabbles with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (two episodes) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (one), Debney scored season one of Rockne S. O’Bannon’s seaQuest DSV, as well as composing it’s celebrated theme. Debuting in 1993, the show was set in the future year of 2018 (can you imagine!?), where dwindling resources have led humanity to colonise the oceans as land resources run short. Policing this brave blue world (*ahem*) was the United Earth Oceans (UEO), a combined military and scientific organisation with as its flagship a super-advanced submarine, the seaQuest DSV (Deep Submergence Vehicle).
Half undersea western (one episode literally was), half watery Star Trek, SeaQuest was a clever and well written show, lent gravitas by Jaws star Roy Scheider as Captain Nathan Bridger. Scheider, however, quit after season 2 (save a couple of contractually obligated appearances) when the hard science and environmental messages which drew him to the project were diluted by increasingly action-orientated scripts. By season 3 it had evolved into a pure adventure show, seaQuest 2032, with Michael Ironside as no-nonsense Captain Oliver Hudson.
Steven Spielberg executive produced the first two seasons, keen to tap the educational potential of a show set under the seas. Brief pieces on oceanic conservation were included over the closing credits, presented by oceanographer and Titanic wreck discoverer Dr. Robert Ballard, the show’s scientific adviser. In season 2 the cast took over this job, and for season 3 it was abandoned altogether.
SeaQuest broke new ground in visual effects as first show to entirely use CGI, employing daisy-chained Commodore Amigas running Lightwave. It paved the way for the more complicated VFX of Babylon 5, before advances in computing made CGI much quicker, cheaper and more realistic.
Despite its serious message, enviable cast and high production values, SeaQuest arrived at a time when there was a glut of TV sci-fi on the back of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and so it had a lot of competition for audiences and at awards ceremonies (particularly from the highly popular The X-Files). Regardless, seaQuest won the 1994 Emmy for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Main Title Theme Music”, beating Mark Snow’s eerie tune for the conspiracy show. A few years later the US magazine TV Guide named seaQuest the 48th best theme tune of all time.
It’s easy to see why – bold, optimistic, adventurous and tuneful, it swirls us beneath the rolling ocean before marching us through an exciting montage of scenes from the show under the credits. In 1995 Varese Sarabande released a short but excellent CD featuring selections from three episodes, framed by the theme as used in the opening and closing credits. The three episodes all had very different themes and tones, and so were a good showcase for the diversity Debney brought to the show.
First we had the pilot,“To Be or Not to Be” – an action episode, as pilots tend to be as they try to hook audience interest. Debney delivered some weighty, powerful combat music as the seaQuest faces off a rogue submarine commanded by its disgraced former captain. The title theme featured prominently in full and in part – sometimes under gentle layers of sound as the vessel glides beneath the waves, at others over a relentless martial rhythm as it prepared for battle or hunted its adversary. The threat of the enemy sub was rendered through trombones and chopping strings, a sound that reminds me in hindsight of the (purely coincidental) sound used by Michael Giacchino for the Narada mining vessel in the JJ Abrams reboot of Star Trek.
“Knight of Shadows” was an unusual episode in that it was a purely supernatural story with no scientific explanation, as restless ghosts haunt the wreck of a sunken liner discovered by the seaQuest. Debney’s score was suitably spooky, with an eerie waltz for the rotting opulence of the lost vessel. “Such Great Patience” was, by contrast, a hard sci-fi episode, as the seaQuest finds a million year old alien spaceship, giving Debney the opportunity to write music that was mysterious and wondrous.
At just 30 minutes this was merely a sampler of the exceptional scores written for the groundbreaking show, albeit making a wholly superb listen. Many have wished for a more comprehensive release at some point – perhaps a box set, as has happened with shows like the various Star Trek’s, The X-Files and even Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I’m one of them, as there is a lot of unreleased music not just from Debney, but also Don Davis, who handled season 2 (apparently getting commissioned for Bound and The Matrix because the Wachowskis were fans), while seaQuest 2032 had a new theme and scores by Russ Landau.
Whether this will ever happen or not is, of course, down to two things – the availability of the music, and whether the proposition would be commercially viable. If those stars ever align, I’m sure Varese will deliver the goods. In the meantime SeaQuest DSV serves as a reminder that some of the best film music is…well, for TV.
The City Of Prague Philharmonic – seaQuest DSV – Classic Science Fiction Themes
Label: Cinerama – CIN 2215-2, RTL – CIN 2215-2
Format: 2 × CD, Compilation
1-1 Seaquest (Seaquest) – Titelmelodie 3:04
1-2 E.T. – The Extra – Terrestrian – The Departure 6:50
1-3 The Terminator – Terminator Theme 3:53
1-4 Alien – End Title 2:50
1-5 Batman – Mach 2:20
1-6 Cocoon – End Cedits 5:22
1-7 Krieg Der Sterne (Star Wars) – Main Theme 5:38
1-8 2010 – Finale 3:50
1-9 Fortress – Die Festung – Main Title 1:48
1-10 Star Trek VI – Das Unentdeckte Land – End Title Suite 6:14
1-11 Mac & Me – Overture 4:09
1-12 Invasion Vom Mars (Invaders From Mars) . End Credits 3:18
1-13 Seaquest (Seaquest) – Journey Through The Sea 2:00
1-14 Seaquest (Seaquest) – Titelmelodie (Reprise) 1:04
2-1 Raumschiff Enterprise (Star Trek) – Titelmelodie 4:02
2-2 Unheimliche Begegnung Der Dritten Art (Close Encounters Of The Third Kind) – Resolution & Finale 6:22
2-3 Meine Stiefmutter Ist Ein Alien (My Stepmother Is An Alien) – The Klystron (Revised Version) 5:14
2-4 Die Rückkehr Der Jedi-Ritter (Return Of The Jedi) – Parade Of The Ewoks 3:35
2-5 Star Trek II – Der Zorn Des Khan (Star Trek II – The Wrath Of Khan) – Main Title 3:07
2-6 Total Recall – Die Totale Erinnerung (Total Recall) – Main Title 2:31
2-7 Star Trek – Der Film (Star Trek – The Motion Picture) – End Credits 3:27
2-8 Bill & Teds Verrückte Reise Durch Die Zeit (Bill Und Ted’s Excellent Adventures) – The Princess 5:47
2-9 Ghostbusters – Main Theme 3:38
2-10 Meteor – End Title Suite 4:45
2-11 Flash Gordon – Suite 5:01
2-12 Seaquest (Seaquest) – Dance Version (Radio Mix) 3:52
Review By Martin Lakin
Given that Germany is the only country in the world that to date seems to invest seaQuest with the media releases it so richly deserves, this audio collection from 1994 is nonetheless a curious addition.
A collaboration between TV Channel RTL and Cinerama spawned this 2-disc set of Science-Fiction ‘classic’ themes, (performed with gusto by the City Of Prague Philaharmonic) with four tracks from the 26 on the album devoted to seaQuest, earning it the album title.
And quite the eclectic collection it is, placing such stalwarts as Williams Star Wars theme alongside an overture from Mac & Me and Horner’s Main Title from Star Trek II with to name but a few.
Curiously, the seaQuest themes presented here are arguably the least faithful to their source material. Indeed, after an inexplicably prolonged bubble popping synth-intro the Main Title (track 1) launches with a flourishing piccolo into a competent rendition of the theme but falls short of the original. Instead, the theme from ALIEN somehow recalls more from John Debney’s score than any of the arrangements he actually wrote. This trend continues through Tracks 6, (Cocoon) and 8, (2010), either one of which could absolutely be mistaken for cues from the Original Soundtrack.
Track 13 (SeaQuest, Journey Through The Sea) is an original composition by William Motzing and is less suited to a Television score than an album of synthesised Whale music. The final tracks on Disc 1 amount to nothing more than an even more prolonged version of the opening to Track 1 before the reprise of the theme in Track 14.
Things get even stranger on Disc 2, where amongst stirring renditions of Alexander Courage theme from Star Trek, and, oddly, My Stepmother is an Alien, the most seaQuest-esque track from Disc 2 is, hilariously, The Princess cue from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Track 8) which is more than you can say for the final seaQuest track on the album, the ‘Dance Version’ (Track 12) which has to be heard to be believed.
The CULT FILES
Label: Silva Screen
Label number: SSD 1066
Shipping date: November 19th, 1996
1. The X-Files: TV Version
2. The Avengers: Pre-Credits And Theme
3. The Saint: Opening And Closing Theme
4. The Prisoner: Main Titles
5. Doctor Who: Theme
6. Blake’s Seven: Theme
7. Red Dwarf: Interlude/Main Theme
8. Hawaii 5-O: Theme
9. Perry Mason: Park Avenue Beat
10. A Man Called Ironside: Theme
11. Mission: Impossible: The Plot/Main Theme
12. The Incredible Hulk: Theme
13. Knight Rider: Theme
14. Airwolf: Theme
15. Star Trek: Theme
16. Babylon 5: Theme
17. Twin Peaks: Theme
18. V-The Series: Theme
19. seaQuest DSV: Theme (Concert Version)
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
2. Excalibur: O Fortuna – Carmina Burana
3. Alien: End Title
4. Escape From New York: End Titles
5. Blade Runner: End Title
6. Halloween: Main Title
7. The Omen: Ave Satani
8. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: Thunderdome Fanfare
9. Superman: Love Theme
10. Batman: Theme
11. Body Heat
12. Somewhere In Time
13. Taxi Driver: Night Piece
14. The Blues Brothers: Peter Gunn Theme
Review By Martin Lakin
While the album itself is a compilation of recordings old & new of well-trodden material (Disc 1 from Television and Disc 2 from Cinema), The City Of Prague Philharmonic finally redeem themselves for the RTL release two years prior and give John Debney’s seaQuest theme the quality adaptation it deserves. In fact, one could argue that the calibre of this arrangement and orchestration far exceed its Television limitations, elevating it to Cinematic status under the assured baton of Nic Raine.
Indeed,’The Concert Version’ (Track 19) at 3:20 in length is more of a seaQuest Suite, incorporating cues from the pilot episode To Be Or Not To Be wrapped up in a sweeping renditions of the Main and closing Title Themes.
Until such time as a complete remastered collection of the works of Debney, Davis and Landau surfaces, this must surely be considered the most captivating, if not definitive version of the Emmy-Award winning theme.
seaQuest DSV: The Deluxe Edition
Release Date: 6/12/2020
Limited Edition Of 1500
Disc One — The Pilot
To Be Or Not To Be (Air date: September 12, 1993)
1. SeaQuest Opening Credits (3:29)
2. SeaQuest Arrives (4:01)
3. Military Welcome (:37)
4. To The Island (1:30)
5. Come See Her (1:38)
6. seaQuest (3:32)
7. Playon To Seaquest (:37)
8. Hitchcock Retreats (1:50)
9. Darwin Speaks (:59)
10. Stark Prepares (1:02)
11. Act In To Seaquest (:46)
12. Transition (:34)
13. Attack Formation (2:48)
14. At The Precipice / Into The Rift (7:48)
15. Stark Plots (:42)
16. Damage Assessment (:52)
17. Hyper-Probe (2:05)
18. Impending Battle / Play On (1:51)
19. Bridger Returns (2:42)
20. Battle Stations (2:50)
21. Caught (1:21)
22. To The Bottom Of The Sea / A Tag To Bonnie The Bad Girl (6:57)
23. To The Ocean (4:15)
24. SeaQuest: End Credits (:57)
25. SeaQuest Opening (alternate version with Choir mixed down) (1:45)
26. SeaQuest (alternate version) (1:36)
Disc Two — Season One Highlights
Episode 5: “Brothers And Sisters” (Air date: October 17, 1993)
1. SeaQuest Series Promo (2:33)
2. Of Treasures In The Deep (1:14)
3. The Discovery (1:41)
4. Mind Meld #2 (1:23)
5. Big Tension (3:38)
6. Exploring The Depot (1:30)
7. Saying Goodbye (2:40)
Episode 7: “Knight Of Shadows” (Air date: October 31, 1993)
8. Into The Ghost Ship (1:43)
9. The Possesion Of Kristini (2:47)
10. Lukas Confronts Captain (3:14)
11. The Forgiving (4:51)
Episode 9: “The Regulator” (Air date: November 21, 1993)
12. Vern Leaves (2:09)
13. Monkey Fish (1:42)
14. Inside Us All (:56)
Episode 21: “The Good Death” (Air date: May 15, 1994)
15. Attacked (1:12)
16. Cynthia (1:20)
17. Drug Store (1:38)
18. Narrow Escape (1:57)
19. The Plan (1:41)
20. Close Call (3:31)
21. The Escape (4:21)
22. Darwin Save Malik (1:03)
23. Cheo Checkmate (1:08)
Episode 20: “Such Great Patience” (Air date: May 15, 1994)
24. Discovery (2:14)
25. Of Gods And Astronauts (2:28)
26. Encounter (1:44)
27. Wolf In The Fold (1:37)
28. Intruder (4:28)
29. Communication (2:29)
30. Understanding/Possible Pickup (4:31)
31. Invitation Extended (2:26)
32. Episode 1: “The Devil’s Window” (Air date: September 19, 1993)
SeaQuest: End Credits (:35)
Review By Martin Lakin
From the depths of their ‘least likely to get a complete release’ back-catalogue, Varese Sarabande have surpassed all expectations with the unexpected surfacing of the seaQuest DSV Original Television Soundtrack Deluxe Edition.
Were we collectively so jaded to not see it coming, though? Given that Bootleg editions (that may or may not exist) have (potentially) been circulating for decades and demand for an official compilation has never really subsided, this all-new remaster nonetheless appears like something more akin to a completists fantasy than reality.
But here, courtesy of Varese’s new (and most welcome) International Shop and making its way across Europe in record time is this expanded presentation, spreading a whopping 58 tracks over two discs and consigning the original release with its paltry 14 tracks to history.
Indeed, the content for this new compilation has been personally selected by composer Debney himself, devoting the entirety of Disc 1 to the pilot ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ and cherry-picking from the best-scored episodes of Season 1 such as ‘Brothers And Sisters’ and ‘Such Great Patience’.
While it is – and make no mistake – an absolute joy to hear the music with such clarity and packing a serious punch, one consequence of the selections is that as an album, its pretty unbalanced. For all the stirring strains of the Emmy-Award winning Main Theme with its inevitable echoes of such composers as Williams, Horner, and Goldsmith, devoting no less than 8 tracks to the episode ‘The Good Death’ for example with its Latin guitar seems like overkill, especially in lieu of such worthy cues from episodes like ‘Bad Water’
Beyond that there is a great deal of previously unreleased material to savour – starting with Track 1 – The seaQuest opening credits from the pilot (sans Kennedy’s narration) which, like much of the subsequent material could easily be mistaken for a motion picture score, with Track 5 ‘Come See Her’ a particular favourite with its stirring buildup to the first sighting of the Submarine.
Highlights on Disc 2 include Track 1 – the mysterious ‘seaQuest Series Promo’ last heard on a static-ridden video recording and Track 3 – ‘The Discovery’ a cue that perfectly encapsulates the wonder of the seas. There’s also fun to be had with the obvious influence of Goldsmith’s ALIEN throughout the selections from ‘Brothers and Sisters’, most apparent in Track 6 – ‘Exploring The Depot’
The overall experience of listening to the album is much more ‘Spielbergian’ than one might remember, a fusion of familiar and poignant musical motifs recalling his beloved earlier works. While Debney’s theme would be retained for the following year it could be argued that this sense of wonderment was sorely lacking for season 2. Fans should take heart regardless, as due to the overwhelming response to this album, Varese has gone on record to say that Don Davis scores for the infamous series 2 is now under serious consideration as the next release.
Should there be subsequent volumes, one hopes that the Art Dept. might do their homework in advance and include stills from the appropriate season in the liner notes. Even the cover for this new album features the wrong Submarine and the tracklisting contains galling spelling mistakes. Regardless, the introduction from series creator Rockne S. O’Bannon is worth the purchase price alone, his touching recollections the perfect bookend to a much-maligned but fondly-remembered series with a theme tune so catchy you’ll be humming it until the tides go out.
SeaQuest DSV Season 1 – A Soundtrack Retrospective
By Justin Boggan
“I was filling in missing composer credits on episodes of the series on IMDb and ended up being refreshed on how wonderful the scoring was in this show, so I decided to review it.
The premise for the series was good and full of potential: the late Roy Scheider portrayed the perfectly-cast Captain of a large advanced sub that explored and kept the peace on Earth in the far away future of 2020. (Well, it was far away back then.) Back then it was like “Star Trek: The Next Generation” under water.
“SeaQuest” was trying something different and was a little ambitious for what it was. At a time when “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was fading into a pitiful last season,”seaQuest” was going elsewhere…”
“To Be Or Not To Be” (Debney)
IMDb lists Bruce Babcock as an uncredited composer. There’s also an uncredited editor listed as well. Perhaps some changes were made. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it and somebody submitted Babcock to the wrong section and he should have been put in the Music Department section for additional music. If that is the case, I’d like to say now that it was a shame Babcock did get to score any episodes by himself.
The pilot opens up immediately with an ethereal female vocal (like the theme music begins with), chimes, harp, strings, and some majestic brass builds up into the pilot version of the theme music. It’s clear straight off the bat that hiring Debney was not only the right decision, but the choice was incredibly spot on. There’s some action material later on with some brass hits and snare, with a little anvil thrown in that’s exciting and like film music. A steady kind of patriotic rendition of the series theme, some rousing brass and hard snare using the series’ theme as Bridger is flying in to UEO headquarters at Pearl Harbor. Another patriotic rendition of the series’ theme, more in the vein of the opening credits, as Bridger enters the Bridge for the first time, fresh off it’s re-design. Some brass and pronounced detache strings mark the closing pirate sub.
“The Nathan Bridger Incident” (Debney)
A montage cue with a beat kept by what I’m guessing (because of the poor quality sound in the video) is a tuba being repeatedly huffed, a synth sound, woodwinds rising and falling quickly, strings and brass adding a tense feeling to a variation on the theme music. Excellent score overall.
“Treasures of the Mind” (Debney)
While on an archaeological dig, the SeaQuest stumbles upon the lost library of Alexandria. A leak causes ships from other countries to come over and cause a worldwide stir over who gets what. Meanwhile the Captain deals with an intuitive ESP trio who have come aboard under the guise to help negotiations.
The episode opens with a bold and full-sounding piece with brass and strings prominent, sounding like a cross between some of James Horner’s Trek work and Ron Jones’ bigger orchestral pieces from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.
A brief nice piece with violins leading and soft brass, chimes and harp as Jonathan Brandis has what I guess I’ll say is a literal wet dream: chasing a girl under water.
Another dreamy cue with violins taking the forefront, going up and down like a wave, chimes in the back with a synth sound and brass being played softly with a light touch of woodwinds, as Roy’s character opens his mind up for the ESP woman. And a soft and pleasant closing cue with violins and woodwinds, with some more soft brass underneath.
The SeaQuest picks up a prisoner in cryogenic stasis from an arctic prison, who was responsible for biological warfare.
Back in the 1980’s and 1990’s it was a fairly common thing for TV series to try and pull off something that was a hit in a film, and sure enough, just two years after the fact, “SeaQuest” is doing their take on a non-cannibal Hannibal Lector.
A light jaunty piece with strings, woodwinds and brass after the opening credits.
Some light action material much in like with later seasons of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “MacGyver”, as the Captain tries to get free from a Laser field. After the commercial break from the previously mentioned cue, it gets a little more punchy with militaristic snare playing and the Debney theme in bold, brassy statements. And a long action piece with moments of tension including the dramatic build that a potential missile launch that is something of a cross between the famous “Aliens” cue and the closing dramatic climax of the ST: TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, that goes out to a commercial break – ruining the musical moment. Anyway, the show comes back, things build again.
“Treasures of The Tonga Trench” (Debney)
A number of TV series have a character who is always trying to profit off his fellow friends and workers and gets some kind of comeuppance at the end of episodes, but I have to say this was some sweet comeuppance. Probably one of the best I recall having seen…
A cue with swirling strings and action material in the opening as an under the ocean device is attacked by a giant squid. There’s a light piece implying fantasy – A gentle little soft jazz number with plucked double bass and scattered piano tingles with strings underneath as Lt. Krieg gives his sell about the thing he found on the ocean floor. A brief bit lead by snare drum in a military-music like way with some brass as more testing is done onboard the SeaQuest.
A piece with a swirling strings pattern and soft brass bursts giving it a playful sound as Lt. Krieg tries to avoid another crew member.
And a spirited piece with a repeating descending three notes on strings with snare drum and brass with some solo trumpet playing triumphantly as Captain Bridger races off against a visiting superior.
“Brothers and Sisters” (Debney)
Some brief action material with some tension highlighted by exciting brass performances and some snare drum, as a warning shot is fired at the seaQuest.
A mystery cue with waterphone, tense brass and eerie strings as a probe investigates. I’m not sure how to put it, but it kind of feels and gives me the same feeling as the cue “The Dish” from “Star Trek: First Contact”.
A fun little piece with woodwinds, lead by what I think is an oboe as Lt. Krieg is playing the cups and ball game for kids; the cue transitions into a string heavy piece as Captain Bridger and an officer investigate.
A nifty cue with strings snare drum and trumpet with an echo effect, evoking Jerry Goldsmith’s score to “Patton”, as Captain Bridger shows some military authority. It becomes more sombre with strings, then has a little burst that’s more upbeat with a riff of Debney’s theme, before quietly going out.
And finally a sad and elegant piece that’s string heavy and has brass, for the destruction of the home at sea. The cue finally ends with an upbeat brass ending.
“Give Me Liberte” (Debney)
Some various menacing underwater cues with elongated trumpet bursts, cello bass and brass. Some exciting dramatic material for the long climax at the end, with loud brass, strings, and repeating staccato trumpet; reminds me of James Horner in some ways.
“Knight of Shadows” (Debney)
The first disappointing episode of the series. There’s so much that could have been done, yet we get an episode not even halfway into the season, with ghosts. I guess this was a Halloween episode for ratings, as this episode features it’s own separate opening credits with darkness, fake lightning strikes, and cliched scary cat meow. The music kind of reminds me, in mood, of Debney’s “Hocus Pocus”.
The tender opening cue with violins and softly-played brass playing off each other as Captain Bridger looks over family photos. Ah, 1996, when people still thought we’d be looking at handheld photos and not iPhone screens.
A melancholy piece with middle range strings and a plucked double bass cello that is also kind of reminiscent of “Hocus Pocus”. Humorously enough, one of the Bridge crew tells the Captain he is picking up the music and plays it. Ah, 1996, a future where people were going to be listening to John Debney instead of Junkie XL. A moody piece that opens with chimes, a solo violin, piano and a cello bass as the doctor experiences something but can’t explain it.
Some quickly paced string play with looming bass as a diary is read and the crew goes to a location on the sunken ship. There were a number of good highlights in other cues, though often brief.
“Bad Water” (Debney)
A dramatic piece full of brass as the SeaQuest gets struck by lightning.
A positive sounding piece with brass and light snare drum use for a montage of the crew trying their best to accomplish anything under limited time constraints.
A dramatic piece with some tension with a repeating brass beat as one of the crew is swept off the raft by a wave. Some more dramatics with some heroics in the brass as the climax builds, with a heroic brass statement of the series’ theme. And finally strings and brass for a building sound of hope and release as the episode closes out.
It’s a good episode (has it’s flaws), but a lot of the score is rather subdued.
“The Regulator” (Debney)
A fun little march piece with brass and a snare drum as Chief Crocker orders men to behave like officers and has them follow him, a little into the opening of the episode. A low menacing piece with a trombone(?) slowly playing with uneasy sounding strings in the back for a scene where we hear the Regulator beating up and threatening somebody.
A piece with lots of brass, playing around almost like it was an old fashioned film at sea, giving the Regulator some much needed weight.
A little jaunt with wooden blocks as the Regulator’s Orangutan wonders off.
Some rousing withheld chase music with brass a plenty and snare drum as the Regulator’s mini vessel is chased.
And finally a feel good piece with strings and some brass that builds to bright end, much like two or three cues Ron Jones did on ST: TNG, specifically one comes to mind, the final cue from the episode “The High Ground”, specifically the last ten or fifteen seconds.
There’s a lot of fun and interesting score to listen to in the episode, too much to list all off. Probably one of the series’ best efforts, considering the episode is accompanies.
There are a number of standout moments, but no whole cues, I would say. Not a bad score, just not as good as others that have proceeded it. It’s a good episode. They took a simple plot, gave it weight, and extended it for almost an hour.
“Photon Bullet” (Debney)
Oh, 1994, how hilariously cheesy you thought the internet was going to be in the 2020’s.
A cue with repeating low growling brass staccato hits and this synth sound that sounds like something Ron Jones used a little in ST: TNG – not sure how to define it. Maybe like a soft electronic recorder (“recorder” as in the woodwind instrument). The brass switches to timpani (I think I hear a soft lower octave tub hit with it) and strings are introduced. This is during a montage as Lucas makes a bad decision to hack the World Bank.
“Better than Martians” (Debney)
Another good episode. The setbacks and timings made for some fine tension and for a few minutes there it appeared they were going with the unhappy ending. Would have made a damn fine episode if they had stuck with that.
A montage cue with a repeating trumpet figure and other brass playing a riff of the series’ theme in a way to imply uncertainty with a little tension, as the SeaQuest crew try to find the crashed astronaut capsule.
A cue with some tension and dramatics highlighted by brass, reminding me much of Dennis McCarthy’s action material from ST: TNG. Another cue this time with lighter dramatics, again like McCarthy’s work on Trek. McCarthy did additional music on a film Debney scored, perhaps they know each other. Maybe this is even additional material by McCarthy?
“Nothing But the Truth” (Debney)
SeaQuest has had a few similarities to “Star Trek: the Next Generation” and in this episode we get another: the Commander wanting to turn down a command of his own. Pullin’ a Riker. Heck, even the episode itself is somewhat similar to an episode of TNG…
Action material with brass (a common staple for Debney on the series), going through different ideas and colours as the SeaQuest is invaded.
“Greed for a Pirates Dream” (Debney)
A repeating string pattern with brass hits as an island family is moving the buoy. The music becomes more dramatic with brass and string hits and a snare drum thrown in, as the chase ends.
A slow brass and snare drum beat with more brass riffing off the SeaQuest theme as the crew get back into the mini sub to leave the island. Short and sweet. And a long cue for the build up of the finale, ranging from tension to sweet release, with strings and brass.
“Whale Song” (Davis)
Don Davis finally enters the picture. Not only was this his first effort, it was also nominated for an Emmy. One of three episode scores to be nominated for and Emmy (see below for the nominees and winner that year)
A repeating ascending three note string pattern with snare drum and a french horn for a brief piece as Captain Bridger shows up at the Pentagon.
Strings and a trombone(?) playing in a sad cue as Bridger is saying goodbye to the crew. A dramatic piece with strings and timpani as the rogue sub fires. Also some anvil in there. The cue transition into some wistful work for strings and two trombones as Bridger walks along a shore. The cue transitions again to a solo violin with a softly played cor angilas over it. A bustling piece with strings and light brass after commercial break, as we see a bottom view of the seaQuest passing by. The cue goes into a playful sound with staccato woodwind huffs and plucked strings with a trumpet playing playfully over it as Lt. Krieg sneaks to his quarters. And a long cue for the down-played climax of the episode, full of melancholy, some sadness, and some brief dramatics.
The Emmy nominations that year were:
“The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”
“Ireland, 1916” (Laurence Rosenthal)
“Pilot” (Ron Ramin) Ramin did some nice work for the series, worth checking out, but there’s no CD release, so you have to watch the series)
“Star Trek: The Next Generation”:
“All Good Things…” (Dennis McCarthy)
“Cape Feare” (Alf Clausen)
“The Stinger” (Davis)
Lucas gets some exciting rushing strings and brass for his underwater Speeder test. There’s also some brief 1980’s old school light dramatic music for some bad guys.
A short but good cue with anvil hits and brass and strings as a man held against his will escapes. Some snare drum for a brief moment as Chief Crocker one-up’s a bad guy, followed by some brass and snare as the Stinger is being taken apart –
A slow feel-good cue with brass and strings for a building montage, followed by some legato strings with slow piano and a clarinet playing over it. Finally, some repeating strings with occasional soft timpani and woodwinds as Lucas prepares to finally race the Stinger. The stings increase in speed with brass getting louder as the race begins, followed by swirling strings and woodwinds for the race. There’s more where that came from during a montage of Lucas testing the Stinger out. After much excitement, the cue ends in slowly, expressing the disappointment of on-screen actions, with strings and brass. There are a couple of parts where Darwin (the dolphin) gets panpipes for his own little theme. The cue is long, maybe nine to ten minutes in length.
“Hide and Seek” (Davis)
William Shatner plays an escaped genocidal dictator. His acting is so bad at one point that Bridger even says, “All right, shut it off” ( Well, it was coincidental actually)
When was the last time (or first time) a character in a TV series suggested to another to listen to the “music score” of something? This may be the one time.
The opening of the episode has Captain Bridger dreaming, waking up, then going back to sleep, features strings, woodwinds, and the return of the little panpipe theme for Darwin.
Trembling violins play as Shatner’s character arrives on seaQuest, punctuated by a french horn playing a long-lined theme (the first four notes are focused on, though). Some dramatic material with nervous swirling strings, anvil and brass, going to out commercial, as the seaQuest is being fired upon by vessels from across the world who want the dictator. Some action material as the seaQuest is forced back up and is being fired on, highlighted by a brief bit of biting brass with lower octave piano in combo (with his theme over it) as Shatner’s character escapes his quarters. And lush piece heavy with strings, harp runs, and some brass as the dictator’s son is watching and image of his mother. It runs the course of various emotions with different musical ideas, including a cello bass repeating with woodwinds playing playing in combo over it.
Davis brings in some synths to the score, including sparse use of a synth keyboard, and airy female vocals. A top notch effort.
“The Last Lap at Luxury” (Davis)
This is probably the second or third episode to feature a Laser. Bridger actually has a hand-held laser with him. It looks like a weapon, though it could be a cutting tool that just shares a similar shape.
Some quickly paced swirling strings with a trombone playing a long theme over as the we see the underwater conference location and inside briefly. A cue that’s very prominent with strings and brass riffing off the series theme as the seaQuest arrives.
A bouncy little piece with repeating swirling strings and woodwinds each taking a turn to do something, as Lucas in underwater with Darwin. A dramatic piece lead in by stings, with brass and timpani combo hits and what I think is a trumpet and violin playing in unison over it, as the bad guys implement their plan. Some tense strings and brass with anvil combo hits for the approaching demise of the world leaders, with other tense music for trembling strings and timpani.
Another fine score overall.
Charlton Heston plays a damn dirty scientist.
Some mysterious underwater music with strings and light brass, highlighted by some brass hits, driving snare drum and brass fanfare as Commander Ford is forced back to the surface; it builds to an exciting brassy moment, and has a soft release for the end.
Some light dreamy strings as Commander Ford chases the “mermaid” girl, followed by some light dramatics with lower brass bites and higher shrill brass. Again, more of the dramatic material reminds me of Dennis McCarthy’s ST: TNG work. This is certainly a series La La Land Records should be checking out. The cue goes on longer with more highlights.
Some light airy strings with hints of flute and chimes and a little solo violin playing over as Captain Bridger looks around the beach, wondering what happened to Commander Ford. There’s a brief exciting brassy fanfare, then some good old fashioned 1980’s mystery music with a harpsichord added to the mix. Some more bright trumpeting brass fanfare later on.
Another top notch effort by Debney. Both composers were just kicking out one good effort after another on the series.
“Such Great Patience” (Debney)
The seaQuest finds a million year old extraterrestrial craft buried in the sea. Episode pulls a Star Trek: IV: The Voyage Home – with an added twist. Not exactly a series high point.
A cue with slow strings and some brass, sounding kind of like the music from the end credits of Horner’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan before Nimoy’s narration.
I think this is the first episode where we got a scene inside one of the elevators of the seaQuest, called the MagLev. You’d think there’d have been more of these beforehand; it’s become a sort of defacto Star Trek spot to have brief reflective and personal conversations (which happen on this show, too).
“The Good Death” ( Debney)
We don’t really see it, but it’s referenced here and there that the future isn’t the wonderful place it is, with genocidal killing, war, death squads wiping out the poor and political dissidents, and a number of nations pushed into the equivalent of a worldwide Europeon Union. World peace isn’t exactly stable and freedom and liberty is but a mere shadow of what it once was.
In this episode the seaQuest finds itself with a sub full of children on the run from the authoritative regime in the Amazons (might as well have said Cuba here) where the vermin of the poor and the political dissidents are murdered.
Some light descending strings with a Spanish guitar as they hide out.
A short sad piece with light strings and a upper octave trombone for an airy feel.
A neat little piece, the first of its kind thus far into the series, with shakers, ethnic guitars, plucked double bass with lower octave piano for a dramatic undertone. Some congas, light strings, I guess trying to give it a Latin feel. Immediately back from commercial, another slightly faster and thinner version. After momentary lull, it becomes a Latin action score as Commander Ford and another officer are on the run. Fast-paced congas with fast-paced tambourine-like instruments with low brass for a short but sweet cue (maybe a little over ten seconds) as local soldiers search the small poor town.
More strong work from Debney on the show and because of the new flavors and way they were handled, I’d say this is some top notch work.
“Higher Power” (Debney)
SeaQuest’s tour of duty is over; some will be staying for another tour, some might be leaving.
Also, we finally get to meet one of Lucas’ parents, who has a Global problem on his hands…
A soft romantic piece with strings that kinds of reminds me of Ennio Morricone. It includes a bouncy little end as Lucas’ present to Bridger comes at a bad time.
A short action cue with brass and snare as crew evacuate the seaQuest.
A tense piece with brass and snare that reaches a climax and is followed by anguish Bridger sacrifices everything for the world. Strings and brass builds to a positive close for the end of the episode.
And so concludes season one. It’s had it’s weak episodes, but overall it was a good watch. Roy Scheider is perfect as Captain Bridger, Don Franklin makes a good Commander (hell, a spin-off series set many years after the series, with Ford in his own command, could work), the late Jonathan Brandis works as Lucas, Royce D. Applegate as Chief Crocker is a fine fit, and others. I suspect the fine cast will be ripped apart in season two. It wasn’t broken, so I have a feeling they’ll try to fix it.
True to my comment on how the show resembled Star Trek: The Next Generation underwater, there were a number of similarities: an older seasoned Captain, a younger intelligent Commander, Commander stopped his previous Captain from doing the wrong thing, two characters with a previous romantic past, a young teen genius (only handled well, as opposed to the embarrassment that was Wesley Crusher), the Commander turns down more than one offer for his own command, the Captain and the doctor become romantically linked (and just like ST: TNG, it doesn’t get a chance to move past feelings, a date and a kiss). Debney and Davis each scored an episode of the show (“The Face of the Enemy” and “The Pegasus”). And the seaQuest had a dolphin, and the Enterprise D had navigational dolphins (referenced and never seen).