I Want to Know More About seaQuest
seaQuest DSV - The Series
“When I was a kid the one story that inspired me more than any other was 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. I used to pretend to be Captain Nemo and had a lot of undersea adventures with my Nautilus crew. I'd always wanted to explore the possibility of the depths of our oceans, as a stage, as theatre for all sorts of drama and science and entertainment.”
So said one of seaQuest's executive producers at the dawn of the series. His involvement was one of the reasons for seaQuest's almost-unheard-of network commitment of a pilot and a first season, as well as one of the reasons why people took more interest in seaQuest's first season than any other series that debuted in the fall of 1993. (well, maybe “Lois & Clark”…) His name was Steven Spielberg.
Yes, Steven `“Close Encounters, “ET”, “Jurassic Park”, “Schindler's List”, and God knows how many other movies' Spielberg. Without him, it's doubtful seaQuest would ever have made it onto the screen at all. And, despite producer disputes, changes at the helm (on- and off-screen), and even an earthquake during the first season's filming, everyone who was a part of the series had great hopes for it's success.
Set in “The Near Future” (something few series had done before, but many did after), seaQuest mixed high drama with realistic scientific fact. It starred Jaws' nemesis, Chief Brody, aka Roy Scheider, as Nathan Bridger, captain of this high-tech submarine.
However, it was slated by the critics, who dubbed it “Voyage to the Bottom of the Ratings”, and criticised everything from the characterisation of the show's female characters to Darwin, the show's dolphin! Fans, however, loved it, and “Questies” tuned in to NBC every week to watch the show develop.
In the first season finale, the seaQuest was sacrificed by Bridger to prevent an ecological disaster, and NBC and Universal used this opportunity to “play” with the show. Out went Royce Applegate, John D'Aquino, Stacy Haiduk, and Stephanie Beacham, who, as Dr. Kristin Westphalen, was one of the first season's strongest characters. In came a directive from the studio that everyone, except Roy Scheider, had to be under 30. The series had suffered badly in the ratings, pitted as it was against “Lois & Clark”, which, in its first season at least, was a programme of extremely high quality.
The studio also wanted more sci-fi oriented episodes, which first emerged towards the end of season one, when seaQuest encountered a million-year-old alien ship buried in the ocean floor. If they wanted more fans, they almost got their wish. Newer fans emerged, but many of the fans of the first season were unhappy at the studio's attitude to the show's “sci-fact” approach, and abandoned the show.
By the end of season two, seaQuest was again suffering. The season's heavily sci-fi climax, “Splashdown”, saw the crew inexplicably transported to another planet, where they all died. Or so it seemed. The threat of cancellation loomed large. Universal took one last gamble with the series, and gave it one more chance.
Another revamp resulted in the third season, the series now called seaQuest 2032. The seaQuest reappeared, its crew intact, ten years after their abduction at the end of season two. Captain Bridger stepped down to raise his grandson (although Roy appeared in two further episodes of the season), and Michael Ironside entered the fray as the more militaristic Oliver Hudson, as the UEO faced the threat of the Macronesian Alliance. Much darker than the previous series, many felt that seaQuest had finally found its feet, successfully blending science, drama, and fantasy. However, Universal and NBC didn't see it that way, and after only 13 episodes, the series was cancelled.
Beyond the series
seaQuest stayed a phenomenon, though. Not only was it the first series to use wide-scale CGI instead of traditional motion capture techniques, saving money, and allowing more elaborate effects on the same budget, but it was the first series to really use the growing medium of the Internet as a fan base.
Fans remained on-line, writing about the series, petitioning NBC and Universal to re-commission the show, and e-mailing other producers with a view to getting them to continue the series. (J. Michael Straczynski (creator of “Babylon 5”) was one of those approached) At last count, over 200 sites and pages still exist devoted to seaQuest. Although compared to the TV Leviathan of the Net, Star Trek, this is a fairly small number, but, considering the series is almost ten years old, and hasn't been on air for five years, it's very impressive. Over three dozen Yahoo! Groups can be found discussing seaQuest and running RPGs based on the series.
seaQuest was one of the first major venues for fan fiction stories, as dozen of sites sprung up, featuring short stories about the characters, either as “Missing Adventures” or continuing on from the end of sQ 2032.
Soon, fan fiction series emerged. The most famous and most successful of these was seaQuest 2047. Set aboard a new seaQuest, with Lucas Wolenczak at the helm, it, like seaQuest, was cancelled in its third season. It spawned two spin-off series (almost unheard of in normal TV series, let alone a web series) and developed a huge fan base (including this author!). The series message board was used as the central “hub” where seaQuest fans met to discuss the next step for the series.
When the site folded in early 2002, we wandered, homeless, until G created the Battleship Saratoga board, which remained our home until the September of that year, when unforeseen circumstances closed that site.
Now we are united under the New Cape Quest banner, and the fan fiction of the ASV webring. This is the future of seaQuest:
"We have come through the long night. Through the harsh and bleak winter. Within us is a dream, a hope of glory yet to come. The strength to continue while others have lost their footing, the courage to seek those who have been lost, the force of will to keep the memory of seaQuest alive. Here, at the end, we stand together to say 'This is our line. Here we shall stand, and we will never yield.' And we will emerge into the light of a new dawn... a new hope... a new beginning
-Michael "seaWolf" Warren