Back in the early to mid 1990s, Star Trek The Next Generation was quite popular. As the show was winding down, television studios were trying to come up with ideas to try and attract the Star Trek audience. One of these shows was SeaQuest DSV which aired from 1993-1995. The basic premise behind the show was to create Star Trek, but have it take place in Earth’s oceans instead of in space. While I had heard of the show, I had never watched an episode of it. The premise somewhat intrigued me though as I was curious to see what an underwater Star Trek would look like. The recent release of the complete series on Blu-ray gave me the opportunity to check it out. SeaQuest DSV The Complete Series was an interesting show that while enjoyable, never quite reached the level of its inspiration Star Trek.
SeaQuest DSV takes places in the “near future of 2018.” In the past wars and conflicts consumed the world over the world’s oceans and its resources. The United Earth Oceans organization was created to maintain the tenuous world peace that was recently reached. The show follows the SeaQuest which is a large high-tech battle submarine which was retrofitted for its new mission of science and exploration.
I already alluded to it, but it is obvious that SeaQuest DSV was heavily inspired by Star Trek The Next Generation. If you have ever seen Star Trek TNG, you can easily see the similarities between the two shows. The structure of the show is very similar. The various weekly missions have a similar feel to them. You can even directly connect many of the characters on the show to their counterparts on Star Trek. The show doesn’t really even try to hide the similarities.
The main difference in the show is that it tried to be a little more grounded in reality. Instead of aliens and other planets, the show was based around exploring the depths of the oceans that humanity had yet to explore. While Star Trek TNG was pure sci-fi, I would classify SeaQuest DSV as a more realistic sci-fi.
Looking back at the show it is kind of hilarious to see what it thought the world was going to be like in 2018. According to the show the oceans were supposed to already be colonized, and we would have the technology to create large submarines the size of space ships. While none of these things actually happened, I applaud the show for trying to be as realistic as it could with the information available at the time. The show tried to be educational and entertaining at the same time. In some ways I think it succeeded at this task, at least initially.
Being a big fan of Star Trek, SeaQuest DSV unfortunately never reached the same level. While the idea of creating a show about exploring the oceans was an interesting idea, it just doesn’t have as much potential as exploring the vastness of space. Trying to ground the show in reality put limits on the show. You couldn’t just fly off to an unknown planet, meet new types of aliens, and make things up as you went along. Because of this, the show never really had a chance of being as good as Star Trek.
I applaud SeaQuest DSV The Complete Series though because at least at first it did a pretty good job with what it had to work with. The show succeeded at a lot of the same elements as Star Trek. It is mostly an episodic show where each episode brings its own story/mission. Thus the quality of the episodes can be kind of hit or miss. Some episodes can be kind of boring. Others are quite good though. I thought the characters were interesting. SeaQuest DSV did a good job recreating the “charm” of a show like Star Trek, which is not often found in modern television.
SeaQuest DSV’s biggest fault is that it failed to reach audiences. It basically had enough viewers not to be cancelled immediately, but not enough to please the studio. This put the show in a sort of limbo. At this point I will warn you that there are going to be some minor spoilers about the direction that the show takes later in the series.
As the show didn’t get a large enough audience, the studio started to tweak things starting in the second season. The show started to move from the realistic sci-fi from the first season, and into more traditional sci-fi. The cast changed multiple times as SeaQuest DSV was tweaked to try and appeal to more people. The stories got more ridiculous as it tried to resemble Star Trek more and more. When this didn’t work, the show tried to go even further which made things even worse.
Ultimately the show failed because it couldn’t find an audience. The first season and the beginning of the second season were the show’s best. While it wasn’t as good as Star Trek in my opinion, it was its own thing. Some episodes were better than others, but the show was generally enjoyable to watch. When the show didn’t get enough viewers, it was tweaked to be even more like Star Trek and other sci-fi shows. The show lost its identity, and with it the show got worse. SeaQuest DSV is another example of a show that through studio interference to try to find a larger audience ruined the show. While some people may like the addition of more sci-fi elements, most people thought this was when the show really started to fail.
With SeaQuest DSV being more of a cult show, it is not surprising that the show was never released in the United States on Blu-ray until the recent Mill Creek release. For a show from the 1990s being released on Blu-ray, I didn’t know what to expect from a visual standpoint. The video quality was obviously not going to compare to recent shows. The video quality of the Blu-ray set actually surprised me for the most part. It isn’t quite perfect. I think it is generally about the best you can expect without the show being fully remastered.
This is the case about 95% of the time. Occasionally there are parts of the video that don’t look like they were improved at all. In fact at times these parts look possibly even worse than standard definition. This mostly seems to affect the B-roll footage. This does sometimes affect some of the normal camera shots though. Certain shots don’t look like they were upgraded into high definition.
For example there is an episode pretty early in season one where two characters are talking. One of the camera angles looks quite good in high definition. When it changes to the other camera angle it looks like standard definition. Then it switches back to high definition when it returns to the first camera. This isn’t a huge issue as most of the footage looks pretty good. It can be kind of distracting when you randomly switch back and forth from standard to high definition.
Other than all of the series’ 57 episodes, the set also features a few special features. These mostly are interviews with the series creator, directors, and crew. There are also some deleted scenes. The special features are your typical behind the scenes features. If you are a big fan of the series and like these type of behind the scenes features, I think you will like them. If you don’t really care for these type of features though, I don’t see them really being worth watching.
Ultimately I had some mixed feelings about SeaQuest DSV The Complete Series. The show was trying to emulate Star Trek The Next Generation as the inspiration is evident from the pilot. It never reaches that level. That doesn’t mean that the show is bad though. It was an interesting show in its own right as it took a more realistic sci-fi approach. Early on the show did a good job emulating many of the elements which made Star Trek TNG a great show.
The show never found a big enough audience though, which ultimately lead to its demise. The show was changed to try and appeal to new audiences, and that kind of ruined what the show did best. It became much more reliant on the sci-fi elements which didn’t fit the rest of the show all that well. It is kind of a shame as I would have liked to see what the show would have become if it had a big enough audience from the start where it didn’t have to change.
My recommendation for SeaQuest DSV The Complete Series depends on your thoughts on the premise and the fact that it changes quite a bit in the second half. If the idea of an underwater Star Trek doesn’t really appeal to you, I don’t see it being for you. If you have fond memories of the show or think the premise sounds interesting, I think it is worth checking out even if the end of the show isn’t the best.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Mill Creek Entertainment for the review copy of SeaQuest DSV The Complete Series used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the Blu-ray to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
SeaQuest DSV The Complete Series
Release Date: July 19th, 2022
Creator: Rockne S. O’Bannon
Starring: Roy Scheider, Jonathan Brandis, Stephanie Beacham, Don Franklin, Michael Ironside
Run Time: 57 episodes, 45 hours
Special Features: Creating SeaQuest with Rockne S. O’Bannon, Directing SeaQuest with Bryan Spicer, Directing SeaQuest with John T. Kretchmer, Directing SeaQuest with Anson Williams, Maiden Voyage: Scoring SeaQuest, Deleted Scenes
- An interesting idea that is pretty good in the earlier episodes.
- Recreates many of the elements that worked well for Star Trek The Next Generation.
- Fails to be as good as its inspiration Star Trek TNG.
- The show was tweaked at about the midway point to try and attract a larger audience ultimately making the show worse.
Recommendation: For those intrigued by the premise that don’t mind that the show kinds of tapers off at the end.
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