seaQuest DSV is an American science fiction television series created by Rockne S. O’Bannon. It originally aired on NBC between 1993 and 1996. In its final season, it was renamed seaQuest 2032. Set in “the near future”, seaQuest DSV originally mixed high drama with realistic scientific fiction. It originally starred film star Roy Scheider as Captain Nathan Bridger, commander and designer of the titular naval submarine seaQuest DSV 4600. Jonathan Brandis and Stephanie Beacham originally co-starred as computer whiz-kid Lucas Wolenczak and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kristin Westphalen, respectively. A supporting ensemble of six other actors comprised the show’s original cast. Steven Spielberg expressed interest in the project and served as one of the show’s executive producers during the first two seasons.
Filming of the first season was marked by disputes between the producers and NBC, changes in the production staff, and even an earthquake. The second season contained changes in the cast, as well as disputes between cast members and producers, while the third season introduced a new lead actor and title. While initially popular, the series began to decline in ratings throughout its run, and was abruptly canceled in the middle of its third season.
Roy Scheider narrated the voiceover during the opening credits of each first-season episode:
The 21st century: mankind has colonized the last unexplored region on Earth; the ocean. As captain of the seaQuest and its crew, we are its guardians, for beneath the surface lies the future.
The series follows the adventures of the high-tech submarine seaQuest DSV (Deep Submergence Vehicle) operated by the United Earth Oceans Organization (UEO), a global coalition of up-world countries and undersea confederations, similar to the United Nations, which was created following a major showdown of nations that occurred c. 2017. The seaQuest was designed by Nathan Bridger and built by NORPAC (a military organization mentioned in the pilot) and given to the UEO after its creation. The storyline begins in the year 2018, after mankind has exhausted almost all natural resources, except for the ones on the ocean floor. Many new colonies have been established there and it’s the job of the seaQuest and its crew to protect them from hostile nonaligned nations and to aid in mediating disputes as well engage in undersea research, much of which was still in the preliminary stages when the show began production in 1993. Bridger, though originally reluctant, is convinced to return to the navy and assume command of the seaQuest after its original captain was relieved of duty for disobeying orders.
Part of the original focus of seaQuest DSV also centered around the interpersonal relationships of the crew, such as Captain Bridger’s, Lucas Wolenczak’s, and Dr. Westphalen’s loss of immediate family and their shared interest in science, as well as each other, and the “love-hate relationship” between Lieutenant Benjamin Krieg and Lieutenant Commander Katherine Hitchcock, recently divorced, now forced to serve together on the same ship.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: