Roy 'we're gonna' need a bigger boat' Scheider is an extremely watchable character actor, who has come up through solid efforts like Jaws, The French Connection and Marathon Man to now providing decent cameo performances (most recently in the disappointing Punisher interpretation) in his more mature years. I am always happy to discover a 'new' old Scheider movie, like the little-known Sorcerer (a decent remake of Wages of Fear), but one of the most prolific efforts from him was his leading role in the successful TV series, SeaQuest DSV.
It's the mid-21st Century and mankind has vastly expanded its undersea colonisation efforts in a bid to reclaim much of the planet's uncharted territory. Unfortunately many of these new colonies are largely unprotected and vulnerable to attacks from both known and unknown entities that lurk within the depths of the ocean and so the United Earth Oceans Organisation has been set up to patrol these hostile waters and administer justice.
The UEO's frontrunner ship is the SeaQuest, a part-exploratory, part-attack submarine that is superior in design and technology to any other vessel in the water. Unfortunately, after the SeaQuest's last Captain went rogue, the UEO need to find somebody else to take charge of the ship. Who better to call than Nathan Bridger, the very Captain who worked to make the SeaQuest come into existence? Of course, he's now a reclusive, bearded Robinson Crusoe hermit who lives on an island with his pet dolphin, Darwin, so the task of convincing him to rejoin the project and commandeer the SeaQuest is not an easy one.
Of course, once he gets going - saving innocent colonies in danger, combating pirates and rebel submarines, exploring the unknown - he suddenly rekindles the love that he thought he had lost for the military and for his position as Captain of a ship. Bridger is soon piloting the SeaQuest around the depths of the ocean, conducting the same sort of voyages that you would expect from the Enterprise in space.
Over the course of its debut season we first get introduced to and then get to see the main characters evolve. Roy Scheider's Captain Nathan Bridger is easily the most important of these - strong, upstanding, wise, intelligent and humane; Scheider plays him as the perfect Captain for a show like this. He is ably supported by Don Franklin's First Officer, Stephanie Beacham's Head Science Officer and the technical whiz-kid, played by Jonathan Brandis. There is also quite an interesting on-off relationship between John D'Aquino's slightly smarmy charmer and his ex-wife, a lieutenant played by the strikingly eyed Stacy Haiduk.
We also get guest stars like Charlie's Angels' Shelley Hack as a renegade Captain, James Bond's For Your Eyes Only's Topol as a scientist searching for Atlantis, Homicide's Yaphet Kotto as another Captain, sent to oversee the running of the SeaQuest and E.R.'s Kelly Martin. The Man From UNCLE's David McCallum and Proof Of Life's David Morse pop up for a Wild West-style story, William Shatner gets a great little against-type role about a wanted terrorist and Charlton Heston plays an eccentric geneticist who is trying to create the perfect being. SeaQuest is a fun underwater fantasy TV show that plays as classic sci-fi viewing, with lots of terrorist take-overs, people in distress, haunted ships and alternative settings (like the standard Wild West affair). Obviously aimed at more than just child audiences, it is more than just good family fun, although still restricted by its original early evening time-slot. Those who have fond memories of this or similar Star Trek-style fantasy sci-fi/western productions are likely to be pleasantly surprised when returning to it.
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