Saturday, June 13, 2015

TV Talk - seaQuest DSV Season 2

Season Two of seaQuest DSV… where do I begin? I guess I’ll start at the beginning and not in the biblical sense. This season started in the fall of' '94. I don’t remember seeing much of this season before my re-watch on Netflix. I might have seen a couple of episodes but I’m not sure. In doing a little research for the season, I noticed that this season isn’t well regarded. So, I came to this season with some trepidation. Was it warranted? I’ll get to that later.

After the first season of the show ended, a lot of changes were made and I mean a lot. First, production was moved from California to Florida. This move made Stacey Haiduk (Lt. Hitchcock) and Stephanie Beechem (Dr. Westphalen) leave the show. Next, Royce Applegate (Chief Crocker) and John D’Aquino (Lt. Krieg) were let go in order to bring in a younger cast. Hearing that Hitchcock, Westphalen, and even Krieg were gone was a bit of a bummer since I liked those characters.

We got a few new faces in the cast. First up is Rosalind Allen as Dr. Wendy Smith, the ship’s new doctor who’s also a telepath. Next is Michael DeLuise as Tony Piccolo, an ex-con whose part of a program to serve on the ship. By the way, he’s got implanted gills. Next up is Edward Kerr as Lt. James Brody, the new weapons officer. Then, we have Peter DeLuise as Dagwood, a GELF (Genectically-Engineered Life Form) with the mind of a child who serves as the sub’s custodian. Finally, we have Kathy Evison as Lt. Lonnie Henderson, the sub’s new helmswoman.

As you can tell by most of those new folk, the show began to insert more sci-fi and fantasy elements. Gone were the days of somewhat grounded sci-fi. This was the show’s biggest change outside of its new cast and new location. We get more aliens, monsters, ghosts, and even killer plants this time. It also became more action-oriented than the last season was. The season starts off about a year later (I think) after the events of last season. A new seaQuest had to be built since the other one was destroyed. A situation with some imprisoned GELFs gets the boat back into action. Afterwards, they end up facing the weirdness of the oceans, space, and everything in between.

Looks like someone's ready for a pool party...

While I do think this season is a few steps down from the first season, it did have some good things. The characters kept a lot of this afloat even when the stories weren’t really good. I still enjoy the old crew like Bridger, Ford, and Lucas. I also liked that O’Neill (Ted Raimi) and Ortiz (Marco Sanchez) got a little more to do this time around. The new characters were hit or miss for me. I did like Henderson and Piccolo though it took a while for me to like Piccolo. Dagwood was good in spots (no pun intended) but the others were just okay.

While you definitely had lackluster episodes this season, I still found some good ones in there. While most of them are your typical “big problem of the week,” there were still some decent episodes. Since more sci-fi and fantasy plots were being used, we did get to some episodes that weren’t of the “shoot-shoot, run-run” variety. For example, the aliens the crew ran into in the first season do make an interesting comeback. I also thought the episode where the crew has to go up against malfunctioning, unmanned battle cruiser was pretty good.

We didn’t get a lot of recognizable guest stars this season. Kent McCord returned as the cool astronaut guy. The late Dom DeLuise guest starred in an episode and that deserves a mention since both of his sons are part of the cast. That was a weird episode. The guest star that surprised me was some guy by the name of Mark Hamill. That’s right, folks. Luke Skywalker/The Joker is in a couple of episodes. The effects are middle of the road. The underwater stuff still looks fine. The seaQuest itself and some of the different subs we see looked fine. I’ll get to the bad effects later. As for the music, it was okay. It was pretty much of the same music Season One had but it wasn’t really noteworthy. It was just fine.

Killer Plants... Aaaaaa. The horror, the horror. 

As I said before, this season is a few steps down from last season. In fact, It’s literally like NBC kicked the show down a couple of flights of stairs. First, I definitely missed the members that left the show. I liked the dynamics between Bridger and Dr. Westphalen.  It also helped that the first season’s cast was a bit diverse in experience and age. With everyone except for Bridger being younger, the crew looks a little bland.

Some of the new cast members were not that great. Lt. Brody was okay but felt “too cool for school” if that means anything. I just didn’t like him that much. Dr. Smith was okay but I knew that she was an obvious homage/rip-off of Counselor Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It also didn’t help that they tried to force a relationship between her and Bridger early in the season. As I said before, Dagwood was okay at times. Unfortunately, the episode that revolved around him was a mess in my opinion.

Then we get to the stories themselves. There were a lot of fantastic elements this season. We got some alien episodes, some psychic episodes, some possession episodes, and “Weird Science Gone Awry” episodes.  While the first season had a few fantastic elements, it didn’t go this overboard with them.  It’s like they wanted the show to be like TNG with the plots they had. While seaQuest already had a bit a Star Trek feel, NBC saw TNG’s success and tried to make seaQuest even more like Trek.

The problem is that a lot of the episodes were pretty subpar.  In some ways, this season mirrors the early seasons with TNG. The writing wasn’t always good. The acting could be quite terrible. The special effects looked pretty cheap and in some ways laughable. Just watch the “Killer Plants” episode… or don’t watch it since it wasn’t that good. While the underwater effects looked okay, the land CGI looked horrible. Even practical effects looked subpar. I know this was the early 90’s, but if the effects look bad, you probably should rethink using them.  Overall, while Season Two has some nice ideas, it went completely… MUBAR. Yeah, I’m saying “MUBAR” since that actually sounds funnier than “FUBAR.”

Favorite Episodes

Tony Piccolo is what you get when you mix Aquaman with Joe Pesci's voice. Not a bad combination this time around.

While this season has a lot of “meh” in it, here are some episodes that I thought were okay and maybe even good at points.
1. Daggers – As the crew is boarding the new seaQuest, GELFs(Genetically Engineered Life Forms) start staging a revolt for freedom.
2. The Fear That Follows – The aliens that the seaQuest encountered last season decide to visit Earth.
3. The Sincerest Form of Flattery – The seaQuest must find an unmanned malfunctioning sub that’s being ran by an A.I. with Captain Bridger’s mental profile.
4. Meltdown – While Commander Ford is taking care of family business, a prehistoric crocodile is unearthed and starts to attack people.
5. Dream Weaver – The crew ends up encountering another alien that has come to Earth in order to look for something.
6. Splashdown – In the season finale, the seaQuest gets transported to another planet in order to fight in a civil war.

Overall, this season was pretty subpar as a whole. While it did have some decent episodes, it had more cons than pros. After some thinking, I can’t really recommend this season. If anything, check out the episodes I listed. There are also a couple of other episodes that are at least decent. If you’re going to watch the whole season, at least I warned you. As of now, I’ve watched some episodes of Season Three. Apparently, God himself thought the show need a change and it does that in a big way. Just be ready for a certain Lord of Apokalips to show up. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and someone give the producer who apparently said Roy Schieder was a “sad and angry man” a slap in the face. 

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