SeaQuest DSV

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The twenty-first 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.

SeaQuest DSV was a groundbreaking show set initially in 2018. It first aired on NBC in 1993 with Roy Scheider as Captain Nathan Bridger. The show received significant retools at the beginning of each season, including numerous cast rotations. Scheider left after the second season and was replaced by Michael Ironside as Captain Oliver Hudson. The show was then renamed SeaQuest 2032 as the second season finale set up the characters to be thrust ten years into the future. The third season performed abysmally, and the show was canceled.

SeaQuest was essentially a wet Space Opera, and its stories and characters would be equally at home on the Enterprise or Serenity as under the ocean, save for Darwin of course. As the flagship of the UEO (like the UN, but wet), SeaQuest and her crew had dual roles as a military powerhouse and research/exploration vessel. She could dive deeper, move faster, and hit harder than anything else on or under the sea. The design of the ship was revolutionary, not only as a fictional ship, but as a set and special effect. The interior sets struck a balance between cold functionality and whimsy, the latter provided by the transparent swim tubes (or hydropressure system, to series scholars). These allowed the ship's dolphin crew mate, Darwin, to enter any part of the ship, from the bridge to the launch bays and back. Darwin was provided with speech by an advanced computer system developed by the ship's Teen Genius.

SeaQuest was one of the first TV series to supplant motion-control cameras and physical models with CGI.

Among the show's ensemble cast, notable is Ted Raimi, brother of famous director Sam Raimi. Ted Raimi is also known as Joxer, from Xena: Warrior Princess.

SeaQuest was produced by Steven Spielberg, David J. Burke, and Rockne S. O'Bannon, who later went on to create Farscape.

Not to be confused with Sealab 2020, which SeaQuest (intentionally or unintentionally) drew a couple broad ideas from.

Tropes used in SeaQuest DSV include:
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle - Starring Dr. Robert Ballard (the guy who discovered Titanic and Bismarck, as well as scads of slightly-less-famous shipwrecks), and explaining the real-life oceanographic science behind each episode. Season 2 had the segments done by the cast and featured much less science.
  • Atlantis
  • Atlantis Is Boring - One of the greatest subversions.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: A previously thought-to-be-extinct Deinosuchus, a 50-foot crocodilian, was the Whatever in a plot ripped off from The Beast From Twenty Thousand Fathoms.
  • Axe Crazy, Blood Knight: Marilyn Stark, in spades. Was willing to start a nuclear war at Livingston Trench, completely in defiance of orders, because she was sick and tired of having the biggest boat in the water and not being able to kick ass with it. Later blew up several farming and mining communities for the sole reason of pissing off the seaQuest crew enough to chase her. Deleted scenes have her fatally shooting a crewman who tries to tell her that this may be a bad idea.
  • Badass Grandpa: Both Bridger and MCPO Crocker invoke this a few times. Notable examples include "Brothers and Sisters," when they both haul out their Bling of War to go talk down a grief-crazed teenager. (The kid is a hardcore Military Brat and won't respond to the rest of the rather Mildly Military crew.)
  • Bloodless Carnage: Consider what happens when people start shooting at each other thousands of feet below the sea (hint: Ominous Crack followed by Chunky Salsa Rule). However, all the series ever showed consisted of a few flashes, explosions and clouds of bubbles.
  • The Bridge: Both the original and second subs had very cool-looking bridges.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Stark attempts to use this against Bridger in the pilot.

Stark: I kill for power, you kill for peace. We're two sides of the same coin, each heroes to our own causes. Let's see who gets the parade.

  • Command Roster: Played straight, as befitting a series on a naval submarine:
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The end of "Treasures of the Tonga Trench." Having determined their treasures are actually fecal pellets (i.e. fish poop), Bridger comes to deal with Krieg, who started the whole thing, leading to a string of violated regulations. His punishment: confinement to quarters for 24 hours...before he can clean up.

Krieg: Captain, can't you smell?
Bridger: Yes, I can. Twenty-four hours, lieutenant.

  • Cool Big Sis: In the first season, LCDR Hitchcock had major overtones of this toward Lucas. Most clearly seen in "The Stinger."
  • Cool Ship
    • It gets to the ridiculous extent that the UEO doesn't build more SeaQuest-class subs until the first one is destroyed. When the second one is abducted by aliens, they claim that they lack the technology to build a third one. Where did the technology go?
    • Perhaps they meant to say "money" rather than "technology": the pilot episode stated that the original sub was heavily funded by private enterprise. Possibly those same businesses saw minimal return on their investment and took their R&D dollars elsewhere.
    • Also extremely possible that various parts of the Seaquest and its systems may use things such as rare-earth minerals or Unobtainium to work properly. If they can't get more of those materials, they can't make more of those parts and systems, thus they don't have the technology.
      • People seem to forget this question was asked in the season 3 premiere, the patents for most of the technology were under the control of the biggest enemy of the UEO, so unless they wanted to escalate things, they couldn't build a new ship.
  • Deus Ex Nukina: The season 1 finale, in which the sub's nuclear payload is used to weld shut a massive magma-spewing crack in the ocean floor off Australia.
  • Dumb Muscle: Dagwood, the ship's janitor from season 2 on, is a prototype genetically modified super soldier... with the mental capacity of a nine-year-old.
  • Fan Nickname: DSV was occasionally expanded out as Dysfunctional Space Vehicle by fans who felt that it was a retooled Star Trek.
  • The Federation: The United Earth Oceans Organization (usually just referred to as UEO).
  • Friendly Playful Dolphin: Darwin the dolphin.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Lt. Krieg rails against this over a mess-hall meal in "Whale Song." Among other things, eating beef has been outlawed due to the environmental impacts of ranching, and most fruits and vegetables are grown hydroponically from genetically engineered seed (all the better to foil a would-be Military Moonshiner like Krieg himself, according to Lucas - "they engineered the buzz out of [barley], you can't distill it.") Krieg's subsequent machinations to get his hands on half a pound of real pre-ban ground round form most of the B-plot and are heavily Played for Laughs.
  • Fridge Brilliance: The fight between the science and military crews that was played up so heavily in the pilot? The perception of both the leading ladies as cold, sarcastic witches? Remember that Commander Ford was under orders from Admiral Noyce to be as big of a Jerkass and Miles Gloriosus as humanly possible, the better to convince Bridger that his boat was being run by a bunch of idiots and take command himself. The crew was actually united - in hating the XO. Once Ford drops the act, everything's back to normal.
  • Gentle Giant: Dagwood.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: The Hyper Reality Probe (an unmanned recon vehicle controlled by VR goggles and gloves).
  • Gonna Need More Trope: Bridger invokes it twice, in a combination of this and Actor Allusion. The first time they need a smaller boat (they're trying to hunt down a tiny vial of neurotoxin before its ice enclosure melts), the second time they need a new boat (after sacrificing the first in the season finale).
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: Hitchcock poses as one to infiltrate a mining community held hostage in "seaWest."
  • Heroic Dolphin: Darwin the dolphin.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: What's Chief Brody doing on a giant submarine? I thought he hated the water!
    • And as Lt. Tim O'Neill, Ted Raimi, brother of Sam Raimi, he who was Joxer from Xena: Warrior Princess and other shows.
    • We knew Oz is a computer geek, but to even have him use the nickname Wolfman online...
  • Hotter and Sexier - Season 2
    • Literally and figuratively in season 3. Seems they left the air conditioner behind in space.
    • Literally in the first season episode 'The Regulator' when their thermal control chip was broken, too.
  • Hot Scientist - Dr. Wendy Smith, in Season 2.
  • Hot Sub-On-Sub Action: Of course.
  • Human Popsicle: Convicted war criminal Dr. Rubin Zeller in "Games." Or at least, he was until he offed the prison warden, quite literally stuffed the poor sap in the fridge, and then pulled a Dead Person Impersonation on the seaQuest crew. He would've gotten away with it, too, if not for the cryonics chamber inconveniently leaking dead warden all over the sea deck.
  • Human Subspecies: The Daggers.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's not a Stinger, it's a Gazelle.
  • In Space Everyone Can See Your Face: The DSL deep-diving suit in "Avalon" played this trope straight; other episodes averted it by putting the cast in regular SCUBA gear.
  • The Kirk: Captain Bridger.
  • L Is for Dyslexia - Piccolo
  • Like an Old Married Couple: LCDR Hitchcock and Lt. Krieg, frequently. Then again, they had been.

Krieg: What a sweetheart.
Bridger: (disbelieving) The Lieutenant Commander is a sweetheart?
Krieg: Oh, that's old history... see, Katie and I, we used to be... (Beat) Married.
Bridger: (quizzical look)
Krieg: Seemed perfect on the surface. We were both top in our Academy class, headed for command, and then we... well, you can see. (long pause) I guess she didn't really leave me, she just... left me behind.

Lucas: Your son died...
Bridger: But I'll never be sure, and not knowing eats me alive everyday. But you know what's helped? You.

  • Living Ship - The ship has an organic, self-repairing external skin (handy if you've just been torpedoed). At least one episode involves it developing an infection and threatening to lose all structural integrity.
  • Man-Eating Plant - They were genetically engineered under special lighting, able to uproot themselves and turned people to dust by drawing them into the center of 3 branches atop them. Their 'roar' was pure Narm and their weakness? Regular Sunlight!
  • Mock Guffin/Gold Fever - "Treasures of the Tonga Trench" Turned out to be fool's gold, though.
  • Negative Space Wedgie - Sea Wedgies, technically.
    • At least in the first season they were real-life Negative Sea Wedgies, including such things as black smokers (undersea vents of superheated, mineral-rich water) and fresh-water sinkholes within an undersea karst formation (fresh water is less dense than salt = sinking submarines). The And Knowing Is Half the Battle segments at each episode's end explained some of these concepts in greater detail.
  • Non-Lethal Warfare: Tries hard, but doesn't always work out that way. In the first episode, Bridger orders a torpedo's charge reduced to 20% to avoid destroying the "pirate" submarine that's been trying to kill them all. However, the pirate boat's armor can't even take that, and it's hulled and sunk anyway. Bridger is noticeably not happy about it.
  • Ominous Crack: Happens to a gang of terrorists who attempt to hijack the seaQuest in "Nothing But the Truth." The terrorist ringleader asks LCDR Hitchcock, who up to that point has been under orders to cooperate with them, if the pressure at their current depth will crush their escape sub. She says it will. The terrorist says "That's the lie I was waiting for" and takes off anyway. Cue escape sub going Crunch.
  • Organic Technology - The SeaQuest itself.
  • Parental Abandonment - Lucas' parents didn't have time enough to bother with him, hence they dumped him on Seaquest.
  • Parental Substitute - Captain Bridger to Lucas Wolenczak.
  • Population Control - An episode with an island nation that enforces their population via death squad.
  • Precap
  • Psychic Powers - Wendy Smith; also, there seems to be a sizeable population of psychics in the human population, referred to as 'spyers'.
    • Darwin also exhibits some kind of minor psychic or empathic ability in 'Devil's Window' and 'Hide and Seek'.
    • And don't forget the three psychics the UEO sent out in the first season episode aptly named 'Treasures of the Mind', where it's also shown that Bridger has some psychic abilities too.
    • In the episode Siamese Dream it's shown Piccolo possesses psychic powers as well.
  • Put on a Bus: Lots, including practically two-thirds of the season 1 cast.
  • Quickly-Demoted Woman: Played straight and subverted with Stark in the pilot; she was relieved of command of the seaQuest for being Axe Crazy, but wound up Captain of the Delta-4 Big Bad sub.
  • Sand Worm: a very large, fire-breathing variant that lived in a system of tunnels beneath the sea.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: Darwin, of course, as well as the rest of his pod in the second episode.
  • Science Fiction
  • Sensor Suspense: Done a few times, starting in the first episode. "There's nothing that big down there... except... a Title Drop..."
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Darwin. Somewhat subverted, as without the vocoder, he'd have no speech at all. However, he does understand a limited selection of hand signals, including "down" (dive to a certain depth, indicated by sequential signs) and "tag" (locate an object, attach a tracking transponder to it and return).
    • "Tag" turns out to be surprisingly handy in a good many plots. Nobody's going to pay attention to that dolphin swimming up to your boat, until it plants something on you and swims away...
  • Sub Story
  • Submarine Pirates - In the pilot movie, a heavily modified Delta IV submarine was being operated by pirates, led by former seaQuest captain Marilyn Stark. The pirates were working for an evil corporate syndicate; Stark just wanted to see her old boat drown.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute - a good many of them.
  • Teen Genius: Lucas Wolenczak
  • The Bus Came Back: Bridger and Ben Krieg return in a third season episode.
  • Translator Collar - Darwin has one, a system of underwater microphones and speakers that pick up his clicks and whistles and translate them to pidgin English via computer. Only works aboard ship, and only in certain locations equipped with the hardware (namely the sea deck and the bridge).
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future
  • Underwater Base: Lots of those too, as one might expect.
  • You Fail Physics Forever - Along with most other scientific disciplines, from the second season on. One episode involves time being undone because at some point in the future, humanity no longer exists.
    • If that was implied in the one episode where the only two humans left alive were playing video games and doing nothing else at all, then yes, that fails physics forever. If it's the one where they still existed despite their entire histories being erased via a previously non-existent World War III resulting from the Cuban Missile Crisis...then not so much.
      • It was the former. The end of (human) history is treated as synonymous with the end of time, and because time is a "Moebius strip" where "the past cannot exist without the future," the twenty-first century "doesn't exist anymore" for the crew to return to. Until, that is, they "ensure a future" by persuading the last two people alive to hook up. The logic is actually quite elegant, if you're stoned as balls.

Piccolo: I made 'em a picnic basket. You know how it is: a boy, a girl, a picnic basket, a blanket...
Bridger: Now if Lucas is right, we've ensured a future here. And we ought to have brought back the past.

        • Um, flag on the play here, as Fridge Logic specifically points out that humanity is still dead (or as The Other Wiki would say, extinct in the wild). So what if they got them to hook up and start churning out kids? Who are those kids going to hook up with and make babies - each other, or with Mom and Dad as well? As with most things on DSV, this was an incomplete pass in the game of logic.