seaQuest:GRAND failure/lost opportunity

Mary Feller maryflr at
Thu Feb 2 21:12:21 EST 1995

In 1993, the television series, seaQuest DSV, was much anticipated.  Bob
Ballard was the technical advisor and, while an adventure series, it was
also to be science-fact based.  Scheduled for Sunday evening,  when more
Americans are watching television than any other night, the potential for
introducing and educating a mass audience to the future and the excitement
of the oceans was enormous.

Instead, inferior scripts sank the show and, rather than improving the
quality of the screenplays, NBC responded by gutting the series.  seaQuest
became a cheap underwater version of Baywatch.   The best opportunity in
the last 25 years to develop mass awareness and appreciation of the
oceans, its problems and creatures, was lost.

I am coordinating what could be called an "on-line insurrection".  I'm
gathering signatures for the following letter which will be sent to NBC,
Amblin Entertainment, all NBC affiliates, seaQuest sponsors and, last but
not least, the press. 

You can attach your signature to this letter by sending me,
maryflr at a simple email message which says "Please sign my name to
the seaQuest letter."  Comments are always welcome. 

Mary Feller

P.S.  CATCH THE WAVE!  Check out, "DIVE!", the VERY cool web page designed
for this letter/petition  at



In the Fall of 1993 seaQuest premiered with high expectations.  The only
series which looked at the near  future of humanity, it premiered with a
great cast, including the oft-honored Roy Scheider, and nifty special
effects.  The production budget was one of the biggest in the industry and
the cachet of the Amblin name gave the series enormous credibility. 
Moreover, the premise seemed irresistible.  An exciting adventure series,
it would give the audience a glimpse into a vast, unknown frontier: the
oceans.  A franchise as big as Star Trek was clearly in the making.

Stunningly, seaQuest floundered almost immediately.   Viewers who had
looked forward to it eagerly soon became disenchanted with the inaccurate
science and  second-rate scripting.  On-line services were full of
dismayed and angry comments from viewers about the show.  How could a
series, with a good cast, sizable financing and Steven Spielberg's
backing,  be given such short-shrift on the scripts?  On-line, exasperated
viewers speculated endlessly while seaQuest aired inferior story-lines and
continued to sink in the ratings.

Sometime in the Winter of 1994 hope for seaQuest revived.  The writing,
although still extremely uneven, improved.  Viewers began to return. 
seaQuest was renewed and hope for the second season ran high.  Then, in
the Summer of 1994, rumors began to surface.  Most of the old and beloved
cast wouldn't be returning.  Cast members over the age of 35, with the
exception of Scheider, would be dismissed.  NBC wanted a "sexier" look for
the show and demanded profound changes.  The series would move away from
it's science-fact premise.

In September, viewers' worst fears were realized.    Indeed, the
science-fact premise was unceremoniously dumped.  Astonishingly, the
screenwriting, the very problem that stalled the series in the first
season, deteriorated even further.   Fans were more appalled than ever . 
seaQuest was dubbed "BayQuest 90210" and "Das Bomb."  The fans longed for
the old cast.  Bob Ballard, the technical advisor from Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institute, disappeared from the credits.  Episodes were poor
imitations of Star Trek, Blade Runner and other sci-fi classics.  
Viewers, willing to give seaQuest a second chance for the second season
premiere, once again abandoned ship.  An informal survey of over 250
on-line users showed a 90% negative response to the changes, even among
the demographic sector which the show had been changed to target.  By the
end of January  1995, seaQuest had sunk to a Nielsen rating of #71. 
Clearly, the changes NBC foisted upon the show were indicative of a failed

We, the undersigned on-line community of viewers,  have watched in
disbelief as shortsighted decisions made by producers and NBC have gutted
seaQuest.   We want this series to succeed.  We believe that once seaQuest
begins to tell compelling adventure stories, with the Earth's oceans at
it's heart,  it will become enormously popular.    We challenge NBC and
the producers to return to the science-fact roots of the series and to
bring to seaQuest a true commitment to excellence.  NBC and the show's
producers need to know that millions of viewers are waiting in the wings
for an inspired, high quality seaQuest.

More information about the Bioforum mailing list