Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Spielberg Celebrates the Sea `Seaquest Dsv' Stars Roy Scheider as a `Submarine' Captain

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Spielberg Celebrates the Sea `Seaquest Dsv' Stars Roy Scheider as a `Submarine' Captain

Article excerpt

STEVEN SPIELBERG turned the ocean into a realm of murky danger and mayhem in "Jaws," which made 1970s filmgoers very uneasy about getting wet.

Now Spielberg is making amends with "seaQuest DSV," an NBC television series that celebrates the wonder and excitement of deep-sea exploration in the future.

The drama stars "Jaws" alumnus Roy Scheider as captain of the 1,000-foot-long seaQuest DSV (deep submergence vehicle). It makes its debut 7 p.m. Sunday with a special two-hour episode.

"`SeaQuest' is part science, it's part fiction and it's part complete and pure fantasy," Spielberg says. But the skittish need not worry about scare tactics.

"Our show is aimed at the family audience, my own included," he says. "Anybody who couldn't see `Jurassic Park' can certainly feel safe watching an episode of `seaQuest.' "

David J. Burke, co-executive producer with Spielberg, agrees. He reminisces fondly about shows in the early years of TV that drew families together.

"Everybody sat in the room and watched `Roy Rogers' and `Sky King' and `Bonanza,' " he says.

Does he have a show like that?

"We'll get to it."

NBC has approved 22 episodes, a vote of confidence in a time when network orders are shrinking to as few as six episodes.

Set in the year 2018, "seaQuest" concocts a world in which multinational confederations have begun to set up shop underseas with huge colonies and mining concerns.

Nathan Bridger (Scheider), a former military man who turned to scientific research after personal tragedy, is lured back into service to take command of the seaQuest, the vessel he designed.

Stephanie Beacham, veering away from her "Dynasty" glamour, plays the chief of the ship's scientific contingent. Also on hand is Bridger's buddy Ensign Darwin - a bottlenose dolphin trained for reconnaissance.

The ship's mission: to explore the undersea universe and protect vulnerable colonies.

That sounds like a watery "Star Trek." But the show's creators insist the likeness is only superficial.

"I love `Star Trek,' " says Phil Segal, vice president of Spielberg's production company, Amblin, which is co-producing the series with Universal Television. "But I think `Star Trek' is a very different show."

"SeaQuest" is set in the relatively near future and in an environment that, unlike space, is accessible to all, Segal says.

"It's a frontier we can get very close to. We can touch it, we can taste it, and we can swim in it. …

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