SeaQuest DSV: The Complete Series

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Mill Creek;
Sci-Fi;
$85.99 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Roy Scheider, Jonathan Brandis, Stephanie Beacham, Stacy Haiduk, Don Franklin, John D’Aquino, Royce D. Applegate, Ted Raimi, Marco Sanchez, Rosalind Allen, Edward Kerr, Kathy Evison, Michael DeLuise, Peter DeLuise, Michael Ironside, Elise Neal.

The success of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in the late 1980s gave rise to all sorts of knockoffs and attempts to cash in on the subsequent sci-fi adventure craze that flourished in the early 1990s. NBC’s entry into this zeitgeist, premiering in 1993, was “SeaQuest DSV,” which was essentially just “Star Trek” underwater.

Set in the “far off” year of 2018, the show starred Roy Scheider as Nathan Bridger, captain of the SeaQuest, a massive submarine (deep-submergence vehicle — the DSV of the title) that patrolled Earth’s oceans conducting military defense and scientific studies. In the SeaQuest future, mankind had taken to colonizing Earth’s oceans, leading to the formation of a global government called the United Earth Oceans Organization, which was tasked with keeping the peace against rogue nations and pirates.

Scheider was an inspired bit of casting to lead the series, given his association to aquatic adventures from the “Jaws” movies. Steven Spielberg was one of the executive producers of the series and no doubt lent it more credibility in that regard.

The series certainly didn’t skimp when it came to guest stars, boasting a line-up that included William Shatner, Mark Hamill, Michael York, Kent McCord, Dom DeLuise, Shelley Hack and Charlton Heston. The pilot movie was directed by none other than Empire Strikes Back helmer Irvin Kershner; this would be the final directing credit of his career (he died in 2010).

The cast also included Jonathan Brandis as Lucas, a teenage prodigy who served as the ship’s computer expert. Tossing a kid into the mix to appear to younger viewers, despite how much it strained credibility, was practically a requisite for these kinds of shows following the prominence of Wesley Crusher on TNG. The move paid off for the show, as Brandis became a popular teen idol in the 1990s, but he would ultimately succumb to the pressures of being a child actor, killing himself in 2003 at the age of 27 after a stalled career led him to start drinking heavily.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The show’s most notorious element was the character of Darwin, a highly trained dolphin that could speak to the crew thanks to a translation program in the ship’s computer. He was most commonly referred to as the show’s “talking dolphin,” which was a bit of a misnomer as the technology as presented in the show could theoretically be used to communicate with any number of dolphins.

The first season of 24 episodes dealt more with the scientific themes such as conservation and climate science that originally inspired the series. Noted oceanographer Dr. Bob Ballard, aka the guy who found the wreckage of the Titanic, served as the technical advisor and would appear at the end of episodes to present factoids about marine science. The show was also one of the first to make heavy use of CGI for its visual effects.

While it was an expensive series to produce, “SeaQuest” wasn’t a ratings juggernaut, prompting extensive meddling from the network. The show’s tone and creative direction ended up being re-tooled every year it was on.

Follow us on Instagram!

The second season of 22 episodes veered the show more into the realm of science-fantasy, with storylines involving genetic engineering, ESP and aliens. In the season finale, the sub is literally plucked from Earth by an alien ship and dumped into the middle of a civil war in the ocean of a far-away planet.

This prompted the final overhaul of the series — renamed “SeaQuest 2032” in season three, which only lasted 13 episodes. While the storylines were more grounded, the show’s tone was more militaristic, as SeaQuest was tasked with leading efforts to contain a growing dictatorship encroaching on the UEO. Bridger was replaced by Capt. Oliver Hudson, played by Michael Ironside, as Scheider appeared in only a handful of episodes due to contractual obligations.

The bigger sin of the third season, however, is that it ditches John Debney’s Emmy-winning theme tune. It’s a sweeping melody that instantly captures the spirit of seafaring adventure, even it sounds a lot like the “Star Wars” theme with a few notes altered.

This great-looking Blu-ray set marks the first North American disc release of the third season. The first two seasons were released on DVD by Universal more than a decade ago.

Those DVDs included some deleted scenes that are also presented on the new Blu-ray, which also includes several new interviews with the creative forces behind the series, including Debney, series creator Rockne S. O’Bannon, and directors Bryan Spicer, John T. Kretchmer and Anson Williams (the latter best remembered for playing Potsie on “Happy Days”).

Each interview is presented as a separate featurette that runs about 10 minutes and provides some fun insights into the creative direction of the series and the state of sci-fi television at the time.

The 57 total episodes are presented mostly in airdate order, with a few adjustments to fix some major continuity problems with episodes that were originally shown out of order by the network.

CBS: 50 Million Watched Chaotic 49ers, Cowboys NFL Wild Card Game Ending

The NFL playoff game between longtime rivals the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys was watched by more than 41 million people — the highest audience for a wild card contest in seven years, according to CBS.

Driving viewership in part was the chaotic fourth quarter that saw the Cowboys battle back from a 23-7 deficit with a chance to take the lead with just minutes remaining. A slew of penalties and mistakes by both teams resulted in time running out for the Cowboys deep in 49ers territory.

CBS said 50 million people watched the ending of the game that sends San Francisco to Green Bay, Wisc., to the play the Packers on Jan. 22.

The NFL postseason remains a ratings giant, with the weekend’s other games drawing big numbers. More than 26 million people watched the Buffalo Bills easily beat the New England Patriots 47-17. The game was also streamed on Paramount+.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 31-15 win over the Philadelphia Eagles generated more than 30 million viewers, while the Cincinnati Bengals’ win over the Las Vegas Raiders generated almost 28 million viewers on NBC and Peacock. The platforms combined for more than 28 million viewers of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs game won by KC.

Samba TV: New NBC Series ‘La Brea’ Tops TV/Streaming Viewing

With heavy promotion on “NFL Sunday Football,” new NBC primetime disaster series “La Brea” dominated live and on-demand TV/streaming consumption through Sept. 26, according to new data from Samba TV — which tracks more than 46 million opted-in TVs globally, of which 28 million are in the U.S. across 210 designated market areas.

The Sept. 28 premiere episode tracked 3.1 million U.S. households watching live and on-demand. The audience skewed above 55 years old and white (+15%). Of the top 25 DMAs, Pittsburgh over-indexed the most (+20%), followed by Denver (+17%) and Minneapolis (+13%).

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Whether the series, about a giant sink hole in L.A.’s La Brea tar pits neighborhood, has legs is another question. Previous shows with similar plotlines — “Manifest” and “Debris” — were dumped by the network (and resurrected on Netflix) before their storyline conclusion.

Meanwhile, 1.8 million U.S. households watched “The Simpsons” season 33 premiere. Viewership was down 46% from the season 32 premiere in 2020. The audience skewed slightly male (+2%), adolescent (ages 10-19 +6%), and black (+28%). Of the top 25 DMAs, Minneapolis over-indexed the most (+151%), followed by Dallas (+85%) and Tampa, Fla. (+74%).

Finally, 1.1 million U.S. households, 105,000 British households, 35,000 German/Austrian watched Marvel Studios’ “What If…?” on Disney+ during the live+six-day window. Another 289,000 U.S., 27,000 British, 15,000 German/Austrian households watched “Star Wars Visions” on the streamer.

Another 90,000 U.S., 7,000 British, 4,000 German/Austrian households  watched both premiere episodes in the L+6D window. The audience of “Visions” skewed  male (+3%), 20-24 years old (+24%) and Hispanic (+14%). Of the top 25 DMAs, Washington, D.C. over-indexed the most (+115%), followed by Sacramento, Calif., (+90%) and Portland, Ore., (+53%) for L+6D -.

Data: Tokyo Summer Olympics Dominated Sports Viewers Attention

Primetime TV ratings for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics may have dropped from the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, but remained strong among heavy and moderate sports fans, according to new data from Samba TV.

With a total of 113 medals, 39 of which were gold, U.S. households were watching less for the medals and more for the sports tournaments. However, household reach began to decline after the second weekend of events, despite Saturday, Aug. 7, being the biggest day of gold wins for the United States.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Samba found that 16.6 million U.S. households with heavy sports viewership watched both the first and second weeks of the Games on NBC, representing 77% of all heavy sports viewership households in the country. Conversely, 10.1 million light sports viewership households watched week one of the Olympics and 10.3 million watched week two, representing 18% of all light sports viewership households.

While sports fans unsurprisingly were high consumers of the Olympic games, NBC was still able to draw close to 20% of light sports viewership households to its programming in each week.

Follow us on Instagram

Indeed, 78% of the U.S. households that watched the opening ceremony on NBC did not watch the closing ceremony, choosing instead to watch 2021 U.S. Open Golf Championship.

Samba looked at 28 cable sports networks during July 4 and July 17, to determine heavy and light sports viewership households. Heavy sports viewership households are classified as the top 20% by consumption duration across these 28 cable sports networks. Light sports viewership households, however, are classified as the bottom 45% by consumption duration across these cable sports networks.

‘Friends’ No More: Netflix Loses Key Content to Start 2020

New Year’s Day 2020 started ominously for Netflix as it officially no longer can stream ongoing syndication hit “Friends,” the former NBC sitcom that introduced Rachel, Monica, Ross, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe to American living rooms and made household names of Jennifer Aniston and others.

The 26-year-old series stopped airing on primetime television 16 years ago, but has remained a lucrative product on syndication, packaged media and streaming.

Netflix lost exclusive “Friends” streaming rights to WarnerMedia’s pending streaming service HBO Max, which paid $425 million over five years to snag all 236 episodes of the series. “Friends” reportedly was the second-most-popular series on Netflix in 2018, according to Nielsen.

Follow us on Instagram

HBO Max reportedly spent billions more to secure exclusive streaming rights to “South Park” and “The Big Bang Theory”.

“How [‘Friends’ exit] impacts [Netflix] in terms of subscribers … will really depend on what else they have coming up that we’re not focused on,” Courtney Williams, Europe regional director for Parrot Analytics, told Vanity Fair.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Indeed, Netflix original series “Stranger Things” and “The Witcher” continue to congregate atop weekly Parrot Analytics charts tracking the most on-demand programming.

“I don’t think any specific content matters at all to Netflix,” Michael Pachter, media analyst at Wedbush Securities, said in an email. The analyst contends the bigger threat to Netflix is when other content creators collectively divert content toward proprietary services.

With Netflix increasingly losing Disney/Fox, NBC Universal and Warner Bros. content, consumers will feel compelled to try new services offering recognizable programming and/or favorite shows, according to Pachter.

The analyst believes Netflix will lose around two-thirds of its content (measured in viewing hours) and will have a tough time replacing that with content of similarly perceived quality. At the same time, Pachter says competitors such as HBO Max will take awhile to gain traction with consumers.

“We expect the [Netflix No. 1] status quo to be largely maintained until the end of 2021,” he said. “For now, Netflix provides tremendous value for its subscribers.”

Free TV Streaming Service ‘Locast’ Fights Back Against Major Broadcasters With Countersuit

Locast, the free New York-based service that streams broadcast television feeds online, on Sept. 27 filed a lawsuit against NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC, alleging the major broadcasts colluded to undermine its business, among other claims.

The service claims to have about 700,000 registered users/donors across 13 cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, N.Y., is counter litigation against against a civil complaint filed by broadcasters in July against Locast and its non-profit advocacy group Sports Fans Coalition NY parent, alleging the platform violated the content copyrights and revenue streams from pay-TV distributors.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Locast founder David Goodfriend, in his countersuit, claims the networks colluded to put pressure on pay-TV operators in an effort to undermine his business model.

Under federal law, broadcasters must make their signals available to the public through a digital antennae. But pay-TV operators pay networks retransmission fees to distribute their signals.

Locast, as a non-profit, argues it merely acts as a “signal booster.”

“This is classic copyright abuse,” read the complaint. “[Networks] have misused copyrights to expand their market power beyond what those copyrights were intended to protect.”

Unique to the case is the fact Locast has received funding from major media companies such as AT&T ($500,000), which owns WarnerMedia, and Google’s YouTube.

The suit alleges the networks threatened YouTube with litigation if it enabled Locast to operate on its servers.

Yet, when AT&T’s DirecTV satellite distributor and U-verse pay-TV channel had a retransmissions fee dispute with CBS this summer, it directed its 6.5 million subs blacked out from CBS content to use Locast.

Indeed, Dish Network offers the Locast app to its satellite and Sling TV subs as alternative on its AirTV devices.

‘The Good Place’ Season 3 on DVD July 30

Shout! Factory will release The Good Place: The Complete Third Season on DVD July 30.

The NBC comedy series follows ordinary people Eleanor (Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) as they navigate the afterlife with the help of an “angel” named Michael (Ted Danson) and his assistant, Janet (D’Arcy Carden).

In the third season, the humans are given a second chance at life in order to earn their way into the good place, though it soon becomes apparent that the system may be rigged to prevent anyone from avoiding the bad place despite how good they may be.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The season three DVD includes all 13 episodes, plus extended episodes, audio commentaries, a gag reel and a visual effects reel.

NBC recently renewed the series for a fourth and final season to begin Sept. 26.

Season 1 of ‘Manifest’ on DVD July 23

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Manifest: The Complete First Season on DVD July 23.

The NBC series deals with a plane that inexplicably disappears on a trans-oceanic flight and returns five years later with no time having passed for the passengers. The first season comprises 16 episodes.

“Manifest” stars Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas, Athena Karkanis, J.R. Ramirez, Luna Blaise, Jack Messina and Parveen Kaur.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Poll: 44% Say Netflix Vital Source of Video Content

While Disney rolls out its branded “Disney Plus” subscription streaming video service for investors, new data from Hub Research finds that 44% of consumers consider Netflix an important source of content.

The research firm’s “The Evolution of Video Branding” study found that the vast majority of respondents from a January poll of 1,692 consumers in the United States chose Netflix over other over-the-top video services for their video content.

Other entertainment sources include CBS (29%), ABC (28%), NBC (28%) and ESPN (24%).

Among younger respondents (16-34 years-old), 59% opted for Netflix, followed by Hulu (26%), ESPN (24%), HBO (17%) and Amazon Prime Video (17%). Among older respondents CBS ranked first with 41%, followed by ABC (37%), NBC (37%), Netflix (35%) and Fox (26%).

Notably, the report found that while respondents were familiar online TV services such as Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Sling TV, and PlayStation Vue, 80% claimed they were unaware of what each platform’s value proposition was.

Indeed, among younger respondents, simply branding video content “original” was enough to make them consider streaming it. And 69% considered Netflix the best choice for original fare.

“It would be easy to explain Netflix’s strong position as a must-have TV source by citing the sheer variety of its content,” Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “Then again, the same can be said of the variety of shows on broadcast networks. Whether it’s a function of a higher level of show quality or of strong branding — or both — Netflix has managed to set itself apart from networks that offer a similarly wide variety of genre choice.”

Netflix’s ‘Umbrella Academy’ Tops ‘TV Time’ Binge Week Chart

Netflix’s just-released superhero series, “The Umbrella Academy,” was the most binge-watched show of the week Feb. 11-17, according to new data from TVTime.com.

The website registers a binge session when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the TV Time app within a given day.

“Umbrella Academy,” which co-stars Ellen Page spearheading a dysfunctional family of superheroes, was binged-watched 3.29%, compared to “One Day at a Time” (Netflix), which was binge-watched 2.59%. Rounding out the podium was “Friends,” the former NBC sitcom being binge-viewed 2.57%.

Previous-week top shows – Netflix’s “Russian Doll” and “Sex Education” – ranked ninth and seventh, respectively. NBC’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and reruns of “How I Met Your Mother” (CBS All Access) ranked fourth and 10th, respectively.

The CW had two shows in the Top 10 with “Gossip Girl” (6th) and “Riverdale” (8th).