Wild At Heart – SeaQuest DSV – tape 1596

From Channel Four, it’s David Lynch’s Wild at Heart. I feel like I’m a bit of a David Lynch denier. I think Blue Velvet is less than a masterpiece, Twin Peaks was mostly nonsense, and my memory of Wild at Heart from my original viewing is that it had a good exploding head, and Nic Cage kept inexplicably doing bad Kung Fu kicks while overacting massively.

I quite liked Mulholland Drive when I saw it recently, though.

Wild at Heart has many of the tics I most dislike about Lynch. He’s never been a naturalistic director, but this has everything amped up to eleven. Every performance seems mannered and forced. You don’t feel like you’re watching characters, you’re watching actors follow directions. For example, why, in the film’s second scene, does Laura Dern play the scene like this?

Laura Dern

I get that Lynch isn’t going for realism, but the end result, to my eyes, is like a bad italian horror movie. Take Diane Ladd (Laura Dern’s mother in both real life and the movie) at the end of that same scene. No human would drink a cocktail this way.

Diane Ladd

Cage is Sailor Ripley, Dern is Lula, and the two are in love. But coming between them is Ladd, Lula’s terrifying mother. She wants Sailor dead because she thinks he knows something about how her husband died in a fire. In the opening scene, she sends a man to kill him, and Sailor kills the man, rather violently, getting a two year manslaughter conviction.

After he gets out, Lula is waiting, and they leave town, so Ladd hires virtually every detective and hitman around to go after them and kill Sailor. They’re a predictably strange bunch.

Harry Dean Stanton plays Johnnie Farragut, and old friend of Ladd’s, but one who she’s stringing along.

Harry Dean Stanton

She seems more interested in Marcellos Santos, who has also recruited others, including identical twins Grace Zabriskie

Grace Zabriskie

And Isabella Rosselini

Isabella Rosselini

Willen Dafoe is also involved, as Bobby Peru, who persuades Sailor to help him in a bank raid

Willem Dafoe

There’s even a happy ending, facilitated by Sheryl Lee as the Good Witch of the North. (There’s a running theme of Wizard of Oz references, because that’s the kind of thing that people think is deep.)

Sheryl Lee

So I don’t think my opinion has changed. It’s a story about two people I don’t really care about, surrounded by people I actively despise.

Following this film, it’s over to LWT for an episode of Seaquest DSV. I hate the ‘DSV’ thing. Like Stargate SG-1 and Dreamworks SKG, the 90s was littered with pointless appreviations bolted on to perfectly good names.

If only that were the worst thing about Seaquest DSV.

It was set in 2018. That’s barely a year away. Somebody needs to get cracking with building all those undersea civilisations.

Judging by the opening narration (John F Kennedy, it sounds like) and the movie-style titles, this looks like the pilot.

Coincidentally, this pilot features W Morgan Sheppard, who was also in Wild at Heart.

It was directed by Irvin Kershner, of Empire Strikes Back fame. There’s an interesting career. He directed what is generally regarded as the greatest of the Star Wars movies, and yet nothing else he’s ever made has been remotely at the same level. It’s almost as if George Lucas was the actual driving force on Empire.

Anyway, back to the programme at hand. Roy Scheider is Nathan Bridger, living on an island since his wife tragically died, training his dolphin with sign language, but generally shunning the rest of the world.

Roy Scheider

Admiral Richard Herd comes to him asking him to return to service aboard the SeaQuest. He’s reluctant, but agrees to look at it.

This was another early show to use primarily CGI for the effects. They made the underwater stuff look very murky, to help hide the CGI look. It might have been realistic, but it does make a lot of the effects a bit too dark for my liking.

Murky VFX

Michael Parks plays an evil French businessman who has seen his previous plundering of the ocean severely curtailed by the new world ocean government, the UEO.

Michael Parks

He’s working with Shelley Hack, who seems confident that the SeaQuest is already defeated. No doubt she has a cunning plan.

Shelley Hack

During his tour of the SeaQuest, Bridger finds that they’ve got his pet dolphin on board, and they’ve hooked up a dolphin translator so they can hear what he’s saying. The translator was designed by boy genius Lucas (Jonathan Brandis) showing us that the makers of this show have learned absolutely nothing from the recent Star Trek The Next Generation, whose boy genius Wesley Crusher was less than popular with the fanbase. Has a boy genius character ever worked? Adric on Doctor Who, that kid on Buck Rogers, that other kid on the original Battlestar Galactica, they were all pretty hopeless.

Jonathan Brandis

In his temporary quarters, he finds a hologram program to help him make decisions – that’s W Morgan Sheppard.

W Morgan Sheppard

And here’s the marvellous Stephanie Beacham as the head of the scientific contingent on the ship.

Stephanie Beacham

And Ted Raimi (brother of Sam) is the sonar operator.

Ted Raimi

You can tell when the special effects and art direction aren’t good enough to tell your story when every establishing shot of the enemy submarine, captained by Shelley Hack, has to be captioned as such.

The Pirate sub fires on the SeaQuest, whose battle systems have somehow been disabled. Bridger and the ship’s commander, Jonathan Ford (Don Franklin) sort of jostle for command, except Ford seems keen to cede command to Bridger, and Bridger doesn’t want the job.

Naturally, young Lucas is the only one on board who can fix the computers, and there’s a typically nonsensical scene of him explaining a virus to Bridger.

As you might expect, the programme ends with Bridger taking the captain’s job, and Shelley Hack escapes to fight another day.

This isn’t actually bad, but it feels too much like a warned-over version of Star Trek set underwater. Nothing seemed really surprising. Maybe this one’s ready for an edgy, modern HBO retelling.

After this, recording continues with an episode of The Bill.  The tape ends after quite a bit of this episode.

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5 comments

    1. I doubt it was ITV, more likely it was Universal Television, but I hadn’t noticed that before. His name’s on the series proper. I’m sure there’s a story there.

      1. And yet his name doesn’t appear at all on “ER,” which I was wondered about. If he was going to take his name off a series, you’d think it would have been “Family Dog.”

  1. Wild at Heart was THE big movie at college for us, the thrill I got from seeing it on the big screen was almost overwhelming. I resisted going back to it for ages, but took a chance on the Blu-ray, and… I really enjoyed it, but that youthful rush of excitement had gone, never to be recovered. Guess I was getting old! Alternatively, Blue Velvet still had it, but I was a bit young for that one when it was first out, so it seemed more “vintage”.

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