Sci-Fi and Submarines

Dive! Dive! Dive! Blogger John Cooper looks at subs - and we don't mean long sandwiches

Thank telly for The Deep , a show that has come along to fill that Paradox shaped hole. I didn't know about it, I wasn't excited about it, but I am watching it... and it has a very similar vibe. Should I be bold enough to say it? Sci-fi in denial . Not-Fi. Sci-fo. The sub looks cool, but if you're going to acknowledge you can transmit a birthday message from a submarine at the bottom of the Arctic sea onto an HD-ready TV somewhere in England, then you are either a sci-fi show, or an advert for broadband. Or maybe I'm just getting old. There was a time around 2004 where you'd never find me knocking sci-fi of any kind because I was just happy to see it on the telly. And I'm not knocking The Deep really : it's fun and a perfect excuse to talk about submarines.

The Orpheus ( The Deep )

Looking more like the bridge of the USS Enterprise - unless you count the NX-01, which looked more like a submarine - the front view screen is enormous for a submersible. There's plenty of back- and under-lighting which may not be practical but is great for casting wavy ripples of refraction on the walls for effect. Also there's a nice big kitchen, ideal for drama. If you're a fan of metaphors you'll know that Orpheus is a character from Greek myth who went to the underworld to find his dead wife. Unlike The Deep, where James Nesbitt's character goes to the bottom of the sea to find his dead wife.

The Seaview ( Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea )

Not a hotel in Torquay, but one of Irwin Allen's triumphs. The naval Seaview crew was the only hint of reality aboard the ship. My memory of the Channel 4 re-runs is hazy but there was an awesome yellow mini-sub which could fly but this caused confusion when it docked in a hole apparently right under the bridge that was surely full of people already, and raised issues about the scale of the Seaview on a week-to-week basis. Oh and pirates; there were pirates.

Stingray ( Stingray )

“Anything can happen in the next half hour” - and it usually did, though hardly ever on board the Stingray itself, in favour of blowing stuff up both in the water and on land. I wonder if the aquaphibians ever met the silurians?

The seaQuest ( seaQuest DSV )

A lot more submarine-like on the inside, and hard to get a good look at on the outside, often in the dark or just cruising quickly out of shot so we couldn't scrutinize the CGI too closely. The seaQuest scores two brownie points. 1) for having the facilities to translate dolphin sounds into English. 2) for the tiny disco lights that orbit the ship called 'whiskers' or WSKRS (Wireless Sea Knowledge Retrieval Satellites), which didn't appear to do much but looked really cool in a '90s way.

The Nautilus ( 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea )

The quintessential vehicle of choice for the seafaring recluse. There have been a few revisions over the years, not only in the ship but in the captain too. The clamshell look and round observation deck "eyes" have remained constants.

This is a personal article by blogger and comedian John Cooper. Are you watching The Deep ? Our Dave Golder is not a fan, sadly, but we don't have anything personal against submarines. John could have included Thunderbird 4 and the vessels from Fantastic Voyage . Can you think of any more?