The first part of BBC One’s five-part ocean-floor drama The Deep aired tonight. Featuring James Nesbitt and Minnie Driver, it follows the story of a crew of marine biologists on an expedition to study the underwater who are diverted from their mission to recover the black box from a previous expedition that failed.
The first episode, To The Furthest Place sets the scene by showing us how the crew of the Hermes (the earlier expedition) die. We see a marine biologist in a probe losing contact with the submarine and power dying out. Later on, we learn that the woman was a marine biologist and the wife of James Nesbitt’s character, Clem Donnelly. Through a recording of her final moments, we hear her describing something huge under the water, just before she asphyxiates.
Six months later a follow-up expedition is ready to leave. The aptly-named Orpheus is captained by Minnie Driver’s character Frances Kelly, while Clem is the engineer on board and Samson (Goran Visnjic) is a marine biologist on board. They’re joined by a team of largely expendable bright young things. I can back up that initial impression by telling you that one of those BYTs was dead by the time the credits rolled.
Added to the mix is Raymond Hopkins, an admiralty salvage investigator who’s looking into the last moments of the Hermes. It’s clear from the outset that he knows more than he’s saying.
As a premiere episode, To The Furthest Place gave us a widower looking for answers behind his wife’s death, an affair between two crew members and a treacherous rescue mission through a hydrothermal vent field. There’s plenty of mystery ahead for those of us who’ve been drawn in already – what’s Hopkins’ true reason for being on the submarine? How many of the crew will make it back alive? What’s in the large vessel that started to pull the Orpheus upward, and who’s operating it?
I have to praise my fellow Northern Irelander, James Nesbitt, for his harrowed performance while he listened to his wife’s last moments. How clever that as her screams filled his ears, an almost identical fate was unravelling in the Lurch probe?
One criticism was that there was too much scientific information thrown at us that I wondered for a moment if it was supposed to be part-documentary? Not that that would be a bad thing, to learn more about hydrothermal vent fields, but there were a few bits where my mind switched off, because the dialogue seemed like science porn rather than anything important to the plot.
Still, the first episode of The Deep delivered on the cinematic vision that it had promised. Already, it seems that The Deep is going to have a tense, claustrophobic feel to it, and a borderline horror movie approach. I full expect another expendable crew member to get picked off next week. Hopefully the geeky one, but he may still be useful. Definitely a corker first episode, but I’ve learned my lesson from the second episode of Sherlock and won’t be proclaiming this a resounding success until I’ve seen a few more episodes!
More information about The Deep on the BBC website.
Read our review of the next episode, Into The Belly Of The Beast.