WARNING: Don't read this article if you've yet to watch The Deep.
A team of scientists are stranded in a submarine deep under the Arctic Ocean. Feelings are tense, emotions are running high and relationships are tested. All for a good reason too; the crew are in serious danger and not all of them will survive. There's no arguing that The Deep is an ambitious--if not entirely original--TV premise, and while it's a tense and sometimes gripping drama it ultimately fails to engage thanks to its unsympathetic characters.
It started last night (at 9pm on BBC One and BBC HD) as a research team embarked on their (last?) expedition. Just like Sigourney Weaver's first Alien movie they were after new-found minerals and, just like the movie, they ran into trouble. Their sub was damaged when its signal was interrupted. Sound familiar?
If you can get past the comparative gripes though, The Deep is a thrilling ride. While The introductory scenes were slow and some of the relationships had clichéd elements, they also managed to ring true: Colleagues who spend a lot of time together do have affairs, especially when they're working this closely with one another.
We're glad Maddy (Misfits' Antonia Thomas) was the first to be killed. Her nervous disposition was no longer needed to create tension--as it was at the start of the show--and her whining was getting more annoying by the second. Hell, if we were trapped in a sub with her we'd consider it ourselves. The young biologist's demise does raise curious questions though: did Raymond (Tobias Menzies) really kill her or was her bleeding caused by the same thing that made Clem's (James Nesbitt) nose bleed? And if he didn't, what is it that's doing all that?
Come to think of it, there are lots of questions we want answered, and we're only one episode in. It's these nagging questions that will draw viewers back in the four weeks that follow--they're what make the storyline so gripping. It helps that the show has great production values too. The external images of the submarine and its pod are stunning, while the flashing lights that followed the crash maintained the tense tone of the thriller. Yes, this really is a TV show you'll want to watch in HD if you can.
What's concerning is the current lack of compassion we have as a viewer to the sunken sub's crew. When the cast includes talent such as The Riches' Minnie Driver and ER's Goran Visnjic its natural to expect more. It's not their fault though; relationships are being developed but we're yet to feel attached to them--we're too distracted by the giant black blob. Can we be manipulated into caring before it's too late? We'll certainly keep watching to find out.