TV Review – The Deep Episode 1’To the Furthest Place’ *Minor Spoliers*

Simon Donald‘s scripted serial follows the crew of an oceanographic submarine as they search the final frontiers of Earth for unknown and remarkable life forms.

James Nesbitt (Occupation, Murphy’s Law) stars as Clem Donnelly, alongside Minnie Driver (Circle Of Friends, Good Will Hunting) as Frances Kelly and Goran Visnjic (ER, Welcome To Sarajevo) as Samson.

The thriller’s gripping action follows the submarine’s crew to the final frontiers of earth in their quest for unknown and remarkable life forms. Inexplicable circumstances then cause catastrophe to strike.

Stranded with no power, limited oxygen and no communication with the surface our crew reach crisis point. Can they stay alive long enough to uncover the mystery of something they have found themselves at the centre of? This is a global conflict and it is taking place at the furthest reaches of mankind.

The Deep opens with the ill fated last mission of the Hermes an underwater expedition led by Catherine Donnelly and her crew.

Fast forward six months and we meet chief engineer  Clem Donnelly (James Nesbitt) poised to follow in his wife’s footsteps with a new research team  and vessel, The Orpheus,  ready to pick up where the Hermes expedition left off. Their hope is to make a major scientific breakthrough that could change the future of the human race.

Nesbitt is a fantastic choice as the bereaved Clem and gives a great performance of a man trying to understand what happend to his wife and at the same keep a lid on his grief and anger for the sake of the mission. There are some great scenes in particular where this emotional battle is bought to the forefront.

As we are introduced to this friendly bunch of scientists Frances  (Minnie Driver), Clem (James Nesbitt) and Sampson (Goran Visnjic) are given the lion share of screen time.  I did find it hard to root for Sampson after one scene early on with rookie scientist Maddy (Antonia Thomas). He just comes across as a plain old nasty piece of work and that feeling didn’t really leave me for the rest of the episode, even in those moments I was supposed to be rooting for him.  Minnie Driver was ok as the head of the expedition, Frances Kelly, but again I didn’t really warm to her character  much, hopefully my opinion of Frances and Sampson will change as the show goes on. Oh and Captain Kelly a little tip… giving your chief engineer a recording of his wife’s final moments during a vital part of the mission is perhaps not the best idea.

The other teammates  do well with the time they have (poor Svetlana played by Vera Filatova) gets about five lines) with Vincent (Sacha Dhawan) fairing a little better. It was nice to see Antonia Thomas from Misfits as Maddie holding her own with some of the more seasoned actors.

Tobias Menzies as Raymond Hopkins,  a shadowy official sent by the admiralty falls into the standard cliche role in this kind of show of  ‘Dodgy government bloke not to be trusted’ and he does not disappoint. I hope that this cliche is a double bluff and he wont turn into the show’s standard weasel. On saying all of that I did really enjoy his performance as he gives off a real ‘There’s something not right about this bloke vibe’ I did find it weird that he is set up as the guy to hate and yet I still perferred him to Sampson.

Overall the first half of the episode is a bit of slow burn, to be honest, but when the action kicks off in the second half of the episode things get tense pretty damn fast and the  emotional cracks within the team begin to show they struggle to deal with the events that have spiralled way out of control.

I went into this first episode believing this was going to be an Alien, The Abyss or Predator setup. A rag tag group of people(and standard government weasel) at the back end of nowhere dealing with a supernatural or extraterrestrial threat. I don’t want to spoil anything too much but looking at the preview for ep 2  that may or not be the case but there’s clearly a whole lot more going on than just a team of scientists trapped at the bottom of the ocean.

The Deep didn’t exactly blow me away but what it did give me was a solid start, nice effects, the beginnings of an intriguing mystery and some great performances.

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