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The Deep, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

The Deep, BBC One

The Deep, BBC One

Deep in the Arctic ocean, something stirs (and it's really huge)

'Right, who ate all the flipping Doritos?' James Nesbitt (left), Minnie Driver and crew get the bends

Wasn't The Deep the title of a 1970s movie starring Jacqueline Bisset and Nick Nolte? Something about sunken treasure and a stash of morphine off the coast of Bermuda. I have a hunch it may have been complete twaddle. No less preposterous is this five-part subaqueous saga from the BBC, in which a team of marine scientists take their research submarine, the Orpheus, into frozen Arctic waters to investigate the catastrophic wreck of another sub, the Hermes.

This bunch would be nobody's first choice for this sort of Mission Impossible activity, since their proper job is combing the deeps for "rare micro-organisms" which might somehow be converted into fuel as the world's oil supplies dwindle. But Raymond Hopkins, a salvage expert from the Admiralty, slips aboard the Orpheus the night before its fateful voyage, and tells the crew that before they can proceed with their scientific schedule, they must retrieve the black box recorder from the vanished Hermes. Hopkins is played with supercilious sneeriness by Tobias Menzies, and we know he knows more than he's letting on. He has a recently discovered recording made by Catherine Donnelly (Orla Brady) from the Hermes, trapped thousands of feet underwater with air and power running out, in which she describes an enormous "thing" about to engulf her in the Arctic depths. Oo-er!

The Orpheus also suffers a few handicaps in the human resources department. The sub is skippered by Frances Kelly (Minnie Driver), which is like putting Emma Bunton in charge of the Afghan war. For her chief engineer she has Clem Donnelly, played with bleary-eyed and stubbly desperation by James Nesbitt, who is still shattered by the death of his wife Catherine in the Hermes disaster. Obviously in a real-world scenario Clem would be declared psychologically unfit for the mission, but on Fantasy CGI Planet (where our saga takes place) being an unstable emotional burn-out makes you an automatic selection.

Minnie_GoranTo render the mission yet more precarious, Kelly is having a furtive fling with the dark and moody Samson, who, being played by Goran Visnjic, has had plenty of practice at catching swooning females just before they hit the floor from his years on ER. It isn't long before Kelly's infatuation with the seductive Slav is undermining her professional judgment (Goran and swooning Minnie, pictured right). However, after this little batch of headline names had been recruited the funding must have run out, because while there are other crew members, they all look as though they're auditioning for the latest low-budget teen drama on BBC Three.

It's not a bad rule of thumb that new drama series that appear at the beginning of August usually have something to hide (we make an exception for Benedict Cumberbatch's splendid new Sherlock), and this one fees like it was bolted together from stuff they picked up at a TV boot sale. The title sequences and some of the scenes set on dry land have a slick, expensive sheen to them, but the underwater special effects are murky and unconvincing, to the point where it's difficult to make out what's supposed to be going on. And while on paper The Deep boasts a strong cast, the actors are poorly served by the second-hand plot, which has nicked bits from Alien, Ice Station Zebra and lord knows what else, and the boil-in-the-bag dialogue. Having said all that, I watched next week's part two and it's much better than part one. Doubt I'll make it to part five though.

The sub is skippered by Minnie Driver, which is like putting Emma Bunton in charge of the Afghan war

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Absolutely agree with this review - the dialogue, pacing and direction of this programme is rubbish. I'd dare any producer to call me out on this - I could write a better script with my eyes closed. Professional writers getting paid to do 1st year undergraduate levels of creative writing? How - how in fucks name this does happen? One wonders how the writers of this show actually got commissioned in the first place - I'd literally write a better plot/script/dialogue for free. Out of my arse. It's a shame to waste such brilliant actors on such a mediocre production.

In our house we were so amazed at the mind numbing mediocrity of both the script and the direction that we began shouting at the screen each time another cliche appeared. It felt as if the two characters from Mitchell and Webb ( who can't really be bothered to do any real work/research on the TV show they have written) had been given the task. Haven't these people seen the Abyss, The Sphere? Astoshingly bad opening episode - crass characterisation and stock PC crew - which ought to beneath any self respecting writer. However, we'll all watch number 2 - in the hope that (a) it might get better and (b) it will become a family game!

It did perk up after a dull first half hour and once they were underwater it was quite tense. I am intrigued enough by the mystery to check it out next week. Good idea to kill off the most anoying character for the cliffhanger, there's a few more that will hopefully get the chop soon.

Nobody has mentioned the set yet, the inside of the 'submarine' was made out toilet pipe connectors and old car parts sprayed silver, I could have made something more convincing in my shed.

Not brilliant - unoriginal and contrived - but I'll probably watch the second episode although I will hate myself for doing so!

Haha this programme really is getting slated. I don't usually read up on reviews on programmes I watch but this one seemed so terrible and the dialogue so clunky, I wanted to know if it was just me. Like why on earth is Kelly giving Clem the recording of his wife's last dying moments just when Samson is being lowered into the vents, i.e. the most critical part of the journey so far? That makes perfect sense doesn't it! Some of the stuff they were coming out with just seemed so bizarre. Do the writers really think that's what would be said out loud in real life? Reminded me of Hotel Babylon, but at least that doesn't take itself seriously.

"he underwater special effects are murky and unconvincing, to the point where it's difficult to make out what's supposed to be going on" As someone who works underwater, I have to say that it is most usually murky and difficult to make out what is going on! Instead I'm often annoyed by the unrealistic portrayal of brilliant visibility underwater in most TV and movie fiction - so fair play to them here (though I suspect it was the limit of the CGI budget, rather than intent!).

I was always under the impression (as an ex submarine officer) that having a large gap, open to the sea, in a sub is a recipe for certain death in seconds. Mine certainly never had a "moon pool" - complete and utter crap, plus all the comments above.

Atrocious. Abysmal (no pun intended!). Why, oh why am I still watching?

I can't believe the same guy also wrote an episode of 'Wallander' which is an excellent programme. A million times better than this. Everything about 'The Deep' is absolutely terrible. It's like watching 'The Abyss' meets 'Holby City'. Most of the writing on British TV is so out of touch because TV producers just rip off US imports or do remakes but rarely develop new, interesting ideas. And when they do they just destroy it like in Life on Mars.

Is The Deep based on a book or was it written for TV?

Why do all of the cast speak as if the audience are children? Well, the scriptwriter's responsible, i mean, they have all the bloody dosh for the special effects and etc, but not enough for a decent scriptwriter? To be quite honest, I'm only watching this cos of Goran Visnjic and the actor who plays Arkady, the least they could do is bring in some good looking ones.

Did anyone spot this blooper or can explain it to me? The chinese guy on the ice station invites in an independent expert to study the odd readings he is getting. Later on he is revealed to be a operative of the oil company behind everything. So why would he expose the operation to outside scrutiny? Oh and its BBC so the bad guys had to be an oil company or CIA, this time it was both. :)

Flawed but underrated and an enjoyable series all in all, Tom Wlaschiha and Nick Nevern were excellent.

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