The Complete Series

Starring: Lake Bell, Jay R. Ferguson, Carter Jenkins, Ian Anthony Dale, Leighton Meester and Eddie Hassell
Universal Pictures
RRP: 30.99
Certificate: 12
Available 26 March 2007

Something new is lurking in the Earth's oceans and the world is on the verge of disaster. When young oceanographer Laura Daughtery discovers a massive underwater creature, her obsession to uncover the origins of this dangerous unidentified species leads her and others on a mysterious adventure through the deepest darkest and most sinister places on Earth. The fate of the world is in their hands...

Surface is the start of what could have been a very promising ongoing series. What's really sad about this series is that the final episode ends on a cliff-hanger and because the show was never renewed for a second season, everything is left up in the air - leaving it up to the audience to decide what happens to the heroes.

The show follows the lives of three very different individuals as they are affected by strange events that unfold. There's Laura Daughtery, an oceanographer who is the first person to see the creatures and their underwater home; Rich Connelly, an insurance salesman who, on a fishing trip, sees the creatures when one drags his brother into the deep; and Miles Bennett, a young boy who discovers an egg in the sea and manages to rear one of the creatures as a pet.

One of the things that I liked about this show was the fact that the heroes are fully fleshed out like real people, not some whiter than white two-dimensional characters that most US shows seem to create.

To start with, Laura uses her sexuality to get her way (in much the same way that young girls can twist their fathers around their little finger). She manages to manipulate her ex-husband into always picking up their son at a moments notice and covering for her; her good friend, who she once slept with, does everything she asks no matter how crazy because he still has feelings for her; and there is a great scene in the Deleted Scenes section of this collection in which she acts all dim and girly to get a geeky librarian to find some information for her.

Richard is a bit of wild card, having possibly killed one man in their bid to escape and then using his fists first in all following confrontations - he even attacks Laura to stop her from saving their lives when underwater. It's interesting to see this character progress from being you average Joe, to a man with a mission - realising he has to fight dirty to get what he wants.

And finally, there's Miles Barnett, who in an E.T. moment manages to rear one of the creatures from an egg, hide it from his parents, become ill and get hospitalised and have the creature cure him by sharing its energy with him. Hmm... maybe that's more than a little bit of an E.T. moment and more a rip-off - or should I say homage?

There are a lot of "similarities" to other classic movies including Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In fact the very first scene in Surface reminded me of the opening to Jaws. There is a "homage" to the scene in Jaws where all the towns folk gather at an official meeting to see how to get rid of the creature, and then there is the scene where the local law enforcement officers think that everything is solved when an alligator is caught by some local fishermen. Similar to the scene in Jaws where a caught shark is cut open, the suspended alligator is cut open to see if it's the guilty monster.

While there is a smattering of humour throughout this series, it does tend to take itself a little too seriously which is a little bit of a shame. This also results in some embarrassingly poor acting on the part of both Lake Bell and Jay R. Ferguson in scenes that are a little too emotionally charged to be believable.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see that Martha Plimpton, who most people will remember from her role in the '80s movies The Goonies and Parenthood, makes a brief appearance in a couple of the episodes.

Extras include 24 mins of deleted scenes (which has a really low sound level for some odd reason) and Sci-Fi and Special Effects (8 and a half mins featurette that goes behind the scenes to interview some of the cast and crew).

One other point worth mentioning, although it is only a very small complaint, on at least three of the episodes there is some serious problems with the sound and/or picture. They don't last long, but it looks like someone was messing with a cable while transferring these to DVD.

At the end of the day this is an enjoyable series. It's a shame that a second season was never commissioned, but then I'm scratching my head to work out what the three characters can do now anyway. The quests of the heroes have sort of come to a dead-end - with each of them fulfilling their main goal that drove them on in the first place.

Darren Rea

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