Sci-Fi Storm

Surface: The Complete Series DVD review

by on Sep.03, 2006, under Television, Video/DVD

The NBC series Surface only lasted 15 episodes, but it seemed to be well-liked (it received the plurality of votes in our unscientific poll [Doc: Polls are no longer available on the site]), but suffered the same fate of its contemporaries (and most network SF) and was cancelled. Out now is the Surface: The Complete Series DVD set, which brings all 15 episodes and a few extras to the masses.


When young oceanographer Laura Daughtery (Lake Bell) discovers a massive underwater creature, her obsession to uncover the origins of this dangerous ?unidentified species? will lead her and others on a mysterious adventure through the darkest, deepest parts of the sea and the most sinister and shady places on Earth. The fate of the world is in their hands ? they just don?t know it.

This set consists of 4 discs in a folder with two stacked-disc holders with a cardboard slipcase. Everything bears the murky green underwater theme, including the screen-printed discs.

I admit that I really didn’t get into this show when it aired. I watched the first few episodes, but various reasons (not all of which had to do with the show) didn’t keep up with it. After having having watch the DVD, I wish I had given it more of a chance. I found that the story line was interesting enough to keep watching through the episodes. The acting may not have been top notch, but was in general sufficient to warrant continuing. However, I couldn’t get rid of the thoughts in my head that this was sort of a “Close Encounters of the Abyss” rehash.

The story follows two tracks. One track is with oceanographer Laura Daughtery (played by Lake Bell) and Rich Connelly (Jay R. Ferguson), both of whom have had a close encounter with the large creature in the deep, and seek to learn more despite the authorities, and some shadow organization, trying to stop them. Miles is haunted by images he doesn’t understand and the death of his brother, and Laura seeks to receive the credit of the discovery despite her being totally discredited and no one is willing to help her, except for a friend – and he may know more than he’s telling.

The other track follows Miles Barnett (Carter Jenkins), who raises one of the creatures from an egg – and when things start going wrong, he tries to protect his “pet” with the help of his friend Zack. He can save the town and terrorize it at the same time.

The two tracks are completely independent until the end of the last episode, when the characters finally meet in a somewhat apocalyptic end, meant to only be a conclusion of the season, not the series.

Since the show was cancelled, a number of plot points were left hanging…what is to be done about the creatures, where do the monorail trains go, and what does Laura’s friend have to do with it are notable leftovers.

SF Pop Culture reference: Miles sister Savannah refers to Nimrod as a “baby sleestak”. Not a likely line from a teen girl these days.

Plot/Story: Interesting, but not original – as I’ve noted, it was heavily influenced by Close Encounters of the Third Kind, with a bit of The Abyss thrown in. Alas, because of the incomplete nature of the show, the story doesn’t reach a conclusion. 2/5

Characters/Acting: I didn’t find spectacular acting, but the starring actors carried their roles fairly well. Some poor acting from minor and incidental characters – most notably the horrible “Old Faithful” scene at the end of Episode 3. 2/5

Effects/Visuals: In general, pretty good, but there were a few failings. If a massive creature is coming up from the depths to swallow a boat, I’d expect there to be a displacement wave in front of it – not for the boat to be perfectly still until CRUNCH. Also, in the final episode, when Laura sees the monorail trains – they show the same exact footage that was used for Rich earlier – trains leaving and personnel standing on the platforms – even though the place is locked down at this time. And don’t get me started on the Old Faithful scene again. 2/5

DVD Extras/Packaging: Very little here. The ONLY extras are a short featurette called “Sci-Fi and Special Effects”, which talks about the making of the show but primarily focuses on the effects, and deleted scenes from 6 selected episodes as separate non-integrated menu items. No animation to the menus at all, but there is a Play All feature, lacking in most similar releases. 1/5

Overall: Still, enjoyable enough to watch through, and disappointing that we don’t get a proper conclusion due to the “Network SF Curse”. 3/5

Total 2 out of 5. A respectable score for a network SF show.

Surface: The Complete Series is available now.


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3 Comments for this entry

  • chad

    Where the trains go

    If I recall correctly, Daughtery mentions the Mariana Trench (the deepest part of the ocean) when she saw the trains. Don’t know how she came to that conclusion, but I believe that’s where they go–to some sort of safe habitat where the “bad” guys would hang out while the rest of humanity dies.

    Of course, the Mariana Trench is in the Pacific, and they were on the Atlantic coast, so maybe I remember wrong. But I’m fairly sure she named some specific (and deep) place on the ocean floor. Any chance you could check the final episode and find out what she actually said?

    • chad

      Re:Where the trains go

      I looked it up myself. She says, “Marianas Trench. They’re going to the bottom of the world.” This is in the 15th episode, about 60% of the way through the show, when she’s in the security control room of the complex, looking at the security camera feeds.

      Of course, that whole Atlantic/Pacific thing sort of precludes that from happening, but this is TV we’re talking about.

      • Doc

        Re:Where the trains go

        I remember the “Bottom of the world” line. Didn’t catch the Marianas Trench. That would be a major blunder in geography. Those trains would have to go a LONG way. Even if they were on the Pacific.