It’s probably not a stretch to say that the big draw of comic conventions is the celebrity guest list, but sometimes something is appointment viewing even if you’ve never heard of it before. Deep Six was like that, a webseries presentation that was so fresh it had just finished principal photography a few weeks earlier. I turned to the guy next to me in the Constantine costume and said, “I hadn’t even heard of this till yesterday,” as con staff tried to fill the last few seats in the room. “I hadn’t heard of it till today,” Constantine said one-upping me. So what were we about to see?
“We want the show to hold itself account to real science, real physics, and real space,” said the series co-writer and director Davin Lengyel. “We wanted space [in Deep Six] to be awe-inspiring, beautiful, terrifying, and unlike any other show you’re even seen.”
To put it another way, “our ships don’t swoop.” Deep Six is a science fiction space opera that takes place over 200 years in the future on Earth’s first mission outside our solar system on a space station orbiting Tau Ceti, which is a real star almost 12 light years from here. A “terrifying accident” at the beginning of the series ends up stranding 250 people on the station with no way to travel back to Earth or even communicate with it. Cut off from home, with limited supplies, the crew will have to rely on their wits as they deal with, ahem, unexpected developments.
Fans of shows like Battlestar Galactica and The Expanse will see something familiar about the show, which features a mix of characters both civilian and military. Once the station’s crew is stranded, they’re stuck with dwindling supplies, conflicting personalities, and a group of fellow astronauts that will have to overcome their own flaws and concerns to survive their predicament. The undercurrent though is that all this is grounded in real science.
“[Tau Ceti] has some rocky planets that fit the criteria we needed, as in a Lucas-like ice planet and desert planet,” Lengyel said on why he chose the home star system of Deep Six. The planets themselves are also the perfect size because they aren’t just Earth-like planets, they’re super-Earths. “Because of their size and density, you can’t launch from them with a conventional rocket, you can’t orbit them, and you can’t land on them, and that maybe comes into play on the show.”
“Davin said ‘I can do the science stuff, but I need people to have conversations with each other too,'” said Mika Collins, co-writer of the series. Collins is best known as an actress and appeared in a recurring role in Syfy’s Defiance, but now she’s segued into writing, recently penning an episode of Travellers. “I was not a practicing sci-fi nerd, but now I’m a believer and [Davin]’s catching me up. We watched 2001 together, which was crazy because he said we couldn’t start writing until I had.”
Lengyel said that Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey was a major inspiration for Deep Six, so he recruited a 2001 expert, author and space historian Rob Godwin, to lend his expertise to the show. “I’ve been working with the estates of the people that worked on 2001, and I had access to all the mechanisms that went into making one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time,” Godwin said. “Basically, I’ve been trying to give them as much advise as I can.”
Members of the cast were in attendance as well. Kristian Brunn, best known for playing Donnie is Orphan Black, plays Carl, the highest-ranking civilian on the base. “He’s also in charge of supplies, and runs the black market,” Bruun explained. One of the unfinished scenes screened for fans featured Karl trading chocolate to the pilot Athea for some weed. “He’s not necessarily irresponsible, but he realizes they are on their own out here,” Bruun added.
Katherine Gauthier plays Siege, another of the station’s pilots, but she’s got seriously problems beyond a dwindling chocolate supply. “She’s kind of the junior office, and she has a lot to prove in a world where people are right-brained and she’s really left brained,” said Gauthier, who feels grateful not to be playing another dumb blonde in a comedy. “Siege feels tremendously alone, and there are very few people that she can connect with.”
And that includes here uncle, the station’s military commander Col. Dietrich played by Jonathan Whittaker (The Expanse). Whittaker was the last member of the cast to be brought onboard, starting on set barely 24 hours after being cast. “Dietrich is responsible for everyone onboard , the well-being of his niece, and everyone under his purview, and it’s not just about the expense, but the cost of human life and that’s a terrific responsibility,” said Whittaker.
Of course, Lengyl has plans beyond a single webseries for Deep Six, and if it ends up being successful, then the web series might be spun off into a full feature, or perhaps a full-length television series. Ultimately, there are many different aspects of the show that they’d like to explore, flashbacks that lend insight into the characters’ per-show lives for example, but they’ll have to prove themselves on the web first. “We would do flashbacks in a larger series, but the best way to do a webseries is focus on specific things,” said Collins. “You have one specific dilemma per episode, but those bigger questions will be answered in a longer version of this.”
In the meantime, the webseries is expected to launch sometime this spring. For updates and more details about Deep Six, you can visit the series’ website.