Do your kids love a bit of sea exploration but endless rewatches of the Octonauts is flooding the brains out of your skull? Maybe it’s time to turn rudder to Australian / Canadian animated series The Deep, based on the comic book created by Tom Taylor and James Brouwer. Following the Nekton family as they explore all manner of life and artifacts deep in the oceans, The Deep offers a blend of informative fun along with a crashing wave of adventuring.
The Nekton family unit consists of young boy Ant (Antaeus), his older sister Fontaine, and their parents Will and Kaiko (as well as Ant’s pet fish, Jeffrey). Inside their state of the art submarine home, the Aronnax, the family chug from depth to depth chiefly to explore. However, over the course of three seasons they also stumble across the mission of their ancestors: to track down the lost mythical city of Lemuria. Several ancient artifacts point the way, but both helping and hindering them are a secretive sect who obfuscate as much as they provide guidance.
Such a set up allows for a fun adventuring focus that, while skewed to a younger audience of around 6 – 9 year olds, can still make for enjoyable viewing for adults. One particular joy is that among the usual bickering, the Nekton family pull together and are given mostly equal screen time. While it is often the highly energetic Ant leading the way (dragging somewhat sardonic teenage sister Fontaine behind him), this isn’t a show that treats the parents as a spanner in the wheels of the action. Instead of being relegated to an observational side role, Will and Kaiko are in the thick of the action right along with their children.
Similar to The InBESTigators, the (many) episodes typically have either an ancient mystery to solve, or some antagonist thrown in their way. A pirate family lead by gung ho Captain Hammerhead pop up from time to time and the contrasting family dynamic makes for good material. You have amusing idiocy in the form of Devil Daniels, a YouTuber who sabotages animals to make them appear aggressive so that he can film himself heroically tackling his self-made threats. And good old big money greed is battled in the form of frog faced Hickman, a weapons smuggler who frequently slithers into episodes to cause mayhem.
Where The Deep is at its most engaging is when dealing with the stuff of legends. Many episodes dabble with darkness when the Nektons battle with giant sea serpents, hypnotic pilot fish, goliath carnivorous jellyfish, or ruins of a civilisation long lost. Such imagination is wonderfully placed to engage children (a step up from the anthropomorphic animals of Octonauts) while being varied enough for adults also.
The actual quality of the animation isn’t much to shout about though. This is your standard slightly cheap-looking CGI where the character’s movements are often strained, but of course kids won’t really care about that. Just be warned though, there are so so many episodes that if your family do get hooked by the adventures of the Nektons then you will really jump in at the deep end.
Words by Michael Record