Tag Archives: Last Resort

Fall 2012 Review: Last Resort

20 Sep

Last Resort is one of the two big complicated serial shows being attempted on network television this autumn (Revolution is the other).  These shows generally come in two flavors, huge conspiracy and science fiction/supernatural (some have a mix).  Last Resort is the former, and has the pedigree of being the product of The Shield creator Shawn Ryan.  The first episode was plot-heavy, even for a pilot, and a little confusing, so follow along closely and try to keep up, or skip to the end if you plan on watching it for yourself.

The action begins on a submarine, the USS Colorado.  Captain Marcus Chaplin (Homicide: Life on the Street star Andre Braugher) is a long time veteran and his second in command is Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman), who has a young wife at home.  Marcus says Sam’s been recommended for a desk job so after this one final mission he can go home and spend time with his wife.  They pick up a couple of Navy Seals who were stranded on some mysterious mission and who, upon being picked up, don’t play nice with the sailors on board.  A bunch of not all that interesting personal sub drama passes by (some resent the female third in command, possibly because she’s female, possibly because she’s very young and the daughter of an Admiral played by Bruce Davison).

The sub gets an order to fire a nuclear strike at Pakistan.  Marcus and Sam get their keys out and are ready to turn them, before they look at each other, and say, wait a second, this order came from a strange secondary command channel (who doesn’t love complicated military jargon?), let’s get some more confirmation before you know, killing millions of people and possibly starting a nuclear holocaust.  Apparently this secondary command channel is only supposed to be used if DC is incapacitated, and Marcus checks their TV, and sees that well, the US isn’t blowed up.  He calls up some Washington people to double check his orders.  The Navy Seals and Robert Patrick (I can not figure out what his role is yet – he seems senior to most people but below the captain and his main role seems to be to lambaste every decision the captain makes) both tell him to turn the damn key, and when he questions the order, the Washington person tells him, well, he’s no longer in command, and Sam is the new captain.  Unfortunately, Sam is also like, what the fuck, and doesn’t fire, leading to a mysterious attack on their sub from another American ship.  As shocking as that is, once they collect their bearings and check the TV, they’re eve more surprised to see that the attack on them is being billed as an attack by Pakistan, giving the US license to launch a counter attack on what the sub people know is a phony pretense.

Realizing they can’t go back home without being attacked by more US planes, they surface at some island nearby, a tiny Caribbean nothing island apparently run by a random native who is the resident crimelord/man who runs island.  The naval officers take the island over, including a NATO station.  They challenge the power of the resident ruler and investigate but are given away when a lower ranking officer rats them out and is about to shoot Sam, before the man threatening gets shot instead by the third-in-charge woman.  Everyone runs off to the sub, and they’re all about to be killed by oncoming American bombers when Marcus threatens to send a nuke to DC if the bombers aren’t called off.  The bombers are called off, but the nuke lands anyway, albeit in the middle of the ocean, but well, everybody on the sub isn’t getting home anytime soon without being arrested forever.  Braugher records a video telling the US and the world that they’ve got a dozen or so more nukes, and if anyone fires on the island, those nukes are a firing.

Oh, and one of the Navy Seals gets wasted at a local island bar where he offhandedly mentions that he may be responsible for the whole sequence of events which took place.

There are a couple of scenes in DC as well.  A brillian female weapons contractor yells at the Naval admiral played by Bruce Davison for covering up some naval plot but he acts like it’s a surprise to him too.  Apparently she thinks it may have something to do with a crazy new weapons system she designed.  Scary government people have convened at Sam’s wife’s house as well, and when Sam tries to call home, he’s cut off after a minute.  Similar scary government people cut off the admiral when he’s talking to his daughter.

There’s plenty of questions asked – both trying to explain what happened, and where we go from here – why the nuclear strike, why the secondary command channel, why the cover up, etc.  I’m quite intrigued.  I can’t help myself – as much as I know that 90% of these types of shows end up deteriorating into some combination of nonsensical plot and miserable dialogue and lazy characterization, even the slightest hint of conspiracy is like catnip for me, for at least one episode, anyway.  As far as how Last Resort fares so far in these other non-plot aspects, dialogue, characters, etc, etc., well.  I think it’s better than Revolution’s first episode and superior to Terra Nova last year.   One of the many dangers of these types of shows is that the exciting plot can cover up for really cliched or boring characters, and while the characters weren’t exactly fleshed out a whole lot in this first plot heavy episode, well, Andre Braugher is good, and well, The Shield supposedly had good characters.  There are some potential cliches in the world-weary-but-wise commander and the plucky-young-female-officer-bent-on-earning-respect but I’ll give the show a little bit of leeway.  Instead the show chose to focus on drawing viewers by ratcheting up the stakes in the first hour; it’s hard to get much tenser than the possibility of all out nuclear war with an atomic bomb going off in the first episode; even 24 went well into season 2 before firing the initial nuclear blast.  It feels like cheating and it’s going to be very difficult to keep the subsequent episodes nearly as fast-paced, but as far as making me want to know more, it worked.

Will I watch it again?  Probably.  I knew I would be on the hook from the premise.  I’m a sucker for this kind of shit.  Unlike comedies, which often build from the premise, even what end up being mediocre dramas can have fine first episodes that make the show seem really exciting.  So I certainly will not be incredibly hopeful.  But I’ll watch.

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Fall 2012 Previews and Predictions: ABC

13 Sep

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13)

ABC next.  The network sits pretty and in the middle of the pack, and has five new shows on offer this fall.

666 Park Avenue – 9/30 

An evil apartment building.  Yes, that is what the show seems to be about.  Already, the season grows less exciting.  Lost veteran Terry O’Quinn (John Locke) portrays the evil owner of the building, married to Vanessa Williams.  The series premise is set when a couple, not  presumably knowing the evil nature of this building, moves in and takes over roles as co-managers of the building.  The building is filled with a bunch of supernatural shit, and it’s goal is probably to be something like Lost meets Revenge (high class trashy soapy fun of Revenge with the supernatural aspects of Lost).

Verdict:  13- Revenge against some odds worked both critically and commercially, but I’m taking the under on lightning striking twice.  I have no idea what to expect in terms of the quality of this program, but but I don’t have a lot of faith; while hardly a crazy obvious cancellation (where are you, Allen Gregory?) some shows have got to go.

Last Resort – 9/27

The Shield’s Shawn Ryan (yes, I know I need to go back and watch The Shield – it and Dr. Who are my top 2 long term big TV projects that hopefully will happen one day) brings us this kind of cool set up about a US Navy submarine which gets an order to set off a nuclear bomb, and defies it, setting up at an island until they can figure out how to get back home without being considered traitors.  I’m calling this Crimson Tide meets Lost (yes, nearly every new ABC hour long program can be described as something meets Lost).  It starts the estimable Andre Braugher of Homicide and Men of a Certain Age and Scott Speedman of many Underworld films as the top two in command of the sub.

Verdict:  14+  I almost put renewal.  I really wanted to, but  these high concept shows have so much going against them that lower their chances of success.  Without quickly picking up both a huge amount of critical buzz (which is enough to initially give concepts juice on premium cable, but not so much on networks) and a minimum of commercial interest, grand high concept serial series (which I think this is?) have a difficult go of it (Lonestar, anybody).  I’m only picking 14+ over 13- now because of the Shawn Ryan name.  I hope it will be good though.

The Neighbors – 9/26

Classic that-guy (and Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame member) Lenny Venito and ‘80s semi-brat pack actress Jami Gertz are a couple who move into a New Jersey housing complex, and find out their neighbors are aliens who name themselves after American sports legends and have weird Conehead-like alien tendencies.  I’m honestly not sure what to think; it sounds ridiculous and cartoonish, but there’s a number of different tones the show could be going for here; out and out silly, corny, absurdist, cheeky and over the top.   It’s easy to lean towards this show being bad, but it’s hard to say for sure.

Verdict:  14+  I have no fucking clue.  This could be a classic 13-, it’s honestly one of the more obviously 13- sounding shows on this list.  However, I’ve briefly come across articles that the show is better than I expected it to be, and there’s this off and unlikely chance it could be a weird quirky success.  I’d still bet against it, but compromising here.

Nashville – 10/10

One of the shows I’m most excited about, it sounds like Country Strong the show (actually that’s not the comparison I should be making right after saying I’m excited about the show) on the surface, about a middle aged female country superstar (played by the great Tammy Taylor FNL actress Connie Britton) and an up and comer who wants the spotlight on her, played by Heroes’ Hayden Panettiere.  Plus, there’s I don’t know, a bunch of country music?  I don’t know what the natural arc of this show is, and maybe that’s a bad thing, but also maybe that’s why it’s interesting.

Verdict:  Renewal – This and Last Resort were probably the two shows that sounded most promising to me from the basic descriptions.  Last Resort, well, I’m a sucker for at least being interested in all shows like that, but few are better than mediocre, and most fail.  Nashville, however doesn’t fit that pattern.  I don’t care all that much about country music, so it’s not that angle, and I’m not sure what my good reason for interest aside the fact that it stars Connie Britton and it sounds, well, different.  I think we’ll know within a few episodes whether this show is sticking around.

Malibu Country – 11/2

Reba is back, baby.  You knew TV couldn’t be without her for too long.  Reba, a Nashville resident, naturally, and playing a character named Reba, finds her husband cheating and moves from Nashville to, you guessed it, Malibu, California.  Her mom is played by Lily Tomlin, which tells you how old Lily Tomlin is.  Oh, shocker, Reba plays a one-time country music singer, who is now trying to reignite her career.

Verdict:  13- This looks like the type of predictable utterly forgettable sitcom Then again, Reba ran for six seasons (wow, is the right answer), so who am I to say it can’t happen again.  I’ll say it though.  It’s probably not going to happen again.  This would be high up for me on the most likely 13 or less choices this year, though the relative success of Last Man Standing proves that I know nothing.