It’s been a while since the networks have been able to put up a contender against the new regime of great TV ruled by HBO and AMC. I tuned into Last Resort with high expectations, but I still have the taste of Revolution in my mouth, not to mention the stench of Terra Nova in my living room.
The question was: Could a major network put big money into a show and still let the creatives create?
ABC did it before when they took a leap of faith with Lost. And yes, at least for 44:36, they’ve done it again.
I won’t compare this show to Lost, although it deserves some pokes for being another ABC drama that involves a suspiciously Hawaiian-looking island. But the pilot for Last Resort got me to commit to watching a few more episodes.
Andre Braugher sidesteps the stereotypical commander. He’s a noble leader who leads with the support and respect of his crew. But the events of the show — and what some would call treason — divides his crew into loyal and “I don’t know about this guy.” He has to lead in a way he’s never lead before. Good start to a series. Reminiscent of Jack Shepherd, Walter White, Eddard Stark.
Scott Speedman deserves some compliments. Most actors would have delivered some clichéd performance as the submarine’s XO. Great writing gave him a better character. A guy who had a tough choice on whether or not to even be on this mission. Regret plays on him the whole episode.
Robert Patrick and Daisy Betts bring believable yet unique characters to life right alongside them.
Which brings me to a bigger point. My beef with your average Star Trek episode: there’s a bunch of people on a ship who all want the same thing. “Our mission must succeed! Yay us!” Not a good formula by modern standards. Drama is always better when everyone wants something different. Last Resort starts with a united crew and then introduces a catalyst — the fire order that brings to light the differing opinions and interpretations of patriotism. Differing perspectives of right and wrong, honor and duty. No two characters feel the same way about their situation. Great drama.
Come on, of course. The reason we’re all tuning into this is because we were intrigued by the idea of a rogue nuclear sub. Did the show deliver on that? Yes. The potential of World War 3 hanging in the balance? Yes. Riveting? Yes.
The Writing and Research
In 44 minutes, I feel like I know more about a submarine than I ever did. I was amazed by how much information was thrown at me minute by minute. And yet it was all done in a way that was comprehensible and credible. And not distracting.
The scenes are short, tight, and keep the pace flying. You don’t get time to ponder during this episode. The dialogue tells you more than just what’s going on; it tells you a lot about the characters.
Ah, the beauty of a network budget applied to a cable premise. Flawless.
There were a few moments that felt a little forced. The captain’s musing at the end about starting over. Sorry, just can’t buy it. The conversation between the hot shot contractor and the admiral? An awful lot of work for one reveal that doesn’t really pay off.
Small detractions from an otherwise great ride.
ABC has pulled it off with this pilot. A network drama that we TV snobs will love. Worth an hour of your time. I’ll spend a few more of mine on this one.