I’m a big fan of submarine movies. Das Boot. The Hunt For Red October. Crimson Tide. Hell, even U-571 has it’s moments. There is something about the claustrophobia of a sub. Something about the danger you can only hear and not see. Something about the strange terminology. Down Bubble. Up Periscope. Level the planes. Prepare the firing solution. It just appeals to me. So when I heard that ABC had a television show based on a submarine premiering this month, I was interested. When I heard later it came from the mind of The Shield creator Shawn Ryan, I was psyched. And when I heard it had the great Andre Braugher as the captain, I was in. But after watching Last Resort, I felt the show falls just a bit SHORT.
I’m only basing this review on the pilot, directed by Martin “Yes, I did Green Lantern. But Also GoldenEye & Casino Royale, So Back Off” Campbell. Shows sometimes use criticism they receive from a pilot and make changes for the better. My hope is that Last Resort is one of these shows. As the pilot starts, it seems that all the pieces are in the right place. We open on the sub and briefly meet the crew through the rounds of XO Sam Kendal, played by Scott Speedman. Yes, I thought he went missing too. We meet the crew chief played by an old T-1000. And finally, we meet Braugher. And boy, is he quintessential Braugher. No nonsense. Fiery. Super serious as though he was performing Macbeth for he Queen of England. He’s great. I’m in the groove of the show and I’m enjoying it. But, when the proverbial sh*t hits the fan, the show makes it’s biggest mistake in my eyes. It takes us off the ship back to Washington D.C. and then over to some Dharma Initiative looking island. Why? To introduce the other players of the show. I understand that. However, submarine stories, in my opinion, benefit greatly when they stick to the perspective of the crew at all times. When they follow their perspective. When they let the audience discover things when the crew discovers them. In doing so, you heighten the tension and the mystery. You really start to feel the danger and begin questioning everything and everyone. When you leave the people you actually have been led to care about and essentially restart the narrative just to see Autumn Reeser jump the bones of some congressman, you release the all the built up tension of the show faster than cracking open a bottle of champagne. When you come back to the crew, you have to start all over again in building up that tension. Imagine if in Wrath of Khan after the Enterprise’s first exchange with the Reliant we decided to shoot over to Starfleet for a few minutes to meet some hot Starfleet lab tech who designed the Reliant. The entire time her scene was going on, all you’d be screaming is “GO BACK TO THE ENTERPRISE DAMN IT!” and miss any information the scene would be giving you anyway.
There is a good show inside Last Resort. The potential it has is high. It just has to brush away some of the fluff and stick to it’s great premise of physical and psychological pressure put on sailors who are now without a country. It may take time. Time Shawn Ryan’s previously well done but low rated show Chicago Code didn’t have on Fox. Let’s hope ABC is willing to give it. Watch it…And after you come up for air….tell me I’m wrong.