‘Last Resort’ looks to have firepower

“Last Resort” sounds like a bad 1980s comedy featuring Andrew McCarthy and Jon Cryer as a couple of buddies on the make at a Florida tourist trap.

But no, “Last Resort” is a new TV series on ABC, overseen by the creator of “The Shield,” Shawn Ryan, and starring Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman.

It’s also a pretty nifty hour of television that left me wanting more.

“Last Resort” debuts on ABC on Sept. 27 but it’s available for viewing now on Yahoo. I watched it tonight, prepared to be underwhelmed or at best just whelmed. But, surprisingly, I really, really liked what I saw.

Braugher is Captain Marcus Chaplin, commander of the U.S. Navy nuclear sub Colorado. Speedman is his executive officer, Sam Kendal. As the pilot episode opens, they’re at sea, tasked with rescuing a group of Navy Seals caught in the crossfire of a mission gone south.

The pilot takes a few minutes setting up the friendships and conflicts on the ship, among them the hostile attitude of Chief of Boat Joseph Prosser (Robert Patrick of “Terminator” fame) and the potential for antagonism with the Seals.

But pretty quickly things go from a slow simmer to a rapid boil as the Colorado gets orders to launch four of its 18 nuclear missiles on Pakistan. Chaplin asks Navy commanders for confirmation through other channels and is promptly ordered relieved of command. When Kendal follows suit, another Navy ship fires on them, driving them to the bottom of the ocean.

Although the crew is split over the apparent disobedience of the captain and the executive officer, the two have enough support – particularly that of Lt. Grace Shepard (Daisy Betts), daughter of an admiral – to plow ahead and try to figure out what’s happening, especially when the world is told their ship has been destroyed by missiles from Pakistan and another Navy ship has apparently nuked Pakistan in return.

Chaplin and Kendal decide to “park” the Colorado off the coast of the island of Santa Marina, a tropical paradise that’s apparently run by a strong criminal element (foreshadowing of conflict to come? no doubt).

In a bravura monologue at the end, Chaplin sends out a video to the world with a simple message: Until we can figure out what’s going on, stay the hell away or we’ll unleash our nuclear arsenal on your ass.

A few moments of “Last Resort” didn’t ring true, particularly the abrupt “hey this island is nice, maybe we should stay here” moments at the end. But a lot of the show is fast-paced, snappy fun and the performances (by the leads, at least) are first-rate.

We’ll see how future episodes go, but the pilot is equal parts “Hunt for Red October,” “Crimson Tide,” “Star Trek” and “Lost,” with a little soap opera thrown in.

I’m really looking forward to the next episode of “Last Resort.”

But I can’t help but wish they had come up with a different name.

Random thoughts:

The terse nautical dialogue in “Last Resort” reminded me of what I liked about the chain-of-command-heavy episodes and movies of “Star Trek.”

The scene where a couple of characters strip down to their underwear, all the while spouting plot points, was silly. Really, really silly. And I’m almost certain nobody is going to hear the exposition.

The least believable parts of the pilot were the characters on the island. Here’s hoping the cliched islanders are written as well as the submariners in future episodes.




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