Like most of the world, I too, believe that director Michael Bay is only good at making pretty people look pretty while blowing stuff up. You either love his work or you hate it, there is rarely any middle ground on the subject. So when the trailer for the new series [The Last Ship](series:948990) came across my television it was of no surprise that the word "mediocre" quickly came to mind. A show about a crew of militant Navy men stuck at sea while the rest of the world attempts to fight off a virus with no cure seemed a bit out of Michael Bay's wheel house.
It’s a concept that would need a lot more attention than what Bay has been able to give us, both as a producer and a director. He is not known for giving us rich dialogue that makes us feel intellectually smarter. Luckily for us the new TNT drama is based off of a novel written by William Brinkley, so Bay and company can use the book as a guide.
The concept of humanity dealing with the end of civilization is one that has been done countless times over the years. The idea can be seen on television in The Walking Dead, Falling Skies and most recently J.J. Abrams’ Revolution, which has since been cancelled. What allows for The Last Ship to come across different enough is the fact that we are seeing it from the point of view of people who were not there when it happened.
A virus has wiped out most of the world's population, and civilization has collapsed completely. Eric Dane( Grey's Anatomy, “McSteamy”) is Commander Tom Chandler, who for the most part stands around giving orders and playing things by the book. On the other side we have Rhona Mitra who plays Dr. Rachel Scott, the paleomicrobiologist who hopes to create a vaccine to save what remains of the human race. They, along with over 200 other members of the U.S Navy are aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Nathan James which is at sea when the world is struck with the outbreak. It is now the job of Chandler and his crew to find a cure and survive as long as possible.
Along with Scott and Chandler we have a number of side characters that don’t get too much screen time in the first episode. Most notably is “Serenity” actor Adam Baldwin who plays XO Mike Slattery, the right hand man to Dane’s, Chandler. As is to be expected the two leads have different ways of tackling situations and for most of the episode the two bicker back and forth until they ultimately are forced to agree on an idea that could have been reached much earlier.
With it being a Michael Bay production the gunfire and explosions are very much a big part of this pilot episode and aside from Chandler and Scott the rest of the side stories fall by the wayside. That being said; the idea behind the outbreak is very interesting and handled in a way that brings a lot of anxiety and mystery to the show. You find yourself believing what is happening and could possibly see something like this happening in your real life. The terror and fear is very much alive in the episode and the radio silence that leaves the ship in the dark helped to add a lot of thrilling tension.
The action scenes are handled well and the special effects seem to be of a higher quality than expected on cable television. The fact that the U.S Navy is cooperating with the show helps add to the value since a lot of the scenes appeared to be shot on actual Destroyers. It gives a real world feel to the show that CGI can't give.
The pilot episode of The Last Ship did what it needed to do to hook potential viewers. It introduced pretty people, put them in dire situations and gave them decent dialogue that would not easily confuse its audience. It gave us a glimpse of something that has the potential to be a summer hit if handled correctly, but at the same time was filled with emotional moments that fell very flat after the initial thrill. It was a solid effort at something that was attempted a few years ago better in “The Last Resort,” an ABC Drama about a submarine faced with becoming a target after refusing to fire a nuclear weapon on Pakistan.
To my surprise The Last Ship is a series that I recommend putting on your DVR. It won’t break any intellectual milestones but in a Summer not filled with many action dramas this new show is certainly worth your time.