Channel Surfing: The Last Ship

The question I keep coming back to is: Why do I do this to myself?  The answer: Because there’s a little more good than bad, and it has one of my favorite actors.

This show was one of TNT’s big pushes this season and has been renewed for a second season by the network: proving that once again TNT will double down on questionable decisions before admitting they were wrong.

The Last Ship is, for all intents and purposes, Michael Bay translated to the small screen: good filmography, not as much research into the subject matter as I’d like – leading to a weaker plot than was necessary, a decent cast that is diminished by sub-par writing, and lots of explosions. I honestly don’t know what Mr. Bay would do if you told him he couldn’t blow anything up – as far as production capabilities, I consider him the anti-Aaron Sorkin.

Cdr. Chandler  (Eric Dane)

Cdr. Chandler (Eric Dane)

The premise of the show is pretty straight-forward: super-virus is wiping out human kind at the rate of 500,000-something a day; a US Naval vessel, the USS Nathan James, has been dispatched with a team of scientists and now have their sites set on discovering its origins and developing a vaccine. Boom. Simple. Until the Russians get involved… and there’s fuel issues… and food issues, and traitors, and we need three different kind of monkeys from a central American jungle issues… you get the picture – right?

So far, for me, the saving grace of this show has been Adam Baldwin (XO Mike Slattery) – I love this guy in everything I can remember him from: ‘Independence Day’, ‘Firefly’, ‘Chuck’ The rest of the acting is alright, but I think it and any chemistry the characters could develop is diminished by mediocre dialogue, a plot that hasn’t been explored or fully developed, and contrived situations meant to emulate character development.

With over half of the first season in the bag, ‘The Last Ship’ has a lot to offer: it has a good cast, a great budget, one of the best special effects guru’s in the business, lots of explosions and excitement/action, and the commitment of a major network.

Now, they need to bring it home.  They’re stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean, you don’t have much to work with outside of the crew; so convince me that the characters are believable – spend some time developing them and their relationships with their peers in a believable fashion.  A good step was having a portion of the crew request passage off the USS Nathan James, showing what I expect would be a natural reaction to the situations taking place.  However, I continue to contend that the (over)acting taking place to sell a relationship between Lts. Green and Foster (Travis Van Winkle and Marissa Neitling) and by Tex (John Pyper-Ferguson) in his pursuit/encouragement of Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) hurts the show.  But not enough to keep me away at this point.

‘The Last Ship’ airs on TNT, Sundays at 9pm PST

What are your thoughts on the show?

~ J.T. Riles ~

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Categories: Channel Surfing

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