2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

TV Review: TNT’s “The Last Ship”

Published: June 16, 2014, 7:06 pm, by Terry Terrones


“The Last Ship

Cast: Eric Dane (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Adam Baldwin (“Firefly,” “Chuck”), Rhona Mitra (“Strike Back,” “Shooter”)

Air-date, time: The pilot episode airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on TNT

The premise: “The Last Ship” opens with a global catastrophe as a deadly virus has wiped out most of the Earth’s population. Because of its positioning, the Navy destroyer U.S.S. Nathan James avoids falling victim to the devastating tragedy. But now the crew and its captain must confront the reality of living in a world where they may be among the few remaining survivors.

The crew of the Nathan James is loaded with heroes. Captain Tom Chandler (Dane) is a career Navy man who is authoritative and decisive but also fair and courageous. A born leader and loving father and husband, Chandler is respected and admired by the men and women under his command. Second in command is Executive Officer Mike Slattery (Baldwin), who worries about his family and occasionally clashes with his captain over the best course of action. Dr. Rachel Scott (Mitra) is the strong willed paleomicrobiologist assigned to the ship who investigates the cause of billions of deaths worldwide.

Highs: The three lead actors in “The Last Ship” have great chemistry and provide plenty of tense moments. The captain, doctor and executive officer have the common goal of trying to find a cure for what’s happened, however, all of them believe that there’s a different way to go about doing it. There’s conflict when three strong willed people challenge each other but seeing them come together against common enemies gives the characters depth.

The series leaves viewers with a lot of unanswered questions. What exactly is this virus? How did it spread so quickly? Where is everyone else on Earth? How does the captain keep his hair looking so good? There are also people on the ship who are not what they seem. Since every secret isn’t divulged right away, “The Last Ship” has plenty of intrigue that will keep you coming back for more.

As you would expect in an end-of-the-world TV series, “The Last Ship” has plenty of action. There are missiles being launched, guns being fired and lots of stern looks accompanied by punchy dialogue. There’s even a lovable dog. It’s intense and Call of Duty-esque, but this show also has heart. Viewers see the impact the tragedy has on the crew when the action slows down, which gives weight to unfolding events.

Lows: “The Last Ship” occasionally suffers from what I call Cheesy Dialogue Syndrome. Lines like, “all’s fair in love and war” and “time is something we don’t have” are eye roll inducing. But that should be expected from a show executive produced by Michael Bay. More problematic is the uneven cast. While the leads are solid (especially Adam Baldwin who I’ve always been a big fan of), the younger actors who play supporting roles are clearly inexperienced. When the show turns its focus away from the Dane, Baldwin and Mitra it loses momentum.

Grade: (B): I watched the first three episodes of this new series and enjoyed each one. It’s perfect summertime viewing – a show with high production value that has a solid mix of action and drama and doesn’t require much thought to enjoy. “The Last Ship” airs right before “Falling Skies” so TNT looks to have Sunday night on lockdown for the next couple of months.