TV Review: ‘The Last Ship’

The Last Ship Season 3 renewed

Wedding military hardware and a martial mind-set to paranoia about global pandemics, “The Last Ship” is an odd duck — a post-apocalyptic tale with a glimmer of hope, tonally similar to (if not as good as) the late, lamented “Jericho.” It’s left to a hardy naval crew and one inordinately beautiful scientist try to save humanity, without knowing exactly what’s left of it to save. Eric Dane is firmly in square-jawed John Wayne territory as the ship’s captain, on a TNT summer drama with plenty of possibilities but also numerous pitfalls as it seeks to navigate rather treacherous narrative currents.

The USS Nathan James has been off in the Arctic and out of radio contact while a devastating “virus of unknown origin” has decimated humanity. But it turns out the ship was on a secret mission, hosting a paleomicrobiologist (no, really, look it up), Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra), who is seeking a potential cure.

With governments falling, the disease extremely contagious and little way of knowing who has survived back home, the ship’s steadfast crew (a fairly nondescript lot, other than Dane and Adam Baldwin as his second in command) must battle on, trying to buy Scott time to conjure a vaccine.

Although Jonathan Mostow (“U-571”) directed the fast-paced pilot written by Hank Steinberg and Steven Kane (and adapted from William Brinkley’s novel), the show actually doesn’t hit its stride until the third episode. In that hour, the ship encounters a Russian vessel with nefarious aims (we’re told the Russian government has disbanded), and pivots from something akin to “On the Beach” to “The Hunt for Red October.”

While the Navy’s cooperation on the show — allowing the producers to shoot aboard working destroyers — gives the series an impressive real-world backdrop beyond the CGI, “The Last Ship” will ultimately prove its seaworthiness by developing characters worth spending time with in these semi-claustrophobic surroundings.

Yet beyond Dane, Mitra and Baldwin, the initial side-stories fall pretty flat, in part because the cast is saddled with a lot of tech-heavy jargon, while frequently shouting dialogue through disease-control suits. And frankly, even with the soapy elements that emerge, the show’s creatives seem to have missed an opportunity for occasionally turning things into the SS McSteamy, with Dane’s Captain Chandler saddled with a backstory that has him fretting about his wife and kids.

TNT is certainly launching “The Last Ship” with helpful promotional fanfare, from an ad blitz during the NBA playoffs to pairing it with the summer hit “Falling Skies,” which also happens to involve a world turned upside down.

So as starts go, this one picks up speed, but still feels a little rocky. That said, there’s enough here to want to hang around for a spell, waiting to see whether this crew can find its sea legs — and what dangers lurk just over the horizon.

TV Review: 'The Last Ship'

(Series; TNT, Sun. June 22, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in San Diego by Sunset Road Prods. and Platinum Dunes.

Crew

Executive producers, Hank Steinberg, Steven Kane, Jonathan Mostow, Brad Fuller, Andrew Form, Michael Bay; producer, Todd Arnow; director, Mostow; writers, Steinberg, Kane, based on the novel by William Brinkley; camera, Lukas Ettlin; production designer, Tomas Voth; editor, Ken Blackwell; music, Nathan Whitehead; theme, Steve Jablonsky; casting, Denise Chamian. 60 MIN.

Cast

Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra, Adam Baldwin, Travis Van Winkle, Charles Parnell, Christina Elmore, Sam Spruell, Marissa Neitling

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  1. Michael Weisser says:

    There is a way to save this show. Write it up that someone found Rachel Scott right after she was shot and for security reasons they said she was dead in case other immunes would try to kill her in the future. I’m pretty much putting the Last Ship way at the back burner without Rhona Mitra on the show, plus I’m 62 years old and Rhona Mitra is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in my life.

  2. getrald says:

    we really enjoyed it to the point where the commercials came in…way too long and too many of them. ruined it for us

  3. R says:

    The Last Ship… What a disappointment, must you throw in a gay scene. By now you should know most people won’t watch shows or movies where gayness is portrayed as normal. If this is where TV shows and movies are going; count me out. I can only hope Christian TV shows and movies are readily available.

    • dp says:

      Evidently, R, they do because there are quite a few shows where there are “gay scenes”. These shows are quite popular:

      Orange is the New Black
      Modern Family
      Game of Thrones
      Necessary Roughness
      Glee
      Southland
      True Blood
      Sons of Anarchy
      Grey’s Anatomy…

      And so on.

      If you find this disturbing, I suggest you tune into such channels as CBN, CTN, or EWTN (well, that would be a Catholic station, actually). I’m sure you can hide from all the scary gay people there. Toodles!

  4. Sandi Pyette says:

    Like the show but I probably will NOT watch because as soon as I get into the show you go to a break for commercials every 4 to 5 minutes and the commercials are long if not longer than the show it self
    I don’t get it since when did ads out do shows. It’s out of control, I even timed it, at one point it was 4.35 for show and 5.10 for commercials!!!!

    • Tom says:

      You really need to do your homework. Shows normally run at 42 minutes, no matter what. This episode was 45:23.

  5. Steve says:

    I assume you must divorce from reality to dismiss many problems this show offers. Both the CO and XO are full commanders, the fuel on the Italian cruise ship can be used by gas turbine engines, why didn’t the refueling group also wear containment suits…like the Doctor did in Egypt, one crewman climbed an exterior ladder without gloves on…GQ during soviet attack…without leaving his skin on the 50 below F metal, are dogs now carried on surface ships, the world’s fastest German Shepard (not shown on snowmobiles in flight) caught up in time to aid in securing a Russian prisoner, if the science team needed only materials to collect specimens…why bring rats, and how will these scientists make centrifuges and other vital lab equipment? I appreciated the crew member who shot himself to protect the mission. However, a properly installed breathing apparatus is difficult to dislodge, even from a fall. Given the significance of the mission, why were supply ships not sent to refuel and restock…since an expeditious return would benefit the world. Now that the focus can shift to science and attaining survival goods, smoother sailing could occur.

  6. Tyler bruntzel says:

    Very cool show I’m really excited to see the next episode great actors.

  7. Aimee says:

    I will check out the show only because of Adam Baldwin….and maybe a little because of Rhona Mitra who was great in Strike Back.

  8. Bill says:

    The novel was great. But then again, the implements of destruction were nukes. I prefer nukes to viruses. Guess I’ve finally overdosed on zombies. Oh well. We’ll see how it goes.

  9. jedi77 says:

    “even with the soapy elements that emerge, the show’s creatives seem to have missed an opportunity for occasionally turning things into the SS McSteamy” – are you kidding me?

    Don’t you realize that all the most popular shows on TV right now (The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The Blacklist) all are popular exactly because they don’t have those soapy qualities. They are pure suspense, exitement and character developement. Who the hell gets steamy when the World is apparently ending and you are caught in submarine, anyway.

    I say good for them. Make it about the story and the characters and not WHO kissed WHO in confined Spaces, leading to jealousy and other totally moronic storylines during the end of the World.

    • Tyler bruntzel says:

      Who ever said the show will be a soap did you catch the first episode… pretty good and full of action dosnt strike me to be anything like greys anatomy and not another zombie flick nothing can compete with walking dead as a zombie show. This show has its own story line similar to the book but as far as I see it it’s a very great start.

    • Brian Lowry says:

      Hey Jedi77, lighten up. Was thinking about a segment of the audience that watched Eric Dane on “Grey’s.” But don’t get upset. It’s not like I referred to a parsec as a unit of time or something.

      • Jedi77 says:

        Way to go Brian. Calling me out as nerd. When all I am doing is telling you to look at the TV landscape and come to terms with the fact that a popular show in today’s world isn’t what it used to be. I know you miss Desperate Housewives, but the rest of us have moved on.

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