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The Last Ship wants to be a show that appeals to everyone, which is a bit unusual since its subject matter, part military drama, part science exploration and part apocalyptic scare tactic, doesn’t exactly scream mass appeal. Luckily, both lead actor Eric “McSteamy” Dane and producer Michael Bay definitely play very well across demographics and that really comes through here. In fact, I’m not sure I can imagine anyone with an open mind disliking The Last Ship. It’s polished. It’s filled with drama, and it’s got a likeability about it.
That being said, I also can’t imagine The Last Ship being anyone’s favorite show on television. In its effort to appeal to everyone, it’s unable to find anything it’s really great at. Michael Bay and company give us action. They give us personal life drama, shifting political alliances, some intriguing science and a whole lot more, but none of these dynamics are focused on enough or explored enough to really have a lasting impact. It’s not that it’s poorly written. It’s that none of these things have enough time to develop since there’s such a concern with checking off all the possible boxes.
At its core, the show follows those aboard the USS Nathan James, a US Navy warship that was at sea while a pandemic of mysterious origins laid waste to a giant percentage of the world’s population. On board the vessel are Commander Tom Chandler (Dane), scientist Rhona Mitra (Rachel Scott), second-in-command Mike Slattery (Adam Baldwin) and a whole bunch of other faces we’ll presumably get to know better along the way as they sail around the world, looking for fuel, avoiding various rebels and trying to give the scientist enough time to work on her vaccine that involves bird blood and good intentions.
It’s unclear what The Last Ship’s first season budget is, but it looks tremendous for a television show. The special effects are top notch, and the set has been designed in such a way that viewers will have no problem buying the action as taking place on a war ship on the high seas. That might not sound like a surprise given some of the things Game Of Thrones has been able to pull off, but there’s a serious difference between premium cable and basic cable. You never know whether the latter is going to get the budget it actually needs. This one clearly did.
There is a downside to that, though. With a nice pacing, good acting and Grey’s Anatomy star power in Dane, you would think The Last Ship would be a guarantee to make it over the long haul, but it’ll probably need well above average numbers to justify its price tag. Fortunately, it should play well with TNT’s audience, and the word of mouth should be a solid B. Hopefully, that’ll be enough to make the show this summer’s first breakout hit.
The Last Ship doesn’t reinvent the warship, but it does plenty of things right. So, set your DVR and add it to your schedule. It’s more than worth your time, especially against weaker Summer competition.
The Last Ship airs on TNT on Sunday nights.