The Last Ship

Boys with their toys and money on the screen, GO!'s action drama is popcorn fun.


You could probably get a good Drinking Game out of watching The Last Ship.

Long aerial shots of navy cruisers. Scull.

Warning alarms, flashing lights, “This is not a Drill”. Scull.

Cannons firing off at renegade choppers. Scull.

Desperate character declares, “Let’s get outta here!” Scull. Scull. Scull.

Yes, The Last Ship has it all, and would we really expect anything less from a Michael Bay (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Transformers) production? But it has to be said: you also get money on the screen.

This 2014 series from TNT is unashamed, testosterone fun where boys are playing with some very big toys. As long as you don’t dive too deep below the surface, there is popcorn action aplenty.

Based on a novel of the same name by William Brinkley, the series centres on the USS Nathan James under the command of CDR Tom Chandler (Eric Dane). It is at sea in the Arctic for 4 months under radio silence when 80% of the world’s population is wiped out by a deadly virus, penetrating all the way up to the White House. On board is virologist Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) who has been secretly searching for a cure in the icecaps.

But they come under attack from the Russians in an action-fuelled opening sequence that is the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters. There are explosions, helicopters, snowmobiles, missiles and machine guns. Frankly, I can’t see how the budget is going to maintain this as episodic television but I’m enjoying the ride.

Dr. Scott has not been forthcoming with the purpose of her mission, but now that danger is at his doorstep and humanity is apparently evaporating, the Commander wants answers. Or possibly to get a room with her. While the 218 crew are desperate to get back home, it soon becomes apparent that home, as they know it, no longer exists (hence the title). If they can survive at sea long enough for Dr. Scott to come up with a cure there is hope.

And that about sums up this very simple, and rather familiar, premise. There are barely even any sub-plots. The original novel had none of the virus plot and played more to the drama of a crew at sea during post-apocalyptic annihilation (with apologies to On the Beach perhaps?).

Eric Dane certainly looks the part as the dashing, alpha-male Commander here, supported by Adam Baldwin as executive officer CDR Mike Slattery. No other crew really get to do much in the opening episode aside from echoing orders, siting behind radar screens and sneaking a smooch when nobody is looking.

Rhona Mitra (Nip / Tuck, The Practice, Boston Legal) is suitably scrappy -I’m avoiding the word ‘feisty’- as the attractive scientist determined to save the world. She reminds me of Lost‘s Evangeline Lilly, and I note Jack Bender is one of the producers here.

Unless you count the disappointing virus series Helix there isn’t much on TV going where The Last Ship tries to sail. Nor does it demand much from the viewer. It ain’t no Red October nor Crimson Tide, but renewed for a second season it has already eclipsed the short-lived Last Resort. As multichannel, non-ratings fare, this actually kinda works.

Check your brain at the gangplank and pour yourself a glass.

The Last Ship premieres 8:30pm Wednesday on GO!

4 Responses

  1. Much of the actual technical stuff makes no sense-the DDG is conventionally powered and requires regular oil refuelling and wouldn’t be out of contact for 4 months-the plot as described would suit a nuclear powered sub as the vessel but that would be too reminiscent of the disastrous ‘Last Resort’ .

  2. this is a really good show, i had a chance last year to watch it and really enjoyed it, for me its a 8 out of 10 series, and the final is jaw dropping, i also disagree with this review saying leave ur brain at the door because its not some reality garbage, u actually have to think, first ep is setting the scene the rest is very deep with twists and turns around every corner, must see tv and should be on Nine

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