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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Best New Show on Television: Last Resort

So my pick for the best new show of the Fall television season is: Last Resort on ABC.  Should not be surprising, since Shawn Ryan is the force behind the show, and he was the man responsible for The Shield, one of the two-three best shows ever on television, and arguably the best, period.

But Last Resort, in its first two episodes, has been non-stop superb in half a dozen areas.  The set-up has a U.S. nuclear sub ordered to fire into Pakistan - fire missiles that would kill millions.  When Captain Chaplin - played by Andre Braugher - questions the order, especially because it's come by way of Antarctic Command, only to be used when Washington has been knocked out of commission, which it hasn't - the response from Washington is to attack the Chaplin's sub (the Colorado).  The sub takes refuge on a Pacific isle, which is a little less than paradise, and the battle/standoff with the United States ensues.

What makes the show so strong is the diversity of characters, ranging from sailors and officers who support the Captain to sailors and officers who don't, plus all kinds of interesting islanders, plus a team of Navy seals who were on the sub and cannot be sure whom to support.  There's a strong female role - newly minted Lieutenant Grace Shepard , daughter of a highly ranked Admiral - who is loyal to the the Captain and a good character.  Second in command is also loyal to the Captain, and as the story ensues, we find the government types in Washington trying to manipulate his wife to get XO Sam Kendal to turn against the Captain.  One of the best parts of show is the way Washington is portrayed as willing to do anything to get the job done - the job, in this case, being something apparently evil indeed.  Not since 24 have we seen such a smack-in-the-face portrayal of the government, and it will good to see exactly who are the bad guys and who are the good guys in Washington - including the President -  as the show progresses. 

No character is unflawed, which is what makes the show so compelling.  These are not cartoon, cliched people.  Rather, in Last Resort, the story provocatively hinges on which people will be able to overcome their flaws in time to step up and do the right thing - whatever, precisely, that might turn out to be.  At present, it's clear that being loyal not to the American government but what America stands for is the honorable way to proceed.

The plot is also kick-in-the-gut with twists.  In the second episode, for example, it appears that a U.S. Delta force is attacking our people on the island.  The force turns out to be Russian, who are on the verge of overtaking our people who were sent out to stop them, despite their bravery.  Chaplin is talking to a high-placed Russian, to get him to call off the attack.  But that won't happen in time and-- just in the nick of time one of the Navy seals appears, and takes out the Russians.

There's not a dull moment, barely a moment to breathe, in the first two episodes, and I'm looking forward to more.

"As a genre-bending blend of police procedural and science fiction, The Silk Code delivers on its promises." -- Gerald Jonas, The New York Times Book Review

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