Navy Captain Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) and his crew must find a cure after a pandemic wipes out billions of people worldwide. Scientist Rachel Scott is assigned to the U.S.S. Nathan James to investigate the cause of the rapidly spreading virus. Chandler and his crew may be humanity’s last hope in the wake of a worldwide catastrophe.
Sometimes there is absolutely no other way to describe a television show as anything more than good old fashioned junk food. It may not be good for you. It's probably not the best thing on TV at the moment. You could even feel bad after consuming it, but that doesn't keep it from being good dumb fun. 'The Last Ship' is based off the novel by William Brinkley and airs on TNT. TNT may know drama, but they also know how to produce a big stupid supersized hamburger of a TV show that is thoroughly enjoyable and completely addictive.
The crew of the Naval Destroyer Nathan James under the command of Captain Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) is sent on a mission to the arctic circle for top secrete training exorcises. Along for the ride is Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) and her assistant Dr. Quincy (Sam Spruell) who are on a research mission supported by the department of defense. Since Chandler is under orders to escort these two and provide protection for them, he doesn't ask questions, but that doesn't keep him from wondering what they're really up to and why their mission is so important. During this four month mission, The crew of the Nathan James are under orders to adhere to strict radio silence guidelines. All of that changes when Dr. Scott and Quincy are attacked by a squadron of armed Russian attack helicopters.
After successfully saving the two doctors and killing off the peace-breaking Russians - the Nathan James is forced to break radio silence. Instantly the ship is flooded with calls for help and inundated with reports of an unstoppable lethal plague that has killed off nearly 80% of the world's population while the ship and her crew were on maneuvers. Faced with this new terrifying landscape, Chandler, his XO Mike Slattery (Adam Baldwin) and the ship's crew including CMC Jeter (Charles Parnell) Lt. Alisha Granderson (Christina Elmore) Lt. Kara Foster (Marissa Neitling), Lt. Danny Green (Travis Van Winkle) and special opps contractor Tex (John Pyper-Ferguson) must figure out a way to help Dr. Scott and Quincy achieve the goal their real mission.
It turns out the missile tests the Nation James was performing in the arctic circle was just a cover. The U.S. Government knew of the impending pandemic and sent Dr. Scott to the arctic allowing her to investigate her belief that the virus evolved from one commonly found in birds. With the original virus strain now in hand, she and Quincy can now begin the process of figuring out how to create a viable vaccine. But before the doctors can do their work, Capt. Chandler and the rest of the Nathan James crew are going to have to overcome any number of life-threatening obstacles including avoiding a skilled Russian admiral who wants the cure for himself, hunger, mechanical issues, as well as the survivors of a world that has torn itself to pieces.
For a simple summation 'The Last Ship' is probably one of the silliest shows I've ever seen but loved virtually every minute I spent marathoning all ten episodes in under twenty four hours. Produced by Michael Bay and Bradley Fuller and created by Steven Kane and Hank Steinberg, the show is big and impressive, fast and thrilling, and then equal parts smart and absolutely goofy. For a show like this I would liked to have done an episode-by-episode recap, only that really wouldn't have amounted to much in the end and actually would have spoiled a lot of the fun. The plot setup is actually really fresh and an interesting take on the whole post apocalyptic, "end of the world" genre. It's thrilling to see Capt. Chandler and the rest of the Nathan James crew get themselves into trouble and come up with some way to get themselves out of every scrape that comes their way. However, I do have to admit that a lot of the fun that I had with this show was at its expense. The show and its cast really doesn't know how to have a sense of intentional humor. Not that every show needs some comic relief or stereotype character like that, having a guy that's good for a regular joke would go far to helping 'The Last Ship' get over the unintentional consequences of playing things deadly straight 99% of the time. That isn't to say the show is devoid of fun light-hearted moments, but when your plot involves people getting sick and dyeing within days or a ships' crew that is constantly in peril - a little more levity might have helped things along.
The cast really is the force that keeps the ball rolling for this show. Eric Dane does a great job as the head honcho who uses his brain just as much as his brawn. I don't quite buy Rhona Mitra as a super virologist, but she's committed to the role through and through so the effort is appreciated - without her giving it her all most of the scenarios cooked up for this show would have fallen apart. Then you get the supporting cast with the wormy Sam Spruell as Quincy and the always awesome Adam Baldwin as the ship's XO bringing the best aspects of their personalities to the respective roles they play. The character I really hope to get to see a lot more of in season two is CMC Jeter played by Charles Parnell. His character started to become more important from episode to episode, but often he gets pushed to the background - which is a shame because he's such a commanding presence. You could run down the cast list for several more paragraphs, but it's these people who do most of the heavy dramatic lifting where it counts. There is a cliche romance story between Travis Van Winkle's Lt. Danny Green and Marissa Neitling's Lt. Kara Foster that feels tacked on and out of place since - for the moment - there really isn't any drama to mine from these two and what sparks they do generate fizzle out pretty quickly.
When 'The Last Ship' is at its best is when things are happening too fast to let the audience think about the ridiculousness of the situation. Things go goofy when the characters are left to talk in overly long grandiose speeches about honor and duty and the dire situations they face as humanity's last hope. While thrilling and entertaining, the show quickly falls into a predictable pattern for each episode. If an episode doesn't end with Chandler using his wits and skills as a commanding officer to outwit the bad guy of the week it falls back on a somewhat pompous, slightly jingoistic rousing speech about what it means to serve a country and be part of a crew. Now I don't usually have a problem with this sort of speechification in a show or movie, sometimes it's just easier to say your theme and be done with it, the problem I have is how repetitive it all becomes as you hear a lot of the same speeches over and over. That point leads to this show's rather problematic bloat issue. At ten episodes, one could shave four of them off entirely and not even miss what happene. Simple lines like "We stopped and picked up monkeys for Dr. Scott to test her vaccine on." would have saved an entire 45 minutes of story time alone - we didn't need to actually see that episode since it didn't really move things forward as the central premise of the world going to pieces was already established in a previous episode.
To be totally honest, this just isn't a show that you should spend a lot of time thinking about, although 'The last Ship' tries to be meaningful and pondering with its approach to the end of the world. Thankfully the problem of the week or bad guy of the week set ups allow for a lot of distracting fun. The best episodes involve Admiral Rustov (Ravil Isyanov) and his madman goal of obtaining the vaccine for the virus and selling it at inflated prices. He actually feels like a legitimate threat to the Nathan James' crew and their mission to save the world. At it's worst, it's just dismissive to the point you could leave the room, make dinner, come back and realize nothing happened. That said - it's a hoot and a holler. Ultra macho lines like "Revenge is a dish best served cold. So lets eat." and "I can still shoot the nipples off a chicken at a thousand yards." induce such amazing belly laughs and makes the show so ridiculous that they force you to watch the next episode just so you don't miss another amazing line of dialogue. I will say that by the end of the ten episodes, I was hooked. The last three episodes are sources for really effective, solid drama and action while also setting up the next season in a big way. I don't want to give away any spoilers for those looking to catch up, but next season's set up to have Titus Welliver and Alfre Woodard as the potential villains for the Nathan James' crew is intriguing, exciting, and makes me wish I actually had cable. This may be a stupid show, but I honestly can't wait for season 2 to start airing. While I don't see 'The Last Stand' ever becoming a piece of classic TV, it will be a fun ride while it lasts.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Last Ship' is brought to Blu-ray through Warner Bros. and is pressed on two BD50 discs. Housed in a eco-friendly case a Digital Ultraviolet code for the entire season is included. Each disc opens to the main menu and special features are spread out between both discs. Also included is an insert booklet with summaries of each episode.
With all of the showmanship on display, it's only natural that this show's 1.78:1 1080p picture quality is absolutely splendid. With a pretty effective mix of practical effects and CGI, detail rarely falters during the big "Wow!" shots of the ship, or during tight quarters combat sequences. Colors are bright and beautiful - especially the color blue considering the numerous shots of the ship sailing through the ocean. In later episodes greens and reds get to have more pop and presence. Flesh tones never falter as everyone looks healthy and and not overly red or pale - unless the story dictates it. Likewise black levels are strong and provide a fantastic three dimensional presence to them helping the show to look even bigger and more pronounced. The only problematic elements are during some of the faked night time shots where the actors are clearly standing in front of a green screen, but thankfully those scenes are relatively few and far between. All around a fantastic looking show and this Blu-ray transfer should make fans more than happy.
Considering the style of show that it is, the quality of the audio tracks for each episode shouldn't ever have been a worry. Each episode of 'The Last Stand' benefits from impressive English Dolby True HD 5.1 tracks. Making full use of all the channels, each episode has fantastic presence and atmosphere leading to some really impressive imaging. Obviously action sequences get the most play, but even during the quiet moments there is a great sense of auditory movement, especially as the crew move about the tight quarters of the ship. Even when this show gets loud and action packed, dialogue never suffers as voices come through with crystal clarity. Levels are strong and balanced so you don't have to ride your volume control when the action picks up. The audio for each episode perfectly complements the show as a whole.
Disc One Special Features -
Ep. 1 Phase Six - Show creators Steven Kane and Hank Steinberg talk about bringing the show together, working for the navy, and the production as a whole.
Ep. 3 Dead Reckoning - Steven Kane flies solo here talking about all of the aspects of the more fun and exciting episodes of the show.
Inside The Episode: (HD 14:39) A quick but informative behind the scenes of the episodes Phase Six, Welcome to Gitmo, Dead Reckoning, We'll Get There, and El Toro.
Making of The Last Ship: (HD 2:25) this is more like a quick EPK trailer clip than a true behind the scenes feature.
The Last Ship Over View: (HD 3:11) Shot but interesting, similar EPK style clip.
Prequels: Origin of the Virus: (HD 10:31) A series of mini features that expands the backstory of the virus, short but effective.
Character Profiles: (HD 6:37) Actors Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra, and Adam Baldwin discuss the background of their characters and the role they play in the ship's hierarchy.
Disc Two Special Features -
Ep. 6 Lockdown - Hank Steinberg discusses shooting the potboiler style spisode.
Ep. 10 No Place Like Home - Hank Steinberg and Steven Kane talk about shooting the final episode and setting up the second season
Inside The Episode: (HD 10:33) Behind the scenes for episodes Lockdown, SOS, Two Sailors Walk Into A Bar…, Trials, No Place Like Home.
The last Ship Details: (HD 6:20) This feature talks about the pilot and what they aimed to achieve with the setup and payoff for the rest of the show.
The Navy and the USS Halsey: (HD 5:28) Actor's Eric Dane, Adam Baldwin, and Rhona Mitra talk about shooting on the ship that doubled for the USS Nathan James.
2014 Comic Con Panel: (HD 52:01) A fun and informative comic con panel, but the best moment was when Adam Baldwin took the stage. The show was just starting to air when this panel happened so they're restrained in their comments but it's clear there are a lot of fans.
Considering all of the promos I'd seen in theaters leading up to the release of 'The Last Ship' and the fact that I didn't hear much about it after its premier, I wasn't expecting to like this. I was predicting a 10 hour content slog. Boy was I wrong. Despite this show being kinda dumb, it is incredibly fun and offers a great spin on the tiring post apocalyptic genre that's currently hitting movie and TV screens. The show is by no means perfect but it was very entertaining and left me waiting for Season 2 to start. If this is your normal bag of disposable entertainment and haven't watched this one yet, you're in for quite the ride. The A/V quality for a show of this size and scope is unsurprisingly fantastic and a slew of in-depth extras make this Blu-ray a highly recommended experience.