Premiering Sunday, June 22nd, on TNT is The Last Ship. From Executive Producer Michael Bay, the post-apocalyptic action thriller follows the crew of a US Navy destroyer, the USS Nathan James, as they comes back from four months of radio silence in the arctic to find the world ravaged by a lethal virus. With 80% of the population wiped out, the captain (Eric Dane) and his XO (Adam Baldwin) struggle to keep cavitation alive aboard the ship that harbors the last hope for the human race – Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra), a virologist on a mission to find a vaccine. Stars Travis Van Winkle and Charles Parnell were on hand at WonderCon alongside producers Hank Steinberg and Steven Kane to screen the pilot and answer a few questions during a brief panel. Hit the jump for my thoughts on the pilot and bullet point highlights from the panel.
The pilot for The Last Ship is an ambitious, action-packed 45 minutes of world building, beginning with the initial outbreak, then jumping four months ahead to the horrific aftermath of the pandemic. This is where the show really excels. The world established in the first episode is compelling, dangerous, and absolutely packed with narrative possibility. The pilot also has producer Michael Bay’s fingerprints all over it. The action sequences are absolutely excessive, with very little regard for physics, but they are also undeniably thrilling.
The episode is overrun with explosions – the camera staring down the barrels of big ass guns, expended artillery shells littering the ship’s deck. Unfortunately what the show has in spectacle and mythology, it lacks in dialogue and character development. The dialogue is over-the-top and hackneyed, making some of the most intense scenes difficult to take seriously, and the delivery of these lines are so on the nose that’s it’s to see the characters through the archetypes. However, pilots are a tough gig and if the show can remedy these problems, the series has potential into something truly interesting.
Following the screening Parnell, Van Winkle, Steinberg and Kane took the stage for a very brief panel, here are the highlights:
- The Last Ship is based on a book of the same name from the 1980s – a product of the Cold War era about nuclear catastrophe and survivalists at sea with no countries, government, or infrastructure.
- The show will explore how the crew of the USS Nathan James attempts to keep the idea of American civilization alive in a world devoid of this infrastructure.
- While developing the show they realized that the global thermonuclear war wasn’t current and failed to speak to modern day fears, so they updated it to a global pandemic – a fear that addresses the mindset of contemporary America.
- By changing the apocalypse from nuclear to viral, they also made it possible for the crew aboard the ship to solve the crisis. The character of Dr. Rachel Scott was added to the ship for this purpose.
- The Last Ship separates itself from other famous shows centered around an isolated military crew (Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica) through the urgency of the situation. Every day they remain at sea, more people back home are dying. They all want to find the vaccine and go home to what remains of their families.
- The show has a very global aspect to it. Since the show set on a Navy destroyer the plot can lead them anywhere in the world. In the first season we can expect to see them travel to Central America.
- The series was created with the cooperation of the U.S. Navy. The actors worked with their real-life Navy counterparts to learn about what their duties would be and the day to day of life on a ship.
- Van Winkle singled out his character’s romantic subplot as one of the most attractive elements of the role. As they are both serving in the US Navy, it is very against the rules for the characters to be engaging in this relationship.
- The first season will deal heavily with the conflict between maintaining rank and letting your emotions get the best of you, particularly in such a heightened scenario.
The Last Ship premieres June 22. Click here for more WonderCon coverage.