By Wayne Harada
“Last Resort,” ABC’s latest anchor in Hawaiian waters, is one the network’s most promising freshman shows of the fall season. Its pilot has been previewing/airing on YouTube this month and the show formally debuts at 7 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 27).
It’s quirky and unpredictable; it’s big brother shadowing over the little guy; it’s sometimes underwater but it is fluid on land, too.
Mainly, it’s about people caught in one crisis after another — and how they relate and react.
Ten reasons why I like this one:
• It’s a military show, about a rogue submarine crew which defies governmental orders to fire a missile on Pakistani. In the first episode, it quickly deconstructs the wisdom of the country’s decision-makers and consequently questions “military intelligence.” Or lack of it.
• It’s a political show. Arguments pro and con, about said non-launch of military fire, are linked to political winds in Washington not yet surfacing. But the periscope is up, so intrigue looms.
• It’s a story the gonzo spirit, content on making things right through key characters: Marcus Chaplin, a formerly Navy SEAL, played by André Braugher (“The Shield”), who is skipper of the nuclear sub Colorado, and his dependable XO, Sam Kendal, played by Scott Speedman (“Felicity”). By disobeying suspicious commands, the sub becomes a target for doomsville, but yes, these are smart people able to elude an attack to surface on an island named Sainte Marina, home to a NATO outpost. Crisis in check. We know it’s Oahu acting as a tropical “Lost”-type turf, this time with unexpected population — and problems.
• It’s a looming epic about family and community. The sub crew, now outlaws, must deal with Washington from a remote spot, and fitting in with island inhabitants, simultaneously setting up roots and quirky camaraderie.
• It’s not a procedural — not in the conventional sense of solving crimes. The initial issue is why the government is shady about the fate of the Colorado and who is calling the shots.
• It’s great to see local faces in the acting landscape. Look, there’s Michael Ng as a command post operator, in the pilot’s underwater sequences; you may place him as the dude in the latest McTeri TV ads (the guy who is sitting on a park bench and cozies up to another with a McTeri in hand) or from local theater. And singer Mary Gutzi appears as a character named Dodds.
• It’s a thumbs-up for gender equality on board the sub: Daisy Betts is Lt.
Grace Shepard, the sub’s navigator and the daughter of Rear Admiral Arthur Shepard, a recurring character, played by Bruce Davison. Grace’s comment — “Our own people tried to sink us?”— sums up the tension, the drama, the conflict in the weeks to come.
• It’s a thicket of thorns, what with the renegade theme of daredevils risking their jobs for ignoring a command they can’t accept. This gives the show has a brand of spunk and honesty; the little guy outfoxing big brother.
• Its m.o. of being on the run gives the show fluidity and mobility, with action on the sub and on the ground. With the veil of political and personal uncertainty – think “Lost” and “24” — expect the unexpected.
• The show’s creator is Shawn Ryan, notable for “The Shield,” who mixes excitement and anticipation and brings storytelling to new heights without the common mix of doctors, nurses, coroners, lawyers, cops and therapists.