TV Show Review

TV Review: THE LAST SHIP: Season 1, Episode 1: Phase Six [TNT]

Eric Dane The Last Ship Phase Six

TNT’s The Last Ship Phase Six TV Show ReviewThe Last Ship: Season 1, Episode 2: Phase Six is exactly what you’d expect from a series produced by Michael Bay. It’s loud, action-packed, and pays little-to-no attention to its characters.

The pilot episode of The Last Ship brings us aboard the naval destroyer USS Nathan James, a vessel capable of obliterating anything in the land, sea, or air. Captained by Tom Chandler (Eric Dane), the Nathan James has just set out on a four-month weapons test expedition to the North Pole. While staffed with a full naval crew, including Executive Officer Mike Slattery (Adam Baldwin), Chandler must shepherd two virologists to the frigid North so that they can run mysterious experiments. The lead scientist, Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra), is keeping a tight lip regarding the nature of her research, much to the chagrin of Captain Chandler.

After spending four months cut off from their family and friends, the crew is finally heading home. At least, that was the original plan. New orders come that the mission is extended in order to give Dr. Scott and her team more time. Angered by the idea of being away from his family for more time, Captain Chandler confronts the doctor and forces her to tell him the truth – and it’s not pleasant. Since the Nathan James set out on its mission, a virus that was once only affecting a small village in Egypt has spread to the rest of the world. 80% of the world’s population is dead, and Dr. Scott’s findings may be the key to a cure.

The Last Ship has enough going for it to draw in action-hungry audiences, but doesn’t rise to anything above that. The characters here are loosely defined, and given the most basic backstories in order to create empathy. All we know about Captain Chandler, the star of the series, is that he is a captain and he has a family. None of these characters showcased any distinctive personality. You may think there’s not much they can do in a single episode, but that’s a nonsense thought. There are ways to subtly infuse the story with character personality without being obvious about it, and The Last Ship doesn’t even bother. Hopefully, these characters will get a much needed injection of individuality in the future.

The action is mostly solid, with some actual effort put into the visual effects. I imagine with Michael Bay as producer, he wouldn’t want to stamp his name on anything that didn’t have good VFX. However, the way many of these sequences are filmed make The Last Ship seem kind of hokey. One that is familiar with the work of The Asylum (makers of SyFy dreck like Sharknado and Megashark vs. Giant Octopus) will get a gnawing sense of similarity in the sets and editing.

Special effects aside, the main issue with the action is, once again, the characters. While many people can sit back and enjoy an action sequence purely for the visual thrill, I require much more investment. Without a moderate sense of sympathy for at least one party involved in the fight, it doesn’t matter how visually spectacular it is – it’s boring. None of the scenes in The Last Ship that were supposed to be pulse-pounding stirred the slightest, because the stakes were poorly defined and the people involved were interchangeable.

The Last Ship could be a great action series, but it has some serious work to do.

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About the author

Nick DeNitto

Nick DeNitto graduated with Honors from Adelphi University. He began writing movie reviews in middle school and has worked tirelessly to mold his own unique critical voice. He is currently affiliated with the National Board of Review and hopes that one day he is remembered as “The People’s Film Critic.”

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