Under the Radar

Save the World With 'The Last Ship'

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TNT's new drama series The Last Ship (premiering Sunday 6/22 at 9pm ET) puts one Navy ship as the last line of defense against a deadly virus that's wiping out the world's population. Produced by Transformers mastermind Michael Bay, the show stars Eric Dane as the ship's capation, Adam Baldwin as the XO and Rhona Mitra as the scientist who may be able to find a cure.

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The US Navy went all in with this one, lending a lot of technical support and access to ships. There are quite a few active duty men and women appearing as extras and maybe even one or two with minor speaking roles. Michael Bay has zero interest in creating a nuanced portrait of life on an Arleigh-Burke destroyer: he's making an action series with sci-fi overtones and, once you're dealing with a made-up virus that's killing everyone on the planet, you're not exactly aiming for a Lone Survivor or Zero Dark Thirty level of accuracy.

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Things get pretty pulpy fast. The ship's crew and the scientists hitching a ride don't get sick because they're on a secret mission to the Arctic while the world is falling apart. Once they return from the North Pole, there's a confrontation with Al-Qaeda at Gitmo and a showdown with a rogue Russian Naval commander all in the first three episodes. They're not exactly saving up plot lines for future use.

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Since it's a TV series, a lot of the worst international destruction happens off camera and we learn about it when the characters tell each other about the carnage. The CGI isn't as polished as what we're going to get from Bay's new Transformers movie next week, but it all gets the job done.

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The virus that kills everyone is a mutant strain of something found in nature, so there's an implication that there's a villain out there who engineered the fatal version. That's just a guess and not an actual spoiler. There's also room for some opposites attract romance between the stubborn doctor and the stubborn captain. Most of the other Type-A personalities on the planet are now dead, so these two may see the logic in hooking up before long.

The Last Ship features a lot of real planes and helicopters, a real ship and some real Navy men and women on display here, all of which are here to serve a plot that definitely owes something to movies like Contagion or World War Z (if people just died and didn't turn into ravenous zombies) and has the potential to wander into Lost territory going forward. It's all a lot of fun if you approach it with the right attitude. Check it out.

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