A lot of viewers aren't going to like the military drama "Last Resort" (7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, ABC; 3.5 stars out of 4). They'll probably dismiss it for its crazy premise, its characters' speechifying and its multiple subplots.
It's the season's riskiest new series, but also one of the best.
My biggest problem with the thrilling pilot is that it ended too quickly. It was packed with enough explosive stuff for a two-hour premiere event. Creators Shawn Ryan and Karl Gajdusek masterfully balance the various subplots and character beats while maintaining an electrifying forward momentum.
As the nuclear sub USS Colorado passes the equator, Capt. Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) and his executive officer, Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman), are ordered to fire some of their 18 nukes onboard at Pakistan. They refuse because of the shady way the command was sent. Obviously, something scary and dangerous is happening in Washington and our heroes are going to get to the bottom of the mystery--or the ocean.
Chaplin takes his sub and its 150 crew members, plus a few secretive Special Forces soldiers plucked from the ocean, to an island where he makes a stand: In a worldwide address, he warns of a White House coup and threatens to launch his nukes if the island stronghold is attacked.
No one gives an ultimatum like Braugher. He's riveting as Chaplin, a man who you're not sure is the moral center of the story, or a career sailor finally pushed to his absolute limit. Maybe he's gone a bit bonkers? I don't know, but I can't wait to find out.
I admit that "Last Resort" tells a far-fetched tale, and that maybe the show pushes the button--literally--a little too soon. The second episode, while not as enthralling as the premiere, holds up well. And I trust Ryan, the Rockford, Ill., native who created "The Shield," "Terriers" and "The Chicago Code," to keep things at Defcon 5 without boring viewers to tears.
It may seem like I've explained too much of the plot here, but believe me, so much more happens in the premiere. I'm already dying to know the answers to so many questions it raised.
Obviously, I'm choosing to go with the extraordinary premise. I think most viewers who do so will enjoy this weekly trip to TV's latest island paradise.
Other Sept. 27 premieres: "The Big Bang Theory," 7 p.m. CBS; "Two and a Half Men," 7:30 p.m. CBS; "Person of Interest," 8 p.m. CBS; "Grey's Anatomy," 8 p.m. ABC; "Scandal," 9 p.m. ABC; "Elementary," 9 p.m. CBS.
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