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Last Resort: The Complete Series (DVD Review)

19 Jul, 2013 By: John Latchem

Sony Pictures
$38.99 three-DVD set
Not rated.
Stars Andre Braugher, Scott Speedman, Daisy Betts, Camille de Pazzis, Dichen Lachman, Daniel Lissing, Sahr Ngaujah, Autumn Reeser, Jessy Schram, Robert Patrick.

The potential for success for serialized television can be paradoxical, with the expanded canvas offered by the medium often limited by its episodic structure. The inherent challenges of attracting a weekly audience are usually subverted by the requirement to track ongoing storylines, or an unwillingness to follow along when the show seems to be running in circles. And if the show gets canceled, whatever loyal fans it had will be driven nuts by the potential lack of closure.

This is less a problem for cable networks, which showcase tightly plotted seasonal arcs through a shorter episode run without as much interest in a larger audience share. Broadcast networks, on the other hand, expect hit shows to run for years, complicating the idea of a pre-planned ending, unless the project was always designed as a miniseries.

Which leads to the dilemma of “Last Resort,” the intriguing military drama from creators Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”) and Karl Gajdusek. A cross between Crimson Tide and “Lost,” “Last Resort” offered ambitious plotting with a scope that may have been too wide for network television, and a specificity of concept that seemed like it would be difficult to sustain.

The premise involves the nuclear submarine U.S.S. Colorado receiving an order to nuke Pakistan under suspicious circumstances. Its captain, Marcus Chaplin (authoritative Andre Braugher), refuses to fire until he can confirm the order. When another Navy sub tries to sink his boat, Chaplin and his crew take over a tropical island that houses a NATO communications station, and threaten to nuke anyone who bothers them until they can unravel the mystery. The run of 13 episodes then deals with Chaplin’s tenuous relationship with a crew that wants to go home, island politics involving a local warlord, and a conspiracy playing out in Washington, D.C.

While the show lays the groundwork for several ongoing plotlines, its cancelation meant many of them would not be explored to fruition. Instead, producers had enough time to give the primary story arcs a sense of closure with an action-packed finale that is mostly successful in turning the whole endeavor into what turns out to be a pretty engaging miniseries. However, the endings of several storylines come so abruptly relative to the setup from the preceding episodes that the epilogue is a bit jarring, clearly tacked on to wrap up the show as much as possible. It makes me wonder what the writers originally had in mind for the long term.

For what it’s worth, the cast and crew discuss the finale, and every other episode, in the “Last Resort Declassified” series of vignettes that were previously available online and are included on the discs.

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