"Last Resort" got a huge promotional push from ABC and the series was presented as if it was going to be a feature of the network's line-up. Coming from famed producers Shawn Ryan ("The Shield") and Martin Campbell (director of "007" films "Casino Royale" and "Goldeneye"), the series starred Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman. Additionally, the series clearly looks like it cost some bucks to produce and - for a TV series - is almost "film-like".
The series is swift, well-acted and mostly, pretty entertaining. Surprisingly, given the enormous amount of effort and reasonably good reviews, the series barely made it to the end of the first season before it wrapped for good. The series isn't flawless, certainly, but it was enjoyable enough and strong enough that one wishes the show could have been given a little more time to see if the show (which reminds one of "Crimson Tide", if the events of that film had taken some different turns) it couldn't find more of an audience.
The show focuses on the USS submarine Colorado, commanded by Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher), who guides his ship through the latest mission until he is ordered to attack Pakistan with nuclear missiles. Stunned by the request, he requests confirmation, given the source; the response is that he is replaced with skeptical second-in-command Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman). Then, the continued request for confirmation results in something that the Colorado could never have imagined: they are fired upon by another US submarine and declared enemies.
The Colorado manages to escape to a small island that has a NATO radar installation and quickly takes it over. Aware that the boat is still out there, the officers of the Colorado realize that their journey to save themselves and try to clear up what happened is only beginning. To prove that he means some serious business, Chaplin threatens any nation that comes near the submarine and island - and in a display of seriousness, sends a missile in the general direction of D.C.
The remainder of the 13-episode first season follows the tense standoff between the crew of the submarine and the rest of the world, which is complicated even further by divisions between the crew members, a conspiracy playing out at the highest levels in DC and hints of a deal from China.
The performances are first-rate, especially Braugher and Speedman as the captain and second-in-command. Robert Patrick also offers an excellent effort as the ship's Command Master Chief Petty Officer, whose intentions start to run against those of the commander.
A few episodes of the series do unfortunately drain the momentum and urgency the rest of the series does a fine job building ("Another Fine Navy Day", where the local water is drugged with a hallucinogenic substance, is an example), but the show overall is often fast-paced and exciting - enough to overlook a few plot holes and rather extreme twists and turns. The last episode feels a little rushed to get as much in as possible, but at least the production apparently knew the show was coming to a halt so that an actual ending could be constructed, rather than just leaving the series effectively open-ended.
This set includes the first (and, well, only) season of the series.
1 1-01 27/Sep/12 Captain
2 1-02 04/Oct/12 Blue on Blue
3 1-03 11/Oct/12 Eight Bells
4 1-04 18/Oct/12 Voluntold
5 1-05 25/Oct/12 Skeleton Crew
6 1-06 08/Nov/12 Another Fine Navy Day
7 1-07 15/Nov/12 Nuke It Out
8 1-08 29/Nov/12 Big Chicken Dinner
9 1-09 06/Dec/12 Cinderella Liberty
10 1-10 13/Dec/12 Blue Water
11 1-11 10/Jan/13 Damn the Torpedoes
12 1-12 17/Jan/13 The Pointy End of the Spear
13 1-13 24/Jan/13 Controlled Flight Into Terrain
VIDEO: The series is given a tremendous 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation that show delight fans of the series and newcomers. Sharpness and detail remain first-rate throughout much of the running time, with small object detail clearly visible during many scenes. Colors also looked bold and rich, with no smearing or other faults. A touch of edge enhancement was spotted, but the series otherwise looked clean.
AUDIO: While not on the level of a great feature film soundtrack, the show's audio is still pretty powerful at times, with occasionally strong use of the surrounds (especially during some of the more intense stretches.)
EXTRAS: 13 short "making of" featurettes, looking into various aspects of the production, are spread across the set. It feels like a mid-sized promotional documentary broken into tiny bite-sized pieces. The series deserves better and I would loved to have seen a longer documentary or gotten a few commentaries about how this pretty large series was made and never quite found an audience.
Final Thoughts: "Last Resort" is a powerful and often intense series. It's not without a few stumbles along the way, but the series offers powerful performances and remains promising - it's too bad that the series didn't get the attention it deserved during its one season. The DVD offers solid audio/video quality, as well as a few minor extras. Recommended.