When two virologists are attacked by Russians out on the ice, the US Navy captain commanding the ship they are based on is horrified to learn the true reason for their being on board – 80% of the world’s population is dead or dying…
The key creative name you need to be aware of for this series is executive producer Michael Bay, he of the over the top action sequences, lack of real characterisation and apparent fetishist of hardware. There’s certainly quite a bit of all three in the first episode of The Last Ship, but there’s also enough in here – and a cast with a good track record of taking sometimes dodgy scripts and making them work – to bring you back for at least a second week.
The geopolitical set-up is clearly variable: by the end of the episode, we’re still not sure exactly who’s in charge back in the United States, and the captain’s decision to stay at sea makes some sense. We get to see the plague’s work firsthand thanks to an unfortunate accident when the sailors are investigating a cruise liner (which did bring back memories of guilty pleasure movie Deep Rising). And of course there’s the requisite traitor on board who’s bound to cause trouble for everyone.
If you like the Tom Clancy school of thriller writing – particularly the slightly futuristic NetForce series of ghosted novels – then chances are you’ll enjoy tuning in to this, the TV equivalent of the summer blockbuster. It’s never going to win awards for its writing or its deep metaphorical exploration of the human condition, but it does what it says on the tin.
Verdict: Lots of explosions, a bit of exposition, and too good-looking characters – a combination for an escapist hour. 7/10