Matt Carberry (kingpin248) wrote,
Matt Carberry

"Last Resort": it has its hooks into me...

I have watched very little series television over the last decade, but I certainly will make an exception for a show about an SSBN. I actually could have watched the premiere of Last Resort before tonight, but that slipped my mind. I did get a primer from Scott Shackford's review at Reason, and was intrigued.

One of the comments on that review suggested this show might be dubbed "Crimson Tide: The Series." That would be something to be fearful of. The late Tony Scott's 1995 submarine thriller is a movie that, after having actually served on a Navy sub, moved into a different genre - my experience transformed it from a drama into a comedy. Both the quantity and magnitude of the inaccuracies in that movie are simply hilarious to anybody who's been below the sea in a penis shaped steel tube.

Last Resort's first episode isn't nearly as bad on that front, at least to me. The commenters over at The Stupid Shall Be Punished, however, have been much more critical. (That link also contains the video of the premiere.) I attribute this to a number of things. I served in the aft end, while all the action aboard the boat takes place up front in the show. I can't offer up anything on missile protocols, as I served on an attack submarine. And it has been a few years since I departed, and I only served on one boat (and that was before the introduction of women). All that said:
  • The dialogue established the USS Colorado as an Ohio-class submarine, but the displays in control looked awfully fancy (the last Ohio-class was commissioned 1997)
  • The concept of a submarine having a "sickbay" - not so much
  • The Commanding Officer is usually a Commander (O-5), not a "full-bird" Captain (O-6)
  • A "boomer" doesn't do a twelve-month deployment
  • If the writers had a copy of the Submarine Interior Communications Manual, they didn't look at it closely enough (verbatim repeat backs!)
  • Possible explanation why they didn't show anything aft - it'd be awfully boring, especially since the nukes have to maintain an at-sea condition. The boat isn't pierside, and I didn't see any shore power hookup...
  • When the boat pulls in to the harbor, it has a brief encounter with a small boat, perhaps a tug - and that reminded me of this
  • My gut tells me this should have ended about halfway in, when the Colorado got up close and personal with the bottom. IF she could manage to get off the bottom under her own power - and that's a big if - I'm pretty sure her next destination would need to be a drydock.
Fortunately, I was able to suspend disbelief enough to get into it, and it's not bad television. I loved Andre Braugher as the CO; he reminds me of one of the two I served under. He comes across to me as exactly the guy you want with his hand on the trigger - a man who doesn't blindly follow orders, recognizes when it isn't right, and insists on knowing why. Just on the island itself, there are plenty of ways things could go - we've got a crew in control of a boat, dissenters from that crew, the Marines that Colorado picked up, and the islanders, including their crime boss. Add to that a Washington, D.C. where we have little clue whatsoever what the state of affairs is.

Lastly, and perhaps I have been reading too much Cato and Reason stuff, but I loved Braugher's speech to the world toward the end. It reminded me of a speech near the end of Deterrence (although that was a President dropping a nuclear weapon, the message was the same - essentially, "step off"). The images of the security state we see might be over the top, but I didn't find the underlying premise entirely implausible. The line CAPT Chaplin utters as he looks out on the harbor of Sainte Marina - "what happened to the country I grew up in?" - is a question worth asking. All taken together, I'm back in for at least one more episode.
Tags: tv

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