Take Me To The Pilots ’12: ABC’s ‘Last Resort’

[In case you’ve Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all “These are reviews.” If you’ve read me, you’ve read my reviews and you know this isn’t what they look like.]

Show:“The Last Resort” (ABC)
The Pitch: “The Hunt For Red October” meets “Off The Map”
Quick Response: I know I already said this last night with my “Vegas” entry, but “The Last Resort” is another pilot that I liked, but didn’t like nearly as much as I wanted to. And, like “Vegas,” it’s another show where my instinct is to like nearly everybody involved, from co-creator (with Karl Gajdusek) Shawn Ryan to stars like Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman and Dichen Lachman and Autumn Reeser and Jessy Schram and Robert Patrick and Bruce Davison. I also think pilot director Martin Campbell is, despite a wildly mixed feature track record, an extremely proficient director of action and tension. And “Last Resort” has a plot that’s astoundingly tantalizing at nearly every turn. Claustrophobic submarine intrigue! Mutinies! Nuclear strike orders! Insubordination! Shootings! A tropical paradise! A cast of dozens! Badassery galore! There’s a ridiculous amount happening in the “Last Resort” pilot and it’s happening at utterly breakneck speed and… maybe that’s my problem. “Last Resort” maybe makes me appreciate either the potential of the USA 75-minute pilot model or else something as old-fashioned as a two-hour pilot. There’s so much happening in so little time in “The Last Resort” pilot, meaning that the characters are defined by one or two actions or one or two snippets of exposition at most. And the characters in “The Last Resort” are doing some very extreme things, things that for me as a viewer, I can’t fully buy without a better understanding of motivation and relationships. I get the desire is to toss us into this world and that the answer for “Why the heck would that character do that?” is “Because they do! You don’t know enough to assume they WOULDN’T do that!” But for some reason, I lacked the information to go along with the story fully in the way I wanted to because of the structure of the pilot. Too many people doing too many things that I can’t accept without more context. There’s a good chance that if I watch four of five more episodes and then go back and watch the pilot, I could be like, “Oooh. It all makes character-driven sense now,” but in 42 minutes, I couldn’t do that. I kept getting pulled out of the drama by the need to make logical sense of things. But there was much to pull me into “Last Resort” as well. Braugher’s authority is effortless. Speedman is likable. Daisy Betts and a couple other co-stars make positive impressions. Campbell keeps things tense and while “The Last Resort” doesn’t look like a movie, it also doesn’t look notably cheap in the submarine scenes. And the end of the pilot is a great launching pad for any number of possible great shows. And maybe I’ll be on-board after one more hour. I’m just not there yet.
Desire To Watch Again: Strong. The pilot didn’t work the way I wanted it to, but it’s sure enticing. Also, a lot of folks I respect seem to have liked it more than I did. I’ll rewatch the pilot before reviewing it [as I do with everything] with higher hopes already.

Take Me To The Pilots ’12: CBS’ ‘Vegas’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: The CW’s ‘Beauty & The Beast’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: ABC’s ‘666 Park Avenue’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: NBC’s ‘Chicago Fire’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: FOX’s ‘Ben and Kate’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: CBS’ ‘Elementary’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: The CW’s ‘Arrow’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: ABC’s ‘The Neighbors’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: NBC’s ‘Revolution’
All of last year’s Take Me To The Pilots entries