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'Last Resort' surfaces dramatically on ABC

A crippled U.S. submarine arrives at an exotic island where its crew encounters new enemies. Andre Braugher stars in a show that might have 'Lost' overtones.

September 08, 2012|By Greg Braxton
  • Daisy Betts and Andre Braugher in "Last Resort."
Daisy Betts and Andre Braugher in "Last Resort." (Mario Perez / ABC )

ABC's new drama "Last Resort," about the crew of a nuclear submarine taking refuge at a remote island, has already inspired a few nicknames. Some early viewers have dubbed it the "submarine show" while others have called it the "new 'Lost.'"

But executive producers Shawn Ryan and Karl Gajdusek have another word to describe their show: epic. And they maintain they're not being presumptuous.

"Is it action, romance, a soap?" said Gajdusek. "Yes, it's absolutely all of them. It's like all of those great epic stories from 'The Odyssey' onward."

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"Last Resort" marks ABC's latest entry into the world of high-concept drama, one that ambitiously stretches from the White House to 500 feet below the ocean. Some previous large-scale entries such as "Lost" have been enormously successful on ABC, though others, such as "FlashForward" and "The Nine," have failed to attract viewers.

But the drama's impressive creative pedigree, topical premise and impressive cast headed by Emmy winner Andre Braugher may be enough to entice viewers to check the series out. And, the creators point out, never underestimate the value of a submarine.

"Submarine movies are always tense," said Gajdusek. "It's not about the action, it's about tension."

In "Last Resort," Braugher plays Capt. Marcus Chaplin of the U.S. ballistic missile submarine Colorado. He becomes suspicious after receiving special orders to fire nuclear weapons at Pakistan. When Chaplin and his executive officer refuse to carry out the orders without official confirmation, the sub is targeted and fired upon.

The crippled vessel makes its way to an exotic island as the government declares the commanders and crew rogue enemies of the country. Chaplin warns the government that if it takes further action against the ship, he will retaliate with a nuclear missile. Meanwhile, he and his crew encounter a new set of difficulties and enemies on the island.

Braugher, who was last seen in his Emmy-nominated role on "Men of a Certain Age," said he was instantly drawn to the material: "It's 'Heart of Darkness,' it's 'Lord of the Flies.' I don't know what's going to happen, but I do know things are not going to go right, and we are not going to be perfect gentlemen."

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Chaplin's character was particularly intriguing for the actor, who won an Emmy for lead actor in a drama for his role as self-righteous Det. Frank Pembleton in "Homicide: Life on the Street": "He's a man who's a patriot, but in saving the lives of his crew is involved in a traitorous act. This misunderstanding puts them all in a bad situation and forces them to go outside the thing that has made them the most secure and comfortable in their lives."

The initial idea of a submarine-related series was first hatched by Gajdusek ("Dead Like Me"). He fleshed the premise out with Ryan, who is best known as the creator of the landmark police series "The Shield."

Ryan guessed viewers may see the influence of other hit series in "Last Resort," which is shot in Hawaii.

"They may see elements of '24' or 'Lost,'" he said. "We stand on the shoulders of giants that came before us. But ultimately we think this show has its own unique vision."

greg.braxton@latimes.com

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