Last Resort: The Complete Series
The ABC series "Last Resort" lasted only half a season, but creators Karl Gajdusek and Shawn Ryan took advantage of the show's cancellation to re-write the final script and tie things up. What we have in the complete series DVD set is a 13-episode adventure tale that might have been best told as a miniseries anyway.
The premise of "Last Resort" is that the captain and crew of a nuclear submarine, the USS Colorado, after refusing fraudulent orders to fire missiles at Pakistan, become fugitives. The Navy personnel take shelter on Sainte Marina (not a real place; in actuality, the show was filmed in Hawaii), where they take over a U.N. listening post and run up against the local power structure, headed by island strongman and unofficial mayor Julian Serrat (Sahr Ngaujah).
The show is a mix of straight-up military action (shades of movies such as "Crimson Tide" and TV wartime dramas like "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and "Over There") and international thriller (there's a Bourne-esque feel to some episodes). While Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher), his first mate Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman), and the other officers and crew deal with in-house frictions as well as uneasy locals, characters back on home soil (including a Navy admiral, Arthur Shepard, played by Bruce Davison; weapons designer and arms dealer Kylie Sinclair (Autumn Reeser); and Kendal's wife, Christine (Jessy Schram)) navigate a complex labyrinth of political intrigue that reaches to the Oval Office and seems to be rooted in an attempt by the one percent to turn America into a global empire by ginning up nonexistent threats abroad.
There's also a hint of "Lost," what with a subplot about an exotic mineral existing in abundance on the island (not to mention the verdant landscapes and frequent shots showing the vast ocean) and the "stranded, homesick crew" vibe comes straight from "Star Trek: Voyager." But from this grab bag of elements the producers and writers coax a mostly cogent story about the perils of global media and manipulative power plays.
The set's special features consist of 13 "featurettes" -- brief promos produced as each episode rolled off the assembly line. The final featurettes not only acknowledge the show's premature demise, but also celebrate its eleventh-hour recasting as, essentially, a mostly self-contained miniseries.
Each of the set's three discs includes the promos relevant to the episodes on that disc. The featurettes explore specific installments, but also look at the set designs, the CGI work, and the complex relationships among the characters.
The demands of the medium imposed some narrative silliness on the series, but "Last Resort" took a brave gamble by being overtly political, convoluted in plot, and rich in its characters. This DVD release offers the show's fans another chance to enjoy it anew, but also gives fans of military drama and political thrillers a chance to discover the series if they missed its television run.
One nitpick regarding the packaging: The three DVDs of the set are stacked on a single thick spindle, which keeps the DVD box simple, but makes access to any individual DVD a little more difficult. Otherwise, there's nothing to complain about: The transfer quality is good; the episodes are presented in anamorphic widescreen; the audio is 5.1 Dolby digital. This set was made for home theater viewing.