‘Last Resort’ review: Tone-deaf at DEFCON1

September 13, 2012

“Last Resort” (premieries at 8 p.m. on ABC). From “The Shield” creator Shawn Ryan comes this complicated and frankly outrageous saga of a U.S. nuclear sub called the Colorado, with “Homicide: Life on the Street’s” Andre Braugher at the helm. The Colorado goes rogue when the crew gets a surprise launch order from the brass and suspects it isn’t legit. No sooner have crew members defied the command than Washington launches a missile at them. Meanwhile, Pakistan gets nuked three times. The crew barely escapes and surfaces at a remote island (and NATO listening outpost), where Braugher’s Capt. Marcus Chaplin issues a worldwide ultimatum, warning of a White House coup and threatening to launch his sub’s arsenal if the island is attacked.

As a demonstration, he detonates a nuke at night off the mid-Atlantic coast, where everyone from Washington to New York can see. (In which case, I’ll take a pass on the she-crab soup for a few years, thanks.) “Last Resort” is a real stretch for those of us Cold War babies who were raised on horrifying doomsday dramas, where the prospect of one missile launch meant instant annihilation and permanent winter.

It’s an adrenaline-doused premise that is handsomely executed, but it feels as if we get to Defcon 2 way too fast. It’s as though Tom Clancy has been asked to reimagine “Lost.” Isolated in their new antihero paradise, the crew and the islanders have to figure out what happens next. It already feels like the writers are also locked in an unwinnable standoff. Grade: B-

— Hank Stuever

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