THE SHOW "The Last Ship"
WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 9 p.m. on TNT
WHAT IT'S ABOUT The USS Nathan James, commanded by Tom Chandler (Eric Dane, "Grey's Anatomy") sets sail to the Arctic on a top-secret mission -- so secret even Chandler and his executive officer Mike Slattery (Adam Baldwin) don't know what it's about. But aboard are two scientists, including Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra, "Strike Back"), who are seeking the "primordial DNA" of a terrible virus that has decimated the world's population while the James is at sea. After Chandler finally breaks radio silence, he learns that most of the world is wiped out. Scott has the key to a potential vaccine -- however, the ship must now stay afloat long enough for her to break the code. Michael Bay of the "Transformers" series produces.
MY SAY Unleash Bay on a TV series and expect stuff to explode -- it does here. Unleash Dane as a Navy captain and expect a leader square of jaw, blue of eye and straight of arrow. He is that, too.
But with all this unleashing, what's left?
In fact, the real challenge for TNT is whether "The Last Ship's" on-screen and off-screen stars can confound viewer expectations -- which may not be entirely positive -- just long enough to draw them into what may ultimately turn out to be a serviceable post-apocalyptic thriller expressly designed for summer consumption.
At least Sunday night, that's inconclusive. The pilot has distant echoes of "The Stand" or "12 Monkeys," and no particularly original ideas of its own. The dialogue is often wooden or worse, the eye-rolling kind: "Aboard this ship," says Chandler, jaw characteristically set, "is the hope for our families, our futures, and for all humanity." Aye aye cap'n.
But get past this stuff, if you can, and "The Last Ship" does improve over the next couple of weeks, when the series gets down to the business of protecting the crew and vaccine.
BOTTOM LINE Passable summer thriller with some decent (for TV) action sequences. The plot? You've been there, done that.