Last Resort at TCAs: Shawn Ryan Is Ready to Tell an Epic Story... Plus Nukes!

Hi everyone! Today I sat in on ABC's sessions at the Television Critics' Association press tour in Los Angeles. Here's what I saw and heard at the network's Last Resort panel.


Who among us hasn't taken an unexpected travel detour only to wind up in an uncomfortably tense situation? That's basically what ABC's Last Resort is about, except with a submarine, nuclear weapons, and treason. Other than that, it's very relatable! The new fantasy-sci-fi-thriller-drama from Executive Producer Shawn Ryan tells the harrowing saga of the crew of the U.S.S. Colorado, who defy some questionable orders to spark a nuclear war and subsequently find themselves on the run from a possibly post-coup U.S. Government. It's one of the most-anticipated shows of the fall, basically.

As it turns out, this was a story that Ryan might've wanted to tell all along, but it took some babysteps entitled The Shield, The Unit, and Terriers before he felt ready: "My ambitions have grown. When we pitched this to ABC last summer and fall, I described it as the show I couldn't make five years ago because I didn't possess the skill set. But the ongoing serialization of The Shield combined with the production value of The Chicago Code... All this stuff got me to this place where I felt like I could do something this ambitious." Among the biggest challenges Ryan faces, "This is a really difficult show from a storytelling standpoint, from a production standpoint. It's a big budget, very huge, monstrous-scope show that I don't think I would've been capable of doing before."

The pilot tells a very specific specific story with some very driven storytelling, but it's unclear just where a show like Last Resort could be headed. Without giving too much away, Ryan explained thusly: "There's going to be a Tom Clancy-esque component to the show. But TV is about relationships. TV is about characters. So it will become characters first." He also compared it to a number of war-themed classics: "We describe this as not a show about war but people in a time of crisis. In the same way that Casablanca and Gone with the Wind and Reds and Dr. Zhivago were personal stories of characters dealing with crisis."

Generalities aside, he also described a show with much forward momentum: "There's not going to be a monster of the week situation but there will be high stakes. The crew find themselves in a precarious situation, they find themselves with major external threats. Threats on the island [where they take refuge]. And most interesting to me is the internal threats. The submarine starts off with 153 people in the crew and there are only 130 by the end of the pilot."

When asked whether the subject matter of Last Resort might hew uncomfortably close to the current international climate, Ryan said he believes the time is right for a show like this: "The world's a crazy place right now and the country is divided in a number of ways. The Tea Party movement and the Occupy movement both share a distrust of government. I hope that what we're portraying doesn't come too close to reality, obviously."

Executive Producer and series co-creator Karl Gajdusek also wanted to make clear that Last Resort is definitely not a military-bashing story. "We believe our crew and captain are patriots. They do what should be done, it's just a question of following orders and before they know it they're on the run. It's not the United States as a nation that chases them out, it's a portrait of an executive branch gone wrong." Gajdusek reiterated a little while later, "We're very kind and caring in our portrayal of naval officers and seamen."

Ryan agreed that Last Resort probably won't rankle members of the U.S. Navy, mostly because they're too busy doing valuable stuff to even notice the show. But there was definitely a reason why they never sought permission to use actual U.S. Military resources. "This isn't the kind of show where we want to get script approval from the U.S. Military on. We certainly did not film on any active or retired U.S. submarines." In other words, while they respect the armed forces, they'd prefer to carve out a creative niche for themselves away from those who might boss them around. Much like the crew of the Colorado!

One understandable concern someone brought up was whether Last Resort's 8pm time slot would somehow defang its storytelling. Ryan admitted that he originally shared that concern but that "I was assured that our content wouldn't be affected." He added as point of reference, "Lost started off as an 8 o'clock show, after all."

Star Andre Braugher expounded on the source of much of Last Resort's drama: "What we have on the submarine is our own tight-knit family. But it's a basis to test those loyalties as the series goes on." But as leader of that family, would Braugher's character remain of sound mind under such duress? Gajdusek teased that would become a major plotline: "It's one thing to be captain of a submarine. It's another to become captain of an island. Will it be a Colonel Kurtz situation?"

Ultimately Last Resort will appeal to an audience thirsting for a rip-roaring serial, but just don't pigeonhole it into too narrow a genre. "We're not a political thriller," Gajdusek emphasized. "We are an epic story."


Last Resort premieres Thursday, September 17 at 8pm on ABC.

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I can't wait for this show to start, I have high hopes for it.
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Erm.. Sept 17th is a Monday. Show's really not going to have great viewers if it has a made up date. :o/
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It sounds like they're trying to remake Lost. I don't think it will live up to it's potential. It will probably do something stupid like making the crew the last people on Earth after a nuclear war.
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"This isn't the kind of show where we want to get script approval from the U.S. Military on." - Spoken: "We didn't want to deal with the military saying that what we were doing was not only stupid, but physically impossible. "



From what I've seen of the trailer this is as grounded in reality as Tarra Nova.
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good cast, but I'm going to pass.. yet another storyline that needs a definite end but since it's in a TV series format, it will either drag on forever and never be finished or it will get cancelled and we'll still never know the end. if it had been a miniseries or a movie, theatrical or TV, then I'd be in.
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I can't wait for this. Shawn Ryan makes great TV and has made some of my favorite shows. The Shield, The Unit, Terrier and The Chicago Code (which was good and shouldn't have been on Fox so that they could have canned it, it should have been on FX) are shows that get constantly replayed in my netflix cue. So he gets and automatic season watch from me. I think this is an interesting idea for a show. And I want to see how he is going to go about bringing it to life.
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Last Resort and Revolution can't come soon enough, I'm pretty excited.

Foremost for Last Resort, Ryan's The Shield is still one of the best 10 TV shows I've ever watched - so with an ambitious story and a fantastic cast what could possibly go wrong?

Also awaiting- I have to admitt - Hannibal due to the cast of Mads Fucking Mikkelsen. Big doubts about this show from the start but MM is a superb choice.
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They had me intrigued when I seen Andre and Scott Speedman. Ben Covington is all grown up y'all! But I'll always be Team Noel. They had me willing to give it a shot when I heard the general plot..distrust of the government? Conspiracy theories? Character focused? I'm sold. They're thinking big...they're almost overly ambitious...and I respect that!
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I am really looking forward to this. I think it can be great, depending on the story, the characters and the dialogue of course.

One could boldly state that they took one storyline of the many Babylon 5 had, adopted it to the year 2012 and ran with it. I don't want to make that claim, i just thought it would be worth considering. Babylon 5 was an Military base (even kind of looked like a submarine...long, cylindrical), which, due to illegal orders given by the government declared independence. Henceforth they were hunted by there own people.
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Any time I hear the words "characters first" I smile. The best shows build outwardly from their characters. Saying this is an ambitious premise is an understatement. There will be budgetary concerns, sustainability issues, writing hurdles, possible overcasting dilemmas, and countless other problems. This show has got such a sweeping scope, the only way it will work is if everything begins and is grounded with the characters.



Considering the sheer size of Last Resort, it's definitely one of my most anticipated shows of the fall (the other being Revolution).



Besides, you've almost got to tune in just to see if it's better than Terra Nova. (There's no annoying teenager named Josh, so that's already +1 in my books.)
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This is exactly the kind of show I get excited about! Can't wait to give it a try!
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Autumn Reeser is back on TV!



Well, at least she will be pretty soon. Can't wait!
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Horrible premise that cannot work. Even if they pull off a sound reason for the crew to go rogue there is no way for them to sustain it. They can't just park a sub next to some island and hold off the US military. They would surround the island with cruisers, destroyers, and subs. Send in the Seals or just drop a couple bombs from a stealth bomber. Subs are fearsome when submerged but not so much just moored to a peer. Just threatening to launch a nuke should the government try and seize the sub wouldn't be enough of a deterrent.
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Shawn Ryan IS BACK !!!



The shield the best cop drama Ever !!



can't wait !
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If you think the Shield was a great crime drama and it is one of the best, I highly recommend The Wire. It's one of the best if not THE best TV show ever.
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Ty Heretrix ^^



i saw THE WIRE too...



and i prefere THE SHIELD....
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I haven't seen this show but I already love it!
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sporting a huge f-ing cast in that promo pic up there.
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This looks horrible with a completely untenable premise. Maybe I just don't get it.
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