Creator of the groundbreaking FX series The Shield plus last year’s The Chicago Code, also producer on the hit CBS series The Unit, Shawn Ryan now brings his creative magic to ABC with Last Resort, about a nuclear submarine and its crew on the run from its own country.
Last Resort follows the renegade crew of a United States Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, the fictional USS Colorado, that receives an order to launch nuclear missiles on Pakistan. When Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) asks for confirmation, he’s relieved of command while second in command, XO Lt. Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman) also questions the orders before the Colorado is fired upon.
Now enemies of their own country, the crew sets up camp on the fictional island of Sainte Marina, and declare themselves a sovereign nation with nuclear capability.
When Shawn Ryan created Last Resort with writer Karl Kadjusek, who originally came up with the idea of a Tom Clancy style submarine series, Ryan was well aware of how people could perceive the show to be both military and political heavy.
Given the current political climate in the U.S., espcially with an impending election, how did Shawn Ryan and his team approach the development of Last Resort to make it appeal to everyone?
“First of all,” Ryan told The Deadbolt this week during a call, “you just start off from a creative, dramatic point of view, ‘what is something I’d like to watch?’ Karl [Kadjusek] and I both really considered what the political situation was in the world as of last year when we wrote this pilot. But we’re really focusing on the characters in the situation, we’re not focusing on a political agenda.”
Also starring Daisy Betts, Dichen Lachman, Daniel Lissing, Autumn Reeser, Jessy Schram, and acting vet Robert Patrick, Last Resort doesn’t appear to be what you’d expect from either a military or political thriller. Although it’s easy to think of The Hunt for Red October when looking at the previews, Last Resort may be much more like Lost given its confined island nation drama.
But with a nuclear submarine on the run from its own government, it’s also easy to think of the show as political. After all, the USS Colorado does receive fictional orders to launch nuclear missiles on Pakistan.
How overtly political will Last Resort be when it premieres next Thursday?
“We’re not naming political parties in this show,” Ryan continued to The Deadbolt, “the President, who seems to be going off the rails in our pilot, we’re not identifying as one side or the other. And really, this isn’t a show that’s about Democrat versus Republican. It’s more a show about power versus the less powerful and investigating those dynamics.”
Interestingly, Ryan does have a point from a David versus Goliath perspective. When the crew of the USS Colorado takes control of a tiny island and becomes its own nuclear nation, it will be interesting to see how things play out politically within the series itself. How will the U.S. deal with a new nuclear nation made up of U.S. citizens?
How does Shawn Ryan feel about where things currently stand with the American public’s perception of government and how they may receive Last Resort?
“In that way,” Ryan added, “I think no matter what side of the political aisle they’re on, whether they’re all the way over to the Tea Party side, or whether they’re all the day over to Occupy Now, I think they share a certain distrust of certain government institutions and the belief that things could be better. And there’s a sense that a lot of people feel like many things are kind of off the rails in our country at the moment, and the idea that ‘I [or we] could do better.’
“In our pilot, we sort of touched on that with Marcus, that, ‘hey, maybe we could do better right here, right now.’”
In the end, at its core, Last Resort is a television show designed to entertain. And after entertaining fans with The Shield, The Unit, and for a brief time last year with The Chicago Code, Shawn Ryan loves edgy drama based in reality, be it law enforcement or the military.
“I think it’s just touching on things that are human,” said Ryan, “as opposed to things that are partisan. I think that’s how we’re trying to appeal to everyone.”
Last Resort premieres Thursday, September 27 at 8/7c on ABC.