Crashing Pilots: Last Resort

By David Mumpower

October 25, 2012

The title of this show sounds like it should be a sexy beach comedy.

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Why are submarine stories such a guy thing? This is the question my wife posed to me during the pilot of Last Resort. I was taken aback by the query due to the fact that my mind boggled at the idea she was not engrossed by the story. Suffice to say that I consider Last Resort to be among the most exciting pilots ever created. Conversely, I have witnessed my spouse’s eyes glaze over whenever Last Resort gets too lost in its own storytelling. In this column, I will explore why both of us are right in our own way. Compromise is the key to any good relationship, after all.

Upon considering my wife’s submarine statement, I took the opportunity to reflect upon my love of the submarine genre. Upon first blush, I considered my initial indoctrination into this sort of claustrophobic storytelling to be The Hunt for Red October. The impeccable Tom Clancy story features one of Sean Connery’s strongest performances. It is also a movie that reminds us that at least one Baldwin brother was handsome back in the day.

The story is a masterpiece that interweaves political intrigue and lingering Cold War tension into a climactic finale. By the end, almost everyone involved with the militaries of Russia and America want the same sailor dead. Only one man stands up against this belief, and this is why Jack Ryan is an iconic literary creation. Last Resort shares similarities to this premise, which will be explored in a moment.


As marvelous a cinematic triumph as The Hunt for Red October is, I quickly realized it was not my introduction to submarine movies. Instead, that honor belongs to a Blake Edwards movie. Yes, I mean that Blake Edwards. The director known for The Pink Panther series and Breakfast at Tiffany’s also helmed Operation Petticoat. This silly Cary Grant vehicle provides one of the endearing memories from my childhood. How could anyone resist a film that includes the climactic line, "We may be pink and coming in by the grace of a woman's brassiere, but by God we're coming in!" Cary Grant can do no wrong in my eyes.

Silliness aside, I tracked my love of submarine dramas to The Bedford Incident, a Sidney Poitier film from 1965. I was about 12 the first time I watched it and I was scarred for quite some time by its ending. I hate to spoil the result for you but you have had 47 years to watch it. This poignant tale of an American destroyer facing off against a Soviet sub is an exploration of mutual hate and fear. In the end, everyone’s mistrust leads to a sleep-deprived misunderstanding due to a slip of the tongue. The final result is a bunch of melted faces and I mean that in the literal sense.

The Bedford Incident was one of the first movies I watched that failed to produce a happy ending. With the benefit of hindsight, I appreciate that the appeal of the pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica (2004), 33, is that it behaves as a spiritual successor. Exhausted leaders attempt to out-flank a relentless opponent. The quality of their decision making wanes with every additional hour without sleep.

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