CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At 8 p.m. Thursday, ABC premieres the most ambitious new show this fall: the geopolitical thriller "Last Resort."
The show begins, and spends much of the pilot, on a submarine deep in the Indian Ocean. The USS Colorado has just picked up an injured Navy SEAL team and is going about business as usual when an order comes to fire missiles on Pakistan.
When the commanders question the order, the sub is fired upon by a US aircraft. And like that, the 150 people on board are enemies of their country.
During a tense standoff between the captain and a government official on the other end of the line, the Colorado avoids being blown up by two more missiles and finds its way to the small island of Sainte Marina, home of a NATO listening outpost. There they set up shop (and by set up shop, I mean take everything over) until they can figure out who set them up and why.
That may not seem like a lot, but, trust me, it is. "Last Resort" is an action-packed ride, and a suspenseful one, too. Plot twists abound both on land and at sea.
Andre Braugher ("Homicide") is wonderful, and kind of terrifying, as the captain. He's unflappable and possibly a little unhinged. When delivering his ultimatum to the government, he growls, "We have 17 more nuclear missiles aboard, and we will not hesitate to unleash fiery hell down upon you. Test us, and we will all burn together."
Should that ever happen, those burning with him will include his second-in-command (Scott Speedman, "Underworld") aching to get back home to his wife; a lieutenant, who also happens to be an Admiral's daughter (Daisy Betts, "Persons Unknown"); one of the Navy Seals, who knows more than he's letting on (Australian actor Daniel Lissing) and a sympathetic NATO scientist (French actress Camille De Pazzis).
The show is a bold step for ABC not just because of its content, which is unlike anything else on network TV, but also because of its target audience. "Last Resort" will definitely appeal to men, a demographic ABC hasn't necessarily neglected but has never really catered to.
Unfortunately, it's followed by the estrogen fest of "Grey's Anatomy," an odd pairing, to be sure. The show seems better matched with the D.C.-set "Scandal," which follows "Grey's."
By putting in on Thursdays, though, ABC has avoided virtually all competition. CBS and NBC have comedies at that hour, and Fox has "The X Factor." The only other drama is CW's "The Vampire Diaries" (starting Oct. 11), which I somehow don't think is going to attract the same kind of audience.
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Three other shows also premiere this week:
"Elementary":10 p.m. Thursday, CBS. Sherlock Holmes has enjoyed a pop culture resurgence the past few years thanks to the Robert Downey Jr. films and the critically-lauded BBC series "Sherlock" (set in present day). CBS gets into the game with another contemporary retelling, except this one finds the detective in the Big Apple, adjusting to life post-rehab with Joan Watson, a former surgeon and his "sober companion," who keeps him on track.
I've been a fan of Miller's since "Trainspotting" and "Hackers," so I'll give this some leeway, but it really looks like just another crime drama, albeit one with established characters from literature. I hope for his sake it does better than his last CBS outing: the 2006 heist drama "Smith," which was axed after just three episodes.
"Made in Jersey": 9 p.m. Friday, CBS. This legal drama about a blue-collar New Jersey lawyer trying to fit in at a prestigious New York firm looks like a typical grounded CBS drama with a little bit of USA quirk thrown in. It's a fitting lead-in to the network's cop drama "Blue Bloods" as both shows have a strong focus on family and both are genre staples. It also has the advantage of being the only purely legal drama on network TV.
"666 Park Avenue": 10 p.m. Sunday, ABC. I can't seem to get excited about this supernatural thriller set in a historic New York apartment building. Maybe I'm just bitter because it's in the spot where "GCB" should have been (I really liked that show). It does have a great cast of actors including Terry O'Quinn, Vanessa Williams, and Dave Annable, though, and it taps into the soapy nature that has served the network so well.
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"Partners": Ugh. It was as unfunny as its promos but longer. And completely forgettable. Everyone involved is better than this. (8:30 p.m. Monday, CBS)
"Ben and Kate": Fitfully amusing, it was best when focusing on the siblings' connection rather than his zany antics and her messed-up love life. I could do without the obligatory sex-obsessed best friend, but I like the young daughter, who is cute, but not too precocious and not overused. (8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Fox)
"The Mindy Project": A promising start. The humor is more even-toned then the outrageous moments that were shown in ads, and some of what I found uninteresting or off-putting there worked within the context of the show. I can see why Kaling has so many fans; she's a charmer. (9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Fox)
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Network season premieres
CBS: "The Big Bang Theory," 8 p.m., "Two and a Half Men," 8:30 p.m. and "Person of Interest," 9 p.m. Thursday; "CSI: NY," 8 p.m. and "Blue Bloods," 10 p.m. Friday; "The Amazing Race," 8 p.m., "The Good Wife," 9 p.m. and "The Mentalist," 10 p.m. Sunday.
ABC: "Grey's Anatomy," 9 p.m. and "Scandal," 10 p.m. Thursday; "Once Upon a Time," 8 p.m. and "Revenge," 9 p.m. Sunday.
Fox: "Fringe," 9 p.m. Friday (final season); "The Simpsons," 8 p.m., "Bob's Burgers," 8:30 p.m., "Family Guy," 9 p.m. and "American Dad," 9:30 p.m. Sunday; "Raising Hope," 8 p.m. Tuesday.
CW: "Hart of Dixie," 8 p.m. Tuesday; "Supernatural," 9 p.m. Wednesday.
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Scripted series premieres: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," 11 a.m. Saturday, Nickelodeon (cartoon reboot of the turtle hero franchise); "Call the Midwife," 8 p.m. Sunday, PBS (six-part drama about a young midwife in 1950s London).
Series premieres: "Prank My Mom," 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Lifetime (family hoaxes); "Numbnuts," 10 p.m. Friday, MTV2 (stunt game show); "Making Monsters," 8 p.m. Sunday, Travel (company creates scary animatronics); "Airport 24/7: Miami," 9 p.m. Tuesday, Travel (inside the Miami International Airport); "Life After Top Chef," 10 p.m. Wednesday, Bravo (following four former competitors).
New: Nick Jr. launches its nightly "Nick Mom" comedy block at 10 p.m. Monday with the shows "NickMom Night Out," 10 p.m. (standup comedy), "MFF: Mom Friends Forever," 10:30 p.m. (follows two friends/mommy bloggers), "Parental Discretion with Stefanie Wilder-Taylor," 11 p.m. (talk show) and "What Was Carol Brady Thinking?" 11:30 p.m. ("Brady Bunch" episodes with pop-up comedy "thoughts" from Carol).
Returning: "Grimm," 9 p.m. Friday, NBC; "Giuliana & Bill," 8 p.m. Tuesday, Style Network.
Season finales: "Louie," 10 p.m. Thursday, FX; "The Real Housewives of New York City," 9 p.m. and "Gallery Girls," 10 p.m. Monday, Bravo; "Warehouse 13," 9 p.m. Monday, Syfy (midseason).
Specials: "Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday," 8 p.m. Thursday, NBC; "CMT Crossroads: Mumford & Sons and Emmylou Harris," 9 p.m. Thursday, CMT; "iHeart Radio Music Festival," 8 p.m. Monday, CW (performance highlights); live presidential debate, 9 p.m. Wednesday, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS.
Of note: Following its big Emmys showing, Showtime's "Homeland" has a season one marathon beginning at noon Saturday; season two starts at 10 p.m. Sunday (following the "Dexter" season premiere).
Reach Amy Robinson at flips...@wvgazette.com.