There's a lot to love about The Last Ship, the TV show about the crew of a heroic Navy destroyer trying to save the world from a global pandemic. But there's a lot that makes us roll our eyes so hard, we get a headrush. See both aspects of the show in one brief clip. Spoilers ahead...
The thing I love about The Last Ship is that it shows a lot of inventiveness and problem-solving — I will always be a sucker for problem-solving on television, as long as it doesn't devolve into technobabble. In this episode, the U.S.S. Nathan James has engine trouble as a result of its narrow escape from Gitmo last week, and the untested assistant engineer has to rig up a bunch of quick fixes. Including keeping the doctor's virus samples cool by sinking them to the bottom of the ocean, and rigging up parachutes to catch the wind and spin the destroyer's propellers, generating enough electricity to run crucial systems.
I love that — the whole time they're talking about figuring out weird solutions to technical problems, it's magic. Add to that the fact that this is a show with a heroic scientist, who's mostly portrayed as an awesome badass who's going to save the world, and you've got something really terrific. (And this week, she seems to make some major strides towards finding an actual vaccine, thanks to the somewhat unwilling help of her evil lab assistant Quinn.)
And then there's the bad part — the schlocky sentimentality, which threatens to overrun the episode (as you can glimpse towards the end of this clip.) Not just the stuff where the Master Chief basically tells the Captain that he's on a holy mission from God, and he has a vision that is divinely inspired and Jesus is smiling down on their boat — but all the other stuff, where the Captain sits and listens to the shortwave while holding his daughter's bracelet and thinking back to when he told his kids that he'd be watching the same stars they were, no matter where he was.
Not that there's anything wrong with genuine, intense emotion — but this show pushes the treacle so hard, you'd think they were getting a cut from Tommy's Treacle Emporium.
And more to the point, why can't we have awesome, super-competent problem-solving asskickers without needing to wallow in schmaltz? The implication, is we won't be able to accept that these people are just good at their jobs, and use science and technology to fix stuff, unless we also see them being weepy and talking about Jesus.