Tonight, Sunday, Aug. 24, TNT airs the season-one finale of its post-apocalyptic military drama The Last Ship, which has already received a season-two pick-up.
Executive-produced by action-movie mogul Michael Bay, it stars Eric Dane as U.S. Navy Commander Tom Chandler, captain of the U.S.S. Nathan James, a Navy guided missile destroyer that is at sea when a virulent, weaponized pandemic spreads throughout the world. The ship just happens to have on board Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra), a paleomicrobiologist in possession of samples of the deadly virus, which have allowed her, over the course of the season, to develop a cure.
In the season finale, called “No Place Like Home,” the Nathan James heads back to the U.S., where Chandler tries to find his family, and the whole crew encounters a terrifying reality about the world they left behind.
Adam Baldwin (Full Metal Jacket, Firefly, Serenity, Independence Day, Chuck) co-stars as Chandler’s second in command, XO Mike Slattery. The Illinois native is used to playing military types, and the Navy is apparently happy with how he wears the uniform in The Last Ship and with the show itself.
“They love it,” Baldwin tells Breitbart News. “They were thrilled, and the funny thing is, you have a dedicated fan base, and a built-in fan base, from the Navy, because our goal was to portray the Navy as realistically as we could within the scenario and within our Hollywood creation.”
Of course, if things aren’t done up to Navy snuff, Baldwin and the producers hear about it.
“The technical advisers, from the Department of Defense on down,” he says, “they sign off on our accuracy and commitment to the ethos of the Navy. That was one of the struggling points of the previous Navy show, and that may have been why that one didn’t last as long.”
Baldwin is referring to the 2012-2013 ABC drama The Last Resort, which starred Andre Braugher as the captain of a U.S. Navy submarine that holes up on a remote island when political chaos engulfs the world. Starting with a poster that showed Scott Speedman, who played the second in command, standing in the ocean trailing an American flag in the water, the show ran into trouble with its portrayal of Navy life.
And, unlike The Last Ship, it wasn’t produced in cooperation with the Navy – but that has hazards of its own.
“The dedicated fan base,” says Baldwin, “is able to look at the show and see the flaws and imperfections. It’s kind of a sport among them now. So, there [are] these guys who are reviewing it who are creative writers, who’ve been in the Navy, and they’re able to pick, out of their own areas of expertise, the flaws that show up in our show.
“But they’re totally in the story with us. It’s nitpicking. It’s not like a major flaw or anything, where you blow up the logic of the show, where you step outside the reality you created, nothing like that. It’s just little technical things, like you don’t salute when you’re not wearing a cover. And there are some engineering mistakes that some of the engineers who watch the show see, that we may or may not catch in the heat of production.”
The Last Ship filmed its interiors on a set in Manhattan Beach, California – click here to see my story about that – but it’s also filmed on real ships in California ports, including the USS Halsey (only for the pilot) and the USS Dewey, based out of San Diego; the former cruise liner RMS Queen Mary, permanently berthed in Long Beach; and the museum ship USS Iowa, at the port of Los Angeles in San Pedro.
But there have been other maritime perks.
“The Surface Navy Association granted me an honorary Surface Warfare Officer commission,” says Baldwin, “when I went to D.C. in March. They seem to like it. When I can, I speak up for the Navy and the military, as much as I can. Hopefully they understand that I respect them, and I’ve raised some money for them. I wish I could do more.
“But as far as legitimate goes, I pretend to play a Navy guy on television. These guys are the real deal.”
Fortunately for Baldwin, playing pretend also included a taste of real Navy life.
“[We participated] in two embarkations,” says Baldwin, “one when we were filming down in San Diego, where they take you out over the horizon, and you ride around a little bit. And the other was being invited to participate in Fleet Week, where they flew me out on a helicopter to the USS Oak Hill, and they screened the pilot episode for the crew in the mess.
“It was a dream come true. We got to sail up into New York Harbor and see that whole thing. I’m just honored to be here.”
Here’s a preview of the finale: