Two of the most promoted television shows on the small screen right now deal with an apocalyptic theme this summer, The Last Ship and The Strain. Both these programs deal, albeit very differently, with the possible extinction of mankind. Although it could be said that each show has a different sort of pandemic which threatens the survival of the human race.
The Last Ship premiered on TNT June 22. It is based on the novel by William Brinkley which tells the story of the USS Nathan James. The James is part of a full-scale nuclear conflict, in the book, and this war leaves the ship and its crew looking for a safe port to call home.
The television version of Brinkley’s book deviates a lot from the original apocalyptic story. In this adaptation of the nuclear fallout scenario, the world’s rapidly approaching demise is brought about by a global pandemic. The ship is not participating in a nuclear war and is instead patrolling the arctic and while performing their mission, a virus sweeps across the world decimating the population by 50 percent.
Two scientists are searching for something in the icy terrain when they, and the ship, are attacked by “rogue” Russian forces via helicopters. After fighting off the aggressive attackers, it turns out that the Russians are looking for “the cure.”
This TNT produced program offers what appears to be an impressive budget and has the added bonus of starring Brit actress Rhona Mitra (Doomsday, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans), all-American “action man” actor Adam Baldwin (Serenity, Chuck) and Dr. Mark Sloan, aka actor Eric Dane from Grey’s Anatomy.
The Last Ship and The Strain offer a summer filled with apocalyptic viewing on television. It is interesting to note that another apocalypse themed TV show is in production while these two shows air. AMC’s The Walking Dead is currently filming in Georgia. This show also deals with a pandemic of sorts, but does not fill a summertime slot.
Over on FX it is all about vampires who are proven to be parasitic creatures who pass on their parasites via their bite. Based on the Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan trilogy, The Strain, this series could also be considered a sort of pandemic television show. In this vampiric program, the CDC are involved in a war with these bloodsucking creatures and it is escalating.
Interestingly enough another Brit actor is starring in the FX program. David Bradley, best known from the Harry Potter franchise, plays Abraham Setrakian who assists head of the CDC Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (played by Corey Stoll).
A Boeing 777 lands at JFK and it stops moving across the runway. Goodweather and his CDC crew board the plane and discover something that indicates the vampire threat has escalated dramatically.
The Strain leaves “traditional” vampire lore behind and focuses instead on a more scientific explanation for the physiology of the creatures. A parasitic worm that initiates a rapid and incurable virus which affects the human host is the reason for the rapid spread of vampires in the show.
It is interesting to note that both of these apocalyptic summer shows, The Last Ship and The Strain deal with a type of virus. Viewing of these two science fiction shows, one being termed as horror and the other as a drama, may just be a requirement for those who love this type of fiction.
By Michael Smith