If you’re interested in participating in the Geek Out Challenge, read this post here! Each day I will be posting a question for that day for the next 30 days. Follow along each day with your own post or feel free to wait until the entire challenge has been released and take it on when you like! Be sure to link back to the master post at the end or link back to each post for each day.
Day Two: What is your most recent fandom?
A trickier one to answer today, certainly there have been shows, games and films I’ve watched, played and enjoyed in recent times I could see myself becoming a fan of but a true fan that buys into the ethos and spirit of the product? a hard one to quantify. In the spirit of being open and transparent I will probably say The Last Ship. This is a really tricky show to ‘sell’ to people, and one I actually never try and convince others to watch or enjoy. In a succinct fashion it’s a post apocalyptic Navy show based on a book that switches the narrative somewhat from a ship at sea being a sole survivor of a nuclear holocaust to instead surviving a viral outbreak and trying to rebuild the world around them. Abandoning the bleak and pessimistic outlook of the original novel, instead opting for a more traditional network, episodic series, only set aboard a naval destroyer with the cooperation of the US military. Without meaning to sound brash or dismissive, I was hesitant when the words ‘Produced by Michael Bay’ appeared on the screen during the opening credits, it does elude to a certain type of product.
Whatever your preconceived notions about a Michael Bay produced series set aboard a US warship during a viral outbreak, I can pretty much safely say, yes, you are 100% right with a dash of American patriotism and gung ho attitude sauce poured on top. Hence, why I rarely if ever try to promote or sell this show and one I wasn’t sure I would see through to the end, whether it was confidence in its product or doubts whether it would be recommissioned with the exception of the first two seasons, each series was a self contained narrative leaving little scope for a return, you always felt with the latter seasons if the network had decided not to renew and this was the last we saw of the Nathan James, there would be no regrets. As such, it was a refreshing change from the modern approach of creating open ended or inter-connected dramas that often are cancelled and frustrate fans who have dedicated themselves to a particular fandom only to be disappointed. I enjoyed each series as if it were the last, pleasantly surprised when they returned, it was my most recent fandom and honestly, probably my most recent guilty pleasure. To the best of my knowledge, my friends don’t watch it, colleagues at work are oblivious, my partner besides an appreciation for Eric Dane from his Grey’s Anatomy days couldn’t care less. It’s my own little fandom.
Every series that premiered tended to just appear on the schedules, living on this side of the pond you never felt it received great promotion though we’ll cover under appreciated series at a later date. Certainly, I would never be aware when it was due to air and it came as a pleasant surprise when it appeared on my Sky Box with a couple of episodes recorded. And after five years in 2018 it finished, and I realised for everything wrong with the show, and I won’t try and objectively argue or say it was a great show, but it was a fun show, and one that showed respect to the American armed services, I did actually enjoy it. Certainly it launched with a big budget and looked different from anything else that was currently showing, but like Stargate SG-1 about a decade before, instead of wrapping the military up in a vast conspiracy show like the X-Files, you got to watch on a weekly basis these very human characters and the incredible circumstances they found themselves in. This positive presentation of the forces had echoes of Star Trek for me and the bridge crew dynamic, a group of individuals, regardless of gender, race and orientation working towards the common good. Isn’t that a message to aspire to and work towards?
With the series now finished and off the air, there isn’t really anything like it available to watch or consume, the methadone approach of consumption snatched away leaving in its wake the usual mix of criminal dramas and murder mystery. For Christmas last year I picked up this shirt of the Nathan James, I love the design and wear it with pride as one of my default shirts when I am out and about. I do enjoy these kind of tops that require a little bit of knowledge about the product to appreciate its true meaning, and for fans of the show, they’ll know when they see it. When you write about geek culture and fandoms, there is a temptation at times to try and discuss the meaningful shows, that will give you some form of kudos to your audience. But for me, the simple fact is, The Last Ship wasn’t a great show, honestly, the narratives were cliched and derivative, character development and depth was almost non existent, towards the end, certain actors were looking a little long in the tooth for the types of characters they were representing. And yet, it had a positive message of inclusion befitting the armed services of the United States, it paid respect to the conduct of the military and showed a world where professionalism and dedication to the cause would be triumphant. In a world of tribal politics across both sides of the Atlantic thats a message I feel needs to resonate!
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