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The first episode of Last Resort (Thursday, 7 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4) is the single best pilot of any new show on TV this fall.

Whether it turns out to be the best new series is impossible to say at this point. But the first hour is an engaging, taut drama that full of surprises. (Assuming, of course, you haven't read too much about what happens.

When Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher), commander of the ballistic missile submarine U.S.S. Colorado, is ordered to nuke Pakistan, he requests confirmation - and his ship is fired upon by another U.S. warship. Chaplin takes drastic measures to ensure the safety of his crew, beginning by getting his ship underway and taking over an island that's home to a NATO listening post.

There are jaw dropping developments you'd never expect to see on a network show. Don't want to give too much away ... except to say that my fears that ensuing episodes won't be able to live up to the pilot seem to be justified. Critics have see Episodes 2 and 3, and, while they're not bad, they're no as good as Episode 1.

I'm hoping they're just sort of setting up the rest of the season and there's more "Last Resort" greatness coming our way.

Even if that doesn't turn out to be the case, don't miss Thursday's premiere. It truly is must-see TV.