NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
Premiered September 22 at 9pm
This show is trying hard both to be like the original “NCIS” and to be different at the same time. The opening and closing black-and-white scene frames are split into surveillance-like shots rather than a simple capture, and the credits, though they look a lot like the main title for the flagship show, are considerably shorter and omit the individual crediting of actors. That’s where the show definitely pales in comparison to the former. The supporting characters aren’t very fleshed out or interesting and the unit doesn’t seem very tight-knit. That said, lead actors Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J are terrific together and make a great duo. This show is less about a team and more about the two of them, which isn’t necessarily a problem. It’s also something that should set this show apart from its predecessor. The pacing certainly doesn’t leave much to be desired, which is a plus, and the constant need for G and Sam to pose as something other than the agents they are is entertaining and should prove fun on a week-to-week basis. Linda Hunt is particularly amusing and funny as the boss of the team, and her presence is an example of why this show is just as loose and fun, if not more so, than the original. Setting the show in a mission makes it all seem like the unit is all the more fascinating and mysterious, and that they could easily operate just as freely and internationally as the team on “The Unit.” The pilot isn’t perfect, but it’s good fun, and that’s really what’s most important. And as long as the top three characters are top-notch and the show isn’t determined to focus on the less intriguing supporting characters, this show will have no problem succeeding gloriously.
How will it work as a series? This show is designed to be more fast-paced and dangerous than the original “NCIS,” and I think that will be to its credit. Confining crimes to the naval world hasn’t stopped that show from exploring new plotlines for six seasons, and therefore this show should have many avenues to go down in the future. O’Donnell and LL Cool J really do make an incredible team, and them entertaining the audience should make this show more than worthwhile.
How long will it last? This show should be on for ages. “NCIS” has alright climbed to terrific ratings heights, and premiering the spin-off after the original will likely guarantee it success. A second season is probably just around the corner, and it should lead a happy and productive life just like the second and third incarnations of that other CBS show with an abbreviated title.
Pilot grade: B