Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pilot Review: NCIS: New Orleans

NCIS: New Orleans (CBS)
Premiered September 23 at 9pm

It’s been a while since I’ve watched any part of the NCIS brand. I used to trumpet the original as the first show that I watched live from the day it started (back in 2003). That ended when I stopped reviewing both “NCIS” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” four years ago simply because there were too many shows airing at the time. Looking back at my reviews, I actually still liked both series, and it’s perfectly understandable that CBS would try to capitalize on one of its biggest successes by launching a new spinoff. Like with the second iteration of this franchise and the original, there aren’t too many similarities other than the structure of the team and the fact that they’re investigating naval crimes and murders. The lone reference to another NCIS crew is a video conference with Ducky from the Virginia crew, which helps to underling the notion that this team’s medical examiner is just as eccentric. The cast has considerable television experience, and it’s certainly an eclectic combination. Scott Bakula has been on a range of shows from “Quantum Leap” to “Enterprise” to “Men of a Certain Age,” and this seems like a good role for him, despite his exaggerated New Orleans drawl. Lucas Black doesn’t need to put on any accent to make himself seem like a native, and I remember when I interviewed Sissy Spacek and Bill Murray, who worked with Black on “Get Low” and said that his accent was so thick that even his mother can’t understand him. He has a great chemistry with Zoe McLellan, who I liked when she starred in “Dirty Sexy Money” a while back on ABC. And then there’s CCH Pounder, who gets another shot at a comic role after “Brothers” following her more serious turns in “Warehouse 13” (somewhat serious) and “The Shield” (much more dramatic). I won’t say too much about Rob Kerkovich’s awkward medical examiner assistant, since he seems like more of a distraction than anything. This show has a fun flair to it, and does a great job of keeping an existing format relevant in an entirely new setting. I’m not keen to start watching another procedural like this, but it does seem like a lot of fun.

How will it work as a series? The city of New Orleans is a great setting for a show like this, arguably much better than Washington or Los Angeles, and it provides the opportunity for plenty of cultural references, including food, music, and just general southern hospitality. That should help to invigorate an immensely successful brand in a new locale.
How long will it last? It’s not even a question. This show was the biggest lock of the fall, and premiering it after the original series was both a very smart and very confident idea. The ratings didn’t disappoint, and this show is sure to be the most prominent of CBS’ early renewals for next year.

Pilot grade: B+

No comments: