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Fall 2014 Review: NCIS: New Orleans

24 Sep

NCIS: New Orleans

Most shows are fairly easy to peg both quality and content wise after watching the previews and reading even just a small amount of information about the cast, creators, and premise. Sometimes they’re a little different than you think, sometimes they’re a little better or worse than what you’d guess, but mostly within a certain range of initial expectations. The really noteworthy exceptions are those that differ greatly. There’s also a place, though, for shows that don’t differ even in the slightest – that are exactly, on the nose, what you’d imagine: the most predictable shows on TV. No show this season is more predictable than NCIS: New Orleans.

Of course, a large part of the reason NCIS: New Orleans is so predictable is that it’s the third edition of an extremely popular franchise whose formula is well-established. While I still find it hard to believe there are this many naval-related murders each year, the NCIS crew is a likeable team which takes on and solves a new one every week. The only difference in this edition is a little cajun flair.

Television veteran Scott Bakula heads this team of NCIS special agents. He’s a veteran investigator respected both by his underlings and the community at large and he leads in a calm and casual but authoratative and confident fashion. He’s similar to Mark Harmon’s Leroy Gibbs, who is, in the show’s backstory, reputed to be a long time friend of Bakula’s Dwayne Cassius “King” Pride. Bakula’s charges are Christopher, a native Alabaman, and Merri, a transfer from the midwest, whose unfamiliarity with Louisiana gives the show a chance for some exposition on the nature of working in New Orleans and what makes it such a special place. Rounding out the cast is another longtime veteran of the small screen, CCH Pounder as medical examiner Dr. Loretta Wade.

The first case of the series is naturally one with a personal connection to King (Pride? I’m not sure what he goes by most often yet – I’ll just use Bakula from now on). A member of the navy who Baukla had mentored personally, taking him in from the wrong side of the tracks and getting to see him turn his life around, ended up dead. While the initially investigation pointed in the direction of the victim turning away from his naval training and back to his unsavory gang roots, Bakula has trouble believing it and insists on digging deeper.

The three agents work the case, throwing in little tidbits about the city they live and work in here and there as they go – where Merri should live, and what the neighborhood she chooses will say about her is discussed along with native food and drink. Eventually, they figure out and nail the culprit. They also find a tenuous connection between the murderer and a possibly corrupct city councilman played by white-collar actor extraordinaire Steven Weber, who looks like he might be the big bad in a series that I didn’t think had big bads.

Bakula knows what he’s doing, and CBS continues to make smart calls in putting TV veterans atop their procedural spin-offs. Their goal isn’t to make breakthroughs or anything brand new or interesting, they merely want a level of competence and professional acting which cast members like Bakula will deliver day in and day out. There’s nothing special about NCIS: New Orleans. It’s not a top notch procedural, nor is it really a bad one; it just is. Really, if you have even the vaguest familiarity with the franchise, you really didn’t need to read this review to learn anything about the show. It’s a mediocre procedural that will surely satisfy those who like that sort of thing, and be of just about no interest to most others.

Will I watch it again? No. I love Scott Bakula, but not nearly enough to watch NCIS. That said, there are worse shows for my dad to be watching every week.