Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NCIS: LOS ANGELES: "Red, Part One"

In this anticipated backdoor pilot for a spinoff, Callen and Sam rendezvous with a mobile Red team to investigate a murder in Idaho whose details match one in Los Angeles.

I admit up front I'm spoiled by the two-part, Season 8 JAG episode introducing the cast of NCIS. It was so different in tone, pacing, and cinematography that it almost didn't fit JAG. Odd fit aside, the aforementioned qualities are what I loved about NCIS for its first seven seasons.

In Season 6 of NCIS, the Los Angeles team was introduced in a two-part, backdoor pilot. By then, NCIS creator Don Bellisario had ceded control to Shane Brennan. Brennan and CBS developed NCIS: Los Angeles without Bellisario's input. Bellisario, in fact, sued CBS for compensation, the parties settling two months ago. I admit to being a Bellisario fan before opining that NCIS: Los Angeles's characters and chemistry weren't as well formed from the start. I say the same about Red team.

Lead agent Paris Summerskill (Kim Raver) had an interesting background in the performing arts and better romantic chemistry with Callen than anyone previously has. However, with ten minutes left in Part One, Paris's ex-partner, Roy Haines (John Corbett), was called back into action. Paris supposedly had chemistry with Roy, but she responded to his appearance by slugging him and sulking off. The rest of the team haven't distinguished themselves yet. Corbett does seem comfortable, as he usually does.

I realize I can't judge a two-parter by part one, but first impressions are important. Because NCIS hit the ground running, I had thought any spinoffs would do the same, but they haven't. That said, I prefer NCIS: Los Angeles Seasons 2, 3, and 4 to classic NCIS Seasons 8, 9, and 10. If "Red" makes a splash in the ratings, CBS is sure to afford it the same chance to grow on me.

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