'NCIS: Los Angeles' gets off to solid start
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There's no question that CBS's "NCIS" became a hit because of the camaraderie of the characters and the relationships that have developed among them. Executive producer Shane Brennan is clearly working the same formula in "NCIS: Los Angeles" (9 tonight, KDKA-TV), the spinoff series that introduced its characters in a two-part May episode of the original "NCIS."
- When: 9 tonight on CBS.
- Starring: LL Cool J, Chris O'Donnell.
There has been some tinkering in the interim as characters were deleted (bye-bye, Louise Lombard!) and added (welcome, Linda Hunt!). Tonight's series premiere shows a greater emphasis on characterization and building a team that bonds through generic teasing and banter.
When last we saw the Los Angeles branch of NCIS, special agent Sam Hanna (LL Cool J) was holding his partner, G. Callen (Chris O'Donnell), who had been shot. Callen survived (of course) and tonight's episode begins on his first day back at the office, which has moved into a Spanish-style former mission -- imagine the apartment complex on "Melrose Place" as an NCIS HQ.
O'Donnell and LL Cool J form an easy alliance that's filled with lighter moments of humor even as they investigate a plot that's decidedly obvious and unsurprising.
The addition of Hunt is welcome for the quirk factor of seeing the diminutive Oscar-winner stare up at LL Cool J. She appears to be playing some sort of cross between Q in the James Bond films and an officious office manager -- and she deserves more screen time than she gets this week.
With no real boss in Los Angeles, this new NCIS team reports to director Leon Vance (guest star Rocky Carroll), who appears on a monitor in the L.A. HQ via satellite. Other team members include psychologist Nate Getz (Peter Cambor), special agent Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah) and fount of historical minutiae Dominic Vail (Adam Jamal Craig).
It's a decent team of diverse but largely expected types. "NCIS: Los Angeles" will rise or fall in the coming weeks depending on how well the writers build on what are essentially blank palette characters.
First Published September 22, 2009 12:00 am