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Procedurals aren’t for everyone, but as CBS has proven, they are for a lot of people. Now in its fourth season on the network, NCIS: Los Angeles pulls in well over 14 million total viewers on its worst day and well over 17 million total viewers on its best. If you are one of the few who haven’t caught the series, or just want to see how it snuffs up to some of CBS’ other procedural fodder, this is the column for you.
While there are shows that are easier to invest in if they are watched from Day 1, luckily there are plenty of shows with the ease of plot or the writing finesse to help people to jump into any episode and get involved with a new series. To determine whether a show falls in to the former or latter camp, TV Blend writer Jessica Rawden has vowed to watch episodes of shows she’s never seen before and analyze those show in different areas to let you, the reader, know how quickly you could become a fan. This week Jessica is tackling NCIS: Los Angeles’s Season 4 Episode 21 “Resurrection.”
1. Quality Of Story
I’m not sure if every episode of NCIS: Los Angeles is this jam-packed with random death and violence, but a lot of people were killed in this episode, which featured a Mexican Mafioso faking his own death in order to get the police off of his back. Of course, the NCIS team is too intelligent to be so easily fooled, and thanks to a young songwriter, the team is able to learn about the fake out and pursue the veteran criminal. It’s a wild storyline, but if this only happens once in a while, it could be believable-ish.
Tonight’s episode offered plenty of violence, but it was mostly vanilla violence. Unlike network shows like The Following and Revolution, NCIS: Los Angeles never gets graphic with its violence. Thus, random mafia dudes are shot and fall down (forget blood spatter) and one guy gets poisoned. That’s a far cry from watching a dude kill his loved one with a pillow, a la The Following.
2. Quality Of Characters
Quality is not always the same thing as likeability. The characters in NCIS: Los Angeles are extremely likeable, presenting a team dynamic with plenty of rapport and quick, joke-filled dialogue. However, they aren’t particularly well-drawn individuals. You have Callen (Chris O’Donnell), the cool, leader of the pack idea guy. He’s buddies with Senior Field Agent Hanna (LL Cool J), who seems to be a family man. In the episode I watched, they like to talk Los Angeles sports, hatching a scheme to attend a Clippers game.
Than there are Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) and Kensi Marie Blye (Daniela Ruah), who seem pretty close but don't stand out personality-wise. Honestly, there’s nothing about these characters that we haven’t seen before. We’ve seen the detective with the deadbeat dad and the detective who speaks her mind but still manages to be charming, before. Additionally, the dialogue isn’t particularly top notch, with this week's side dialogue surround Kensi's dislike of children, but if you are looking for an easy breezy procedural you can watch while unwinding after a long day of work, the characters are likeable and the show is enjoyable enough.
3. Likelihood Of Staying On Air
Late last month, CBS renewed NCIS: Los Angeles for a fifth season, which means there will definitely be at least one more round of brand new episodes from the hit series. If the ratings can maintain at the 14 million plus mark, we should be seeing on the schedule for years to come, as well. NCIS: Los Angeles’ sister series, NCIS, has been on the air for 10 seasons and is still going strong.
Additionally, if you don’t want to jump into the series during Season 5, you should check out the NCIS: Los Angeles spinoff if it goes to series next year. NCIS: Los Angeles actor Miguel Ferrer is headed to the spinoff full-time next year if it gets a pick-up by the network. Plus, John Corbett is set to star. Keep your eyes peeled out for more news on that front.
4. Necessary Investment Level
Very little. Despite a crazy plotline featuring a mafia group, and despite tons of action, it’s relatively easy to get to know the series, its format, and its characters. The great thing about procedurals is that you get just enough tidbits about the characters via dialogue in each episode that by the end of the episode, you feel like you already know the whole cast. Fans will be able to make statements about each of the characters like, “That’s Eric, he brings the team upstairs to brief and wears emo glasses,” by the end of the first episode.
Since procedurals are light on the personal stuff and heavy on the weekly crime, the other great thing about them is that you don’t have to tune in religiously like you would (or at least should) with some other dramas. Plus, there’s a little something for lots of different cultures. Spanish was spoken extensively in this week’s episode and I’m pretty sure some of the team members speak numerous languages. I’m betting the tea-drinking Hetty is one of them.
The Good, The Bad, And Whether You Should Watch
I’m like a B+ on NCIS and I actually was a little surprised to realize I hadn’t caught NCIS: Los Angeles before. While NCIS has quirkier, more endearing character, NCIS: Los Angeles, at least this week, packed more punch in the action department. If action-based procedurals are your thing, or if the Los Angeles setting is enough to lure you in, give the show a shot. However, if you are the type of person who prefers impressive dialogue and oddball characters, NCIS: Los Angeles is probably not the program for you. Despite a life-long love of Chris O’Donnell, I’m a little more of the latter, and probably won’t need to tune in again.
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