NCIS: Los Angeles Review: Introducing Team Red

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Well, that was a disappointing launch to the potential new series NCIS: Red.

This week's NCIS: Los Angeles, "Red," was used as a backdoor pilot for a new series in the franchise that initially started with JAG. The Red Team is an elite, mobile unit that can be dispatched to anywhere in the world, living quarters included. As a fan of Kim Raver and John Corbett, I had high hopes for their new series. I'll withhold a final judgment until after next week's conclusion to the two-parter, but it isn't off to a good start.

NCIS Red Team

The highlight of the hour was the return of "The Box." The mysterious box that Kensi had and refused to discuss with Deeks. This time she gave it to him as a gift and said that it had what he has always wanted in it. And he didn't open it! At this point, I almost don't want to know what's inside because it will probably be a letdown. It will be fun to see how long Deeks can hold out before opening it. He's not usually a patient person.

As soon as Sam and Callen left Los Angeles, the episode fell apart. The problem with the hour was it moved from moment to moment without a sense of consequence, emotion or urgency. Half way through the episode, it was trudging along at a much too slow pace. The sharing of a room between Callen, Sam and then Granger lasted way too long. And the kitchen scene with Callen and Paris dragged. NCIS: Los Angeles is usually a fast paced show with the team constantly in motion.  

A backdoor pilot has the difficult task of introducing a new show, cast and tone within the confines of the existing series. With the exception of Kim Raver's Paris Summerskill, I can't really say much about the rest of the team. They were there, but with little discernible personality beyond their roles within the team.

The case itself didn't hold my attention easily either. They tracked down the killer, Spears, through a mobile phone video, connected him to a terrorist threat, chased him and let him escape. The two gun fights were well done and another highlight. I especially liked that Sam shot out the sun roof in order to take a position through it to shoot the snow plow. Though, at the airport, how did Spears escape? It was a closed facility. He didn't have time to fly out, did he?

With the Red Team's member, Danny, injured, they needed a replacement. Hetty brought in Paris' former partner, Roy. Since the Red Team is based out of Georgia, why was Hetty replacing one of their team members? Of course, Paris and Roy have a difficult past that they will have to overcome when they work together. Roy's shooting seems to be at the heart of their discord and trust issues. While not particularly original, that relationship should provide some heart and tension within the team.

I wish CBS had aired the two hours together. I don't have a high opinion of the show based on this first hour, but that's primarily because the story has only been half told. It's like reviewing only the first hour of a movie. Despite my disappointment so far, the set up of a mobile team of agents that both live and work together is promising. The NCIS: Red show could easily be redeemed in next week's conclusion. 

Did you enjoy these new characters? What do you think about the tension between Paris and Roy? Did you like it more than I did? Will you tune in for the conclusion next week?


Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 2.7 / 5.0 (211 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


NCIS LA is getting boring..too much Taliban crap an drug deals,spy's nerve gas etc..go back to square one. At Least NCIS is doing the NO thing an it looks interesting..


NCIS is a bad show. Too cute, too shallow. The characters appear to be trying to impress each other about how cool they are. The plots aren't bad, just the characters and how they are are played.


NCIS LA = Terrible. The train episode last week was just awful. Ten feet from a C4 problem. Engineer trying to stop a train with no brakes, so reverses polarity on engine. Fine, but then why are all cars sparking if they have no brakes. Effects looked like a high school film project...that only got a C


I'm late to the party, only having just watched this episode but I had to comment when I read 'Some Guy' talking about the Red team member being English or Australian. Eeek, that was definitely an Australian accent - never insult an Aussie by calling them English. ;-) And yes, I was completely underwhelmed by this episode as well. It was only saved by the Kensi/Deeks scenes about the box. I love the chemistry between those.


Show would be good IF background music didn't drown out the People talking!


Give it time. Not a lot of people were watching NCIS when it first appeared.


I am keeping an open mind but I don't have high hopes for the new series. What has made NCIS great is the cast and top-notch writing. Some members are more indespisible to the show's success than others but even the cast members that have the least amount of time on screen are memorable and likable. This new group seems to have no one memorable or likable. As NCIS and NCIS:LA made cast changes between the pilot and episode 1 (Blackadder and Macy), I'm hoping that Summerskill, Quaid and/or Keats won't make it to episode 1 (an English or Australian woman on a U.S. Federal quick-response team - to quote Deeks: Really?) Their strongest characters at this point seem to be the ones who had to take a backseat in the pilot. As for the writing, the NCIS writers have held true to the investigative part of the show. I have the suspicion that all of the best writers work for NCIS and the less skilled ones work on NCIS:LA. NCIS has a good mix of character and storyline writing. The NCIS:LA writers seem to only be able to do story well which may be why I feel NCIS:LA is less like NCIS and more like 24. I'm not sure what this means for NCIS Red. As for character writing, in addition to being able create likable characters that the audience cares about, the NCIS crew is also able to create the right mix of humor and tension. The tension, for example, between DiNozzo/Ziva and Abby/McGee works because it's subtle. The writers for NCIS:LA have not figured this out with ongoing tension between Eric and Nell (Nell needs to come out so that this can end) and Deeks and Kensi (dial it back 5 notches). I agree with others here who have said they don't care about the tension between Roy and Paris. The only character scenes in the pilot that I found interesting were the ones that included the NCIS:LA cast. Chemistry in the cast is important (something that NCIS:LA does possess) but the writers also need to back that up with interesting dialog and story arcs. After watching the pilot, I'm under the impression that new series has neither chemistry nor strong character writing. If the characters don't draw me in, despite being a fan of these shows back to JAG, I probably won't make it past the 3rd or 4th episode in the new series.


John Corbett seems out of place, both with his character, as well as Corbett, himself. Neither seem to work with the team's fast-paced, really alert Red Team (and obviously much more toned and physically fit bunch that he looks to be -- rather pasty looking, a little out of shape, and what's with that hair?).


The chemistry on the new team just does not work. The background secret between the male and female lead is supposed to bring us back (out of curiosity?) I dont care! I won't watch this spin-off. I do not particularly care for the "no home base" concept. There are only two interesting characters and paired with different actors they could be developed into something good. All in all this "team" is blah!


I have looked forward to watching NCIS each week untill now. The red series seems poorly done and the cast seem so fake compared to the regular series cast. I hope that we can get back to what was working instead of trying to change. Look what change has cost us in the last four years!

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