The newest addition to CBS's NCIS stable, NCIS: New Orleans, brings a fresh Louisiana vibe to the cops-investigating-Navy-crimes conceit.
Airing in the 9 p.m. time-slot immediately following NCIS, it has proven strong in the ratings, never garnering under 14 million viewers – altogether fairly impressive.
Unlike its sister show NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans has remained pretty close to its predecessor, though some fans would argue it's stayed a little too close.
So, after after 10 episodes (12 if you count the backdoor pilot on NCIS), how's it actually doing? Find out our thoughts on the best and worst of NCIS: New Orleans Season 1 thus far with our TV Fanatic Report Card!
Best Episode: NCIS: New Orleans Season 1 Episode 8, "Love Hurts," wasn't without its issues – frankly, the assassin's scheme was way, way overly-complicated – but there was a lot going for it, as well. Brody got to square off with the assassin in an extremely well-choreographed fight scene, for one!
While the main plot could definitely have used some work, the personal scenes with the main characters were actually pretty strong. The viewers were introduced to a good friend of LaSalle from outside the office (gasp!), charming Chief Petty Officer Phil Martino, and learned that LaSalle had a troubled brother who was currently missing. Plus, Sebastian Lund shared a non-annoying conversation with Pride, and had an honest-to-goodness girlfriend – who wasn't make-believe!
Honorable Mention: While it could be (and has been) argued that NCIS: New Orleans Season 1 Episode 10 should have been split into two separate episodes, both stories in "Stolen Valor" were surprisingly compelling. Perhaps the rescue of the MIA explosive ordinance specialist was a bit candy-cane sweet, but it was Christmas and I'm a sucker for a happy ending to a Christmas story.
Worst Episode: NCIS: New Orleans Season 1 Episode 2, "Carrier," featured a now annoyingly-common TV tropes: pharmaceutical executive infects unsuspecting people in order to get rich off supplying the vaccine/cure. This was one of those cases where pretty much any other plot direction would have been more interesting. As it is, "Carrier" was just plain annoying with how predictable it was. Michael Weatherly's guest appearance as Tony DiNozzo from NCIS didn't really bring anything useful or compelling, either. Throw in the unlikelihood that our heroes would actually be able to hush up an outbreak of plague the way they did, and this is one hour I'd really like back.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: NCIS: New Orleans Season 1 Episode 5, "It Happened Last Night": If an episode is just bad, at least people are still talking about how bad it was. When an episode is boring, however...? Yeah, that's this episode. Oh, yeah, they did it for the money!
Favorite Recurring Character: Patton Plame, played by Daryl Mitchell, knows how to lighten up the situation in every episode he appears, whether it's snarking at Sebastian Lund or surreptitiously stealing LaSalle's potato salad. He's entertaining and fun, and the other characters don't make a huge thing about how he's stuck in a wheelchair (Daryl Mitchell was paralyzed in an accident in 2001) – this frees him up to be an actual character and not a disability. Let's have some more Patton Plame!
I tell you what, this puppy is buttoned up tighter than a... very... tightly... buttoned-up puppy... Okay, I got lost in the middle of that one.NCIS Agent Patton Plame
Honorable Mention: Paige Turco has fantastic chemistry with Scott Bakula as Agent Pride's estranged wife, to the point where we just really, really hope they work out their marital issues and get back together!
Least-Liked Character: I'm not sure I've read any positive comments about Sebastian Lund. He's been described as grating, annoying, obnoxious, or simply the weakest character on the show. Unfortunately, much of Sebastian as a character seemed to revolve around him being "quirky." Being "quirky" is not enough to make a character interesting or compelling; they did a little development in Season 1 Episode 8 as mentioned above, but it may well be too little, too late to get back on the good side of viewers.
Best Supporting Role: New Orleans provides such a great backdrop, from the vibrant sights and sounds to the oh-so-delicious-looking food that you wished you could reach through your screen and grab! Everything just seems so much bigger in New Orleans, so much larger than life. And it's a fantastic change from the more expected Los Angeles or New York setting for cop shows, that's for sure.
Biggest Complaint: The excessive NCIS mothership crossovers early in the season got old fast. It seemed to take forever before the production staff remembered that NCIS: New Orleans needed to stand on its own without the crutch of crossovers to attract viewers, especially when the crossovers didn't bring anything particularly important to the episode.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: "He/she/they did it for the money." Please, not again.
Character We Most Want to Meet: I think we're all looking forward to the collision of our favorite 'Bama boy LaSalle and his missing brother Cade. LaSalle is a very likeable character, and he's greatly benefited by having some nice background-building subplots throughout the season so far, so I definitely want to meet the brother that's caused him so much grief.
Hopes for 2015:
- NCIS: New Orleans leans fairly heavily on the family vibe that is much more of an undercurrent in the mothership, and that helps it stand out from the crowd, as it were. The main team is one of the strong points of the series – they should build on their characters and their rapport with each other, rather than try to come up with ridiculously complicated cases that canny viewers will probably figure out anyway.
- Travel beyond the confines of New Orleans to the vast reaches beyond. For having a jurisdiction supposedly from Pensacola to the Texas panhandle, the team sure does seem to investigate a lot of cases in New Orleans. To be sure, NOLA is a great city, with a vibrant culture and delicious food, but there's definitely more out there!
Overall Grade: B.
What grade would you give to NCIS: New Orleans at midseason?