NCIS: Sydney Review: A Diamond in the Rough in a Sea of Procedurals

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It's hard to believe the NCIS franchise is over 20 years old. 

While the original series is still chugging along, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans have sailed off into the sunset despite still being in great shape creatively.

Both spinoffs ended while there was still plenty of gas in the tank, but the franchise overlords are more interested in taking us to different locations nowadays.

NCIS: Sydney Premiere Photo

NCIS: Hawai'i was a valiant effort at a more diverse spinoff with an island backdrop, and it has its quirks that have won it plentiful fans.

NCIS: Sydney, the latest entry, is a fast-paced chapter that makes up for the lack of initial chemistry between its ensemble with brilliant characterization and some of the best cases in years.

Solving a Case on NCIS: Sydney

Olivia Swann (DC's Legends of Tomorrow) and Todd Lasance (The Vampire Diaries, Home and Away) lead this new team of special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service -- that's NCIS for those of you who are new here!

Out of the four episodes screened for critics, the series premiere has its clunky moments, but the second episode ironed out all of my qualms.

Related: FBI Season 6: Everything We Know

That's also around the time Swann's Michelle Mackey and Lasance's Jim "JD" Dempsey came into their own, and the rest of the cast, including Sean Sagar, Tuuli Narkle, Mavournee Hazel, and William McInnes, began to gel.

It's always nice when you see that progression on-screen, and throughout those initial four episodes, there is plenty of progression.

NCIS Agents in Sydney

The procedural elements ingrained in the NCIS universe's DNA remain, but some interesting overarching storylines and conflicts plague the team members that must be addressed in the final four episodes of the season.

When NCIS: Sydney was announced, there were many questions about how well the universe would play out with an Australian crop of agents.

Given that there were initially no plans for the series to air in the U.S., there were also concerns it would erase what we NCIS Fanatics have loved about that universe for two decades.

Thankfully, the easter eggs peppered throughout the series are plentiful, giving the sense that the series is happening as Agent Alden Parker and Jane Tennant are leading their teams to success on the other side of the planet.

The Lead Agents of NCIS: Sydney

If you're familiar with any of the above series, NCIS: Sydney might feel a little familiar, but the new city adds more than it borrows, which is a strong indicator of success.

The bar has been set very high with the first international entry in the NCIS-verse, and it leads me to believe that Paramount Global will be interested in even more global locations.

With many procedurals off the air due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, NCIS: Sydney is a surefire hit, whether you've watched the shows that came before it.

What's your take on what you're hearing about the show so far?

Todd Lasance for NCIS: Sydney

Will you check out NCIS: Sydney when it premieres Tuesday, November 14, at 9 p.m. on CBS?

If you are, return to TV Fanatic for Dale's episodic reviews as NCIS: Sydney Season 1 is airing.

In the meantime, check out the promo below.

NCIS: Sydney is the fifth series to come out of the popular global NCIS franchise and the first-ever international edition.

With rising international tensions in the Indo-Pacific, a brilliant and eclectic team of U.S. NCIS agents and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) are grafted into a multinational taskforce to keep naval crimes in check in the most contested patch of ocean on the planet.

Related: NCIS Season 21: Everything We Know

Led by NCIS Special Agent Michelle Mackey and her 2IC AFP counterpart, Sergeant Jim "JD" Dempsey, our team of Americans and Aussies must quickly learn to trust each other, overcoming and harnessing their differences to solve each case.

Though jurisdictional tussles and culture clashes make for a rocky start, Mackey will eventually come to respect JD's nose for the truth, as he does her maverick style.

Olivia Swann for NCIS: Sydney

Meanwhile, sassy AFP Constable Evie Cooper and endlessly curious Special Agent DeShawn Jackson form a fast friendship, while curmudgeonly forensic pathologist Doctor Roy Penrose meets his match in the brilliant young forensic scientist Bluebird "Blue" Gleeson.

Together, our team becomes NCIS' first ever internationally blended family.


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Paul Dailly was an Associate Editor for TV Fanatic.Follow him on X.

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NCIS: Sydney Quotes

Let's just accept that I can piss further than you can, shall we?

Mackey [to JD]

JD: Good morning, Rosie.
Rosie: I'll be the judge of that, mate.