Stay Tuned
Reviews, previews and much more on "The Real Housewives," "How I Met Your Mother," "NCIS" and many more of your favorite shows. This is the place to talk about all of the things that make us "Stay Tuned"…

Monday, September 21, 2009

"NCIS: Los Angeles" Review: Does It Measure Up to the Original?

In my column in Saturday’s print edition of “The Herald-Dispatch,” I said that I didn’t know how “NCIS: Los Angeles” could lose.

Well, after seeing the pilot, I think I know how it can…

“NCIS: Los Angeles” follows the division of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service known as the Office of Special Projects and they do nothing like the NCIS that we know. They assume fake identities and carry all of the latest technologies to bring in the most dangerous threats to national security.

Chris O’Donnell is Special Agent “G” Callen. When last we saw G, during the “NCIS” episode that introduced his character, he was being riddled with bullets. When the premiere opens, he is coming back to work and dealing with the effects of being shot. LL Cool J is Special Agent Sam Hanna, G’s partner.

Much like “NCIS,” the team is made up of a motley crew of individuals who each bring their own expertise to the situation. Kensi (Daniela Ruah) is tough but tender, Nate (Peter Cambor) is a psychologist, Dominic (Adam Jamal Craig) is the newbie and Hetty (Linda Hunt) makes sure that all the bills get paid and that the team has everything they need.

In the opener, the team must figure out why a naval officer was killed in a police shootout with members of a drug cartel.

The problem with a spin-off is that you can’t help but compare it to the original. And it’s hard not to compare each character in “Los Angeles” to a character from “NCIS.” But when you do that, you realize very quickly that they don’t measure up. And at least in the pilot, the story doesn’t quite measure up either. The show is trying so hard to be hip with all of the new technology and trying so hard to throw in the trademark “NCIS” humor that it forgets to worry about the actual story.

Plus, it doesn’t help that O’Donnell is not always convincing. He plays vulnerable and tortured quite well, but he doesn’t always sell tough. And LL Cool J can often come across as too tough. The duo really needs to find the balance in order to work. Hunt is priceless playing the same type of role she did in “Kindergarten Cop” and countless other movies, but again the show tries too hard to make her funny. And it doesn’t always make sense—like when she insists that G try on new clothes when he wasn’t dressed any worse than anyone else.

I still think that “Los Angeles” will be a big hit and I think it has a great deal of potential, but it will need to rely a little less on flash and a lot more on substance…

“NCIS: Los Angeles” premieres Tuesday, September 22nd at 9 p.m. on CBS…

Photo Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS