Friday, March 29, 2013

NCIS: Los Angeles

NCIS: Los Angeles
Season 4
Episode 19: Red: Part Two
By: Carlos Uribe

NCIS: Los Angeles is a show about an elite division of naval investigators that specialize in undercover assignments. It is a spin-off of NCIS which itself is a spin-off JAG.

Spoilers Ahoy!

The three questions I asked in last week's NCIS: Los Angeles review of this backdoor pilot were:

  1. Is the backdoor pilot good on it's own merit?
  2. Does the spin-off have any potential?
  3. How does the backdoor pilot fit into the NCIS: Los Angeles series? By this, I meant did it push all the characters aside and deliver an episode that is unrecognizable or does it remain a distincly NCIS: Los Angeles episode?

The first question was difficult to answer since it was a first-parter. I can now answer that question on whether the second part was good and how good both parts are as a whole. The second question can also be answered since the series is done establishing the characters and the premise. The third question remains difficult for me to answer since I haven't seen any other NCIS: Los Angeles episodes. Now that we've got the caveats and questions out of the way, let's move on the actual review.

Is the background pilot good on it's own merit? I think I'm disappointed with the second part on it's own. The first half had established a strong weekly case that made me excited to see what was going to happen next. The cliff-hanger wasn't the best but there was enough mystery to hook me. The problem is that solving the mystery turned out to be a disappointment. I think this is because I had different expectations based on the first half. I was expecting more of a thriller than what was delivered. It was a lot more procedural rather than the adrenaline hunt to stop a terrorist attack. This is perfectly acceptable because NCIS: Los Angeles and the backdoor pilot are both cop shows but it was disappointing when all we got was investigations that didn't really create a satisfactory ending to the mystery. The pieces technically fit together but the way they were assembled was rushed. I think speaking to this is when one of the characters notes that one of the victims from the previous episode was killed because he had taped the women hired to kill him. I didn't get that at all until the episode pointed it out. If the episode was going to be more procedural than action-oriented then it should have taken time to ensure it was all clear. It doesn't help that it just felt so uninspired. The second part doesn't really stand on it's own as well as the first part. As for how the whole weekly case fits together? As in, how good are both of the episodes when put together? It has a promising start but it's ultimately unable to deliver. To fully the answer the question-it's solid but not exceptional.

Does the spin-off have any potential? It certainly does but I'm still disappointed by how little I know most of the characters and their relationships between each other. The only one I felt like I really got to know was between Paris and Roy but even then it has an edge of mystery. The edge is good and I'm definably still interested to know the whole story of what happened between them. It's complicated but it's also promising. The problem is that the other agents it was setting up don't really have a unique relationship with Paris or Roy. A cop show is only as good as the chemistry between the whole team. The characters for the spin-off did get some more development in this episode. Paris and Roy are the two most obvious ones but even the supporting detectives started to leave more of an impression. I still like the idea behind it and this episode seems to hint that they would explore beyond just the United States. The first episode of the series would still have to do a lot of work to properly set up the series but this spin-off certainly has potential.

How does this backdoor pilot fit into the original NCIS: Los Angeles show? The first half established a pretty delicate balance where both teams got equal attention so it felt like an episode of the series. The second half wasn't able to maintain that balance. The characters of the series went into the background to concentrate more on the spin-off team. I don't think Callen or Sam played a significant role in this episode like they did in the previous one. They were largely sidelined. This makes sense as it gave the writers more time to flesh out the new characters but it also meant that if felt less like an NCIS: Los Angeles episode, or at least from the version I got from the first half. This might be disappointing to fans of the series but I have no idea. Overall, the backdoor pilot kept up a balance as long as it could but the spin-off eventually overwhelmed the original series.

Red: Part Two is a solid episode that expanded on the spin-off team. The weekly case might have been a disappointment but I have a better idea of the relationship between Roy and Paris. Overall, the spin-off has potential and the two-parter backdoor pilot successfully relayed that promise.

Other Notes:

If NCIS: Red gets picked up as a series then I'll cover the first episode. I don't know yet if I'll pick up the series, though.

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