NCIS New Orleans (2014-) [Review]

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Rating: 3.5/5

Seasons: 3rd ongoing

NCIS is one of the most successful shows on TV running for 14 seasons now. The show investigates crimes involving the naval community based in Washington. Banking on the success of NCIS, the makers introduced a spin off, NCIS Los Angeles. A team solving crimes in the city of Los Angeles. When that worked well too, another spin off rose. NCIS New Orleans based in the city of New Orleans. I was confused between picking Los Angeles and New Orleans. Jethro Gibbs was the reason I watched NCIS and I wanted someone like him to lead the show. I read through both the shows and found New Orleans better and more close to its parent show. The ratings were relatively lower, but the setting seemed to be different from the usual. I decided to give it a try, one or two episodes. I am up to date with all the episodes now.

There are huge number of crime procedural shows on TV now. What makes a good show stand apart from the others is the investigating team. The characters are very crucial. Even a dull case would be bearable and watchable if the characters are engaging enough. That’s what makes NCIS NOLA click to the most extent. Dwayne Pride is the Head of NCIS NOLA. Experienced and wise, he leads a relatively small team. He loves and admires the city, his city and works hard to protect her. He owns a small bar and plays piano from time to time. He loves to cook and the office of NCIS NOLA has a kitchen. Actually, the entire office is based on an abandoned warehouse. Pride lives in a room upstairs in the office after his separation and subsequent divorce with his wife, Linda. He has a teenage daughter who follows his footsteps in the field of music. Pride is very level headed. He isn’t bossy. He isn’t forceful with his suspects. He is a very smooth contender. Colleagues and friends call him “King”. In most of the crime shows, including NCIS, the primary lead has a very tragic background. Pride saves us from that. Actually there is no tragic past and history for any of the characters which makes the episodes and cases more entertaining and not emotionally draining.

Apart from Pride, we have his colleagues- Christopher Lasalle. Meredith Brody and Percy Sonja as fellow investigators. Dr Wade is the Medical Examinar and Sebastian is the forensic expert. There is also Triple P, who is the technical expert, who uses the illegal ways to track suspects down. This is the compact team of NCIS NOLA. There is so much ease and fun among them. There is mutual respect for each other and no one shies away from sharing their problems with Pride, who is like their personal counsellor too. The cases are mostly interesting and straight forward. The city of New Orleans adds a lot of color and vibrance to the episodes. It’s really clever of the writers to merge the culture of New Orleans into the show giving a very different vibe while watching it. I, for one, have grown an interesting taste for Jazz music after watching this show. The forensics and pathology connections to the crimes are very intriguing. Each department chips in to solve the crime.

So? Where does the show falter? It falters at what I mentioned as its strength. It’s characters. Surprising? Confusing? I was confused myself when I thought about what was lacking in the show. The characters, as much as they are interesting and entertaining, lacks depth. The show is on its 3rd season now and the characters have had absolutely no growth, probably the reason why Brody left after season 2. They haven’t been tested or explored. A series gets better and better through its seasons when the characters move forward in their life; in other words, I expect as a viewer to get to know more and more about the characters as the series progresses. That is where NCIS NOLA fails in my point of view. The series is very consistent in its graph. But having said that there is no improvement too from the time the show started. The cases are well drafted but personal touches to the cases always bring in more thrill and tension. The team has no friction of any sort, no heated arguments or difference of opinion. The ride is too smooth. I really wish the characters are explored more and more tension is brought to the storyline. Example would be the recent episode, “End of the line”, we had Dr Wade’s past coming back where she had made a mistake in her judgement wrongfully convicting a guy who comes back after his release. Now that brings in a thrill. The case is solid, but the characters’ personal touch brings the viewers closer to the show.

The banter among the team members is good but nothing like the ones in NCIS when DiNozzo was present. The action sequences are nicely shot. The chasing and shooting add a lot of pace to the story. The series is beginning to get enclosed in a tight shell; the structure of the episodes have become very methodical with no room for innovation. It’s time the show breaks the shackles and brings out something new.

All the actors do complete justice to their roles. Scott Bakula (Pride) and Lucas Black (Lasalle) are the stars of the show. The change of accent, dressing and attitude gives us a different sort of cops from the usual ones. But again, I don’t think their acting skills have been tested at all. I am expecting to see more serious cases involving their characters for them to portray their acting skills.

The show, in spite of its not so great ratings, is a very good crime procedural. We don’t have suited men with dark sunglasses running around. The show keeps New Orleans in the front and portrays the cases and the city with as much authenticity as possible. Being a NCIS fan, I thoroughly love this spin off, more so now as NCIS has lost its magic. Go for this show to enjoy the dynamic and musical background of New Orleans intertwined with well written cases.

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