NCIS: New Orleans, Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”
September 23, 2012, 9:00 p.m. (EST), CBS
There are no shortage of spin-off detective shows and NCIS: New Orleans follows the NCIS formula to the tee. However, the inclusion of Scott Bakula as Agent Pride is a pleasant addition.
NCIS generally follows the prescription of a tight cast with running subplots and various character development cycles throughout it (that also culled from another show like it: CSI). Much of tonight’s episode highlights the setting of New Orleans.
The show opens to footage of shrimp on a loading dock by the water and by the second scene Agent Pride is making southern cuisine at the office for his fellow agents. The topic of food and setting is threaded throughout the show, but not much is shown of the city itself. In fact, the show starts off in the middle of a case: a severed leg is found in crate of shrimp. Agents Brody (Zoe McLellan) and Agent LaSalle (Lucas Black) are introduced, Brody having just transferred from the Midwest.
Pride is personally involved in this case. The leg belongs to a Navy Petty Officer Pride helped rehabilitate out of the gang lifestyle and is also the son of his best friend, a French Quarter jazz musician. The show ties in neatly with NCIS with a cameo appearance by David McCallum conferring with his coroner counterpart CCH Pounder as Doctor Loretta Wade. Right off the bat, connections are made between characters and a camaraderie is created with cooking, jazz, and southern sensibilities. Not to be missed either is the office geek/lab assistant Sebastian Lund (Rob Kerkovich), providing occasional comedic relief in a predictable Lord Of The Rings plug.
Two major gangs are suspected, the Delta Crew and the One-One-Threes, with the possibility of drug or gun running as the motive. This plot isn’t too hard to figure out, but there’s some charm in its unraveling. The feel of this show is less formal considering its amiable and laidback surroundings. The people are approachable and easier to get to know. Viewers will warm up to Pride quickly since he’s definitely protective of his team and his city, while Wade goes about her duties with a continual matriarchal smile. As Brody and LaSalle play-flirt in their interactions, Brody tries to understand her new surroundings, and Pride while in charge, still plays it a bit looser than his NCIS counterpart, Gibbs (Mark Harmon). Constraints on shows like this drive on ongoing dramatic subplots and there are hints in here in a politician played by Steven Weber.
New Orleans is often a secondary character in any of its celluloid incarnations, so expect much of that in future shows. This would give much potential to the above standard quirk factor considering the rich history, constant talk of Mardi Gras, and mystery the city itself holds. Plus, having three memorable television actors such as Bakula, Pounder, Weber gives the show an inviting familiar texture that syncs in well with its premise and setting. It’s always a delight to see Bakula though. I’m one of the rare few that actually enjoyed Star Trek Enterprise (and who didn’t like Quantum Leap?).
That being said, NCIS: New Orleans follows the typical NCIS navy detective formula, but has a future advantage in its location, the chemistry of its characters, and most of all, Scott Bakula.
NCIS: New Orleans follows the typical NCIS navy detective formula, but has a future advantage in its location, the chemistry of its characters, and most of all, Scott Bakula.