Paramount // 2009 // 1040 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 22nd, 2010
Off the record. On the hunt.
CBS spins off one of its most popular dramas and stockpiles the new endeavor with a bunch of recognizable faces. The result: if you like this kind of show, you'll probably like this one.
Those faces: Chris O'Donnell (Batman and Robin), LL Cool J (Deep Blue Sea), and Linda Hunt (Kindergarten Cop). They make up an elite unit of undercover NCIS agents, who get the call when there are terrorists at large, rogue Navy SEALs stealing drug money, or private security soldiers running amok.
When the rubber meets the road and Jack Bauer isn't available to defuse the situation, these guys are called. Special Agents Callen (O'Donnell) and Hanna (LL) hit the field throwing punches and running in slow motion away from exploding pyrotechnics, while their support team fiddles around with traffic cameras and Windows Vista. Still, it's a strategy that works, with each of these 24 episodes ending in victory for the good guys and smirks all around.
Really, if you like this kind of show, then NCIS: Los Angeles should appeal to you. And by "this kind of show," I'm talking about slick procedurals with explosions, so-so writing, and lots of high-tech gadgets. Basically, your typical CBS hour-long.
I have never been terribly enamored with the CBS procedural -- CSI, CSI: Miami, NCIS; they never grabbed me. NCIS: Los Angeles did, however, supply a decent dose of entertainment.
Most of that success can be laid at the feet of its two leads. Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J are pretty good here. They've got real chemistry together as Alpha male field agents and are even humorous enough to add comic relief to the production. When it's time to suit up for action -- which apparently is a frequent occurrence in Los Angeles -- these two exhibit solid physical presence. LL Cool J in particular carries the stunt-work well, often being the guy who gets to indulge in the hand-to-hand combat work.
When the screen isn't jumping with car chases and remote detonations, you're looking at a fairly standard-issue procedural. There's a mystery that needs to be solved and the NCIS team works the clues, messes around with computer, and sends their big dogs into the field to take care of business. With the action quotient jacked up, the pacing isn't as methodical; pointing to the creators' desire to beef up the genre, and give more weight to the mayhem. I can dig it.
The six-disc Blu-ray set provides a satisfying technical experience for the show. Episodes look fantastic in their slick 1.78:1, 1080p transfer. This isn't a dark show; seedy grit is exchanged for fun in the sun, and thick vibrant colors. The high-def presentation enhances the show's attractive look and makes for a high-end visual feast. No question: the Blu-ray is worth the upgrade. There's a lot of soundwork going on, from the manic effects to the brawny score, and the DTS-HD Master Audio handles it all very well. Extras: Featurettes on the cast and crew, the set design, the Ops center, the stunts and the making of LL Cool J's music video; an "Inspired Television" segment; select episode commentary from creator Shane Brennan; and LL Cool J's "No Crew is Superior" music video.
I'm still not entirely sure what Linda Hunt's character is for; she's petite, snarky, and...that's about it.
It won't redefine what can be done on the small screen, but NCIS: Los Angeles keeps the action moving. That's probably good enough.
Not Guilty. I'm gonna knock you out!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 1040 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Music Video
* Official Site