CBS’s “NCIS” has enjoyed great reviews and continuously ranks high on lists of favorite shows since it premiered in 2003. Betting on the popularity of “NCIS,” producers launched “NCIS LA” in 2009 as a spinoff show. “NCIS LA” focuses on the special agents based in Los Angeles but lacks some of the key elements that make “NCIS” a unique crime show.
“NCIS LA” is a cross between the movies “Tango and Cash” and “Mission Impossible” with its buddy-buddy duo of Callen and Sam in addition to the super advanced technology. Huge wall-sized computer touch screens, advanced tracking devices and any props you can imagine make solving crimes seem effortless. Well not effortless because they must run, jump and fight in order for viewers to see the perfectly sculpted bodies of the young special agents. The only person with any maturity, Hetty, is relegated to the office never getting in the field to solve crimes. While “NCIS LA” may be fast paced with plenty of action, the murders are uninspired and not very intriguing. The plots focus more on spying and intrigue rather than good old-fashioned murder investigations. “NCIS LA” may appeal to some viewers; however, the fans who love “NCIS” and have followed the show from the beginning will feel cheated by the spinoff.
From the very beginning, “NCIS” has been about solving cases. It revolves around investigative skills, reasoning and old-fashioned work. It also has a cast of characters that are unique with very distinctive qualities that set them apart. However, these distinctive qualities are exactly what draw them together as a team. Their skills are extremely specialized but together they are capable of solving the most difficult case. For example, the time that Tony was framed for murder by Abby’s assistant. Gibbs keeps the team focused, Tim uses technology, Abby focuses on the physical evidence and Ducky interjects revelations about the dead body to solve the case. Unlike Hetty, both Gibbs and Ducky play major roles in solving crimes and are in the field. Gibbs not only actively participates in investigating he also manages his team more effectively than Hetty.
Technology was not a major part of solving crimes in the seasons before Tim McGee joined the team other than inside Abby’s lab. Special Agent McGee introduced technology to solve cases; however, it is limited and is not a major part of the story each week. The agents use their brains to figure out the puzzle and then use technology to assist them in proving their case.
The characters on “NCIS” are fully developed and their interactions with each other show that. “NCIS LA” lacks depth even though it is trying to flesh out the characters more. The back-story of Callen’s life is interesting; however, it lacks the same appeal as the story lines involving Tony’s father, Gibbs’s first wife and daughter, Ducky’s mother or Ziva’s family. “NCIS LA” may be as good as “NCIS” in time but for now it leaves fans wanting two hours of “NCIS” instead.