There are so many times that we grow frustrated with “NCIS: Los Angeles” as a series, but it is rarely because of what they decide to put on the show. Instead, more often than not it is about what they decide to not put on the show. This is a show that does not take a whole lot of risks. It took several years to get Deeks and Kensi together, the premiere episodes tend to be fairly predictable, and there are many stories along the way that you forget about almost like they were a fleeting dream.
When the show pushes itself, some great things do happen. We just wish it happened more often.
What worked – The arc of Deeks’ arrest was very good, especially since it was eventually revealed that he was actually guilty of the charge … albeit under very specific circumstances that still make him a character you can root for. This was a change-up on the classic “popular character gets arrested” trope, and we appreciated the series making a little bit of effort to mix things up. Also, it was nice to see Kensi figure out his secret, and then wait for him to tell her about it, anyway. This was realistic character development, and not just exploited for TV.
Also, the Callen arc at the start of the season was very good, and we’d say for the most part there was not an episode in the first half that was a total dud. We even got to meet Deeks’ mom!
What didn’t – So many of the story-of-the-week plotlines, other than the one featuring Michael Weatherly, feel like they could be in almost any season. Kensi going undercover is always fun, but mixed up with so many other ones they all start to get a little lost. Sam needs something better to do, and by the end of the first half we were starting to feel that way about Hetty, as well. This is a show that needs to take on a different threat soon, presumably an intellectual one.
Overall – This was an interesting report card to write, since we went into it planning on issuing a C / C+ before starting to remember many of the individual moments we liked. Still, “NCIS: Los Angeles” does need to do a better job cultivating what makes it special, but we do like some of the personal touches that they’ve given to Deeks, Callen, and others. Grade: B-.
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