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'NCIS: New Orleans' brings the same hit to a new city

Scott Bakula as Special Agent Dwayne Pride and

Scott Bakula as Special Agent Dwayne Pride and CCH Pounder as Dr. Loretta Wade in "NCIS: New Orleans." Credit: CBS / Skip Bolen

THE SHOW "NCIS: New Orleans"

WHEN|WHERE Tuesday night at 9 on CBS/2

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Special Agent Dwayne Pride (Scott Bakula) is a good ol' boy with a heart of gold, fast fists and a temper you don't want to mess with. (Viewers met Dwayne and his temper during a two-part backdoor pilot on "NCIS" last season.) He's a NOLA native who loves his city and knows it intimately -- too bad for the bad guys who think they can get something over on him, which they can't. His colleagues are special agents Christopher LaSalle (Lucas Black) and Meredith "Merri" Brody (Zoe McLellan) -- also introduced last season. Their support team: coroner Dr. Loretta Wade (CCH Pounder), who is steady, smart, a tad eccentric, and forensic scientist Sebastian Lund (Rob Kerkovich), a quirky, funky, Gen-Xer with an uncannily witty way of finding the right clue at the right time.

MY SAY Formula! What would "NCIS" do without that precious seven-letter word, which dictates precisely what will -- what must -- unfold over 44 minutes?

Body found ... Navy ties to corpse established ... chatter about who/what/why ... wrong leads pursued ... good lead discovered, thanks to the crack work by the witty lab tech ... bad guy caught. Fade-out to commercial. Good night.

Tuesday night's "Musician Heal Thyself" opens with a severed leg (OK, so there are variations to the formula) while the faces, and town, are new. Everything else is as familiar, comfortable and reliable as an old dog by the hearth.

"NCIS:NO" does boast some wonderful, seasoned and beloved actors -- Bakula and Pounder, first and foremost -- who know the score well. They're not here to break form or rewrite that trusty "NCIS" formula. Instead, they offer something a little better -- geniality and smooth professionalism. "NCIS: New Orleans" will succeed because of those four other letters (N, C, I and S). But these two actors should make the process of watching -- or chore of watching, depending on your appetite for more of this formula -- just a little more agreeable.

BOTTOM LINE Bakula, Pounder -- as usual -- make the medicine go down easily. Otherwise, formulaic.


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