THE SERIES “SEAL Team”
WHEN | WHERE Premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBS/2
WHAT IT’S ABOUT You need something done, you call this Navy special-ops squad. Drop ’em off, let ’em run, it’s done. And then they’re back home, not talking about it. Never mind that these guys are usually gone. “You’re not here even when you are here,” observes the estranged wife of the squad leader, played by TV mainstay David Boreanaz (“Bones”).
In other words, life is tough at work, and also at home. Feeling comfortable in one role puts the screws to the other. Boreanaz’s character ends up at therapy in Wednesday’s pilot. He’s not happy there, either.
His SEAL colleagues have their own concerns. The key second (Neil Brown Jr., HBO’s “Insecure”) has a pregnant wife. Another member (AJ Buckley, “CSI: NY”) isn’t always on board with team goals. Wednesday’s premiere hour welcomes a new guy (Max Thieriot, “Bates Motel”), who isn’t necessarily welcome. And then there’s the support team, busy outfitting their equipment and serving as liaison to The Powers That Be.
MY SAY After two episodes previewed, “SEAL Team” still seems to be finding its footing. The work/home balance feels like a work in progress, as does fleshing out the team players. The new guy gets sent back into training, which adds a third thread to the series’ already busy plotting.
Now let’s talk procedure, which is the way CBS does drama. There’s a lot of it here, involving A-B-C-D mission steps, global travel, all-seeing computers, night-vision shots, canine camera (did we mention the team dog?), inerrant firepower and Boreanaz’s soft heart. (He’s a haunted guy.) This may well mean that many viewers, especially CBS fans, will find something to latch onto. But to me, all those procedural steps feels like going through the motions. (And I’ve never been wowed by Boreanaz.)
Compare this to History’s January SEAL series “Six,” built differently as a single-arc tale, but more acutely addressing the job/soul balance. That was a grabber, aided by team leader Walton Goggins’ emotional urgency and the episodes’ persuasive momentum. (Season 2 is due in 2018.)
But plenty of viewers like what CBS, the most-watched network, provides, and they may feel at home with the closed-end adventures of “SEAL Team.” It feels to me like CBS wanted a military heroism series, and the producers provided one, and here it is.
BOTTOM LINE America needs heroes, I get it. But can’t they be more compelling?