The best that I can say for “NCIS: Los Angeles,” is that, if every decent television show on television were suddenly yanked from the schedule, and this was the best show remaining on television, I’d probably watch it occasionally. It’s like the chubby guy at last call — somebody will fuck him, but only at her place. It’s not worth a walk of shame the next morning.
Indeed, like the show it is spun off of, and the star of this one, Chris O’Donnell, “NCIS: Los Angeles” is bland and inoffensive, but it’s pretty, with all the personality of a marmoset, and the flavor of a menthol ultra light — slightly minty, but no buzz. In short, “NCIS: Los Angeles” is butterscotch candy. If you’re bored, and it’s sitting in a candy dish in front of you, you might take one. But it’s not anything you’d seek out.
Given the show’s conceit — that it revolves around special agents who investigate crimes involving the Navy and Marines — the setup in Los Angeles is both mystifying and pointless; Los Angeles is the entertainment capitol of the world, yet so few entertainment figures have ties to the armed services. Why, then, is set it in Los Angeles? Camp Pendleton is the closest Marine base to LA, and it’s a two-hour drive? I guess “NCIS: Laguan Niguel” didn’t have much of a ring to it.
Chris O’Donnell plays Callen; he’s, like, enigmatic and stuff. When the show picks up, Callen is just returning from medical leave after getting shot up. He doesn’t have a permanent address; he can’t seem to stay in one job; and, apparently, he doesn’t remember all of his own past (for instance, he doesn’t know what his own first name is). He’s so undercover that he doesn’t even know himself. Callen’s partner is Sam Hanna (LL Cool J), who is all gleaming white teeth and no personality — LL is something of the straight man here, which is a waste of the little charisma he has. In the first episode, the two are called in to investigate the murder of a Naval Intelligence Officer, which is connected to the kidnapping of a young girl. It plays out as routinely as you’d expect from a CBS procedural that’s not “The Unit.”
All the cliched, nondescript procedural characters are here, too — there’s a geeky Anthony Rapp looking tech geek; a blandly attractive female forensics officer; the rookie with something to prove; and the staff shrink who wants an excuse to carry a gun. Also, Linda Hunt — that creepy old lady you may be familiar with from every hour-long drama to air over the last 20 years. She’s a great actress, although she gives me the heebies.
The only real connection between this show and its predecessor, besides a backdoor arc in last season’s “NCIS,” that I haven’t seen, is Rocky Carroll, who serves as the director of both units, though he only shows up via satellite here in “NCIS: LA.” It’s similar in tone, too: A fairly likable, but forgettable police procedural, great for watching on your kitchen television while you’re making dinner. But then again, if you have a TV in your kitchen, you might want to question your television watching habits.