Take Me to the Pilots '17: NBC's 'The Brave'

NBC's entry in the fall military drama sweepstakes relies on character archetypes and manipulation, but at least it's professionally made.
Simon Mein/NBC
'The Brave'

[I'll remind you at the top of every single one of these: These entries are not reviews. They're gut reactions to not-for-air pilots that could change in big and small ways between now and September or October or midseason. Full reviews will come then. They'll be longer. And more carefully considered. The opinions may even change. Who knows?]

Show: The Brave (NBC)

The Pitch: "Rah-Rah military drama broadcast networks are convinced viewers want NBC edition" or "Formerly For God and Country, only now more blandly named!"

Quick Response: The hook of NBC's attempt to do an allegedly conservative-friendly take on American military exceptionalism is that episodes are staged across two fronts: intelligence-driven strategy in front of computer and TV screens in Washington and then a special forces mission featuring snipers, soldiers and operatives some place overseas. It's not hugely fresh, but Dean Georgaris' screen does an efficient job of weaving in a big ensemble of characters in a short period of time, which is aided by a heavy reliance on archetypes that include The Good Muslim, Pretty Actor Getting Tough With a Bushy Beard, The Very Christian Black Soldier Nicknamed "Preach" and Guy From Quantico Whose Presence Makes Everything Confusingly Quantico-y. Each character appears with an introductory chyron and a tiny scene that tells you probably everything you'll ever need to know about them, including when Anne Heche's deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency stares sadly at a picture of a young man and then other characters immediately talk about the recent death of her son. Very little here is subtle, starting with an instigating event with a beautiful blonde doctor abducted in a brown-filtered foreign country by terrorists yelling loudly in foreign languages. Basically, this is a slightly less jingoistic Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, one that often overly offends me but is at least produced with some level of professionalism (which the CBS procedural spinoff was not). Director Brad Anderson builds a reasonable pace, the pilot is very nicely shot and the diverse cast is sturdy, with Demetrius Grosse and Hadi Tabbal as slightly more memorable performers. Precision is the priority over intelligence or emotion, and The Brave moves along swiftly, with no surprises until a hacky cliffhanger ending.

Desire to Watch Again: None. The Brave isn't made for me, and no effort has been put in to make this into a series I would ever want to watch. There's no originality or creativity to its storytelling or characters. But it's competently made. I'll watch as much as NBC sends out pre-review and I'll move on.

Take Me to the Pilots '17: CBS' 'Young Sheldon'

All of my 2016 Take Me to the Pilots Entries

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