12:30pm PT by Daniel Fienberg
Take Me to the Pilots '17: CBS' 'SEAL Team'
[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: SEAL Team (CBS)
The Pitch: "Rah-Rah Military Drama Broadcast Networks Are Convinced Viewers Want: CBS Edition"
Quick Response: My gut reaction to SEAL Team isn't really one of quality, but rather a sense that of the three network military-related shows premiering this fall, the CBS entry is the one most likely to stick. From its SEAL Team Six focus to a heavy and sentimental glimpse of the families these elite fighters leave behind on every mission, SEAL Team is basically a network version of History's Six, only without that drama's cinematic aesthetic, high intensity performances or problematic jingoism. It has the not-too-gritty (and easily repeatable) look of an NCIS spinoff, a sturdy central lead performance from David Boreanaz and the politics are name-checked without going too in-depth. The hook is going to be something like, "Can these guys execute a dangerous mission every week and still make it home in time for their kids' piano recitals?" As derivative as SEAL Team feels, it lacks the queasy cynicism that has plagued a lot of recent CBS procedurals — that "We know what our audience wants" smugness that audiences have often rejected (and hopefully will reject again in Wisdom of the Crowd). This feels more like "Here's how to do a show of this kind in a way that's CBS-friendly." In short, SEAL Team didn't make me angry. The pilot plot and structure are way too similar to both Six and The Brave, so my interest waned almost immediately, but I can't say how many viewers are going to watch each and every one of these shows. I appreciated that the program makes no effort to serialize or mythologize. Check in. Check out. It's all good. The introduction of the team isn't as smooth (or formulaic) as NBC's The Brave, but I think I came away from the pilot liking Max Thieriot's "I have a beard, so take me seriously" performance. Jessica Paré's "I told you Megan Draper wasn't Sharon Tate" maturity wasn't distracting, and I bought her well enough as an intelligence analyst.
Desire to Watch Again: Low. The three network military shows were made without critics in mind, and none of the entries in the genre attempts to woo positive reviews with anything too innovative, controversial, format-bending or disturbing. Even with that low bar, SEAL Team probably takes the fewest risks.
Take Me to the Pilots '17: The CW's 'Dynasty'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: ABC's 'The Good Doctor'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: CBS' 'Wisdom of the Crowd'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: The CW's 'Valor'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: ABC's 'The Mayor'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: Fox's 'Ghosted'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: NBC's 'The Brave'
Take Me to the Pilots '17: CBS' 'Young Sheldon'
All of My 2016 Take Me to the Pilots Entries