Doesn’t it say something kind of sad about the world that we inhabit that two washed up actors (Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J) can move from Hollywood to the small screen in a spin-off from one of the least creative shows on TV and have a realistic shot at it becoming the biggest roles of their careers? Taking their cues from it's CBS brethren CSI, the megahit NCIS has decided to expand their empire and to name their new show after the city it takes place in thus giving us NCIS: Los Angeles.

But for the sake of this review, let's just pretend that it is its own beast and judge it on the merit presented in the pilot. As with the original this show follows a team of Naval crime scene investigators who use a multitude of tools (most notably technology and gadgetry) to solve crimes. O'Donnell plays Callen (first name G, like he's a rapper or something) and LL Cool J plays Sam Hanna, and so far both appear to be smart, personable workaholics. They’re the kind of guys you wouldn't mind spending 45 minutes a week with. And as with the original, this one attempts to simply maintain the status quo, which is great for getting bills paid but very bad for viewers. Not that too many of the 19 million viewers who caught the pilot much care about that. If you like the other twenty CSI shows currently doing the rounds of syndication, chances are you’ll like this.

Episode one has the team investigating the broad daylight execution of a Naval officer by members of a Mexican drug cartel. Seeing as how they are getting a lot of press these days proclaiming them to be the world's most dangerous gangs the producers have made a good choice in how to build up the street cred of these new characters. Now if, per chance, your hatred of Mexican drug cartels is in any way soft, they tack on a story about how the leader of this specific gang had his own father castrated. Tough to sympathize with somebody after hearing that. But wait there's more; they've also kidnapped a little girl whose only hope lies in Callen and Hanna tracking her down through their devilish street smarts.

This allows the producers to insert large chunks of pandering that any viewer with half a brain will gag on. The director of the operation very sternly states: "This girl is a priority." Later, a man riddled with bullets and on the verge of death removes his oxygen mask to whisper "Find her, just find her." Anybody who falls for anything that nakedly manipulative should have his or her TV privileges revoked.

Pretty much any of these complaints could have been rolled out against any of the network's police procedurals on the past decade, but that is only because in the twelve years since Murder She Wrote went off the air, nothing has really changed. OK fine, nowadays we have buff rappers taking a bite out of crime instead of little old ladies and gunfights are much more en vogue, but the genre by and large remains a vehicle for lazy commercial dreck.

Maybe, just maybe, this one will turn out to be the worst yet. It's usually in bad taste to brag about figuring out the ending to a show or movie but this one is telegraphed in such explicit fashion that one is left to wonder if that wasn't the point? People do love to feel smart after all.

Starring: Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J, Daniela Rush, Peter Cambor

Creator: Shane Brennan

Network: CBS

Airtime: Tues 9pm

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