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NBC's The Brave force marches its way through international terrorism


Get the point? Injecting the enemy on The Brave. NBC photo

Premiering: Monday, Sept. 25th at 9 p.m. (central) on NBC
Starring: Mike Vogel, Anne Heche, Natacha Karam, Demetrius Grosse, Noah Mills, Sofia Pernas, Tate Ellington, Hadi Tabbal
Produced by: Dean Georgaris, Matt Corman, Chris Ord, Avi Nir, Alon Shtruzman, Peter Traugott, Rachel Kaplan

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Three broadcast networks figure they can’t go wrong this fall by fighting heartless, soulless terrorists in new hard-charging combat dramas.

NBC is first to the battle front with The Brave, which premieres on Monday, Sept. 25th in a to-die-for time slot following The Voice. CBS’s Seal Team is just a few steps behind with a Wednesday launch while The CW’s Valor must wait until Oct. 9th for its marching orders.

“People like this are why we come to work every day,” says The Brave’s order-issuing, safe at home ringmaster. Her title is deputy CIA director, her name is Patricia Campbell, and she’s not referring to tracking down Twitter trolls.

Anne Heche plays the role in notably heavy makeup, but still in grieving mode. Her son was killed in combat just 10 days earlier, leaving Campbell with a heavy heart upon returning to the business of exterminating the world’s vermin and rescuing their captives.

First up is Dr. Kimberley Wells (guest star Alix Wilton-Regan), who’s nobly a part of the Doctors Without Borders team in Damascus, Syria before being kidnapped while talking to her husband back home.

Special Ops squad Capt. Adam Dalton (Mike Vogel) and his dedicated but sometimes sniping team of undercover specialists are immediately summoned from their base in Turkey. They must be “wheels up within the hour” because the hostage-takers aren’t interested in ransom demands. Instead “they chop off heads,” Campbell says, in this case as revenge for the recent presumed slaying of a terrorist kingpin known to U.S. forces as “Baghdadi.”

Unfortunately for the taut drama at hand, “Baghdadi” sounds funnier each time his name is invoked, which turns out to be a lot down the stretch. Not to spoil the obvious, but some terrorists have unbelievably amazing recuperative powers, as do their wives.

The Special Ops team also includes cocky, condescending Joseph “McG” McGuire (Noah Mills), who’s prone to taking verbal shots at fellow operatives Jasmine “Jaz” Khan (Natacha Karam) and Amir Al-Raisani (Hadi Tabbal).

Asked derisively by McG if she was “raised a Muslim,” she retorts, “I was raised a New Yorker.” He’s briefly chastised but later doesn’t think much of Amir’s prayer rug.

Ezekiel “Preach” Carter (Demetrius Grosse) is the other Special Ops risk-taker while domestic front CIA analysts Noah Morgenthau (Tate Ellington) and Hannah Rivera (Sofia Pernas) dig out invaluable information on who’s who and their whereabouts. Whatever the case, Campbell is steeled by the certainty that “we are fighting people that want to wipe us off the planet. That means we have to be as ruthless as they are.”

As in the first episode of Seal Team, rescuing a woman held hostage ends up intersecting with bigger fish in the grand global scheme of things. Can the team pull off two missions at once? Will there be “go go go go” derring-do in the process? Suffice it to say that no self-respecting, heroic anti-terrorist team will ever submit solely to the “greater good” if it might mean leaving a terrorized hostage behind. Get it? Got it? Good.

Vogel is solid as The Brave’s hero among heroes, as are the show’s production values. But Heche initially seems ill-suited to the task of being a taskmaster. She recurrently looks distraught or shaken in the line of duty. Even seasoned professionals, of course, can be deeply affected by the loss of a child. Which also begs the question of why on earth Heche’s Campbell is back so soon in this unforgiving, pressure-cooker of a job.

NBC made just the pilot episode available for review. In the following week, according to the network’s storyline description, the Special Ops team heads to Russia after a CIA officer is “attacked by rebels.”

The opening hour ends with an unexpected, big boom of a cliffhanger designed to bring viewers back for more. In that it’s unique. Otherwise The Brave is broad-stroked and pro forma in highly volatile times both at home and abroad. On network television at least, international terrorism indeed can be thwarted on a weekly basis via The Brave, Seal Team and Valor. Take that, “Baghdadi.” Take notice, “Rocket Man.”


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