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Featured TV on DVD / Blu-ray Review: NCIS: Los Angeles: Season Two

August 23rd, 2011

NCIS: Los Angeles: Season Two - Buy from Amazon

NCIS: Los Angeles is a spin-off of NCIS, which in turn is a spin-off of JAG. NCIS is one of the best shows in the franchise but when I reviewed the debut season of this show, I thought it struggled to reach its potential. Did it improve this time around?

The Show

I've got good news and bad news. First the bad news... I reviewed last season, but going into this season I could only remember one of the supporting characters, Linda Hunt as Hetty Lange. I also remembered the two main characters, G. Callen and Sam Hanna, but didn't remember much about either one. (I didn't even remember Callen didn't know who his parents were.) That's a bad sign. The show is too generic, especially given the amount of direct competition in this genre. The personalities are not nearly as engaging as they are on NCIS, for instance, making this the weaker of the two shows. The good news is the show did get better. The cast has a a bit better chemistry than before, especially with the addition of Renée Felice Smith as Nell Jones, who helps in the Ops center of the Los Angeles branch of NCIS. (Although it is not unfair to say she's there to fill an Abby-sized hole.)

Generally the season is filled with episodes that are good, but not great. Human Traffic starts the season and it involves Deeks in an undercover job gone bad. (Bad as in the target and his police liaison are blown up and he can't be found bad.) In Black Widow, a very professional and very expensive hit squad is in L.A. to kill... a housewife? Obvisouly there's more to it than that. The daughter of a high ranking military officer is kidnapped in Little Angels and the squad needs to find out if it is the work of serial killer who is currently in prison, a copycat, or just a cover for something bigger. Absolution / Deliverance is a two-parter dealing with stolen top secret information, which is being sought by every intelligence organization around. (It's amazing how many times NCIS has to deal with interference by the CIA, FBI, etc.) Disorder involves a soldier suffering from PTSD-induced amnesia who witnesses a double-shooting in his home, but can't recall the details. This episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes, who also has a guest shot. (Speaking of guest shots, the show starts with carollers going door-to-dooer, one of whom I recognized, but I couldn't place her face. I had to look her up and found out it was Beth Behrs. She's in 2 Brok Girls, which is one of a very few new TV shows debuting this season I'm actually interested in.)

Archangel is a good episode and includes a number of twists, but it again features stolen information and NCIS fighting for jurisdiction. Empty Quiver has G. Callen and Sam undercover as corrupt cops being paid off by gangs, only to run into something much bigger. In Personal, Deeks is shot in a convenience store robbery, but they don't know if he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, or if it were something more. It's a good episode, but it also touches on a previous episode, which is something that happens a few more times from this point on. It gets harder to discuss episodes without getting into spoilers.

Overall, the show is good, but not great, while there were a few too many plot points that come up too often. (These includes stolen intelligence, butting heads with competing agencies, fake out gunshots, and a few others.) If you are a fan of the genre in general or of NCIS in general, it is still worth checking out, but it is not a must see show.

The Extras

Extras are a little weak with nothing on disc one. Disc two has an audio commentary track on one episode, Anonymous. There is a table read for Absolution on disc three. Shooting Up L.A. is a ten-minute featurettes on the cinematography and can be found on disc four. Location, Location, Location is an eleven-minute featurette on the Los Angeles locations used in the series and it is found on disc five. The final disc has Uncovering Season Two, a 25-minute recap of the season, while While There's Something About Hetty is 16-minute featurette on my favorite character on the show.

The Verdict

NCIS: Los Angeles: Season Two improved a bit in terms of ratings and quality. It is weaker than its sister show, but it is still worth picking up. That said, it's not Pick of the Week material.

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