It's not too often I drop shows midseason, but last week I bid adieu to two Tuesday shows, "NCIS: LA" and "Life Unexpected."
The latter isn't a terrible show, but it is terribly repetitive in its themes, and also probably won't be around too much longer anyway.
But the former is still a highly rated show, spun off from CBS' top-rated drama. When you compare "LA" to "NCIS," of course it's going to fall short -- one has been on the air for just over a year, while the other has been on for seven or eight years -- so comparisons aren't exactly fair.
But when you look at "LA" just as a drama on its own, it's just not very interesting. The themes tend to be relegated to the case of the week, and the regular cast are poorly drawn, two-dimensional characters.
That's proven surprising to me, because "NCIS" has broken out from the other CBS dramas precisely because of its team of characters. Lose anyone of the NCIS cast, and the show is diminished. As for "LA"? Not so much.
"NCIS" gives us Gibbs' terrible past; Ziva's malapropisms and bad driving; Tony's love of movies and torturing of McGee; McGee's attempts to get back at Tony; Abby's overcaffeinated Goth greatness; and Ducky's memories. Each are just small, subtle things that flesh out the characters each week.
What does "LA" give us? Callen's mysterious past, which is so mysterious that even he doesn't know about it; Sam's toughness; Kenzie's toughness, which we're reminded of each week, because everyone tells us how tough she is; and Hetty's expertise on everything. That's pretty much it.
They had the shrink on the show who was written out because he was given nothing to do. They have the computer guy who is supposed to be a whiz but is reduced to saying, "The car turned left onto Vine!" They added the blond cop, who is supposed to be a master of going undercover, but isn't that what Callen is supposed to be?
I'd argue that even the recurring, guest characters on "NCIS" are more interesting than "LA's" regulars -- FBI Agent Fornell, Palmer, Mike Franks, Ziva's dad, etc.
I guess "LA" shows just how hard it is to recreate the magic of an original -- it's hard to capture all of the elements that make an original show great.
TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: You can see for yourself tonight, as "NCIS," "NCIS: LA" and "The Good Wife" are all new on CBS.
"No Ordinary Family" (ABC, 8 p.m.) has been a lot of fun during its first two episodes, and I'm eager to see what direction they go toward next. It's followed by "Dancing With The Stars" and "Detroit 1-8-7."
NBC has a new "Parenthood" at 10 p.m., which follows "The Biggest Loser." "Glee" (Fox, 8 p.m.) is new, followed by "Raising Hope" and "Running Wilde."
The CW has one of those crossover episodes, as characters from "One Tree Hill" at 8 p.m. show up on "Life Unexpected" at 9 p.m.
On cable, SyFy has new episodes of "Stargate Atlantis" and "Caprica" beginning at 9 p.m. And the pick of the night, as always, is "Sons of Anarchy" (FX, 10 p.m.)
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