By BRUCE DENNILL
NCIS: Los Angeles – The Fifth Season / 13V
When it began, NCIS: Los Angeles was little more than a cheesy pop culture annexe to the mega-grossing, Mark Harmon-driven original – an excuse to investigate murders in a different set of locations, perhaps.
Five seasons in, it’s developed a personality of its own, as bright and cheery as the veneer Hollywood paints over everything else in Los Angeles on the one hand and as emotionally intense as a show made by the producer of CSI: Miami can get (via an ongoing thread concerning G Callen’s – played by Chris O’Donnell – quest to determine his origins).
There’s a fair bit of that latter storyline in this series, involving Callen’s Russian connections and their links to terrorists the team need to track down and stop. Kensi (Daniella Ruah) and Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen), professional partners, develop their personal relationship painfully slowly in perhaps the most protracted foreplay in modern television history. Will they? Won’t they? No they won’t – no spoiler there; it’s part of the scriptwriting style of this series, as it is for the original NCIS.
Other storylines involve team members having to track rogue soldiers in Afghanistan and save the world from deadly viruses. It’s all very Jerry Bruckheimer or Michael Bay and as such is hardly challenging in the intellectual sense, but having and watching a whole season in few sittings allows the series to build and maintain momentum.
The characters all remain likeable, too – the chirpy Deeks in particular is front and centre for much of the time in this season – and that connection makes it possible to brush aside with good humour the gauche one-liners that still, unfortunately, pepper each episode. A touch less glibness would go a long way in improving the overall effect of the show.
Finally, be sure that season six is going to kick off with a bang, as this one ends off on an unusual cliffhanger.