Of the three major military dramas arriving on broadcast TV this fall, SEAL Team is the most sincere.
The series (Wednesdays, 9 ET/PT, ** ½ out of four) works mostly because it’s not reaching beyond its comfort zone. Following a team of Navy SEALs carrying out covert operations with the aid of the CIA, it’s an uncomplicated action series without twists or unnecessary spectacle, at least so far.
TV veteran David Boreanaz (Bones) plays Jason Hayes, the leader of the Tier One SEALs, and he’s an intense and focused guy not unlike the FBI agent he played for so many years on Fox’s series. Jason’s home life has crumbled due to his dedication to his work, and he’s haunted by the death of a teammate on a recent mission. The cast is rounded out by Jessica Paré (Mad Men) as a CIA analyst and Max Thieriot as a young and ambitious soldier trying to make it into the Tier One unit.
The drama plays to the strengths of its network, and its star. The missions are simple and paint the soldiers as patriotic and unimpeachably good. In last week’s second episode, SEAL flirted with bigger questions about war and the state of the world, but all in the service of its core characters. The action is sharp, clean and often close up, prioritizing the soldiers’ points of view.
The lack of sensationalism is what makes SEAL a stronger entry into the military genre this fall than NBC’s The Brave and the CW’s Valor. The Brave is flashy while Valor is twisty and ill-conceived, and neither have casts as engaging.
SEAL Team is straightforward, but also enjoyable . Sometimes simple works.
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