Every so often, the networks air a television show about America’s armed forces and intelligence community. While some are better than others, it is important to give the subject matter a chance because of the precarious state of our world. After all, we are still involved in a global war against terrorism. The trials and triumphs of those that are still fighting must be reflected in well-written entertainment, lest we lose sight of why we are still out there.
Unfortunately, SEAL Team is too much of a mixed bag to recommend to anyone.
Who Are These People?
Let’s get one thing straight. One of the biggest problems with this show is that it is carried almost entirely by the acting prowess of David Boreanaz. The Angel and Bones alum sets off in a new direction as Master Chief Jason Hayes, the leader of a DEVGRU Team. He fills the shoes of a leader quite nicely, but the show doesn’t let him play with it too much. It’s a shame in more ways than one.
Jessica Paré does a decent job as CIA Officer Mandy Ellis. Like Boreanaz, her performance is stuck in the ensemble shuffle, but she makes the best of her support/intelligence role. On the plus side, she gets to brief the team on the mission-of-the-week, which gives her a bit more to do than usual.
Unfortunately, the rest of the main team is somewhat two-dimensional. Petty Officer Davis (Toni Trucks) adds a bit of snark to the show, but not much else. Ray Perry (Neil Brown Jr.) and Sonny Quinn (A.J. Buckley) have to deal with a new baby and kill terrorists, respectively. The villains are okay for a mission-of-the-week, but it would be nice to see some recurring monsters here and there.
With all of that out of the way, let’s talk about the plot.
Middling Writing, Ahoy!
As mentioned above, the show centers itself around a mission-of-the-week format where the team deploys to an area, deals with complications, completes the op, and gets out of dodge. It may sound like your standard-issue network show, but the core stories have plenty of WMDs, hostage rescues, and targeted killings to keep audiences intrigued. When the team heads into combat, the show kicks up the suspense quite nicely.
And then we have to deal with Clay Spenser (Max Thieriot) and Stella (Alona Tal), which is where the show falls flat on its face.
Seriously, why are these characters even here?! They are unbelievably distracting and add nothing to the show!
Okay, fine. Spenser is a way for the writers to show us the selection process for Tier One operators, but do we really need to see that outside of some flashback scenes? The focus on a single character pulls attention away from the main team and their own training process. And why would an aspiring operator go out and party when he is inches away from washing out of the process?
It makes no sense.
And don’t get me started on the supposed “romance” between Clay and Stella. Their chemistry is so stiff and awkward that it reminds me of two desks pushing against one another. To make matters worse, Stella’s only defining character trait is her feminist leanings. When the two of them are together, every other line of dialogue has to focus on nonsensical garbage like safe spaces and trigger warnings. It’s a complete and utter waste of time that should have been left on the cutting room floor.
The Production Design Works Quite Nicely.
On the plus side, SEAL Team gets quite a few details right. For instance, they attempt to blend in with their surroundings by using local gear like AK rifles. On top of that, the team gives off a truly professional vibe when they are in their element, especially when tactics are involved. There are no Rambo-style firefights in this show, which is nice to see in a world that demands realistic entertainment.
On the technical side of things, the cinematography is excellent, the sets are believable enough, and the practical effects are world-class. The second episode is a notable demonstration of the talent behind the camera. In it, a number of Syrian civilians suffer from exposure to VX nerve gas, which is as haunting as network television will allow it to be.
SEAL Team is not the worst of the three military shows out right now, but it has a number of problems that need to be ironed out. The writing needs work, the execution is average at best, and the cast needs more time to bond. If you are looking for a new take on the military, you might want to watch something else until this show hits its stride.
I wouldn’t count on it, though.
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