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Dick Wolf is Landing at CBS for 'FBI'
September 25, 2018  | By David Hinckley
 

The fact that the new CBS series FBI was created by Dick Wolf tells you a lot of what you need to know.

But, it turns out, not all.

FBI, which launches Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET, is fast-paced. One crisp scene segues into the next, just as scenes have been doing for decades on Wolf’s classic Law & Order franchise over on NBC.

FBI is not, however, quite as staccato as L&O. It’s still plot-driven and would never be confused with a character drama, but it’s a little closer to the kind of action procedurals that have become a signature of, oh, wait a minute, CBS.

The most staccato voice in FBI comes from a guy who will be familiar to all Wolf followers: Jeremy Sisto (top), who plays Special Agent Jubal Valentine.

When a terrorist gang kills people, blows stuff up, and threatens to escalate, Valentine coordinates the precise, professional response that is the only hope for stopping it.

The hero of the first episode is an agent working the field: Maggie Bell, played by Missy Peregrym (top). When she arrives at the scene of a bombing, she instinctively senses there could still be danger. She’s right, and while there’s a tragic consequence to the action she takes, it’s the right call.

As has often been the case with Law & Order, Wolf adds layers to an initial bad event. It isn’t just one bombing. Fortunately, this FBI team can keep up with the bad guys, which gives them a chance – not a guarantee, but a chance – they can get ahead in the end.

The added twist to the initial bombing storyline also gives Wolf a chance to rip something from the headlines, another of his favorite moves. In this case, the subplot enables him to incorporate a not terribly subtle warning about people who want to claim America only for their own socio-economic group and force everyone else out.    

Speaking of real life, the first episode doesn’t explicitly address the current real-life war of words about whether the FBI remains a competent and credible organization.

FBI answers that specific question wordlessly, by showing a diverse team that’s committed to combating criminals and very good at it.

Besides Valentine and Bell, that team also includes Special Agent Omar Adom Zidan (Zeeko Zaki, top), Kristen Chazal (Ebonee Noel) and Dana Mosier (Sela Ward, left).

At the same time, FBI endorses the concern that the notorious South American gang MS-13 has crossed American borders and begun to spread its poison here.

This could also be an early sign that TV writers may latch onto MS-13 as their new favorite villain.

As more and more groups of traditional villains have either been played out or fallen off-limits, television writers in recent years have turned to the few remaining agreed-upon bad guys. With only so many possibilities there, a new villain pool like MS-13 would be a bonus.

But that’s an issue for the larger TV community. Given Wolf’s history, we can expect FBI to tackle a wide range of villains, mostly at top speed. They won’t crack every case, if Wolf’s history holds, but they’ll never fail for lack of honest effort.

 
 
 
 
 
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