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‘SEAL Team’ is Familiar Territory
September 27, 2017  | By David Hinckley
 

If you’re looking for subtlety in your military adventure stories or your prime-time network drama, CBS’s new SEAL Team won’t be your cup of adrenalin.

SEAL Team, which launches Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET, stars David Boreanaz (top, Bones) as Jason Hayes, leader of an elite American incursion squad tasked with small, highly targeted and extremely dangerous missions.

Besides further feeding television’s overflowing bucket of shows about brave Americans outsmarting and outfighting Middle Eastern terrorists, SEAL Team takes CBS back to the Naval well that yielded the golden NCIS franchise.

The issue here is not whether Jason and his loyal, dedicated team can hunt down and neutralize fanatic extremists each week. They can and they will.

What may matter more is the depth of our appetite for watching fictional Americans smite fictional foes in a part of the world where real-life people die daily, and the social, religious, political and cultural issues often seem far too complicated for anyone to fully comprehend.

To its credit, SEAL Team doesn’t settle for the classic portrayal of American soldiers as rock-steady warriors steeled by the rightness of their task.

Jason, a brilliant tactician and fearless fighter, is also a wreck. He’s deep in denial about an alarming level of PTSD, which seems to have wrecked his marriage to Alana (Michaela McManus) and made things difficult with his daughter Emma (Kerri Medders).

The subject of PTSD among veterans of our current wars deserves any attention it gets, and perhaps it simply reflects the reality that Jason’s manifestations are anything but subtle.

It’s also true, however, that the “procedural” element of SEAL Team is equally unsubtle, sending our guys up against enemies who are evil incarnate.

In any case, the family most prominent in Jason’s life is his Tier One team, which includes his long-time buddy and steadying influence Ray Perry (Neil Brown Jr.), the volatile Sonny Quinn (A.J. Buckley, left) and new kid Clay Spenser (Max Thieriot).

While Clay may be a rookie, he drives a lot of plot. Besides being skilled and cocky, he’s the son of a former SEAL who wrote a book about his experiences, which violates pretty much every unspoken code of the tight-knit group.

Outside the ground team, we have Lisa Davis (Toni Trucks), who makes sure the guys are properly equipped for their missions, and Mandy Ellis (Jessica Pare), the CIA analyst who determines where the team should go and has a voice in the strategy they employ.

Like Jason, she’s sacrificed most of the rest of her life to be good at this part.

The team does not always get everything right and achieve every mission goal. But it never wavers in its commitment to every mission, and that will doubtless be a selling point to many viewers.

These guys and the women who support them don’t sit around debating socio-politics and morality. They lock and load.

SEAL Team has the look of a classic military adventure series. Whole scenes are filmed in the dark, illuminated only by tracer bullets and bursts of gunfire. Other scenes are shot by hand-held cameras following soldiers down dark, narrow underground tunnels.

If the idea is to create a sense of urgency, tension, and danger, it works. If you’re up for that kind of rush, one where Americans are smarter, stronger and 100% the good guys, add SEAL Team to your palate.

 
 
 
 
 
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