A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that NCIS: Los Angeles is spin-off of popular crime drama NCIS . It's very similar to its parent show, focusing on a U.S. Navy unit that investigates crimes involving military personnel. Expect fairly frequent (though not overly graphic) violence, including car chases, shootouts, fistfights, and explosions -- but it's light on swearing, drinking, and sex.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Special Agent G Callen (Chris O’Donnell) and his partner Sam Hanna (LL Cool J) are the top field agents in the NCIS: LOS ANGELES office, a special unit of the Navy charged with investigating crimes that involve members of the military. The team specializes in undercover operations that often require Callen and Hanna to infiltrate dangerous criminal gangs. The missions are dangerous, but the investigators' military training (and high-tech gadgets) help them prevail no matter how grim the situation looks.
Is it any good?
The series, a spin-off of the long-running NCIS (itself a spin-off of JAG) won’t win any prizes for originality; it follows the same tried-and-true formula as its predecessors and many other cop shows. It hints at interesting backstories for Callen (an orphan who never received a birthday card and doesn’t even know his own full first name) and Hanna (a former SEAL and an expert in Middle Eastern cultures) but does little to actually develop their characters (fleshing them out might distract from the more important job of adhering to the standard plotlines).
Callen and Hanna are backed up by a team that’s also straight from central casting, including a computer whiz and a newbie who’s a walking encyclopedia of useful facts but has no experience or street smarts. Even the always-appealing Linda Hunt can’t make her character -- the long-suffering supervisor whose gruff exterior hides a warm heart -- seem original. There’s nothing especially wrong with NCIS: Los Angeles, but there’s nothing new here, either. But fans of crime procedurals might find its predictability comforting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about TV crime dramas. What does NCIS: Los Angeles have in common with other procedural series? Why do you think this type of series continues to have such strong appeal?
How does the violence on this show compare to that on other crime dramas? Do crime shows have to be violent to be entertaining?
Most people think about battleships and sailors when they think of the Navy, but the special unit on this show is more akin to the FBI. Were you aware that that there are such parts of the military? How do most TV shows and films portray the military culture?
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