Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Brave & Seal Team - 1.01 - Pilot - Preview

Note - Originally I was going to review these two pilots separately, but they have a lot of similarities so it seemed better to review them together and compare their strengths and weaknesses.

The Brave premieres Monday, Sept. 25 at 10/9 C on NBC.
Seal Team premieres Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 9/8 C on CBS.


Both shows focus on a team of elite soldiers, who are called in on the most harrowing cases, and the intelligence team that helps design their missions. The Brave devotes more time to the intelligence side than Seal Team does, but that’s because their intelligence team is lead by Anne Heche. In both, the two groups work well together, respect each other, and compromise when issues arise...and they do arise. Additionally, they both have a new person on the team, replacing someone the team lost. It is here that I thought The Brave was vastly superior. In it, Amir, the new guy, is vital to their mission and is shown to be highly qualified right away. In fact, the leader goes to bat for him when he comes up with a risky plan and he ends up saving the day. On Seal Team though, Spenser is a cocky, hot headed kid with a lot of snark and attitude. His main purpose seems to be to ratchet up the discord because the Seal Team leader doesn’t want him there at all. It adds unnecessary tension to the group dynamics that comes off as more irritating than story building.

Still, the biggest difference in characters is how they approach them in the pilots. The Brave takes a more widespread approach, giving each character a hint of background and helpfully, putting their names on the screen as they are introduced. Patricia Campbell, the Deputy Director, has recently lost her son in combat, while Hannah Rivera is now an analyst after an op went really bad. Rounding out the intelligence team is Noah Morgenthau, who is the team’s conscious. On the soldier side, Captain Adam Dalton leads the team in true hero fashion, but is actually the character with the least backstory. The pilot does more to portray him as a modern military leader, who recognizes the strengths of his team and is smart and capable when the mission goes awry. Sgt. Jaz Khan, the lead sniper, is more of a hothead and recently lost her best friend, whom Amir replaced. She can kick butt and doesn’t take anything from anyone, which becomes a problem in the mission. Communications CPO “Preach” Carter is a man of faith, who acknowledges evil but also looks for the good in others. He’s often partnered with Sgt. “McG” Mcguire, who is the playboy type.

Unlike The Brave, Seal Team takes a dive deep approach, focusing on the main character, Jason Hayes, played by David Boreanaz. He suffers from PTSD after losing a teammate, as is evident in the opening mandated therapy session. His job and difficulty in expressing himself has also put stress on his marriage. Still, he is a legend in the field. A risk taker, he can adapt to shifting circumstances and create missions on the fly with great success. He is also keenly aware of the politics of a situation and can work around big egos. Also on the team is Ray Perry, Jason’s best friend who has a very pregnant wife, and Sonny Quinn, whom we know little about from the pilot. More focus is given to CIA analyst, Mandy Ellis, who has been targeting a terrorist for years. Her experiences have left her more ruthless than she likes. While nothing happens in the pilot, it is possible that she will become part of a love triangle with Jason and his wife. Rounding out the team is Lisa Davis, logistics manager, whose no-nonsense demeanor leads to the best scene of the pilot when she puts the rookie in his place.

The Plot/Story Structure:

In both episodes, the team is pulled away without notice on a mission. For The Brave, Dr. Kimberly Wells is kidnapped from her Doctors without Borders assignment in Syria and the team must find terrorist Abu Al-Akmuti to rescue her. In Seal Team, they must kidnap well-known terrorist Abu Samir Al-Masri, who is planning to meet up with potential allies in Liberia. In both, the original mission gets tabled when a surprise person ends up in the mix. For The Brave, it starts as a hostage situation and turns into getting a terrorist. For Seal Team, it starts with the terrorist and ends up a hostage rescue. The story structure, however, is different. The Brave runs as a linear story with a clear beginning, middle, and cliffhanger ending. Seal Team spends more time jumping between the current mission and flashbacks to the earlier mission, which adds texture to a fairly straightforward story.

The Verdict:

Either you like military procedurals or you don’t, and neither pilot is going to change anyone’s mind on that. For those who don’t mind procedurals with a military bent, it will come down to the characters and actors, Seal Team gives Boreanaz more meat to work with as an actor than Vogel gets in The Brave, but it is also more angsty. In the end, I liked The Brave more but if you are only going to watch one pilot, I would suggest Seal Team. Sadly, The Brave’s whole episode (minus the great cliffhanger) is found in the trailer. You can watch the first 10 minutes of character introduction, then the trailer, and then the last 3 minutes and basically see the whole episode.

Battle of the Pilots:

Lead Character - The Brave by a hair but both are very similar

Other Characters - The Brave, since Spenser from Seal Team is downright irritating and because it focuses on more characters.

Pro-Military, Top Gun Moments - Seal Team for its full hero music swells and intense action

Most Military Jargon - Seal Team, by a lot

Ending - The Brave’s cliffhanger was one of the better parts of the episode

Best Speech - The Brave

Best Banter - Seal Team

Best Bromance - Seal Team

Best Teamwork/Plan - The Brave

Best Line:
Jaz: “They get grabby; I get crabby.”
Mandy: “You ever hear yourself say something that makes you wonder when you became the kind of savage animal who would say the thing you just said?”


The Brave: B
Seal Team: B-

About the Author - Dahne
One part teacher librarian - one part avid TV fan, Dahne is a contributing writer for SpoilerTV, where she reviews and/or creates polls for Teen Wolf, How to Get Away with Murder, The Librarians, and others. She also runs the annual Character Cup. She's addicted to Twitter, loves live tweeting, and co-hosts The 100 "Red-Shirted" and Teen Wolf "Welcome to Beacon Hills" podcasts for Southgate Media Group. Previously she wrote a Last Week in TV column for her blog and SpoilerTV. ~ "I speak TV."

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