September 26, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “FBI”


FBI:  Tuesday 9PM on CBS

Dick Wolf and CBS have always seemed as made for each other as the leads of a rom-com.  And as in that genre, only outside interference has kept the King and Network of Procedurals from falling into a passionate airport-gate embrace before now.  In this case, it’s been their opposing corporate ties.  But Wolf’s NBC home seems to have reached temporary saturation with his product, leaving the way open for him to sell FBI to CBS, where it fits like a ring on a finger.

Anyone who’s ever seen a Wolf show will find things exactly as expected in FBI, up to and including the part where a character seemingly casually introduced early on turns out to be at the center of the mystery.  It’s even been cast with familiar procedural faces:  Rookie Blue‘s Missy Peregrym has the lead as Special Agent Maggie Bell (you know she’s the lead because she’s been given a shred of character background as a recent widow), and one of the senior agents is played by Jeremy Sisto, who put in his time on Law & Order.  Also featured as Maggie’s partner Omar Adom Zidan is Zeeko Zaki.  (Connie Nielsen is on hand in the pilot as the head of the NY Bureau office, but she was discarded, and Sela Ward will appear going forward in the equivalent of her role.)

The pilot script, written by series co-creator Craig Turk from a story by Turk and Wolf, involves a string of South Bronx bombings that turn out to have been masterminded by a White Supremacist who wanted to get into the local narcotics trade.  As per usual, almost all scenes exist purely to push the plot forward step by step, and there are plenty of opportunities along the way for one character to explain what’s happened thus far to another character, just in case a viewer’s attention may have wandered.  Niels Arden Oplev’s direction is similarly a matter of moving through the paces, although Oplev does deliver a much more impressive bombing sequence than the aircraft explosion that ended the Manifest pilot.

FBI has no interest in attracting viewers who aren’t already in the Dick Wolf or CBS procedural fold, and for many of those, it will deliver the goods.  It certainly fits between a pair of NCIS series on Tuesdays, and with no direct competition from This Is Us on NBC or comedies on ABC, it only has to deal with FOX’s recently recast Lethal Weapon.  No doubt network and producer are already plotting their future FBI: [Fill In City] installments of the franchise to come.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."