September 28, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “SEAL Team”


SEAL TEAM:  Wednesday 9PM on CBS – In the Queue

CBS’s entry in the fall’s military drama sweepstakes, SEAL TEAM, has several advantages over NBC’s The Brave. It’s been put together by a team of veteran craftsman:  series creator Benjamin Cavell has been a senior writer/producer with Graham Yost on Justified and Sneaky Pete, co-showrunner Edward Redlich has been in the game for 20 years, and directing Executive Producer Christopher Chulack’s credits go back to ER.  The show’s structure is also more effective than The Brave‘s, focusing squarely on the soldiers in the field rather than sharing their stories with those of their supervisors in Washington.  Most importantly, SEAL Team has a genuine TV star in David Boreanaz, who’s been at the center of a network show almost continuously since 1996.  Boreanaz can deliver a hero line like “I told you:  we got this,” and make it work.  When his character Jason Hayes tells his ex-wife that he’ll do what he can to be at their daughter’s music recital, we know he’ll make it there.  And when he’s ordered to rescue a hostage at the cost of letting a terrorist leader escape, we know he’ll manage to execute both missions.

For all that, SEAL Team is mostly tacked together from familiar materials, and it’s likely to appeal almost entirely to those viewers who already know they want to watch it.  Hayes has an ordinary group of colleagues, from The Cocky Young Guy (Max Theriot) to The Black Second-In-Command With The Pregnant Wife (Neal Brown, Jr), to The Gorgeous Intelligence Officer (Jessica Pare, recently of Mad Men).  The show hints at some PTSD for Hayes, but not in a way that threatens any missions, and it doesn’t take chances in other respects either.  Hayes is rebellious, but he always does the right thing, and his soldiers have absolute respect for him.

The SEAL Team pilot is well shot by Chulack, who knows when to make use of hand-held cameras and infrared imagery and when it would be gimmicky.  Cavell’s script is professionally slick, establishing the outlines of characters while keeping the action in motion.  The cast around Boreanaz understand that their job is to support their star.  It’s a reasonably accomplished action procedural.  There’s nothing at all here, though, to get excited about.  SEAL Team should fit in well in its Wednesday 9PM slot, where it’ll face comedies on ABC, Star on FOX, and the ancient SVU on NBC.  There’s no reason to think the CBS audience won’t be happy enough to have it.  But for all the firepower the series offers on screen, it’s meek when it comes to challenging expectations.

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."