September 26, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “The Brave”


THE BRAVE:  Monday 10PM on NBC – Change the Channel

In the Age of Trump, and with younger audiences migrating to alternative delivery platforms, the broadcast networks are making a play–some might call it their last stand–for red-state viewers, who may not be premium customers as far as advertisers are concerned, but who show up and pay the bills.  This is most evident in the number of military action-adventures premiering this fall.  The first to arrive is NBC’s THE BRAVE, which has been given the prime post-The Voice slot on Mondays.  (Actually, NBC got a jump on the trend by ramping up the military content of its summer series The Night Shift this past season, which didn’t seem to help the ratings.)

After the pilot for The Brave was produced and the show was picked up to series, the network announced that Covert Affairs creators Matt Corman and Chris Ord would be showrunning, and perhaps that will make for a different series than the opening hour suggested.  That pilot, though, written by series creator Dean Georgaris, was a rudimentary B-movie procedural at best.

The pilot didn’t attempt any complexity, let alone depth.  It gave us two groups of heroes:  intelligence officers in Washington who intently watched surveillance screens, led by DIA Deputy Director Patricia Campbell (Anne Heche); and a special forces unit based in the Middle East, headed by Captain Adam Dalton (Mike Vogel).  The villains were child-murdering Muslims, so the show was careful to include a Muslim soldier among Dalton’s group (Hadi Tabbal as Amir).  The Brave also pushed its progressive bona fides by featuring not only Heche as the head of the intelligence group, but also a female Sergeant serving with Dalton (Natache Karam as Jaz).

Those cosmetic touches aside, though, this was unapologetic red-meat action adventure.  The pilot gave us a Doctors Without Borders surgeon kidnapped by terrorists so that she could operate on their leader.  Although officially Dalton’s team was ordered to eliminate the terrorist even if it meant losing the hostage, naturally they managed to rescue her too, and along the way they also blew up the terrorist’s evil wife in her black burka.  All of the Americans were heroic and self-sacrificing, and all the villains were bloodthirsty.  The closest thing to characterization for anyone was the backstory that Campbell’s soldier son had died in combat 10 days earlier, yet she was already back on duty, saving lives.

The pilot was well produced (as usual, production values may vary once the show is working on an episodic budget), and slickly directed by Brad Anderson.  The actors grit their teeth and looked battle-weary yet committed to the cause.   They were so anonymous, though, that the cliffhanger ending, leaving the fates of the special forces unit uncertain, provoked no curiosity at all about who survived.  The Brave pilot kept everything simple.  That will be plenty for some viewers, even though the plotting here made other military shows like The Last Ship and Shooter seem positively Chekhovian.

The Monday 10PM timeslot is anyone’s game, with The Brave going up against Scorpion and The Good Doctor, and The Brave will have the advantage of the highest-rated lead-in.  If Taken could do well enough in that slot to earn a 2d season, the same can certainly happen here  The series, though, is for the least demanding of viewers.

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."