October 10, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Valor”


VALOR:  Monday 9PM on CW – Change the Channel

VALOR is the CW version of a military drama, which makes it markedly different from NBC’s The Brave and CBS’s SEAL Team.  For one thing, it’s significantly lacking in production values, even in its pilot, which would typically have a higher budget than regular series episodes.  There’s little in the way of action after the first 5 minutes of the opening hour, so future episodes are likely to feature even fewer fireworks.  That’s in itself not necessarily a terrible thing, since television series aren’t movie spectacles, and well-written characters and dialogue can go a long way.  But Kyle Jarrow’s pilot script does little to reassure a viewer that the series can make up in substance what it lacks in flash.

This being CW, Valor has a female lead, and this being CW, she’s a bombshell in the person of Nora Madani (Christine Ochoa, recently seen barely wearing clothes on Syfy’s TV-MA Blood Drive).  She’s a co-pilot in a special ops “taxi service” helicopter unit that ferries soldiers to and from clandestine operations.  Nora is in a relationship with intelligence officer Ian Porter (Charlie Barnett), but her real bond is with pilot Leland Gallo (Matt Barr), and before you even have the chance to think “will they or won’t they?”, they’re throwing themselves on each other, although she pulls back before they actually do the deed, for now.  (Nora gets out her frustrations by furiously playing her drum set.)

Valor also features a serialized plot, rather than the procedural formats of the fall’s other military series, but there’s not much of it.  Several weeks before the main action of the pilot, Madani and Gallo flew a CIA group to Somalia, where things went haywire:  the copter was shot down, and the prisoner who was captured turned out to be an American citizen and not an enemy agent.  In addition, Nora’s pal Jimmy Kam (W. Tre Davis) was taken hostage.  It all leaves Madani with the same kind of PTSD that makes David Boreanez’s hand shake on SEAL Team, and the unit being advised by suspicious Agency liaison Thea (Melissa Roxburgh, who looks like she went directly from sophomore year in high school to Langley).  Secretly, Madani and Gallo try to find out what’s going on, which turns out to be hilariously easy when the woman he’s sleeping with just hands them confidential personnel binders.  Meanwhile, the unit is going to try to rescue Jimmy, who’s also trying to escape the Somali jail.

The kind of silliness that’s acceptable in a CW superhero series is more problematic in a drama that’s supposed to exist on a more realistic level, and although it’s a positive that Valor centers its military story on a woman, it undercuts that by its concern with her sex life, and by the fact that Madani is the only character whose ability to function is damaged by her battle experience.  Ochoa is charismatic but miscast, and the rest of the performers make little impression.  Valor feels half-baked, and despite the shared girl power theme, it’s not a good tonal match with its lead-in Supergirl. Of course ratings standards are different at CW, the network that kept Reign on the air for multiple seasons, so perhaps Valor will have a lengthy run.  For now, though, there are no medals coming its way.



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."