Three new series have FBI themes: Whiskey Cavalier from ABC, which airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays; The Enemy Within, 9 p.m. Mondays on NBC; and Gone, from WGN America, at 8 p.m. Wednesday. CBS also has Dick Wolf's FBI, which airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays and has been renewed for a second season.
None is wholly believable, but each packages suspense and action while finding room for credible, even delicately expressed, feelings.
• In Gone, Chris Noth, as FBI agent Frank Booth, runs a special task force dedicated to finding missing persons. There is something thrilling about seeing Noth -- whom we got to know before his Sex and the City days in Law & Order -- playing a straightforward good cop again. He grounds a series that (like all of the reviewed here) can get nutty.
Leven Rambin plays Kick Lannigan, whom Booth rescued as a girl from the man who had abducted her. She's been recruited to his team for her special knowledge and military-grade self-defense skills, and as therapy for her. Her abductor, now imprisoned, is played by Lee Tergesen, meaning we will be seeing more of him as one of those preternaturally cunning long-arc foes who bedevil a heroine through a season or more.
• The Enemy Within opens with a title card informing viewers, "The FBI estimates there are one hundred thousand foreign spies working within the United States today." Creator Ken Woodruff has opted for a blustery, gritted-teeth thriller about an FBI agent (Morris Chestnut) ordered to work with an infamous traitor and ridiculously gifted former CIA operative (Jennifer Carpenter) whose leaked intelligence led to the death of his wife. Their mission: to take down the super-villainous mastermind behind it all.
The series goes long on paranoia. One might say the villains here don't represent any named enemy, ideology or acronym but are rather "rogue terrorists" determined to bring America to its knees. The bad guys do evince a cultish devotion, however, to their mysterious leader, who is heard but not seen.
Notwithstanding an air of naturalism, it can be silly. Some scenes are staged only because of how they'll play on camera -- that is true of all these shows -- as when Carpenter's character is apprehended on the Capitol Mall by a dozen agents lurking in disguise, rather than, say, quietly in her office. One Big Shocking Twist is as visible from afar as the Washington Monument in the scene above. Chestnut does a fair bit of what might be called grunge-rock acting, going from soft to loud in an instant, sometimes to unintended comic effect.
• Whatever is ridiculous in Whiskey Cavalier is easier to swallow because the whole business is a fluffy confection, albeit one in which people are shot dead. The show is set in Europe; that totally is the Eiffel Tower in the series' elaborate opening chase scene.
The show quickly throws Scott Foley's FBI agent into competition and then rivalrous cahoots with Lauren Cohan's CIA agent; they are both after the same target, an NSA analyst and Goofball Genius Hacker (Tyler James Williams) on the lam with sensitive information, making Whiskey Cavalier a sort of Midnight Run through much of the pilot. By the end of the hour, however, we have crossed into Mission: Impossible territory, adding Ana Ortiz as the world's greatest profiler and Vir Das as the character whose role will be clarified in coming episodes.
Although they are equally good in a fight or a chase, Foley's agent is squishy and sentimental, where Cohan's is hard and practical -- you may detect a strong scent of eau de Castle.
Style on 03/03/2019
Print Headline: Three new shows star FBI, but none does bureau justice