By mid-May, the broadcast networks must make some tough calls as to which series will return for the 2018-19 TV season, and which… won’t.
As that deadline draws near, TVLine is singling out a few “bubble” shows and sizing up their prospects — based in large part on their creative strides (…and stumbles) and future potential, but also with a requisite nod to cold, hard numbers.
First up this year is a military drama whose mission may soon be over.
THE SHOW | NBC’s The Brave (Season 1 aired Mondays at 10/9c)
THE CASE FOR KEEPING | The special-ops series distinguished itself from similar freshman shows (CBS’ SEAL Team, The CW’s Valor) by splitting the action between an elite military unit in the field and the analysts back at home who help the operatives acquire their targets. On the track!-shoot!-spy! side of things, Mike Vogel’s Capt. Dalton presides over a group of specialized, undercover operatives who forward the cause of freedom around the world, while Anne Heche’s Deputy Director Patricia Campbell is in charge of the brainy techs back at the D.I.A.
Once Season 1 established who everyone was and what they did, the show was strongest while exploring the complicated dynamics of Dalton’s tight-knit team. Newbie Amir’s gradual acceptance into Dalton’s group provided a compelling throughline to the season. Sniper Jaz, the cadre’s lone female (played by Natacha Karam), allowed the show to explore the realities of women in combat. (She also provided Dalton with a possible romance, which was just beginning to simmer as the season came to a close.) Back at headquarters, Campbell’s willingness to break protocol in order to help Dalton & Co. accomplish their duties made for a nice twist on the Suit Who Always Has to Say No role. And the finale, in which Dalton unapologetically killed a man in cold blood and team member Preach (Demetrius Grosse) fell into a coma, made for a nice, cliffhanger-y jumping off point for (a potential) Season 2.
THE CASE FOR CUTTING | In the final two episodes of the season, The Brave merged its two settings by having Campbell on the ground with Dalton and his team. It was a storytelling success… that unfortunately only highlighted how much more exciting it is to witness the Special Ops folks do their thing than to watch Campbell’s gang sit behind computer screens. Could the series continue pitting the brainwork and office politics of the D.I.A. against the explosions and global subterfuge of Dalton’s unit? Sure. Should it? Maybe not.
Also: There are the ratings. Averaging 4.6 million total viewers and a 0.9 demo rating, The Brave delivered the lowest retention (43 percent) out of reality-TV hit The Voice since The Night Shift circa spring 2015. Among current NBC dramas, it equals or out-rates only The Blacklist, Blindspot and Taken, while delivering the third-smallest audience.
Vote below, and then state your own case for keeping or cutting The Brave.