The broadcast networks have nearly 20 shows debuting this fall, including the maiden voyage of Fox’s Orville, The CW’s soapy new Dynasty and NBC’s “true” new Law & Order. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.
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THE SHOW | CBS’ S.W.A.T. (Thursdays at 10/9c, premiering Nov. 2)
THE COMPETITION | NBC’s (relocated) Chicago Fire and ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder
THE CAST | Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds), Jay Harrington (Better Off Ted), Kenny Johnson (The Shield), Stephanie Sigman (The Bridge), Lina Esco (Kingdom), Peter Onorati (Murder in the First) and newcomer Alex Russell
THE SET-UP | In the wake of a bad shooting — and in part due to optics, as Los Angeles race relations inflame anew — Marine Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson (played by Moore) is abruptly put in charge of his S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics) unit.
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THE FIRST IMPRESSION | Torn between two new CBS action-dramas, I first offered my First Impression of SEAL Team over S.W.A.T. because I suspected it would be the more interesting of the two. But as it turned out, the latter had a firmer grasp of my attention from its start to a finish punctuated by a nostalgic reprise of the original TV series’ theme song.
This is Moore’s show — he’s in almost every scene — and he has a commanding presence, whether running-and-gunning, consoling a victim or indulging in an (ahem) intradepartmental assignation. The rest of the cast, led by Harrington (sporting some aspirational facial hair as the presumed new team leader) and Sigman (playing Hondo’s supervisor/lover), is solid, quickly establishing a sense of long-standing camaraderie, while Russell avoids being completely obnoxious as The Cocky New Recruit (which is no small feat these days).
Exec-produced by Shawn Ryan (The Shield), penned by Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (SouthLAnd, CSI: NY) and with a slick pilot directed by Justin Lin, S.W.A.T. CBSes about as hard as one can CBS, but W.O.W., does it CBS well.
THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | Some have wondered why a Shemar Moore showcase isn’t paired with Criminal Minds on Wednesdays, and now I sort of scratch my head, too. I suspect that S.W.A.T.‘s established IP (as both a movie and the 1970s TV series) is being counted on to help it “pop” in a time slot that has troubled CBS as of late.
Watch the trailer for S.W.A.T., then vote in our poll below.