CBS’ FBI is well-paced and solidly constructed, boasting a decent cast and some interesting perspectives on law enforcement in the big city.
The reputation of Dick Wolf precedes him enough that any new procedural attached to his name seems like a winner, even if the premise is simply: “Here are some FBI agents.” So it is in the FBI premiere, which aired last night, and could potentially be another hit for the creator of Law & Order and its entire bastardised offspring.
The simple, matter-of-fact title should clue you in to the kind of thing you’re dealing with here. FBI is no-nonsense, solidly-constructed, and goes to great lengths to show American law enforcement’s tireless battle against face-tattooed thugs like those of MS-13, whose increased presence in the current news cycle makes them a sure bet for inclusion in a show like this.
But why not, right? FBI is, after all, about the FBI, and you can’t cut corners just to protect the feelings of Twitter know-it-alls. And the FBI premiere pulled no punches right from the jump, demolishing a Bronx apartment building with some assured CGI just to let everyone know what time it is.
And it isn’t just MS-13 who get villain duties anyway; there’s time spared for white nationalists too, who’re orchestrating a gang war (of course they are!) and need to be chased down, interrogated and eventually apprehended by the series’ leads, special agents Maggie Bell and Omar Adom ‘OA’ Zidan (Missy Peregrym and Zeeko Zaki).
Something the FBI premiere does which I appreciated is show these agents as not entirely squeaky-clean upholders of law and virtue; in one scene they go nuts on a Dominican immigrant suspect, threatening his family with financial ruin and drawing a quite hilariously detailed picture of him with a knife in his neck. (OA is a speedy artist, I’ll give him that.) That fella ends up getting his heart cut out, as it happens, but that’s unrelated.
Elsewhere there’s a tech guy, Ian Lentz (James Chen), and an Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Jubal Valentine (Jeremy Sisto), to round out the New York field office, and while these aren’t exactly deep characters yet, there are hints of interesting details and quirks that’ll hopefully help individuals stand out. Not that it matters, really, as FBI is the kind of show built to work without such things, but it’ll be nice all the same.
In the meantime, the FBI premiere displayed Dick Wolf’s usual finesse for crafting procedural television of an admirable consistency, and while it might not push any boundaries or do much – anything, really – that we haven’t seen before, it’ll undoubtedly be a hit for CBS. It’s the Fall, folks. Tis Dick season. Enjoy.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.