A thrilling setting does not make a thrilling series.
NBC's The Brave (Mondays, 10 ET/PT, * ½ out of four) would do well to learn that. The new military drama follows an elite special-ops team and its support staff in Washington, D.C., which sounds an awful lot like new CBS drama SEAL Team. But unlike the CBS series, The Brave is a rather dull and detached action series (and a low-rated one, too) that ends up sensationalizing its subject matter.
The biggest complaint is that its characters are not engaging or deep enough to draw viewers in and make them care about the missions on a deeper level. Anne Heche, the biggest star in the cast, is given a modicum of backstory as Patricia Campbell, a CIA honcho grieving from the recent death of her son in combat. The rest of the cast is made up of ciphers and stereotypes, including the leader of the special-ops team (Mike Vogel), the lone woman on the ground team (Natacha Karam) and the one Muslim man on the ground team (Hadi Tabbal).
For all its efforts to become an explosive and gripping series, the first few episodes are often boring and formulaic. It feels a lot like other thrillers that NBC has attempted to launch, such as 2014's Crisis, and it often focuses on its frantically typing analysts instead of boots on the ground. In its few action sequences, they're often bloodless and emotionless.
Clearly, the life-and-death world of military operations was an appealing concept this fall, but there has to be more than a premise to back it up. In The Brave, there's just not quite enough.