Why ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ Should Focus on the Smaller Stories, Not Apollyon-Level Ones

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Sam Lothridge/CBS

NCIS: New Orleans solved perhaps its biggest — and among the most personal for Pride — case yet in Season 5 with Apollyon. But now it’s time for the CBS drama to take a step back and refocus on what makes it stand out among the other series in the franchise: the smaller stories.

“I think that the show’s going to be different in Season 6,” Scott Bakula previously told TV Insider. “I think it’s going to be a little bit less of the Apollyon kind of stories and more about getting back to the more local, more personal stories.”

And we hope that’s truly the case. While there was a satisfying payoff to that storyline in Season 5, particularly because Pride lost his father during it, New Orleans is a much more community-focused show out of the three NCISes and it’s better when the cases reflect that. For example, Pride previously focused on and succeeded in bringing down the mayor, and that’s not something we could see happening on NCIS or LA in quite the same manner.

NCIS: Los Angeles is the series you think of when you think of international missions (such as in Syria or Mexico). NCIS is the central office, in D.C., with cases sometimes involving the Navy Yard. And those two series tend to have the bigger-scale investigations. After all, could you imagine Pride and his team dealing with a missile launch à la the LA Season 10 finale? Or a terrorist group like The Calling like Gibbs and his team did at the end of Season 12 and beginning of Season 13? Not really, and that’s a good thing.

(Sam Lothridge/CBS)

Even though these three shows are part of the same universe, there has to be a way to distinguish one from the next, and it’s the focus on the smaller stories that helps to do that with New Orleans. It’s the one you think of for the more local cases, especially with Pride’s bar (a great place to relax after work, have drinks with coworkers, and enjoy live music and hide out and work a case) and the team’s office located in the middle of the city, in a building that doesn’t look like it houses a government agency.

Can you really imagine the NCIS or NCIS: LA teams discussing a case in a kitchen while Gibbs or Hetty (or Callen) cook a meal? Can you imagine Gibbs or Hetty living above the office? No, but you can with NOLA and Pride (and he has). Even with Pride working out of the Southeast Field Office in Season 5, we still had that sense of the smaller-scale stories because he kept returning to his old haunts to work with his former team.

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We’ve seen the members of the team care about the people in their neighborhood — Dr. Wade even adopted two boys she met on a case, and they’ve returned multiple times since — and stories like that keep us tuning in week to week. Let’s focus on cases like that more often, ones that feature elements we only see in New Orleans (such as Mardi Gras or a second-line funeral procession).

Let’s get to know more of the people in the neighborhood. Let’s have a case that involves someone who’s a regular at Pride’s bar. Let’s hear more of NOLA’s music and perhaps have a local band that needs help from the team. Let’s mix an investigation with the local cuisine, much like the Season 2 episode, “Help Wanted,” did. Let’s see the team helping out friends and family more, like they have with Wade’s sons and Sebastian’s friend.

(Skip Bolen/CBS)

That doesn’t mean we don’t want to see another Apollyon type case. But let’s return to the show’s roots and get to enjoy NOLA (again) first.

NCIS: New Orleans, Season 6 Premiere, Tuesday, September 24, 10/9c, CBS