One of the most notable trends for fall TV can be found in a wave of dramas about military life, and the CW enters the fray with “Valor.” But this kind of show on this network ends up being an awkward fit all around.
It doesn’t help that “Valor” looks like what you’d get if you took a similar NBC drama, “The Brave,” and slashed its budget by more than half. Beyond the bare-bones production values, “Valor’s” attempts to meld the soap opera conventions CW viewers are familiar with to a gung-ho military story are generally underwhelming.
Like “The Brave” — or History’s “Six” and CBS’ “SEAL Team” — the goal of “Valor” is to put viewers inside the personal and professional lives of warriors at the heart of a new kind of conflict. When the government wants to avoid a full-on war, it often calls upon Special Forces operatives to pull off dangerous and complicated missions, all of which can supply grist for hard-hitting or action-oriented hours. It’s laudable that many of these kinds of scripted programs try to show the cost of this challenging profession, for soldiers and their families. But turning the battle or rescue attempt of the week into a compelling TV drama is deceptively difficult, especially on a modest budget.
In its pilot, “Valor” rather ploddingly lays out the elements of a conspiracy that involves two helicopter pilots whose dangerous mission in Somalia went awry. There are various cover-ups afoot, scrutiny from higher ups creates difficulties, and a related rescue operation threatens to put the entire team under even more pressure.
The problem is, to care about the dilemmas of Warrant Officer Nora Madani (Christina Ochoa) or her fellow pilot, Captain Leland Gallo (Matt Barr), they and others in their unit have to have more depth and texture than the rather one-dimensional soldiers that “Valor” presents. When it comes to both the secrets and lies surrounding their operations and their tangled personal lives, “Valor” is merely adequate at best. All in all, the drama does not contain the kind of energy, style or specificity that would make one want to check back in to see how the team’s mission is going.
Drama; 13 episodes (pilot screened); CW, Mon. Oct. 9, 9 p.m. 60 min.
Executive producers, Bill Haber, Anna Fricke, Kyle Jarrow.
Cast, Christina Ochoa, Matt Barr, Charlie Barnett, Corbin Reid, W. Tre Davis, Nigel Thatch, Melissa Roxburgh.