“The Brave” is a by-the-numbers hybrid of two of three very familiar drama formulas. A few sentences at the start of the drama more or less position it as the military-intelligence version of “Law & Order,” perhaps one that could replace the famous “thunk-thunk” with the sound of gunfire or explosions.
Intelligence analysts, “The Brave” informs viewers, are the ones who assess risks to Americans and their interests; Special Forces soldiers are “tasked with eliminating” those threats. The difference is that the hour is not split between those two teams, as is the case with classic “L&O.” The units work together on “The Brave,” and their time-sensitive tasks feature the usual array of maps, drones, gunplay, urgent conversations and undercover spy work.
The opening hour hits a number of story points that have been done better elsewhere (notably on “Homeland” and “Rubicon,” among other dramas). An American woman has been taken hostage, and a Special Forces team is given the mission of rescuing her. Intelligence analysts in the U.S., led by Patricia Campbell (Anne Heche), work with a group of soldiers headed by Capt. Adam Dalton (Mike Vogel), and it’s not like the outcome of the operation is ever really in doubt.
Unfortunately none of the players in this international game are memorable even for a moment. Each Middle Eastern character is one-dimensional, but then, so is everyone else. Campbell, a respected official at the Defense Intelligence Agency, is given a tragic backstory that gets absolutely no development. The attempts to give texture to the working relationships of the soldiers don’t quite work either (and History’s “Six,” despite its flaws, was much more successful in that arena).
“The Brave,” which is as generic as broadcast network pilots get, feels like it’s a latecomer to the wave of post-“Homeland” dramas that were commissioned a few years ago. There’s no sophistication in the treatment of geopolitics or the wars in the Middle East, its characters are bland, and even the action sequences have nothing special to set them apart.