Plot: Agent Lewis Erskine (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.) is back in action, along with his frequent partner Special Agent Jim Rhodes (Stephen Brooks). These two have collared all manner of law breakers, from extortionists to murderers to organized crime families, never afraid to stand up for justice and protect the public. Erskine continues to bury himself in the work and luckily for him, there’s no shortage of criminals. The duo are dispatched all over the place, assigned some of the toughest cases on the docket, but of course, Erskine welcomes the challenges. The stakes are high case after case, with terrorists, saboteurs, and killers on the loose, with only the FBI in the path to shut down their nefarious acts of violence. Erskine thrives on the open and shut cases where he can deliver conclusive justice, but he finds himself in some complex situations here, where what’s right isn’t as clear as he would like. But no matter how complicated or dangerous the case, Erskine is always prepared to do what needs to be done.
Entertainment Value: This review covers the second half of the first season of The FBI, with the first half reviewed here. This second half of the season continues the work in the first half, but does seem to start to pull in a certain direction. Erskine remains the central character, but at first the show seemed to want to show some of his personal side as well as professional. That is still true to an extent at this point in the season, but you can tell the focus is shifting toward the cases over private affairs. That is kind of a let down, as Erskine is an interesting character, but it balances out because that means more time is devoted to the cases. And these sixteen episodes offer some whoppers, with Neo-Nazis, war criminals, espionage, hijackers, kidnappers, and more, so these are not run of the mill investigations. I also appreciated that several of these cases involved hot button social issues, as it gives a small peek into the social climate of the time. The show might be starting to offer more complexities within the cases, but it remains resolute that the law is pretty much infallible. That earnest approach is likely to honk some folks off, but it is what it is, a product of its era.
The show also remains consistent about how the cases are treated, with an emphasis on old school detective work and by the book tactics. This might seem antiquated, but it honestly feels fresh, given the endless gimmicks crime shows have these days. This approach also limits the writers and forces them to plan out the cases, as there’s no magic bullet fix or wild twist to resolve the crimes. As I said, the show seems to be veering away from the personal lives of the agents, but that doesn’t mean the performances suffer. Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. is still quite good as the all business, no pleasure Erskine. He is able to convey the weariness of Erskine well, but also the intense dedication to the work, which is about all you can ask. I do wish he had more chances to explore the character, as I do feel like there’s untapped potential there, but he does well with he has to work with. Stephen Brooks is also fine as his partner and by this point, they seem to be settling in a little more, but that could also be me starting to settle in as a viewer, either way the performances are solid. A host of guest stars also appear, including Kurt Russell, Ed Asner, and one of my personal favorite actors of all time, the great Charles Bronson. These sixteen episodes were a pleasure to watch and for fans of classic television or crime shows, well worth a look.