Photo: HBO.com

In Scott We Trust

Sarah christens Count Bakula a dealmaker -- a trusted TV personage she'll follow anywhere (even to an NCIS spinoff).

When my esteemed colleague Tara Ariano referred in passing this week to "that NCIS spinoff, the New Orleans one with Scott Bakula," I had the following daisy chain of reactions: "Ugh, another one? …Ugh, another attempt to capitalize on New Orleans with only an Epcot understanding of the city? …Ugh, now I have to at least try it because of Bakula?!"

We have a lot of sport with NCIS around here, and I really didn't realize that the first NCIS spinoff, L.A., had gotten into a fifth season -- I think I had it confused with Law & Order: L.A., which was (rightly) euthanized after a single season -- but it's fine! It's fine. I watched it for a while, years ago, as research, and it's a serviceable procedural, professionally made, edgelessly inoffensive and predictable. In fact, you could make the argument for Famous Original NCIS as the Platonic-cave investigative procedural; it may not have birthed the genre, but it perfected it.

I still won't add it or NCIS: LL Cool J to my DVR rotation, but to my annoyance, I must at least consider adding NCIS: NOLA if it gets picked up to series, because of Bakula. Bakula, as it turns out, makes everything better. Behind The Candelabra didn't need him, but his buff and awesomely mustachio'd supporting role gave the film even more dimension and texture. Our own Mark Blankenship recently argued that Looking is looking up in no small part because of Count Bakula. I didn't watch Men of a Certain Age regularly, but I liked the subtlety of the performance in the episodes I saw; I did see him play Chuck's dad on Chuck, and his evident delight in the casting "joke" only added to his portrayal -- which wasn't necessarily a positive one all the time.

Somehow, somewhere; via a mixture of talent, lack of self-seriousness, willingness to go there with gay-themed material without either congratulating himself for doing his job or pointing frantically to his lady spouse or otherwise being a homo-panicky twerp, and (not for nothing) an impressive upper-bod/upper-lip throwback combo, Bakula has become a dealmaker, one of those guys (or gals) for whom I'll watch a show or movie, or tune into a late-night show, or download a podcast just for him (or her). It's sometimes even a guy or gal, an actor or writer, I trust enough to override a long-held opinion or policy -- in this case, my "NCIS: ain't nobody got tiiiiiime for that" strategy, and my "shut up, one-dimensional portrayals of The Big Easy™" strategy. I put my faith in Bakula: if he's not capable of identifying good scripts (and the jury is maybe not totally in on that one…Desperate Housewives), then I know he's able to make enh material better.

NCIS: Beignet-fest has another potential dealmaker in its potential cast -- CCH Pounder -- so that's encouraging too. It remains to be seen whether the show even becomes a show, or casts a deal-breaker in one of the remaining parts (Roma Maffia, leave your phone off kthxbai), thus tearing me apahhhhhht. But Bakula's a dealmaker for me no matter what happens.

What about you? Bakula: dealmaker? Dealbreaker? Just some bro with a Mercury 'stache? Discuss.

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