NCIS: LOS ANGELES “The Bear.” CBS, 08 November 2020 (Season 12, Episode 1.) Chris O’Donnell (G. Callen), Daniela Ruah (Kensi Blye), Eric Christian Olsen (Marty Deeks), Renée Felice Smith (Nell Jones), Medalion Rahimi (Special Agent Fatima Namazi), Caleb Castille (Devin Roundtree), Linda Hunt (Hetty Lange), LL Cool J (Sam Hanna). Director: Dennis Smith. Currently available streaming on CBS All Access.

   I’ll start out by apologizing to you by not identifying the role each of the actors above portray in this long-running spinoff from its home base show, NCIS, which of course has been around quite a bit longer. (The latter is now starting its 17th season.) I assume it’s deliberate, but while there’s the same sense on collegiality of the two groups of players, but the story lines for this secondary series has always been a lot more action-oriented: lots more scenes out of doors with planes, helicopters and guns, for example.

   I’ve not been able to watch this show in several years, ever since pulling the cord on all network programming several years ago, until I spotted that the 12th season (only) is offered with no extra charge on CBS All Access. Many of the actors involved were therefor new to me; they all seem to be part of the regular crew, however.

   “The Bear” of the title is a Russian fighter plane that seems to have come down somewhere along California’s Pacific Coast. Where exactly it is, and why it’s there is the mystery that the gang have to solve.

   And I’m sorry to say that the story line isn’t the best that this series has had to offer, but considering the fact that it was filmed in not the best of conditions, a world-wide pandemic, perhaps the people in charge can be forgiven. Linda Hunt as Hetty Lange, the group’s leader, for example, is seen only on closed circuit TV, placing lightweight computer geek Nell Jones in charge, and the latter apparently having retired from the group in a previous season, is for all practical purposes in over her head.

   And otherwise the story is badly paced, with some scenes played for humor going on too long, and others chopped off with little or no explanation, including, unfortunately, the ending. It all ends well, mind you, with no unexpected TO BE CONTINUED flashing on the screen, as quite often happens when I watch a show at random to watch.

   And dare I say it, and this has nothing to do with the virus, but all the players look at least five years older since I last watched the series, five years ago. But even so, it felt good and at home in the world to see them back in action again.