I’m sure they must have mentioned a single character’s name sometime in Valor, the new CW show about a group of elite military helicopter pilots. But I watched the pilot twice, and then the first part of it again, and all I can come up with is Pretty Square Jawed Girl (Christina Ochoa), Nice Boyfriend (Charlie Barnett), and Sexy Cowboy Commander Man She’s Not Supposed To Sleep With (Matt Barr). I’m sure you can predict where that all ends up.
Valor begins in a flashback dream from which Pretty Girl reminisces about her last mission: a middle-of-the-night operation in Somalia from which she returned with a gun wound in her leg and secrets. The mission also resulted in two soldiers being captured, and now Pretty Girl and Sexy Cowboy are preparing to return for a rescue mission.
It’s disappointing for the CW, normally such a wonderful haven of pop culture references and beautiful teenagers, to be hosting such a run-of-the-mill military thriller. Every line of dialogue might have been cut and pasted directly from another similar show, like newspaper letters in a ransom note. The characters are no more than the sums of their clichés: the Pretty Girl’s hand shakes with PTSD from the failed mission but she snorts a pill and assures her superiors that she’s up to a task; the Sexy Cowboy beds a disposable blonde and then smolders in Pretty Girl’s direction; Nice Boyfriend is supportive but worries about Pretty Girl staying out so late. (There is one memorable scene: an inexplicable moment in which our supermodel-gorgeous pilot sits down at a full drum set she keeps in her walk-in closet and begins to bang away.)
We get brief glimpses of the soldiers who have been captured as prisoners of war, but since we have no context for their capture, let alone their names, it’s hard to summon reason to care (even though, of course, the show found a way to wedge in the information that one of the guys has a young child who just had a birthday).
The show dips into flashback to reveal what happened that night in Somalia, but the mystery — did the government lie to them about their mission? — feels cursory and hardly worth unraveling. I’ll make a prediction right here: I bet someone on the inside knows something they weren’t telling our group of valiant pilots, and they’re going to have to decide between following orders and doing what’s right. If I’m wrong, I’ll eat my hat. Or wait, even worse — I’ll watch a full season of Valor.
A final note: It feels important to add that the show’s creator, Kyle Jarrow, also wrote the book for the upcoming SpongeBob SquarePants Musical.
Valor premieres Oct. 9 at 9 p.m. on The CW.