Jeremy Sisto can now be seen in Season 4 of "FBI." Photo courtesy of CBS
NEW YORK, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- The Dick Wolf-created FBI franchise returns Tuesday night on CBS with a fast-paced, globe-trotting, three-show crossover event.
FBI kicks off its fourth season with a human-trafficking case that continues into the next hour with the Season 3 debut of FBI: Most Wanted and then wraps up with the series premiere of FBI: International.
"The big thing about this one is we don't solve it in time, so we have to get other teams involved. It's a great story to tell [because it reveals] just how far the FBI reach is and how much room they have to achieve their goals," Jeremy Sisto, who plays Special Agent Jubal Valentine on FBI, told UPI in a recent phone interview.
Julian McMahon -- who plays Jess LaCroix, leader of the Fugitive Task Force on FBI: Most Wanted -- compared Tuesday's programming block to a three-hour movie.
"It starts to build in Episode 1, which is the FBI show, so by the time you hit FBI: Most Wanted, it's running. It's moving," McMahon said.
"That was really kind of fun, just thematically to create a different kind of pace. We wanted to keep that going through Episode 2 and then, literally, take off, at the end of our episode, on a plane and head to Budapest."
Jubal is used to working with smart and efficient experts from different fields who help him crack cases using their respective specialties, so collaborating with agents from other offices in these first episodes of the season doesn't bother or threaten him.
"He's this brain in the center of it all, trying to figure out, 'Who, what can we use?'" Sisto said.
"If we fail at this end, it's not the end of the road. [A suspect] went overseas or on the run? Well, we've got people for that," he said. "It is a really fun and realistic telling of one of the greatest crime-fighting and crime-preventing organizations of all time."
Heida Reed plays Special Agent Jamie Kellett, who helps close the season premiere case in the International edition of FBI.
"Jamie is second in command [of her unit], and she is someone who has been abroad for a while working for the FBI. She has informants all over Europe, and she is super-quick at getting intel or information," Reed said.
Despite the atrocities connected to her latest investigation, Jamie tries not to internalize what she sees, and she remains professional.
"She just feels incredibly driven to do justice for these girls and put this man -- and the men who have been working with him -- behind bars," Reed said.
McMahon thinks the FBI shows are so popular because they tell thrilling stories, reflect what is going on in the world and offer perspectives from all sides.
"Real stories are hard to beat, so we take those little bits, and we incorporate them and we tell them in our own kind of way," he said.
"I love to be able to make a statement culturally about what we are experiencing at this point in time. Last year, when we started, we delved into the whole COVID-19 situation, the Black Lives Matter situation and violence against police officers."
Working on the show has deepened the actors' appreciation of investigators and law enforcement personnel. It also has offered them glimpses of the personal tolls these jobs can have, particularly when duty calls, disrupting whatever else may have been scheduled that day.
"He has to make this really huge call and then go back to dealing with his plans. It takes a certain type. I would not be able to do it," Sisto said.
"You have to have real confidence in yourself. You have to have the ability to shut things off and compartmentalize," he added. "Agents are accustomed to hearing about the worst things in humanity and kind of not letting it completely destroy their day."
McMahon said it is fascinating to hear real FBI agents, who work as consultants on the franchise, talk about their experiences and investigative techniques.
"They invest so much of themselves in this task and a lot of times, too, it is thankless, and then, at the end of the day, they still have to go home to their families and find a way to communicate with their wives and children," he said. "It's just shocking to me that people are out there actually doing this for real."
"It's been really eye-opening for me to be a part of such an institution like the FBI and being able to realize how much work and dedication goes into protecting America, not just in America, but on foreign soil," the actress said. "I definitely have a newfound respect for these agents, and it is a privilege to portray one on TV."
Another reason the FBI series works is because viewers care about and relate to the characters on them.
Later this season, Jubal will be seen continuing to care for his cancer-stricken son as he undergoes radiation treatments, while a cyberattack on a children's hospital hits close to home.
The agent also renews a romance with Isobel (Ana de la Garza,) the former partner with whom he had an affair years ago when he was married and an alcoholic.
"Now she's come back to be the big boss for this office and, so, we actually start a new relationship, which is the first time Jubal has put himself out there," Sisto said.
The recovering addict's career distracts him in a welcome way from his complicated personal life.
"The story lines that come into the office are pretty high stakes," Sisto said. "He loves his job. He stays focused on doing the next right thing in his profession."