THE best thing for me about BBC Scotland's The Nine, after watching three of its five episodes in its initial week, is its opening title sequence.

That sounds dismissive, but it isn’t. When Channel 4 News opens up its swirling graphics and toots that trumpet line, you know that Jon Snow and his colleagues are about to deliver their cool, liberal take on the day’s news. Good: that’s why you’re here.

And when The Nine kicks off – with a slightly gritty bit of indie rock, and an admittedly beautiful parade of contemporary and diverse Scots faces – an instant message is delivered. This is news to serve you, the people of Scotland. It’s a great introduction. Does the show deliver on the message?

It’s extremely early days. So I hope any comments here are taken constructively (they are intended to be). The Nine is a pretty well-designed vehicle, but with an evidently underpowered engine under its bonnet.

It won’t surprise them to read here that the engine is currently a Brexit-bound devolution, and should be nation-state independence.

But across the episodes that I’ve seen, The Nine begins to hint at how a Scottish national broadcaster could use 60 minutes a day to help equip its viewers for these demanding times, as citizens, workers and consumers.

However, the real meat, the core driver, is missing. The items that worked worst were the desultory interviews with The Nine’s Westminster and European correspondents about Brexit. There only so much vivacity and acuity you can summon up when your nose is pressed against the window-glass of British state power.

Compare the BBC’s Katya Adler, or RTE’s Tony Connolly, on their European beats. They’re animated by their topic because they’re aware that their nation’s interests (Britain and Ireland) are directly engaged with the topic at hand.

Still, I must commend the show for doing what its sister Reporting Scotland consistently fails to do – which is to clearly state that negative outcomes in Scottish life are sometimes not within the powers of a Scottish Parliament. It’s a simple and obvious thing to say and do, and would rectify much popular mistrust of the BBC among indy supporters.

There’s another thing they’ve done pretty well so far. Which is to accept that just under half the population is interested in how the small independent nations around them, and in the wider world, behave and function.

The lead practitioner here is James Cook. He’s happily returned from spinning his bow-tie on Oscar nights in California. To my ears, Cook clearly refrained from thumping the Establishment Klaxon too hard throughout indyref1.

One would have to say that Cook’s Iceland item in the opening show is a straight homage to Phantom Power’s Nation documentary on the same topic. It even came down to Cook (like Lesley Riddoch in her film), getting into his swimming cozzie to do interviews in Reykjavik’s hot-spas.

Like Lesley, he also didn’t demur from asking Icelandic politicians to say the obvious thing about Scots independence.

Cook’s other report – on ex-Spanish PM Rajoy’s testimony to the Madrid courts, in their trials of Catalonian politicians for sedition – didn’t hit many bum notes. (Although the use of “separatist” rather than “independence” is always a political choice. Alternate them report by report, James).

I think it’s a winning move to resource Cook to go around the busy world, as a constitutionally-literate journalist, probing where the Scottish interest and Scottish parallels might be. (It’s a bit like Iain Macwhirter for the generation behind him).

Compare how good this is with how bad, and sour-tasting, Thursday’s political reporting was – particularly on “sources” suggesting an impending call for indyref2 would be “rejected” by the Tory Government. The whole item felt like the media being played by spinners again, with Nick Eardley playing the lip-curling Westminster insider like Brian Taylor (before the march of time).

Less of this, please. And more of the likes of David Pratt and Martin Geissler talking informedly about geopolitics in Pakistan and India. There is an abundance of expert talent in Scottish academia which often makes its way onto places like Saturday’s edition of Good Morning Scotland.

Why can’t we hear Glasgow University’s Anton Muscatelli on the economics of Brexit, or Edinburgh’s Karen Gregory on technology, or Aberdeen’s Cairns Craig on culture?

Preference is like that notorious (and roseate) part of the anatomy: everybody’s got one. I am certainly off to make a cup of tea whenever sportspeople in their sports shirts (or old fitba managers wearing their M&S suits) talk to wide-eyed reporters about their various jumpings-about.

And without naming names, some of the younger reporters don’t quite have the lived experience to carry off their brief.

But what I didn’t expect to be so fascinated by were the domestic investigative stories.

Nabbing Police Scotland for overcharging on vehicle recovery sounds pretty meh – but it was visually put together with some elegance. (I’m generally enjoying the creativity around filming in the items – the Nick Eardley item seemed to have been helmed by John Cassavetes at times).

As with the Nation documentaries, I sense the useful external pressure of the indy media sphere on The Nine. The Ferret website, for example, picks its egregious targets for investigation with similar precision. It would be interesting to see a Nine news collaboration with them.

The Nine’s hour at the moment can seem long. The repetition of the sports items sometimes makes it seem like a stretch of daytime news.

Some of the items could be tightened up, to allow missing topics in. For example: as many other national media spheres obsess (rightly) about the grand themes of climate disruption, automation, and migration, can’t the nightly news keep them in mind for Scotland, too?

I think that handsome montage of Scots at the beginning of The Nine would want to hear, quite regularly, about how their lives are going to be turned upside down by these trends. There’s nothing “elitist” in reporting on such systemic upheavals, which will affect every individual life. Between the constitutional anxieties of which the show is evidently conscious, and the folks on the couches with their grouches, there is a world of policy and practice and exemplars that should be covered.

But of course, in a fresh and popular way. (Robin McAlpine joked the other day that, in order for his think-tank Common Weal to get into the prime-time media, he would “need to get caught robbing a bank”). We’re supposed to be the best educated country – per capita – in the world. The Nine could presume that capability a little more often.

But overall, and pretty much to my surprise, I find myself rooting for The Nine. Because most of the faces of the reporters are either unknown or under-known to me, it has a slightly parallel-reality feel. Is this a universe in which Scotland already became independent – and it was these people who inherited the task of reporting it?

Put it on BBC1 at 6pm, instead of withering in its 9pm specialist-channel death-slot, an experienced operator told me: then we’re talking.

But I think that might have to wait on a rather more powerful process than a new format for news. In the meantime... we’re watching.