Between the new position at The Company, the end of another disappointing baseball season for the Twins and the fun I’ve had blogging, I completely missed that the TV Fall Season had begun!
So last night I sat down to catch up on the first new season episodes of my usual programs (CSI, CSI:NY, NCIS: Los Angeles & NCIS). Those are basically listed in reverse order of my regard for them with the exception that I think NCIS: Los Angeles is a silly-ass show mainly saved by the graces of Linda Hunt. I mostly started watching it because, hey, it’s an NCIS show, and I loved JAG, and I love NCIS. Now I’m a bit caught up in the characters, so it’s hard to look away.
But I gotta tell ya. If the season premiere of NCIS represents the quality of writing (as in total lack thereof) for the season, the love affair is over. And, as with any jilted, betrayed lover, I’m fucking angry!
How does a show I’ve ranked as my favorite show currently on TV manage to make me so angry? I’ll get to that, but let me first get the others out of the way while my imaginary assistants load the cannons for the final assault.
CSI and CSI:NY were about what I expected, which was adequate, watchable pretend cops doing sexy crime scene forensics combined with, in the former case, lurid overblown melodrama. Nick’s little contretemps with the beer and the cops and the jail and the facial contusions being an easy example. Boy will be boys, eh? Heh, heh.
Somewhat dumber was the bit about the hair in the plaster. When Sara first shows the piece of plaster, it was obvious the hair was embedded in it. That really should have been a major clue. Then we get the red herring of, ‘Hey, it’s animal hair, it must come from a farm somewhere in this 40 square mile region of impossible-to-search!’
Of course, D.B. finally realizes the truth (the hair is used to strengthen the plaster (made up fact or truth? do we care?)). Does he explain this to Sara? No, he punches a hole in his own wall so he can show Sara. And so we can be momentarily alarmed that D.B. is losing his mind. Lurid Melodrama, thy name is CSI.
CSI:NY seems to avoid the worst excesses of melodrama, which is why I favor it over its parent show. I’m guessing they shipped off their supply of lurid to that other show (mercifully dead now).
Last night’s episode was pretty good, I thought. It was fun to see Rob Morrow as the firebug; a very nice performance. (I was a big fan of Northern Exposure, so I’ve followed his career since.) It’s pretty clear we’ll see him again, and for whatever it’s worth, the next episode is titled Where There’s Smoke… Just sayin’.
NCIS:Los Angeles was also what I’d expect it to be. People shooting other people, something you can always count on in that show. And a little something something from the show’s resident babe (Daniela Ruah). It probably says something that I can barely remember any of the names of the characters on that show.
There was a bit of a surprise regarding the last season’s cliffhanger. I did not see that coming, although it should have been obvious. How else do you fully redeem a main character’s apparent cold-blooded murder done in full view of national TV?
The other surprise twist was, I thought, heavy-handed and obvious. Apparently the Iranians are incredibly stupid (or maybe they just don’t watch enough TV). Sure, an “accidentally dropped” briefcase containing key evidence, no problem, happens all the time, right? And once you hit a guy a few times, no doubt every word he says must be truth, yes?
Ah, well, so it goes. At least Linda Hunt remains!
Now, I’m what’s called a delayer. I eat the cake first and the frosting last. I watched these shows (blessings on your house, OnDemand) in the order that I first listed them above. I saved what I expected to be the best, the crème de la crème for last. But instead, my cream was a congealed, rotted mass, not even decently brûléed.
Vague warning bells were already going off during the opening scenes. The explosion aftermath lacked a certain something I couldn’t (and can’t) name. The elevator scene between Tony and Ziva seemed awfully by the numbers, added nothing, and was about the only contribution by those two in the show.
And I realize shock can take you out of things, but it’s pretty damn hard to miss a big glass shard sticking out of your stomach, McGee. Would have been a bit smarter to have it in his back or something, but maybe that’s just me.
Where they really, really jumped the shark was the scene involving “one of the best agents I have” FBI gal who accosts Harper Dearing on the street. Now consider that a key element is Dearing’s elusiveness. They don’t know where he is!
And yet, this agent casually walks up to him, dressed to kill (literally, as it turns out), and invites him to come up to her place.
Okay, young gal, older guy, it’s already getting weird. Richard Schiff isn’t bad-looking, but definitely a bit long in the tooth. In fact, we’re about the same age, and if it happened to me, I’d definitely be expecting a conversation about money at some point. But this appears to be a pickup. That’s like a cup of coffee with 20 lumps of sugar: pretty damned hard to swallow.
But okay, let’s use those extra-strength steel disbelief suspension cables and buy the pickup (Dearing, no dummy, clearly didn’t). So the FBI plan apparently was to get him up to her place, assume he’d conveniently hit the bathroom so she can let in the guys with the big guns, and then they’d wildly fire into the bathroom door.
Holy cannoli! Stupidest script writing I’ve seen in a long time. Let’s count the bullshit points.
If you know where this elusive terrorist is, why not simply grab him? The street was deserted, so no passersby problem. If you’re willing to kill him through a bathroom door, why not just shoot him the moment you spot him?
Did they actually prepare a honey trap apartment and furnish it, or did the “best” FBI agent just happen to have it handy? What a brilliant plan. What if Dearing had been all over her the moment they walked in? What then? She takes one for the team??
There’s some suggestion she meant to offer him a drink laced with… something. But he goes to the bathroom instead, so they figure to just shoot through the door? I guess we’ll assume they knew nothing innocent was in range of their bullets.
Then, of course, they open the door to find Dearing gone out the window (lucky for him, stupid for them to allow an exit point). And he left behind a satchel with a bomb and a handy timer reading, “You’re dead in 3,…” And the “best” FBI agent stares stupidly at it until it blows up in her face. Good thing their hail of bullets didn’t damage that timer, and lucky for Dearing to be walking around with the setup.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. Jaw-droppingly stupid. Brain cell killing stupid.
And, later, when Dearing supposedly blows himself up, did any viewer think for one second he really did? Of course, Ducky needs to hobble in and instantly spot the problem. I guess he didn’t train Palmer all that well. (And when did Abby become so squeamish about the path lab?)
Finally we have a by-the-numbers heart-to-heart scene in Gibbs’ basement which leads to the foolish scene at the end. “Death by cop,” it’s sometimes called. The knife, of course, making the bad guy’s death more prolonged and deserving. (The worse the villain, the more horrid his death must be.)
As with the FBI agent scene, this scene requires that events closely follow the (idiot) script. Connection to any reasonable reality: too close to zero to measure.
Final score: Absolutely, hands down, the Worst NCIS Ever!