Worst NCIS Ever!

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.

Arrest me please!
(Use handcuffs!!)

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 CSI show (mercifully dead now).

William Peterson and Marg Helgenberger (oy!) and then Laurence Fishburne, and now Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue (oh, especially Elisabeth Shue!) kept (and keep) me watching CSI.

Gary Sinise and Melina Kanakaredes (and now Sela Ward) keep me watching CSI:NY.

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 jumped the shark was the scene involving the “one of the best agents I have” FBI gal who accosts Harper Dearing on the street.

Remember that a key element is Dearing’s elusiveness; they don’t know where he is!

What young gal wouldn’t want a piece of this!

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 just a pickup by a horny young gal.

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.

Such a cute couple!

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.

I think he’s gunning for the script writer.

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, and more 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 script. Connection to any reasonable reality: too close to zero to measure.

Final score: Absolutely, hands down, the Worst NCIS Ever!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

9 responses to “Worst NCIS Ever!

  • thegreenstudy

    I have to admit, reading someone else’s rant today feels pretty good. I gave up on regular television a long time ago. Eventually it will show up on Netflix commercial-free when I can obsessively watch one episode after another. That’s when you get really pissed about the writing, because the inconsistencies between episodes are easier to spot.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I hear ya! The only “regular” TV I watch regularly is baseball games, and the commercials there tend to be mercifully short. The rest is though OnDemand or sometimes DVDs. I watched almost all of House via DVDs, and there are a number of shows I discovered after they’d had their run.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    UPDATE: For whatever it’s worth, every show since has been a good one. I dunno what happened in that first episode, but I stand by the review. One baaaaad apple!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Correction: When I watched it the first time I missed that the explosion kicked off Abby’s fear of the path lab previously established many seasons ago. I’d forgotten about that! I suppose I’d put that out of my mind, because I never really bought it from someone like Abby (who sleeps in a coffin, remember). But then Abby is paradoxical in other ways; I’ve always thought it weird for a scientist to have as many superstitions as she obviously does.

    But given Abby’s established character, her reaction in this show was not out of character, so I was wrong about that one. (I stand by the rest of the analysis; having re-watched it twice now, it’s still one of the weakest episodes ever, IMO.)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    The show is still going strong and producing great episodes, but the first show of the season following the one mentioned here was also not their best work (IMO, obviously).

    Something about first episodes? Trying too hard? [shrug]

    But these were just two out of 14 seasons, so this is still way an A++ show!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Six years later and still one of my favorite shows. This episode still ranks at the bottom (with a few other clunkers, but not bad for 16 seasons).

    NCIS: New Orleans has also fallen out of favor with me, so it’s just this one now. And I’m not totally onboard with all the changes, plus I’m uncomfortable about the whole Mark Harmon dog thing that forced Pauley Perrette off the show.

    On top of that, cable-cutting has me seriously reconsidering what I watch in the first place…

  • Wyrd Smythe

    For nostalgia, recently I’ve been skipping stone over the series; watching a few well-remembered episodes when the mood strikes me. I’m thinking I’ll skip these!

    And I have to say that I’m seeing the flaws in both the writing and in Gibbs’s character more this time through. The glamour the show once had over me is long gone now.

    That said, some of those old episodes are very, very good. There’s a reason the show was (is?) so popular and a reason it was a favorite of mine for so long.

    Ah, those were the days, my friends,…

    • Wyrd Smythe

      As it turns out, I didn’t skip those episodes. Parts are exactly as bad as I remember. Others less so, but I think only because I’ve become more aware of the show’s flaws. Even those old episodes, many of which are excellent, have some painfully bad writing and egregious bullshit.

      The bloom is definitely off the rose.

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