Am I Over NCIS?

If I reverse the first two words of the title (and call the question mark to attention), it removes all uncertainty, but for now I’m on the fence and asking. I’ve already reached certainty with both spin-offs (the oldest many years ago, the younger sibling just last year). Now, either I might be over their parent, NCIS, or just maybe the show itself is over.

I sometimes get the sense I’m more attached to the idea of over than many. I’ve mentioned more than once that I try to look forward, and around, rather than in the rear-view mirror. I’ve also mentioned how a primary ask of mine for stories is: “Take me someplace new.”

Nostalgia never had much pull for me, nor did more-of-the-same once a story has been finished.

I do get the shock of transition and change, and why some might prefer to avoid it, might prefer to stay on known territory.

I can recall various SF series where the main characters would change from book to book. (The original Foundation trilogy, by Isaac Asimov, was one place I experienced this. That would have been back in late grade school.)

I also recall, after becoming a serious baseball fan in 2010, and learning all the players on the Twins team, my shock the very next year when so many of them changed. (I learned then and there, never get too attached to any ball player — a fact that makes Joe Mauer and his Twins career all the more awesome.)

To bring this back on topic, when, after just two seasons, they killed off Caitlin Todd (Sasha Alexander), and replaced her with Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), I was used to character change, but it was still a bit of a shock to the system.

But so it goes. Losing Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) on TNG was an even bigger shock, and I’ve always wondered if she came to regret it. (Are there alternate realities where she stayed the whole run?)

§

I mention Star Trek because it’s kind of my central self-example of both getting over something and something being over.

Star Trek arguably died completely sometime during its movies era. Or after Enterprise. Or during Deep Space Nine. Or when Abrams took over. Or at some other point where it all just got too silly or too much or whatever.

For me, Trek consists of TOS, TAS, TNG, a bit of DS9, and (inexplicably) Enterprise. (I think I was just desperate for Trek, and I like Bakula, but it was ultimately more a lesson in Trek’s demise.)

A key point here is that even though Trek has revived at CBS (and arguably in The Orville), it’s still over for me, because I’ve just had enough Trek (50 years!) for one lifetime.

§

To, once again, bring it back on topic, I’m pondering the idea that I may simply have had enough NCIS for one lifetime (369 episodes and counting).

It isn’t that the show has gone bad, they’re still cranking out decent episodes here in the 16th season, but something seems off this season. (But there’s a chance it’s just me and growing distance.)

That said, I do have some specific complaints, issues that have sullied my enjoyment of the show:

  1. I cannot stand Fez as an NCIS agent. I hate everything about him: dumb, emotional, self-absorbed, an idiot. (I’m talking about Wilmer Valderrama as Nicholas Torres, but you might remember him as Fez from That ’70s Show.)
  2. Not happy with hints and portents of a relationship between Fez and Ellie Bishop (Emily Wikersham), although the fans seem to be clamoring for it. And if I’m honest, she’s the weakest of the three women who’ve had that desk.
  3. Not entirely sold on Abbie’s replacement, Kasie Hines (Diona Reasonover), but it’s early yet. The character’s “quirky” seams seem too rough and too apparent.
  4. And, of course, new agent Dr. Jacqueline Sloane (Maria Bello) has a past and issues. Don’t they all these days? (I do like the character, though.)
  5. There has also been some off-camera stuff related to the show that’s added a sour note to my perceptions.
  6. The frosting on it all: The return of Ziva David!

That last one is feeling like the back-breaking final straw. It feels like the show has started to go moribund.

A weirdly “sitcom” image for a serious cop show.

Or (and this is important to repeat) I’m just over the show.

Perhaps it’s an age thing, and it’s no coincidence I still really enjoy the older characters (Gibbs, Mallard, Vance, Sloane) while finding much less to like in the younger characters (Torres, Palmer, Bishop).

Although, honestly, that last parenthetical list maybe should have been (Torres, Torres, Torres). I really hate that guy.

Everything I dislike in a character, few of the traits I like.

The recent episode, Crossing the Line (S16E15), showed him in his worst light (one of the guest stars really calls him on it). Being TV, he gets his act together by the end of the episode, but his usual behavior is repellent to me.

Fortunately, despite wishes of “shipper” fans, it appears Bishop is not attracted to him (which seems correct for her character). If they ever hook up, that would probably be a deal-breaker for me.

§

So NCIS might be on borrowed time. (For reference: I posted about growing dissatisfaction with NCIS: New Orleans in March of 2018. In June I posted about being done with the show!)

For now, I’m still onboard.

§ §

Speaking of being over, it’s looking like I’m over The Orville. I haven’t watched it since I posted about it back in January.

I’ve read articles that praise the second season (along with some caveats), but, as I wrote, I found it harder (as in: impossible) to enjoy this season.

I may give it another shot. I haven’t yet removed it from the Watch List.

§

Two Thumbs Up!

This TV Tuesday post isn’t just about shows I’m over. My TV cornucopia has an addition: Mr. Robot

I’m late to the party with this one, been meaning to watch it for years, and I’m glad I finally did. I’ve been watching five or six episodes each evening and have burned through the three seasons on Amazon Prime in a just a handful of days. I’ll finish the last four episodes tonight.

Read the Wikipedia description for details, but be wary of spoilers. This story has a number of crucial rug-pull moments during its course that change what you thought you’d seen.

I almost hesitate to describe it at all; the reveals are so central. I will say they’ll force me to re-watch at least the first two seasons again knowing what I now know.

It concerns a disaffected hacker, Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) and his experiences with regard to a major hack, but there’s a great deal more going on. (With only four episodes left, there seems a whole level not yet revealed.)

The show has earned well-deserved praise from the computer industry for its technical accuracy. Contrast that with another show about computers and people who know them intimately, Halt and Catch Fire, that was weirdly on-again, off-again when it came to accuracy.

I’ve really enjoyed it and give it a Wow! rating. It’s won quite a few awards and been nominated for many more.

I thought I was watching a three-season story, but there will be fourth (and final) season sometime this year. (So it’s a four-season single story.)

§

Speaking of Amazon Prime video, they do something I’ve been expecting from video for decades: active information about the actors while viewing.

I’ve long thought you should be able to “point” to an actor and get a bio. Or get detailed info about a film you’re watching. The information is certainly available; it just needs a way to connect it with real-time viewing.

Prime is a neat start in that direction, and it seems scene sensitive. Pushing the “up” arrow tells you about the actors (it seems) in the scene you’re currently watching. It’s come in handy a couple of times now when I wondered about an actor.

§

A final TV-related note: My MN Twins are in Spring Training and playing games, some of which Fox Sports North broadcasts for us baseball-starved fans back  home.

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, the Twins made broadcasting history (for the franchise) by having long-time on-air journalist Marney Gellner in the booth calling the game.

I happened to catch the game Monday (ah, baseball!) and heard Marney but didn’t realize I was listening to history. I hope she calls a few games during the regular season!

§

And on that note, I should probably go watch TV.

Stay watchful, my friends!

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

8 responses to “Am I Over NCIS?

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    I got into NCIS in a major way years ago. This was during the DVD era, so I went back and bought all the previous seasons and watched all of them. I then watched it assiduously on TV for a couple of years. And then…just lost interest. Can’t say why exactly. I did reach the point where I wasn’t buying Gibbs at all anymore, but then I never really did, so I don’t think that was it. I’m not familiar with any of the newer characters. Tony and Ziva were still regulars the last time I watched.

    I think I’m pretty much with you on Star Trek. It’s become too focused on nostalgia. It isn’t the version that looks forward anymore. CBS seems too focused on protecting the franchise to do anything risky anymore. That doesn’t bode well for Picard, although I will give it a chance.

    I didn’t know anything about that up arrow thing. I wonder if it works in the Roku app. I’ll have to give it a try next time I watch something.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “This was during the DVD era, so I went back and bought all the previous seasons and watched all of them.”

      Ha, a process I remember well. (The past few years I’ve been taking a lot of TV season DVDs to the library as donations.) There were a lot of shows I’d never had the chance to see (e.g. Boston Legal, so I bought all the seasons.

      “And then…just lost interest. Can’t say why exactly.”

      It can happen. One finds one has had enough of “X” for one lifetime.

      “Tony and Ziva were still regulars the last time I watched.”

      SPOILER: Turned out, unbeknownst to Tony, Ziva has his daughter, Talia. Then she got killed, and Tony found out he was a dad. He, his dad (Robert Wagner) and Talia, set off to raise little Talia in Ziva’s memory.

      It was super sad and touching and a great way to wrap up the arcs of those characters.

      Then they went and fucking ruined it by having Ziva be still alive, but secretly (we think), so Tony and Talia don’t know. It’s all very convoluted, the sort of claustrophobic plot lines that seem de rigueur for “flavor” these days.

      “That doesn’t bode well for Picard, although I will give it a chance.”

      Likely all I’ll ever see are the reviews. I haven’t gotten into Discovery, and I don’t plan to subscribe to CBS’s streaming platform just to watch an actor in a role I liked 25 years ago try to relive that glory. It’ll be more about the writing, and I have no faith at all in the writing.

      “I didn’t know anything about that up arrow thing.”

      Might be different in the Roku app, of course. I think they call the feature, “X-Ray,” or similar. At first it annoyed me, because I kept stumbling into it trying to figure out how (or if I even could) go back or forward. But now I’ve actually used it a few times to figure out who an actor that seemed familiar was.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        You did better than me with the DVD donating. I just dumped most of mine, including NCIS, Alias, Stargate SG-1, and a whole bunch of others. I kept Babylon 5 because all its seasons aren’t online (or at least they weren’t back then) but trashed everything else. It never occurred to me to see if the library might be interested.

        Sheesh. Tony and Ziva weren’t even an item last time I watched. Sounds like all kinds of soap opera stuff went on.

        Just checked and X-ray is in the Roku app. Pretty cool. I have to say that Amazon’s UI is *much* better than Netflix’s. It doesn’t harass you, and has cool features like this.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Funny you mention Bab5. I’ve noticed it’s on Amazon, and the other night for old time’s sake I watched the first episode. Painfully bad CGI, but the writing and characters hold up very well. (I still have my Bab5 DVDs, too, along with a number of other favorites. I’m down from five+ shelves of DVDs to less than three. All my Trek DVDs are boxed for my next library trip.)

        My local library won’t take VHS, so those all got thrown away. All the TNG and M*A*S*H I’d so carefully recorded (and never watched), just trashed. It’s depressing how much waste we generate in the modern era.

        Tony and Ziva as an item was always kept below the radar and you had to read between lines to see how serious it was. It’s not really made overt until she leaves NCIS and they say their good-byes. And even then not really clear how serious it was until, shock, she’s killed and we find out she had a daughter fathered by Tony (who didn’t know, either).

        I know what you mean about Amazon’s UI, but (at least with the apps on my LG TV) the Prime app isn’t as well-behaved. It gets weird about hitting [Back] to end a show sometimes. I end up with a blank screen that just says “Prime”… nothing happening, so hit [Back] and I’m kicked out of the app. I also don’t care for how it fast forwards or reverses… you go into and out of those modes explicitly. I prefer the dynamic of clicking to jump back or forward, how most of them do it.

        That said, Netflix autoplay is a major stinkin’ annoyance. I do not like noisy UIs.

  • mwlange

    I personally stopped being interested in NCIS after they brought Ziva back from the dead. It invalidates everything they did with DiNozzo’s last episode. But in some way, I understand it. It’s a plot twist and a chance to surprise an audience.

    I agree that Torres is a bad character. The actor does a decent job with the role, but the writing just isn’t there. Something that would renew my faith in the show is if he continues on his now (3?) season long bender of narcissism only to have it wreck him in a season finale. That would add depth to the character rather than having him just be all the worst parts of DiNozzo’s character dialed up to 11.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “It invalidates everything they did with DiNozzo’s last episode.”

      Exactly. That was sad, but powerful, and a great way to end Weatherly’s run on the show.

      I can understand why they did it, but I don’t have to like it!

      “The actor does a decent job with the role, but the writing just isn’t there.”

      Yeah, no fault, really, to the actor, although I do have a hard time getting Fez out of my head. The character, Torres, does seem a bit like Fez grew up and became an agent.

      I also have some trouble reconciling the long-term undercover guy we first met with the goof-ball he’s been in NCIS. Seems an odd blend of character traits, and they’re obviously trying for a new “DiNozzo” type without it actually being DiNozzo.

      That’s kind of my issue with Kasie, too. They’re trying for an “Abby” type without it being Abby, and the result comes off false to me.

      I do like your idea, kind of extending the plot line where he mentors those kids to be a season-long character arc. The way that episode went, it was almost sitcom-like how neatly he came around to solve the problem once someone had a good talking with him and he realized the error of his ways.

      One thing about NCIS for me all these years is the number of episodes each season that I’ve walked away from thinking they were really good stories. That hasn’t been as true this season (hence the question asked in the post).

  • What’s Happening To Star Trek? | Singular Fiction

    […] This post by Wyrd Smythe got me thinking about the franchise again. Yeah, it was about another show (NCIS), but there was a short aside for my beloved science fiction alma mater. My comment was getting long-winded, so I decided I needed to post something here instead. […]

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Okay, so the third season of Mr. Robot did not contain what they’d been hinting at all season (if not even in season two), but it did contain a scene where character A says that thing was a fantasy on the part of character B.

    If so, it sets up a tragic outcome for a lead character who believed character B. If character A is wrong, however, season four could be interesting. (I’m inclined to believe in the former, although there was one scene that suggests otherwise.)

    Very vague, I know, but we’re talking three-season spoiler, so it seems wise.

%d bloggers like this: