‘Tis human trait that, when we love something or someone, we accommodate and excuse flaws. We may not even see them. The classic example is the love a mother has for her child. Very similar is the love any pet owner has for their pet. (Of course, dogs don’t have flaws, so it’s extra easy to love the little darlings.)
Conversely, not loving something or someone tends to amplify flaws. Sometimes to the point it’s all we see. We lose sight of the good, especially over something we once loved. [As Danny DeVito says about Bette Midler in Ruthless People (1986), “I hate the way she licks stamps!” Great line.]
Which brings us to the TV series NCIS.
Since the series started in 2003, I’ve called it my favorite show. I’ve posted about it quite a bit here over the years. Some of those posts describe my dissatisfaction with the two spin-offs I watched. The Los Angeles spin-off and the New Orleans spin-off both ended up disappointing me so much I stopped watching them. (I refused to even try the new Hawai’i version.)
[See Not My NCIS (February 2015) and The End of the Affair (March 2015) for the former and Spin-off Spin-out (March 2018) and NoMo Orleans (June 2018) for the latter.]
More recent posts charted my growing dissatisfaction with the parent show, which is actually a spin-off of the series JAG (1995-2005). I loved that one from start to finish. I still have all the season DVDs. Years ago, I donated much of my DVD library, including NCIS, to the local library, but not those (or my Perry Mason or Columbo DVDs).
[See Am I Over NCIS? (March 2019) and Widening Gyre (June 2019) and On Very Thin Ice (October 2019) and, most recently, End of the Road (February 2021) for the progression of my dissatisfaction.]
Friday evening, which is when I catch up on shows that aired during the week, I watched a particularly bad episode of NCIS. It was co-written by Brian Dietzen (who plays Dr. Jimmy Palmer) and Scott Williams. Only the latter is actually a writer, and that may go a long way towards explaining how bad it was. Or not. Might just be typical awful modern writing.
The Wikipedia listing for the episode says it all:
The investigation into the death of a delivery driver leads to the discovery of opioids with a “W” engraved on them, a symbol Parker recognizes from his past. He uncharacteristically unleashes anger towards his team, then goes off while interrogating the prime suspect, who he took down years prior as part of a case with the FBI that put his old partner in a wheelchair by means of Parker’s gunshot accidentally hitting the agent in the back.
A key phrase: “He uncharacteristically unleashes anger towards his team”. So uncharacteristically as to be utterly unbelievable. Unwatchably unbelievable.
Ever since they introduced the character of Supervisory Special Agent Alden Parker (Gary Cole) — the replacement for the inimitable Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) — they’ve painted Parker as the polar opposite of Gibbs. He’s easy-going, emotionally accessible, open, and he brings unusual ethnic pastries to work most mornings. And he’s a bird watcher.
This episode trashed all that, because drama. Lazy, stupid drama.
I couldn’t get through the episode. About the halfway mark I decided to fast forward to the end to see how they wrapped it up but then realized I didn’t care and exited the show. Literally and metaphorically.
It all started earlier in the evening. I was in such a good mood Friday. I’d done my taxes Wednesday evening but had issues filing my state return. Thursday morning, I spent time with the tax people, my bank, and the Minnesota Department of Revenue trying to solve it. Friday morning it was (see this post for the whole story).
So, I was feeling pretty good that evening. Problem solved, taxes behind me, and Friday (and Saturday) evenings are when I kick back with good TV or movies. And beer. (Mostly a calorie thing, but also to ensure I don’t get too into it. I generally only have beer(s) on those two evenings. To go with the viewing.)
It should have been a great evening. Ultimately it was, but getting there took a bit of doing.
The first hornet in my beer was the latest episode of South Park. The show, now in its 26th season, has been on the air since 1997. I didn’t take to it at first, but over time it became a favorite. It’s one of the only shows on live TV I still watch — still needed YouTube TV to see.
But it’s a setup without much room for growth. The characters are locked in time and don’t age. Those kids should have kids of their own by now. It’s a pointed social satire, and that offers a limited set of targets. It has become repetitious. And therefore boring.
I’ve found myself not enjoying it that much anymore. I was watching mostly from loyalty and love of what it was and some sense that maybe it would catch its breath and find new life. I wasn’t put off by the episode, but I wasn’t grabbed by it, either.
So, even with a beer or two onboard, I wasn’t in the greatest frame of mind when I started watching the NCIS episode. And, man, did my mood sink. To the point of yelling at the TV — because that’s always so helpful. (Well, it helps me, anyway.)
By the time I clicked out of that episode, I was in a pretty foul mood.
And then it got better. By which I mean worse. From foul to steaming.
Sitting there, angry and tipsy (not a good combination), I thought about it and realized it was time to do what I’ve been thinking of doing for a while now: Dump YouTube TV.
I originally subscribed mainly for Minnesota Twins baseball games. But because reasons (corporate greed), YT TV lost the regional sports networks. Recently, they even lost the MLB channel.
The only reason to keep the service anymore (at $70/month!) is South Park, NCIS, The Blacklist, and Doctor Who. And I have an unconfirmed suspicion that the BBC no longer airs Doctor Who on the BBC America channel. Might only be on the BBC streaming service? Haven’t checked into that, but it’s an impression I’ve gotten.
I’ve mentioned before that The Blacklist has worn out its welcome with me, and I’ve been hoping each new season would be its last. Wrap it up, please; I want to move on. Apparently, the final season begins February 26, and I’m having a hard time caring. As it turns out, I’ll skip it, but eventually it’ll come around on Netflix, which carries the earlier seasons (as it also does NCIS).
The Chris Chibnall–Jodie Whittaker era really turned me off Doctor Who. [See Whither Doctor Who?] They’ve replaced both those weak tea losers, but I’m not sure their replacements will be enough to bring me back. I heard there was a Christmas or New Year’s special episode, but there’s no indication of it on YT TV. (Part of why I think it may no longer be available on BBC America. I really need to look into that. I am vaguely curious whether they can save it.)
Bottom line, why do I need YouTube TV? Their user interface is one of the worst I’ve seen, they can’t stream a recorded baseball game without buffering, and the app often causes my TV to lock up. Recent changes have made the app even worse. It’s utterly buggy keeping track of what I’ve watched or not.
I decided to rid myself of the aggravation. Enough with YT TV.
Then I spent over five minutes going in circles on the Google website trying to find the link to unsubscribe. Getting madder and madder each time I found myself on the same goddamned page I’d started from.
[I used to think, whatever else you might say about them, that at least Apple and Google had good tech. Superior tech. I no longer think that. Apple apps seem to get worse with each iteration, and Google (original motto: Do No Evil) has become evil, greedy, and incompetent.]
Anyway, as I said, from foul to steaming by the time I finally managed to find the unsubscribe link. Good mood totally gone. I was not kind in the user comment I submitted with the unsubscribe.
At that point, there was only one thing to do. Drink more beer and watch some music videos. Lots more beer and lots of music videos. Because, to quote William Congreve, from his 1697 play The Mourning Bride: “Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast; To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.” Indeed, it does. By the end of the evening, I was joyous and rockin’ out.
[Note that the quote says “breast” not (as often misquoted) “beast”. That play also has the famous line, “Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d; Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d.” Love to hatred turned. An appropriate quote for today’s post.]
So, YouTube TV is dead to me. I may look into whether Comedy Central has a service with South Park. Or not. Likewise, the BBC. I wouldn’t mind having that (if they have a service); they’ve done some great shows over the years. And I can wait for the final seasons of The Blacklist to show up on Netflix in a year or so.
The punchline, in line with the theme of love lost, is that I’ve been, from time to time, watching old NCIS episodes on Netflix (for all the crap they produce, still one of the best — and least expensive — streaming services, and some of their original material has been excellent).
No longer blinded by love, I’ve become painfully aware of how stupid NCIS often was. I’ve complained about episodes in the past [see Worst NCIS Ever!], but my love of the show excused a lot of flaws. Mostly how incredibly infantile it could be. But I liked the original characters enough, and there were many outstanding episodes, that I was more than willing to overlook those flaws.
But, for instance, the female agent on the team. First Kate (Sasha Alexander), then Ziva (Cote de Pablo), then Ellie (Emily Wickersham), and now… generic-female-agent-whose-name-I-can-never-remember (Katrina Law). They’ve gone downhill with each change. I’ve never really cared for “Fez” (Wilmer Valderrama), and Jimmy Palmer and Tim McGee (Sean Murray) are fraidy cat wimps (SNAGs, ugh).
I like Gary Cole okay, but Parker is no Gibbs. The show largely died for me when Harmon left. And we rarely see Ducky (David McCallum) anymore — another loss. And I miss Jenny Shepard (Lauren Holly), Dr. Sloane (Maria Bello), and even Alex Quinn (Jennifer Esposito, who only got one season). They also killed off Diane (Melinda McGraw), the ex-wife of both Gibbs and Fornell. She was always a hoot. And all of these missing characters had grit. Loved the grit. Really missing the grit.
All things have their season. NCIS had 20, and that’s plenty for me.
Blinded by love. I’m encountering similar with George Carlin now. He used to be my favorite comedian. But I’ve been reading a collection of Brain Droppings (1997), Napalm and Silly Putty (2001), and When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? (2004), and they’re all from “angry George” who I’ve never really liked.
I’ve long theorized that it began when his first wife died in 1997 (and note the copyright of that first book). I didn’t like angry George on stage, but in text form he comes off as a major asshole.
Stay unblinded, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.
February 21st, 2023 at 7:57 am
That NCIS episode uses a trope that appears in the human space as well as in the story space: someone blaming themselves for a Bad Thing they caused. (In this case, Parker shooting and crippling his former partner.)
We often feel guilty that we’re at fault — a word that carries a heavy freight of guilt. But I distinguish between the notions of fault and cause. One may be the cause of something, anything, but I reserve fault for actions with intentional outcomes.
If you trip because I deliberately stuck out my foot intending to trip you, I’m both the cause of your fall and at fault due to my intention. But if you accidentally trip over my foot with no deliberate intent on my part, I’m merely the (proximate) cause of your fall, but it’s not really my fault.
An important difference, I’ve always thought.
(And in Parker’s case, it would seem guilt would be more the reaction than anger, but maybe that’s just me.)
February 21st, 2023 at 8:01 am
One thing that upset me about the NCIS episode was that Parker assumed that the supposedly reformed OG was at fault for the new drugs. He’s now the CEO of a tech company. And the team quickly seems to establish that, yes, indeed Parker is right to suspect this guy is up to his old tricks.
Lazy, stupid writing. A far better story would be if the OG was completely innocent, and Parker was wrong. That’s a lesson learned for Parker. That was one reason I fast forwarded to the end, to see what the resolution of that point was. But it was obvious from where the story was already going (that tech company turned out to have a mysterious source of income), so I just didn’t bother.
February 21st, 2023 at 10:05 am
Hmmm… Another WordPress change? Not doing backlinks to other posts anymore? WTF?
Why is it that every change these folks makes just makes me hate WordPress more and more? This platform is becoming a major reason to just stop blogging. Just stop flogging myself. 🤬
February 22nd, 2023 at 9:59 am
As I wrote this post, all I could remember was that I got nothing from the South Park episode. I would have been hard-pressed to describe the episode other than it had something to do with Kyle versus his pals, and Kyle felt bad. Or something like that.
It took a news article about how Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were thinking of suing over the episode. Oh, yeah, that’s right, they were the main target. Which went after them for being all about their privacy while still being media whores wanting publicity.
It’s a funny thing I’ve realized about various comedy platforms (Cinema Sins, Honest Trailers, Pitch Meetings, etc.) that parody or satirize really stupid lame things I not only don’t care about but which I have actual antipathy for. Like those two “royal” clowns. (The British monarchy has never held even the slightest interest for me. I don’t even understand the attraction.)
I’ve found I don’t have much patience anymore for a comic attack on a particularly stupid movie or TV show. It says something when whatever is so bad in my eyes that I don’t even want to watch it being shredded in a humorous way. I get no joy from wallowing in stupid. I prefer to avoid it entirely.
March 3rd, 2023 at 4:04 pm
[…] following Friday, as already posted about, I reached my limit with YouTube TV and my formerly favorite TV show […]
March 3rd, 2023 at 4:17 pm
[…] Last time I described how my feelings changed about what was once my favorite TV series, NCIS. In this post, I’ll describe how something similar has happened with my feelings about George Carlin (1937-2008), who was once, by far, my favorite standup comedian. […]