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Five reasons why it's cool to like NCIS

by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 18th 2008 3:04PM
NCIS trioSomething amazing has happened recently in the TV media: the critics have discovered CBS's stealth ratings champ, NCIS, and it's now cool to come out of the closet and declare your fandom. Articles in USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times have reported the fact that not only is NCIS consistently in the top five of the weekly Nielsen ratings, but it's also a smart, well-acted and compelling TV show.

There are reasons to admire NCIS, and if you haven't been watching, here's five really good reasons to check out the show. I know that before I got coerced into giving NCIS a try, I didn't think I'd like it, but boy, was I wrong.

1) It's not really a procedural
Okay, yes, they do examine crime scenes and Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum) carves up cadavers while Abby analyzes fibers and prints, but NCIS is usually more about the people involved in the crime than how it was committed. You don't get a lot of tricky visual effects like the CSIs -- you know, the bullet shredding through a heart -- and you don't watch the investigators building a case like Law & Order (no "Where's your warrant?" or "Can I get a judge to sign off on this?"). NCIS doesn't feel clinical or technical; it's more meat-and-potatoes drama.

2) It's not really a military show
The 'N" in NCIS stands for Naval. I thought the show would be all about the Navy and cases involving ships and sailors. Well, that's true to a point. The jurisdiction for Jethro's teams is crimes committed against or involving military personnel, but they're not in uniform. They look like an urban investigation squad in a high-tech office. They deal with national security issues, but recently they investigated a murder involving a U.S. senator. The last two seasons included a big story about an international arms dealer nicknamed The Frog. NCIS covers a lot of territory that goes outside the lines of military bases and posts.

3) It's pop topical
For a show that supposed to be very straight in its stories and dialogue, the show is filled with topical and pop culture references. Tony is a major movie buff, forever bringing up lines from movies or situations that remind him of a Sean Connery movie or an episode of Magnum, P.I. (the Magnum bit was also a nod to Donald Bellisario, the creator of both NCIS and Magnum, P.I.); Ducky's vast knowledge of science and history; Abby's tattoos and rock 'n roll, motorcycle chick dogma; Tim's success as a mystery novelist named Thom E. Gemcity, even the current director's fascination with boxing and Mohammad Ali.

4) It's all about the team
The big name on NCIS is Mark Harmon, but the star of the show is the ensemble. It's the team that makes the show click, their chemistry and the way the characters interact. Everyone has something idiosyncratic that makes them unique, but together they work like a really tight band. It's a nod to Harmon as the star that he gives Michael Weatherly, David McCallum, Sean Murray, Cote de Pablo, Pauley Perrette all a lot more than just reflected glory. The current crew is so good together, only long time, die-hards still miss Kate.

5) It's filled with funny bits
There's all kinds of bits of business that makes NCIS fun to watch. Gibbs smacking Tony on the head when he makes a dumb comment (a schtick that Michael Weatherly and Mark Harmon improvised in the first season), Gibbs buying Big Gulps for Abby, Ziva's malaprops, Abby's Goth image contradict her scientific mind and sweet nature, Tony called Tim "Probie" ( and mocking his geekdom, Gibbs multiple marriages -- all redheads -- and his building a wooden boat in his basement (with no conceivable way to get it out of the basement!).

So, if you haven't tried NCIS yet, I hope this'll give you the impetus to give it a try. Let me know what you think if you do, and for you long-timers like me, share your thoughts about this underrated gem.

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I love watching NCIS, I enjoy watching the characters, love the sense of humor they have. But I do have a favorite and that is Abby. Gibbs, Tony, Tim, Kate, Ducky, and Ziva are wonderful. They are connected nicely. I love watching NCIS. I watch it everyday.

January 27 2009 at 2:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really think 'NCIS: San Diego' would make sense.....but I can't imagine another cast having the chemistry of the current group. As much as I hated Kate leaving the show, and was pre-disposed to dislike Ziva, I believe the show is MUCH better with Cote.....I don't know if it's the character or Cote's talent...maybe a combination, but she is now my favorite character.

It seems the cast really do 'get along' and this is a tribute to Mark Harmon. I'm convinced egos take a back seat to 'what's best for the show' by all the cast members. Also, not to be overlooked is Bellisario's sacrifice in accepting a lesser role on his own show. Impressive and perhaps why a sister series makes sense. Keep this man's talents active....another show would help keep him sharp.

January 15 2009 at 2:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thank you for your comments on ncis you are spot on with all of them. Anyone who can't find something about this show to like is narrowminded. Its weight in gold lies with all the different characters who have enormous respect for each other. They don't use gimmicky tricks, computerized anything, and best of all they make you laugh nearly every night. Don't like it- your loss! Take a 'get a life and sense of humour pill!"

January 11 2009 at 5:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Vicki Sopko

This is about Mark Harmon and NCIS. Without him I promise I will not watch the show anymore even thou I love the rest of cast. I love to watch NCIS and I had no idea any of this was even going on. Great show, the cast is terriffic and with Mark Harmon it will always be missing something. There is so few really good shows on TV and then something like this just makes me sad and wonder about the people that can not see a good thing when it is right in front of them. God Bless Mark Harmon and his family. He has been one of my favorites, I watch him on others show. VickiSopko

January 03 2009 at 3:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

NCIS is the best show on the air. I never watched it until this summer when USA did a marathon of it. I got hooked that day. I now tape all episodes. I do miss Kate, but it did survive without her. The only thing I don't understand is why they did get rid of Kate. I miss director Shepherd. I don't really like Leon. Mark Harmon is the hottest man on TV right now.

December 12 2008 at 10:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

NCIS is the one show I never miss. Of my top 5 shows 4 on CBS and this one tops the list.

I love the characters. That is a hallmark trait in all of DPBs shows. They are like a family. They are also like real co-workers with jokes and sharing moments together. Using humor to dull the ache of tragedy they see. (having worked in EMS/law enforcement/medical fields all my life..it is refreashing to see this.)

All of the previously mentioned moments are ones I remember. Another moment people look for is Tony accepting any award that Gibbs earns, because Gibbs isn't in it for the glory.

Abby and Ducky are my favorite characters along with Gibbs.

I would not what to see rip off shows: NCIS:anywhere else because they wouldn't be unique.

December 03 2008 at 2:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Rob, that is what I meant when I said the best series on television.

NCIS is the most entertaining program, with the best cast, it's never dull, never jumps the shark. It doesn't rest on it's laurels.

Really looking forward to the Ducky-centric episode that's coming up, he's one of my favorite team members.

November 30 2008 at 12:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
B. Ishler

Mark Harmon came here for 3 years to play in charity baseball games. He does not have a big ego. I have loved NCIS since it first began. Will not miss it. I love the inside jokes -- Dr. Donald Mallard (Donald Duck), and the old movie references. A tv show for people with brains.

November 23 2008 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rob Walley

I hesitate to ever call any show the "best show on television." That being said, NCIS might very well be the best show currently on television. It really is that good and not at all the kind of show I have ever been particularly fond of. It is engaging on so many levels and kind of sucks you into its world. Not an episode goes by where I don't reach at least one commercial break and say out loud, "I love this show."

November 20 2008 at 8:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

NCIS is the BEST series on television, hands down.

November 19 2008 at 3:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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