Naval Criminal Investigative Service

With money being tight, it’s difficult for me to get out and see as many movies as I’d like. Public Enemies was just released, and I still haven’t been able to go and see Up. I have, however, been introduced to several new television shows, and they can be just as interesting as the latest cinematic blockbuster, not to mention being reasonably priced. So, here we have the beginning of a new Monday feature (falling into the same category as movies in terms of reviews), discussing what I’m watching on the tube.

I’ve been introduced to NCIS, which I understand is a spin-off of JAG but that’s a show I’ve never watched so I don’t think it bears further mention. NCIS stands alone, and apart from the similarly titled CSI. I’ve seen a very few episodes of CSI but have not become a regular watcher, although I admit I find pretty much every line David Caruso growls in the Miami version of the show to be hilarious. More than once my apartment has erupted in laughter at the cheesiness of the opening. CSI: Miami tries very hard to take itself seriously and wants us to take it seriously too, and in doing so it almost becomes a parody of itself.

NCIS doesn’t have that problem. While I find the ridiculously-empowered CSIs in Miami to be somewhat one-note and interchangeable in my opinion, the NCIS team is full of multi-faceted well-characterized individuals who all have roles on the team and work well with one another, like people do in an actual workplace. The feel of the show would be closer to the realistic and dramatic bent of Law & Order if it weren’t for the counter-intelligence, para-military or covert operations elements that rival The Unit in terms of pulse-pounding military television action-adventure. Balancing out the drama and explosions is some genuine light-hearted humor, which often relies more on character interaction and development than gross-out or slapstick laughs – although I can’t deny I chuckle every single time Gibbs smacks one of his team upside the head.

Which leads me neatly back to what I feel is the strongest part of NCIS: the characters. Balancing out the direct and undeniable professionalism of team leader Gibbs and the calculated coolness and precision of Mossad assassin liaison Ziva David are the pop-culture obsessed DiNozzo and tech-headed McGee, whom DiNozzo often calls “Probie” or “McNerd,” if that tells you anything about their relationship. And then there’s the perky goth forensics analyst Abby, who’s always playing rather loud music in her lab, and “Ducky” the Scots medical examiner, who classes the place up by referring to people by their full names. I don’t know if anybody else on the entire show calls Gibbs “Jethro.” There’s a realism to these fictional characters that seems lacking in most other dramas of this type, save perhaps Law & Order, in that there’s no one person on the team who’s good at everything, and everybody has a vital role to play in dealing with the mystery or operation at hand.

In short, I enjoy NCIS immensely, and I think that anybody reading these words should give it a try if you haven’t already.

Oh, and never mess with a Marine’s coffee.