NCIS poses intrigue, excellent characters, morbid comedy, and—more importantly—Abby Schuto!
When NCIS came upon its tenth season on CBS, life happened and I never stuck around to what happens. Looking back on NCIS, in the beginning verses right now, tells me that this series hasn’t lost its momentum.After being an avid viewer of the early seasons of NCIS, it’s safe to assume that I was a big fan of the series. Like a large base of its fans, you probably discovered the series on one of USA Network’s many marathons. Watching the episodes again brought back my original excitement for NCIS. In a few episodes, I had no context on the prior episodes—but the way the writers handle each episode, you really don’t need it. I got to see some of the newest episodes from this past year. And I got to see some of the old classics such as “Kill Ari” in which the team deals with the death of NCIS Special Agent Kate Todd. It was bitter sweet looking back, but as I watch I noticed that the same NCIS I always loved is still there despite the leadership changes and longevity of the series.
NCIS, formally Navy NCIS, began in 2003 as a spin-off from popular series Jag. It was created by Donald P. Bellisario and executive produced by Don McGill. To date, NCIS is the second longest scripted drama on television. The series has seen a lot of changes since its inception—as most series do when they run for twelve seasons. We saw the death of our beloved Kate Todd, NCIS Director Jenny Shephard, and Mike Franks. Actress Cote De Pablo, who played esteemed Mossad turn NCIS Special Agent Ziva David, left the series in the ninth season. Interestingly enough, most of the series original cast still remain on the show today. And that includes now Executive Producer and lead actor Mark Harmon—who has yet to lose his spark despite filming over three-hundred hour-long episodes for the series.
I initially reflected back on the series while watching the 11th season episode, “Monsters and Men”. I took a look at my old favorite characters in a new light. What I found is that they haven’t seemed to have “grown up”. They’re the same fun, charismatic, and energetic group as they were in the first ever episode of NCIS. From Abby and her strange (but delightful) addiction to cafe-pow to Special Agent Timothy McGee and his quirky attitude. In watching “We Build, We Fight” I learned about Palmer’s upcoming bout of fatherhood. When I last saw Jimmy Palmer, he was just the newest assistant climbing the ranks in trust for Dr. Mallard. In some aspects, the series lacks character development. In its short lived characters, like former NCIS Director Jenny Shepard or Kate Todd, the development is better and more refined. However, the long lived characters suffer the most. The writers are obligated to keep them, at a certain extent, the same as that is what the audience fell in love with in season one.
Back sometime in 2007, I watched NCIS for the first time. I was 14 or 15 at the time. I remember sitting at my desk with my hands on my head the moment after Ari David shot and killed Caitlin Todd in the season finale, “Twilight”. I watched the next two episodes, “Kill Ari: Part 1 & 2”, disgusted that my favorite character had just been murdered. During this very NCIS marathon, I watched those two episodes again after several years of forgetting about NCIS altogether. It brought back nostalgia and excitement. But most of all, I remembered the close bonds that the characters share together. They each have their own story. Whether its Gibbs and Abby, Gibbs and Jenny, or even McGee and Ducky. They’re as involved in each other’s lives as a real family would be—and I missed it.
To say that the later seasons of the show are better or worse would be an uneducated guess. However, upon a quick glance, I still felt the same at the end of each episode as I did so long ago. There’s a reason that NCIS is one of the highest rated series on television. There is a reason that the majority of the actors stuck around. The show is remarkably special. It represents a look throughout twelve years of an ever changing world. Characters have come and gone (and come back!) but the true creativity of the series has and always will be there, right inside of it.
You can catch new episodes of NCIS this fall on Tuesday nights on CBS—or watch a few reruns each week on USA.