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TV Reviews

MPAA Rating
Drama, Crime
Mark Harmon as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs; Michael Weatherly as Tony DiNozzo; Pauley Perrette as Abby Sciuto; David McCallum as Dr. Donald Mallard; Sean Murray as Timothy McGee; Cote de Pablo as Ziva David; Brian Dietzen as Jimmy Palmer; Joe Spano as Tobias Fornell
Paul Asay

Another day, another badly disfigured corpse.

Such is the work-a-week grind for the folks of NCIS, one of CBS' many, wildly successful acronym-laden dramas. And the use of an acronym for a name (it stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service) is oddly apropos: After all, these good military investigators spend their days wallowing in a veritable alphabet soup of crime and clues. Someone shows up on the GPS DOA bearing foreign DNA on her GAP jeans. But then the suspect, ID'ed as a J, has an FTA, which brings in the FBI …

Well, you get the idea.

The NCIS team is led by longtime special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, a former marine hiding, perhaps, a big secret in his past. He, along with a bevy of clever investigators, take on the military's toughest crimes—most of them involving a dead person of some sort. Does the team, or the audience, mourn over these poor, dead souls? Not really. How could they? How could we? The "pros" we're watching take the job in ghoulish stride, smoothing over the blood and gore with a steady patter of wit and the occasional romantic entanglement. Besides, we meet a new corpse or two or 10 every week. So the calluses have built up pretty thick.

Television has the curious ability to make the horrific humdrum. And NCIS is by now, to its legions of viewers, practically comfort food. (It was the highest-rated drama on television during the 2009-10 season.) Never mind, they say, about the mashed and mangled bodies. Never mind that Tony DiNozzo has been known to frequent strip clubs. Or that Gibbs isn't at all put off by the prospect of breaking rules if it'll help him crack a case. This is a competent, sometimes clever show that always promises a tidy resolution by the time the credits roll—and that's something we long for in our daily lives. All those pesky deadlines get buried, for an hour, underneath the fictional dead.

Episode Reviews


A murdered military man turns out to have likely witnessed a gangland hit. And corpses pile up like sandbags: One man dies from a bullet to the brain (we see the bloody hole in his forehead), another from drowning (his corpse is chained, and we see bruises and cuts). Both are shown with their chests gorily stitched together following autopsies. Another 10 people are killed in an onscreen explosion, and we see medical personnel trying to match charred chunks of human remains with one another. Two others were immolated.

Timothy McGee boasts of killing 28,000 people in a video game. A technician cracks wise at the expense of dead folks. There's talk of sexual harassment and getting a "lap dance from a nun." A guy and his girlfriend are shown from the back with their shirts off. She's wearing a bra.