NCIS has never been an "issue of the week" show, but when it rains issues on this show, it pours. Or at least it did in "Recruited," which made up for the lightness of the previous episode by taking on two hot topics: "Don't ask, don't tell" and Alzheimer's disease. There was something arbitrary about tackling both these subjects at once when the storylines never intersected in any real way and either would have been the worthy focus of an hour. But both were handled so nicely in executive producer Gary Glasberg's deftly balanced script that complaining about the conjoined focus feels like looking a gift horse in the mouth.
Bob Newhart and Mark Harmon
Shooting a scene in the autopsy lab on the NCIS set, Bob Newhart looks a bit absentminded, and an interloper might not know whether to chuckle. The TV legend is playing Dr. Walter Magnus, who preceded Ducky (David McCallum) as the unit's medical examiner. Looking over a corpse with Gibbs (Mark Harmon), Ducky suggests their old colleague add his forensic two cents. "Walter, why don't you jump into some scrubs? ...Walter?"
Newhart's hesitancy in responding isn't far off from the trademark stammer he made into a science on two of TV's most beloved sitcoms, The Bob Newhart Show (1972-78) and Newhart (1982-90). Since NCIS is a drama in touch with its lighter side, you might guess the visiting icon was cast in "Recruited" to capitalize on his levity. Not so. The former doc...
Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. NCIS got its biggest overall viewership ever with "Ships in the Night," pulling in 22 million viewers with the first new episode in a month and only the second since Thanksgiving. It reached this record high with the kind of average episode that typically shows up as grist for the mid-season. What would they have done last night if they'd had a truly pivotal plot or major guest star?
NCIS had its It's a Wonderful Life episode — or the closest it'll ever get — with the Christmas-themed "False Witness." And Abby was right. What's not to celebrate about living in the days of forensic miracle and wonder, as Paul Simon might put it, when a near-exact match can be made on a turkey corpse, and all of YouTube can be scanned not just for cute cat videos but tell-tale pixel problems that lead to a near-exact match on a critical camcorder?
As Renee Walker on 24, Annie Wersching was all business — at least until a final, fateful clinch. But on tonight's episode of NCIS (8/7c, CBS), Wersching is only part business as Deputy DA Gail Walsh. Her character in the episode titled "False Witness" is "very ambitious and hardworking," says Wersching, "yet she also has some drive to get part of her personal life going. So she's interested to see if anyone at NCIS is a prospect"—like, specifically, Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly).
Since Wersching's only signed on for one episode...
If they gave separate Nielsen ratings just for hardcore fans rewatching a show in the days after an initial airing, "Enemies Domestic" would probably be the top-rated NCIS episode of the season. This is why DVRs were invented, even for homebodies.
Writer Jesse Stern packed about three hours of plotting into 44 minutes. And while you might have found yourself wishing that this second half of a two-parter had been allowed to play out as at least a two-parter itself, you also had to marvel — and maybe even laugh — at just how many tasks were being accomplished in how short a time. In some ways, the real enemy was neither foreign nor domestic, but the clock itself. How could they wrap up last week's mystery plotline, wrap up Vance threads dating back three seasons, wrap up Ziva's relationship with her father from a season and a half ago, introduce the novelty of an "origins" episode, AND still give every series regular at least one satisfying chuckle?
Erik Christian Olsen
Eric Christian Olsen remembers the moment he learned he'd graduated to "regular" status for the second season of NCIS: Los Angeles, after guesting on two episodes in Season 1. "I got the call while I was in Canada doing The Thing prequel," he says. "I was so excited they were picking up the option I was jumping around with a tentacle hanging off [my] back."
"I don't think a round of applause would be out of order," DiNozzo told a conference of former agency directors toward the end of "Enemies Foreign," the latest — and, for this season, so far, greatest — episode of NCIS. Michael O'Neill and the others assembled big-wigs refrained from cheering, but we can. As the first of a two-parter, it's hard to say exactly how satisfactorily the whole scenario will play out in the end. But this setup was NCIS firing on all contradictory cylinders at once: simultaneously comedic and suspenseful, serious and self-mocking, plot-driven and character-centric, tight and loose.
Pauley Perrette's lab rat Abby has been let loose in the NCIS squad room. In a scene she's shooting for a big two-part episode airing November 16 and 23, she's trying to play pin the tail on the bomber. Pointing to a video of a suspect playing on a computer screen, she blurts out to Sean Murray's McGee, "He just confessed he knew how to make the murder weapon! I mean, how many people know how to make a homemade Claymore mine?"
"In this room?" asks McGee. A couple of visiting Israeli agents raise their hands. So does Cote de Pablo, as NCIS team member Ziva David. Then, sheepishly, so does Abby herself. "OK, fine," she mutters, reluctantly withdrawing her point.
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Perrette and de Pablo may be easy on the eyes, but they can be hard-asses, too. In a medium where many actresses are ...
An Abby-centric NCIS episode can never be anything other than a good thing, so it was nice seeing Pauley Perrette get to pull out that black parasol — last seen protecting her from the Mexican sun — and do a little obsessive field work in "Cracked." The object of her fascination was a dead Navy lieutenant turned biotech engineer who left behind mountains and mountains of mysterious formulas, along with a history of mental illness. "How's that for dedication?" Abby asked, upon finding that the dead woman had ambidextrously tattooed both her arms with reams of scientific mumbo-jumbo. "I'm officially a fan."
This led to Abby even going down to autopsy to talk to the corpse ...