NCIS Episodes

2003, TV Show

NCIS Episode: "False Witness"

Season 8, Episode 10
Episode Synopsis: The team works with the deputy district attorney to find a missing Navy petty officer who is the only witness in a murder trial.
Original Air Date: Dec 14, 2010
Guest Cast Jamie McShane: Samuel Hayes Annie Wersching: Gail Walsh James Carpinello: Smitty Brown
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Season 8, Episode 10
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Length: 11:46:06
Aired: 12/14/2010
Also available on Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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NCIS Episode Recap: "False Witness" Season 8, Episode 10

"Turkey DNA database?"

"I know. It's a wonderful time to be alive, Gibbs."

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?

But the main focus of the hour — random scientific clues aside — was the surprisingly delicate psyche of one Tony DiNozzo, whose identity crisis created an alternate reality for all his cohorts. The question wasn't what if he'd never been born, a la Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey, but rather, what if he'd been born as a haunted, humorless, all-business stoic? The novelty that will have the episode well-remembered in NCIS lore was that Michael Weatherly wasn't funny. Which was pretty funny.

DiNozzo was even un-DiNozzo enough to ignore the pass thrown by guest star Annie Wersching (24), who would actually make a great partner for him in a romantic clinch — I mean, in the alternate universe where the doppelanger version of NCIS actually allows any of its characters to have an on-screen romance. The deputy DA's lustiness got her in some trouble, eventually, as her coupling with a key witness got a murder case thrown out of court. She got thrown out of the show a little too summarily at the climax, too, with no parting scene. Let's hope that's because she'll be back and not consigned to the bin filled with previous strong-willed flirts like M. Allison Hart.

It took a while for a dead body to show up this time — the turkey's or otherwise — as the hour opened with a scene of witness intimidation via video. (Is someone here a fan of David Lynch's Lost Highway?) Red herrings piled upon red herrings, and eventually a human corpse did end up in Ducky's lab, where Jimmy Palmer found a critical clue, and fished for (but didn't get) thanks from Gibbs. What was clear was that somebody wanted a street killer (the sympathetic Jamie McShane) freed from jail, and it turned out to be the twitchy kid brother of a murder victim, who wanted the perp out on the street so he could exact immediate justice rather than waiting for a death penalty that might never come.

This all became clear in one of the corner climaxes in recent NCIS memory — a snow-filled scene in which the agents plead for the vengeance-bound kid to put his gun down, and the newly freed, remorse-stricken killer/target offers to turn himself back in and plead guilty just to save the lad from ruining his life. You half-expected the killer to add, "But first, let me buy Bob Cratchit the prize turkey from the corner butcher shop," followed by everyone hugging it out.

But the feel-good incarnation of NCIS rarely fails to feel good, and, slushy climax notwithstanding, this one did. Writer Steve Binder did an ace job of not writing any jokes for Tony, and suggesting the void that would create, culminating in a nice scene where Ziva talks about balance and suggests that Tony embrace his "class clown" destiny. (A vocal group of commenters who've taken to the web demanding a more serious DiNozzo may disagree, and you almost have to wonder if the episode was written as an open rejoinder to them.) In reality, the Tony in this hour gave us the stolid, stunted Michael Weatherly we probably would have gotten if he'd joined just about any other cop show. When he came to and un-sobered-up at show's end — after admitting that the near-suicide of a girlfriend he'd jilted had shaken him up — somewhere, little Zuzu was hearing bells and an angel was getting its wings.

Meanwhile, if we had just one wish for Christmas, it would be this: a stand-alone, unedited video of Pauley Perrette doing the turkey trot. It's not too late, CBS: We promise this would be the hottest viral video of the second half of December. (And we swear that, unlike McGee, we'll keep our eyes on appropriate places.)

What did you think of "False Witness"? Do you want Annie Wersching back? Are you glad DiNozzo's prankishness is back, or did you prefer his brief respite as a one-track crimefighter? What ancient dance do you hope to see Abby learn next?

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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?

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Premiered: September 23, 2003, on CBS
Rating: TV-14
User Rating: (12,857 ratings)
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Premise: A successful "JAG" spin-off about criminal cases involving Navy and Marine personnel, handled by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. For the second season, the series title was shortened from "Navy NCIS" to "NCIS."

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