NCIS Episodes

2003, TV Show

NCIS Episode: "Recruited"

Season 8, Episode 12
Episode Synopsis: A Navy recruiter is killed at a college fair, and the team is helped by Ducky's predecessor, Dr. Walter Magnus (Bob Newhart).
Original Air Date: Jan 18, 2011
Guest Cast Bob Newhart: Dr. Walter Magnus Jonathan Goldstein: Glenn Block Andi Carnick: Penny Block Sean Blakemore: CPO Jerome Carr Guy Wilson: Paul Simmons John Posey: Lance Simmons
Full Episode
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Season 8, Episode 12
Paid | iTunes
Length: 12:05:52
Aired: 1/18/2011
Also available on Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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NCIS Episode Recap: "Recruited" Season 8, Episode 12

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. 

Speaking of mouths, let's talk about Bob Newhart's. His was a terrific dramatic performance, as promised, and as pretty well expected after his similarly poignant turn on ER a few years back. There was the trademark stammering, which left you wondering, is that Dr. Walter Magnus, the Alzheimer's-stricken former coroner, or Bob Newhart being Bob Newhart? In the end, it worked so well that it didn't really matter. Speech patterns aside, what was striking was how much Newhart is able to do with those nervously darting eyes, when he wasn't locked into a full-on lost stare in Abby's lab. And what really stood out amid the character's stumbling was the effect the rare and sudden sight of his teeth had — whether it was in a flash of anger, as Magnus explored his frustration at his loss of memory with Ducky, or a flash of joy, when he broke into a smile as the team presented him with a slide show of memories in the final scene. (Who can turn the world on with their smile? Not just former Saturday night network mate Mary Tyler Moore.)

Newhart was so good that you would have resented the show giving away any screen time to a counterplot any less compelling than the one involving the death of a gay naval recruiting officer. You could see the resolution of the murder mystery coming a lot earlier in the hour than usual, or at least anyone who's ever seen American Beauty could — although the fact that the culprit dad wasn't a cardboard bigot but merely misguidedly protective did come as a surprise in the end. But the performances by the guest cast, and the typical finesse of Mark Harmon in his interrogations of all of them, made getting there a pleasure. And the real denouement, with the gay son back at the recruiting station, Gibbs in tow, was a heart-tugger, especially in montage-style combination with Dr. Magnus' moment back in the sunlight, and especially in musical combination with Lady Antebellum's "Hello World," an all-too-perfect choice to help break down the last of any resolve you might have to not be moved.

With such overpowering twin storylines, it was a bit startling to find the show finding time to address some ongoing mythology, too — namely, Ziva's possibly unmythical love interest, who finally got not just an initial but a full first name, and the aftereffects of all that shrapnel on Vance's leg and psyche. The scenes where Vance (Rocky Carroll) discussed the difficulty he was having returning to work were so awkward and mysterious as to be downright baffling — which, we assume, was the intention. Assuming that he's not coming down with Alzheimer's, too, these scenes seem to be hinting at some kind of fateful midlife crisis, if not early retirement scenario, unlikely as that may seem just a few seasons into this director's reign. Until there is some sort of payoff to what the writers are getting at with Vance's uncertainty and Ziva's suspicious romantic well-being, well, the wheels on the bus go round and round.

Some fans went online right as the episode ended to declare "Recruited" one of the best NCIS hours ever. Do you agree?

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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. 

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Premiered: September 23, 2003, on CBS
Rating: TV-14
User Rating: (12,882 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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