Premiering in late 2003, this naval intelligence series is one of the more entertaining shows I’ve yet to see.
NCIS, Season One (2003) CBS TV Review
Air Force One is getting ready for take off with the President aboard. In a last minute replacement, a young Navy commander steps in for a navel officer who is out sick. After lunch with the President, the commander suddenly falls ill and dies within seconds. Precautions immediately go into place, the plane grounded and after his speech, the President put onto another jet. While grounded, swarms of people attend the body, including Secret Service agent Caitlin Todd (Sasha Alexander) who isn’t convinced the attending medical examiner is just that.
Turns out they are Navel Criminal Investigative Service agents. Led by veteran agent Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), the team quickly realizes if they have any expectations of investigating, they first must compete against both the FBI and Secret Service.
Medical Examiner Donald “Ducky” Mallard (David McCallum) and forensic scientist Abby Sciuto (Pauly Perrette) set to work solving the cause of death. Meanwhile NCIS agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) investigates another mysterious death while Gibbs and Todd pursue other leads. When the deceased man turns out to be the commander who should have been on the flight, it may just be the final piece of the puzzle.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know whether or not you’re going to like a show initially, because the show shifts a great deal from the pilot. Such is the case with NCIS. Its first episode is intelligent but less so as each one builds off of this. Season one doesn’t lend itself to great character development either. Granted as it gets deeper into the season, there’s subtle elements that allow the viewers to learn about certain of the character’s past, but everyone retains an air of mystery.
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If there’s something this show gets “right,” it’s the fantastic cast who have solid chemistry. Tony is the resident “funny guy” and flirt, while Caitlin is a devoted albeit cynical agent, and she isn’t about to take any of Tony’s glib teasing. The scientific “brains” have all the wit. Gibbs is perhaps the biggest puzzle of the group as he’s not only the toughest to figure out, but expects much from his crew. Because of this, there’s undying respect for Gibbs from each of the characters.
Gibbs has a different relationship with each of his team which “layers” his character though his interaction with Abby is most entertaining, particularly the “soda rituals.” Each of the characters bring something unique to the show and when together, I absolutely loved their subtle humor, work ethics and characteristics. For a show that solves mysterious deaths, this actually has a marvelous balance of laugh-out-loud humor and seriousness.
NCIS is unique in that this team only investigates military murders much like 24 was groundbreaking thanks to its one day time span. When it premiered, the filming was unique and, while some viewers may find the three quick succession shots annoying, they really add a fantastic element to the show, albeit small. Drastic changes take place over half way through the series through swift transitions equating to a more serious, “solid” series. Interlocking episodes play a much more significant part late in the series through careful clues. None more than one in particular dealing with a criminal besting Gibbs, he becomes different, driven to apprehend a nameless man, all leading to a climatic, tense, jaw-dropping conclusion.
Particularly favorite episodes include “Yankee White” (premiere); “The Immortals” (a clever video game whodunit); “The Curse” (a clever episode dating back eight years); and “High Seas” (which pits Tony against Gibbs former employee and is simply hilarious). A poignant episode (“Marine Down”) offers a glimmer of hope amidst sadness, while “Left for Dead” presents a twisted sense of justice. From the first episode, this series had me hooked. It’s a fun series with just enough suspense to keep viewers guessing but always leaves room for important, heartwarming messages. It begins by pulling its audience in through a fabulous cast with wonderful chemistry before intelligence wins out.
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You can find NCIS, Season One digitally on Amazon Video
CONTENT | a handful of episodes depict very visual autopsies [internal organs visible]. Likewise, one episode recovers a severed leg [there are brief snapshots of the decapitated body]. There’s side views of the nude bodies. Violence is more obscure and limited to guns being fired [a grenade injures a key character]. The roof of an SUV impales one man, another a wooden post; a woman is shot in the head, others die from bombs and other offenses. There’s drugs dealings in a few episodes; “High Seas” references urine samples numerous times. Innuendo invades, often during Tony and Cait’s sparring; also episodes deal with porn and affairs. Three separate episodes deal with homosexuality and a transgender. There is some inappropriate clothing. A reference is made about someone’s “virginity.” Profanity is infrequent. The show is TV14.