NCIS: Season Six
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NCIS: Season Six

One of the very first genres to hit big with television was the crime drama. Usually this entailed either a detective in the police force or private investigator hitting the streets gathering scant clues to make a case that will permit the capture and successful prosecution of the criminal. The investigation always hinged on the dedicated detective wearing out a lot of shoe leather integrating informants and tracking down witnesses. About the only place a modicum of science was employed in this process was a stray finger print or a blood type. In 1976 the first sign of this methodology changing took place. ‘’Quincy M.E.’ was about a medical examiner who relied on forensic science to bring the guilty party to justice. In the last few years this trend began to take over the genre. Now the criminologist is the one on the forefront of crime fighting. Instead of getting the clues in dark alley the now come from high tech devices with banks of flashing lights and rooms filled with futuristic computer displays. CBS currently has three very successful television series in the CSI franchise but apparently there are still other directions for this trend to take. In this instance the producers combined crime drama with another perennial favorite genre; the military, coming up with ‘NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service’. This series combines the new scientific methods with good old fashion in the streets action. I had been getting a little jaded with the plethora of forensic series but his one caught my attention and made me a fan immediately. This series is just getting ready for its seventh season and the sixth is out on DVD so whether you are already a fan or just about to become one now’s our chance. Unlike most series whose ratings and popularity begins to fade after a couple of seasons ‘NCIS’ has been getting better ratings each year and now ranks in the top five shows. The simple reason for this is this is one of the best shows of its kind to come along in a very long time.

Considering the quality of this series it should come as no surprised its creator has decades of hit television series already behind him; Donald P. Bellisario. He has been responsible for such hit series as ‘Quantum Leap’, ‘Magnum, P.I.’ and ‘JAG’. Actually, NCIS is a spinoff of the military courtroom shoe JAG. If Bellisario ever tried combining the two he would wind up with a navy version of "Law & Order’. You might notice a common thread that runs through the shows he creates; they all have main characters who served in the Unites States armed forces, particularly possible for a writer; write about what you know. He served for years as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.

In the last couple of seasons the series has been moving away from an episodic format with a standalone story each week towards longer story arcs which require several episodes or even most of the season to resolve. Now that the old rules of syndication has given way to video on demand and DVD releases the studios are no longer pressed to have episodes that can be shown in no particular order. Last season the major act dealt with one agent going undercover to flush out an international weapons dealer, René Benoit, alias La Grenouille ("The Frog") played by Armand Assante. At the end of the season the team is despondent over the death of the Director of the NCIS, Jenny Shepard (Lauren Holly). She was once the field partner and former lover of the head of the team Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon). He is a non nonsense former Marine sniper who commands his team with a firm hand and occasional slap to the back of the head. Acting as his right hand man is Senior Special Agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly); a self styled ladies man and major fan of the cinema. He became very close with Shepard while working undercover for her. Next in the lineup is Junior Special Agent Tim McGee (Sean Murray. He is an extraordinary computer hacker and now has become a very successful author of mysteries loosely based on the team. On loan from the Mossad in Israel is Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) who is as deadly as she is beautiful. Always around to examine the inevitable corpse is Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum); a man who is brilliant, thorough and more than a little quirky. Speaking of quirky one of the best characters here is the forensic scientist Abigail "Abby" Sciuto (Pauley Perrette). She looks completely Goth with her pig tails, black clothing and many tattoos but she is dedicated investigator who is extremely loyal to her friends, especially Gibbs.

After the death of Director Shepard Gibbs was assigned a new staff as his team is split up. The new director, Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll) makes this unpopular decision in order to uncover a double agent work in NCIS. Naturally it cannot be as simple as having a spy in their midst. Revealing the traitor also uncovered a kidnapping and blackmail scheme all go gain access to an ultra top secret set of data. There are still the single episode mysteries but what makes this show work so well is how they are blended with the long story arcs so perfectly. This series remains one of the highlights currently on TV.

Posted 08/18/09

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