Tuesday, April 05, 2016

TV Tuesday: NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans

My family was late discovering the NCIS shows. We saw a couple of the originals when visiting my dad and his wife and liked them. Soon, NCIS became the go-to comfort show for my son and I on sick days for its combination of intriguing mysteries, great cast and characters, and most of all, its wonderful sense of humor. Last year, when they introduced a new version of NCIS set in New Orleans, we were sold - same basic formula only set in our favorite city (my husband and I used to live there - it's where we met - and we've taken our sons to visit several times).

There are now 13 seasons of the original NCIS show (wow!), with a 14th planned (and IMDB shows a 15th, too!). My son and I have watched the first three seasons (he prefers to watch shows in order, from the beginning) and are in the middle of the fourth now, first on DVD's from the library and more recently on Netflix. Even though he is managing his chronic illness pretty well and in college now, when he comes home sick, that's what he wants to watch with me!

So, just in case we were not the last ones on the planet to discover this wonderful show, here's a quick recap. Mark Harmon plays Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, an ex-Marine, of NCIS, Naval Criminal Investigative Services, located in DC. He is in charge of the Major Case Response Team, a group of agents who investigate serious crimes that involve personnel from the Navy or Marines (or their families). I suspect that no one even knew this branch of law enforcement existed before the show made NCIS famous! Gibbs is tough but kind underneath his gruff exterior and totally devoted to his job (and his team, too...though he does have a tendency to slap them in the head!).

Gibbs is assisted in his investigations by a team of agents and support personnel. Michael Weatherly plays Senior Field Agent Tony DiNozzo (though Weatherly has just announced he will be leaving at the end of season 13). DiNozzo is a former Baltimore Homicide Detective (non-military) who is constantly joking, flirting, and quoting movies. Some of the other Agents have come and gone on the show, though Tim McGee, played by Sean Murray, and Ziva David, played by Cote de Pablo, have both been been regulars on the show for many seasons now. McGee is a geeky computer expert who Tony loves to tease, while Ziva is an attractive former Mossad officer from Israel who speaks many languages and is highly trained in combat.

Backing up the field team is Abby Sciuto, the adorable, brilliant Goth Forensics Scientist who works miracles in the lab while slurping down Big Gulps, played (and adored by fans) by Pauley Perrette. Dr. Donald Mallard, nicknamed Ducky, is the resident Medical Examiner and an old friend of Gibbs and is played by David McCallum. Other characters have moved in and out of the group, but those are the main players.

In typical crime show fashion, the team solves a new crime each episode (with occasional two-parters or returning storylines). As with the most successful crime shows, much of its success is due to the actors and the characters they play, and the continuing stories of the main characters' outside lives are an integral part of the show and are just as important as the crimes they solve. One of the things my son and I like best about NCIS is the humor that is woven into every episode, even when (especially when) they are investigating a serious or gruesome crime. Like I said, it's comfort TV.

We have also watched some of NCIS: LA which follows the same formula but with its own unique and talented cast and set in Los Angeles and with more of a cyber focus. We enjoyed some episodes of the LA version but have never gotten as totally hooked on it as with the original.

I couldn't find a clip of NCIS Season 1 (too long ago!), but here is an amusing clip focusing on Gibbs and the other characters and showing the humor of the show:



Last year, CBS unveiled a new version, NCIS: New Orleans. We were sold immediately since we love the Crescent City so much, and we have now followed along with seasons one and two. This show follows the same basic formula as the original, solving crimes involving the Navy or Marines, with interesting characters, and that trademark sense of humor. On this show, Scott Bakula plays the man in charge, Senior Special Agent Dwayne Pride. I've always liked Bakula, and he's very good in this role. Backing him up are agents Christopher LaSalle, played with a thick (and authentic) Alabama accent by Lucas Black, and Meredith Brody, played by Zoe McLellan. CCH Pounder plays ME Loretta Wade, and much of this show's humor comes (as with the original) from the Forensics Scientist, in this case Sebastion Lund, a super geek prone to going off on tangents, played by Rob Kerkovich. And we love when there is a cross-over show and our favorite characters from the original NCIS appear on one of the spin-offs.

As for the setting in New Orleans, it is mostly pretty accurate, though with a few glaring exceptions. You could never fit a facility as large as the NCIS headquarters into a building in the French Quarter, as it is depicted here. The show does make frequent use of the French Quarter's popularity (and notoriety), though it also depicts other areas of the city. I have heard some people complain about the accents, but I don't think they're that bad (I learned when I lived there that natives have no idea how thick their own accents can be!) and not all characters are originally from New Orleans, so there are a range of accents depicted on the show. We do love to catch glimpses of our favorites places in NOLA or hear mention of one of our favorite restaurants.

Here's a trailer for NCIS: New Orleans



All seasons of the original NCIS show are available on Netflix, with DVDs available on Netflix for NCIS: LA and NCIS: New Orleans. All three shows are available on Amazon Prime for $1.99 an episode, $19.99 a season, or on DVD (often cheaper). And all three shows are currently being shown on cable, with recent episodes available On Demand.

Have you watched any of the NCIS shows? Which are your favorite(s)?

    

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