NCIS, Season One (2003)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Premiering in late 2003, this naval intelligence series is one of the more entertaining shows I’ve yet to see.

Air Force One is getting ready for take off with the President aboard. In a last minute replacement, a young Navy commander is sent in as a replacement for the customary navel officer who is out sick. After lunch with the President, the commander suddenly falls ill and dies within seconds. Precautions are immediately implemented, 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 gobs of character development either. Granted as it gets deeper into the season, there are subtle elements that allow the viewers to learn about certain of the character’s past, but everyone retains an air of mystery.

If there’s something this show got “right,” it’s the fantastic cast who share a solid chemistry. Tony is the resident “funny guy” and flirt, while Caitlin (who joins them after resigning) is a devoted albeit cynical agent, and she isn’t about to take any of Tony’s glib teasing. The scientific “brains” are witty. 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.

CONTENT | a handful of episodes depict very visual autopsies [showing a body cut open, with the victim’s internal organs visible]. Likewise, one episode recovers a severed leg [there are brief imaginary snapshots of the decapitated body]. There are side views of the nude bodies where anything inappropriate is carefully obscured. 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 point blank in the head, others die from bombs along with various other offenses. Drugs are dealt with 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 rated TV14.


  1. I *love* this show!!!!! Though, I think I like Ziva much better than Kate :)

  2. Me, too! It is still one of my most favorite shows - even after eight seasons!

    I don't know if I like Ziva "better" than Cait... still, I like this "new" cast just as well and, following every season finale, I hold my breath that none of the characters are about to be killed off! That would be awful. =)

  3. i LOVE this show! i'm actually watching it right now, haha.

  4. As you could probably guess: me, too! =D

    I came into this show about five years into its run, but I just love it! Since I only watch the DVD sets, I own all the available season and recently finished the latest set on DVD. Now I am just sad I must wait until next summer for more. =)


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