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Oh, NCIS. Why can’t I quit you?

October 4, 2009

I shouldn’t like NCIS. The writing is clunky, heavy-handed, and jingoistic. I can usually figure out the culprit of the week by the thirty minute mark, even when I’m paying more attention to surfing the internet than I am to the show. The characters are cartoonishly over the top, and Mark Harmon’s Gibbs is such an implausible Marty-Stu that all I can do is laugh whenever he demonstrates his latest super human ability.

(Sometimes I like to picture the writers sitting around waving pom poms, shouting, “GIBBS, GIBBS, HE’S OUR MAN! IF HE CAN’T DO IT, NO ONE CAN!” It would explain a lot.)

I should hate this show. But somehow, I don’t.

I mainlined all six seasons this summer (USA reruns are like sweet, sweet crack), and I was insanely excited for the seventh season premiere. Like, bouncing out of my seat excited. And apparently, I wasn’t the only one.

So what is it about NCIS that makes it so compelling? I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but this here’s what keeps me coming back:

1) The team is ridiculously pretty (yes, I’m shallow that way):


They’re also damn good at what they do. I have a real soft spot for competent people — and sure, the skill level of the NCIS team is often over the top (Ziva’s the most badass killer around; Tony’s the smoothest talker in the world; McGee can hack any system; Abby is an expert at every single scientific field; Ducky’s got a story for every occasion AND can accurately psycho-analyze anyone; Gibbs’ ability at, well… everything). But it sure is fun to watch them do their thing.

Ah, competence porn. (See also: Leverage; Burn Notice)

2) The family dynamic. I’m such a sucker for massively screwed up people who come together to form their own bastardized family unit. Sure, they drive each other nuts and give each other crap constantly…

…but they’d also go to the ENDS OF THE EARTH for each other and God help you if you attack one of them, because the rest will end you:

Um, yeah. I might like that kind of thing just a little bit. You know, if you were wondering.

So, yes. Team NCIS is made up of obnoxious emotional cripples who need each other desperately. And I love it. Because let’s face it — as the parade of failed Ziva-replacements in the last two episode have so aptly demonstrated — at this point no one else can really stand to work with them. Together? They’re unstoppable. But remove one piece of the puzzle and it all unravels.

3) Tony and Ziva. Fandom seems fairly split between loving or hating any hint of unresolved sexual tension between these two, but put me firmly in the camp that can’t get enough of a good, old fashioned love/hate relationship like theirs.


The writers have been smart enough to leave just a smidge of ambiguity in even the most charged Tony/Ziva moments, so ardent opponents of the relationship can maintain plausible deniability. But if you like sub-text, the first two episodes of this season have been an all you can eat buffet of love.

In the past, it’s seemed like Ziva’s been more open with her feelings for Tony, but watching his total breakdown over her disappearance and supposed death deeply satisfied my need for dramatic pining. And their climactic reunion — complete with truth serum-induced confessions of not being able to live without her — was everything I could have hoped for.

But I can’t give all the credit to the writers. This past week, the action was all in Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo’s facial expressions. This clip should really be in the dictionary under “eye-fucking.” I don’t know where their relationship is heading (I doubt the writers will resolve the tension any time soon), but as long as the banter and the scorching stares continue, I will be there every week.

4) The women. I would never make the claim that NCIS should be winning any awards for sensitive handling of gender issues. (AHAHAHAHAHA… no. Just–no.) But whatever other headaches the show often gives me on the sexism front, I do enjoy the hell out of having Ziva David and Abby Scuito on my screen:


The gradual growth of their friendship over the past four years has made it one of my favorite relationships on the show. Hey, Tony and Ziva’s reunion in the premiere might have had me squeeing, but it was Abby tenderly touching Ziva’s bruised face at the end of the clip above that brought a tear to my eye. They’re two strong-willed, complex, three-dimensional, gorgeous women.

What more could I ask for in my fictional ladies?

5) The show’s just fun:

I can’t argue with that video. I’ve tried, but it makes me smile too much.

Bottom line: I guess I’m stuck with this show — judging by the ratings so far, it’s certainly not going anywhere (which is a nice change from the on-the-bubble cult shows I usually watch, believe me). And I don’t care that it’s dumb and predictable at times. I love my team of wacky, dysfunctional, superhero Navy cops, damnit!

So there.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Oracle42 permalink
    May 20, 2010 5:47 pm

    Aww, I LURVE this show. My sister forced me to watch a USA marathon and then cackled evilly when I fell in love with it.

    • tenillypo permalink*
      May 20, 2010 7:45 pm

      Hee. Those marathons on USA are evil. EVIL, I TELL YOU!

  2. Oracle42 permalink
    May 21, 2010 10:49 pm

    I’ve lost entire weekends while in their thrall – such is the power of Gibbs

    • tenillypo permalink*
      May 22, 2010 12:51 pm

      NCIS is like the ultimate tv comfort food. You know it’s probably not good for you, but it’s just so satisfying, and before you know it, you’ve gorged yourself and you’re wearing two day old pajamas and feel vaguely like you’re going to throw up.

      Or… something.

      (Also, I feel like if you and I lived closer we could have a lot of fun hanging out.)

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