Crew’s antics add life amid all the death
NCIS 8.30pm, Ten
IT has taken me a while to get into the peculiarities of the naval drama NCIS. Earlier episodes, with endless repartee between agents Tony DiNozzo ( Michael Weatherley) and ( the now deceased) Caitlin Todd ( Sasha Alexander), set my teeth on edge.
DiNozzo’s sexist jibes and Todd’s clever parries stalled the plots: it was not so much a matter of the number of petty officers and drill instructors found expired in odd circumstances but how many times DiNozzo would ogle Todd’s shapely butt.
Then I realised the relationships between characters in the core cast is exactly what the show is all about. The Naval Criminal Investigation Service provides a stage set, and there is no shortage of navy and marine corps deaths to solve, but it’s the antics of the team that make this one of the liveliest whodunits on the box.
A factor in my enthusiastic rating is special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs ( Mark Harmon), who is known as very special in my house, much to my husband’s annoyance. Setting aside that Harmon was named People Magazine ’ s Sexiest Man Alive in 1986, he is perfectly cast in this role of marine gunnery sergeant turned tough- minded investigator. Even his alarming haircut — a style known as whitewalled, apparently, with a flattish top and shaved sides — can’t make this guy look less than tall, Mark and handsome. ( Apologies.)
But the show does not just belong to the take- no- crap Gibbs and his head- thwacking management style. Weatherley has mellowed in four seasons, and his relationship with the tough Mossad agent Ziva David ( Cote de Pablo) has much more substance than his jousts with Todd did.
Sixties heart- throb David McCallum ( Illya Kuryakin in The Man from UNCLE) is superb as Dr Donald ( Ducky) Mallard. Now in his 70s, it’s the role of McCallum’s career and further evidence that veteran actors are back in vogue: hail the inspired dusting- off of William Shatner and Candice Bergen in Boston Legal and Robert Vaughn in Hustle .
Then there’s the Goth forensics specialist Abby Sciuto ( Pauley Perrette), the coolest chick ever let loose in a lab, and Timothy McGee ( Sean Murray), destined to be forever known as Probie ( probationary agent) and DiNozzo’s favourite punching bag. ( Routine name- calling: McGeek.)
A slimmed- down Probie is the star tonight. He is finishing his second novel and battling writer’s block, when events from the book begin to happen. How could this be? Has a crazy fan stolen a copy of his manuscript? More mysterious to this viewer is how Probie has the time for a parallel career. No one at NCIS is allowed to go home and have a life until boss Gibbs says so.
Looks can kill: The impossibly glamorous squad at the NCIS