Crew’s an­tics add life amid all the death

NCIS 8.30pm, Ten

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Susan Kuro­sawa

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

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