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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sorry, NCIS: Los Angeles

We taped the first episode of the new CBS series, NCIS: Los Angeles, last Tuesday. (This program is a spin-off from the long-running NCIS, and an episode of that program introduced most of the characters during the previous TV season.)

In case anybody cares, there is a real NCIS.

We don't plan to visit the new program again.

The old NCIS has six main characters, two female. (A few years ago, there were three main female characters.) The new program, according to the TV Guide Fall Preview issue, and to our viewing of the first episode, seems to have just two main characters, both male. There are a lot less potential relationships between the characters. NCIS has all sorts of interactions among the six, as well as with minor recurring characters, such as Ducky's mother, Jimmy Palmer, the assistant medical examiner, or Tobias, from the FBI. Almost none of these relationships are romantic. They are relationships of friendship, of rivalry, between subordiates and a boss, or mentoring relationships. The old NCIS features a lot of, well, investigation. Granted, it was only partly believable. McGee can break into any computer system on the planet, Abby is an expert in forensic chemistry, and apparently all other types of forensic science. Gibbs, DiNozzo, Ziva and McGee do a lot of investigation of crime scenes. Ducky examines corpses, finding all sorts of clues. But it is investigation, and we often learned something from watching, and we listen to people think. The new program seems to major on car chases and exchanges of gunfire.

The old NCIS is set in the District of Columbia, or near it. (There are Naval bases in that area.) The new is set in Los Angeles. Why Los Angeles? There is no major Navy or Marine presence there. If it has to be in the West, why not Puget Sound, or or the San Diego area, which are the major locations of the Navy and Marines in the West? We don't understand, except that Los Angeles has more glamor, if not much of the Navy or Marines.

We have gotten used to various quirks of the old NCIS, such as Abby's warm emotions, and her tattoos, Gibbs' handcrafting of a boat, and ineptness at high technology, DiNozzo's many courtships and stealing of other people's food, Ziva's struggles with English idioms, and her abilities as a hand-to-hand fighter, Ducky's one-way conversations with dead bodies, and monologues on all sorts of experiences that he has had, and the occasional head slap from one character to another, usually from Gibbs. Perhaps there will be as many quirks in the new series, but it will have to go some to equal the old. There are also frequent moral dilemmas in the old series. Perhaps there will be some in the new one, but we don't plan to give it a chance. We don't think watching gunfire and car chases, and lots of gee-whiz technology, equal watching human interactions, emotions, and thought processes. Sorry, NCIS: Los Angeles. I'll stick with plain vanilla NCIS.

Well, that's my first review of a TV program -- actually two programs in one. One good entertainment. One not so good.

Thanks for reading.


Julana said...

TV isn't what it used to be.

Martin LaBar said...

No, Julana, although it probably never was. The old NCIS is still on.

Keetha Broyles said...

We too LOVE the original NCIS and tried the new. I'll try it a few more times HOPING that like some cheese it will get better with age - - -

Martin LaBar said...

Maybe it will. Thanks.