‘NCIS’ jumped the shark years ago; Season 17 needs to be its last
A lot of people believe that the day Mark Harmon leaves NCIS, that’s when the show will no longer be watchable. But anyone with common sense knows the show is way past its prime, and needs to be put down nicely.
CBS clearly doesn’t know this yet, as they renewed NCIS for an 18th season. But NCIS season 17 should’ve just ended the show. Even the show knows at this point its jumped the shark, and is trying to backtrack the stupid decisions they’ve made over the years with its longstanding characters.
Yet America has decided to continue to keep this show on the air, making it the most watched scripted series since season seven. Dear America: do us all a favor. Since you couldn’t make NCIS season 17 the last, make season 18 the last, because at this point CBS is just beating a dead horse.
The chemistry isn’t there anymore
Sure, you still have ever reliable Gibbs (Harmon), nerdy but helpful McGee (Sean Murray), Ducky (David McCallum) bringing the sass, Dr. Palmer (Brian Dietzen) trying to live up to Ducky’s footsteps, even though he’s been here for just as long, and Vance (Rocky Carroll) being the hard ass boss that Gibbs just ignores.
But the chemistry has fallen with the new team members over the years. Kasie (Diona Reasonover) tries to fill the quirky forensic scientist role, but it’s hard to fill the hole left by Abby (Pauley Perrette). Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) is just an even more cocky DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), and that’s saying a lot since DiNozzo was a dick at times.
And then there’s Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham). To be fair, she has come a long way from the NSA analyst that was far too perky for the team. But even now, she still clings to her male colleagues like a puppy dog, when her character is easily just as good, if not more impressive than them.
It’s hard to call this team bad, but the chemistry between them is easy to break. They don’t feel like co-workers solving naval crimes together, they feel like actors coming on set to collect a decent paycheck. McGee and DiNozzo had a brotherly relationship, and that’s missing between Torres and McGee.
Heck, even outside of their will they-won’t they tension, Ziva (Cote de Pablo) and DiNozzo had a very playful relationship. But between Bishop and her male colleagues, she just feels like the little sister that mom said had to come along on the mission. It’s not the same dynamic, and honestly it’s a dynamic that’s no longer fun to watch.
Rewriting Ziva’s story
One of the moments most people think was the end of NCIS as we know it was Cote de Pablo’s initial departure at the beginning of season 11. Then she was killed off screen when they were giving Michael Weatherly his departure, and everyone assumed that was the end of Ziva.
Then season 16 comes around, and all of that is thrown out the window to give drama with Gibbs and the team. Ziva is alive and well, and then she appears to ominously warn Gibbs his life is in danger. Now, season 17 has Ziva as a recurring character again.
While it’s good for those who missed her character after her departure, it doesn’t make any sense. The Gibbs we know, even with his own book of secrets, is usually Mr. Reliable and is the captain of a steady ship. But ever since Ziva came back, he’s too focused on bending to her will and beck to help the team properly.
Even when she was on the team, their father/daughter dynamic never got in the way of work. But now it seems like those people we met seasons ago no longer exist. If you’re going to bring back an old face, don’t completely rewrite the story to do so, and don’t ruin the characters in the process.
Gibbs working…. as a medium?
Ever since Caitlin (Sasha Alexander) was shot back in season 2, it’s clear Gibbs talks to ghost versions of his deceased loved ones to help him process his grief. He’s talked with Diane (Melinda McGraw) this way, as well as a few other dead characters. It’s his way of working through the trauma with the job, so we accepted it.
But there’s a point where the show just said “forget logic, let’s have a touching moment”. That point came when Diane spoke to Gibbs, and Gibbs told Fornell (Joe Spano) what she was saying. Now, we’re all lost as to if these are just hallucinations or if they’re actual ghosts, which is not what we should be thinking in a show about solving crimes.
The show is running out of ideas to prove that Gibbs has partially lost his mind over the years, so they turned him into a medium. Read that again because it just doesn’t make sense. Granted, this moment happened in season 16, but that doesn’t make it any less stupid. Then it’s never addressed again, as if it’s not the weirdest thing to happen.
The cases are hardly relating to the Navy
The whole point of the show being called NCIS is that it’s a crime scene investigation unit for cases involving Naval officers. Yet half the crimes involved aren’t even related to the Navy anymore. It just happens to be that the crime involves a Naval officer, so that’s why it’s NCIS’ job to solve the case.
A big part of what made NCIS different from other crime shows is the military element. Heck, its original show JAG hit this issue in its later seasons as well when the cases stopped being true military cases. Take that away, and it feels like the episodes could be in Criminal Minds, Law and Order: SVU, or Chicago P.D.
Cases in NCIS season 17 included: a body that just happened to be on a truck heading to the Navy Yard, but the body had no military association, a soldier was murdered on a live stream, and two officers were murdered by the same woman they met on a dating site. Take away the military element, and all of these cases are generic police TV fodder.
If you’re going to make NCIS stand out from other police procedural dramas, lead into the element that makes it different. Don’t just turn it into every other police drama. Especially when the cast feels just as generic as those other dramas nowadays.
At its peak, NCIS was easily the best police drama on TV. But by season 17, this show is long past its prime. Sure, it’s easy ratings for CBS, but if they want to do the right thing, they’ll end NCIS here.