I’m doing a beginning-to-end survey of NCIS. It’s a tough job, but someone has to sacrifice their summer for such a worthy project. One summer isn’t long enough to watch every single episode while we wait for season ten, and since I had some issues with the ending of season nine, it seemed like a good idea to go back to old endings and see how they connect with their subsequent beginnings.
But first we need to deal with Yankee White, the 40 minutes that began my new life as a nerd. OK, there were the JAG episodes, but they almost don’t count.
It is all down to Donald Bellisario, whose writing of the first seasons is second to none and which made NCIS what it is. There may have been problems later, and maybe things weren’t perfect, but you can’t fault the writing.
There is much that makes Yankee White stand out. Although looking back, you see the discrepancy of Fornell and Gibbs meeting for the first time. But that’s OK. Also, Gibbs is not as Gibbsy as he became soon after. Nor is Abby fully formed. But the then Director is great, and DiNozzo is likeable. And Ducky is more assertive.
You can’t help but love a plot set on Air Force One, with a pretty passable George W Bush. Perhaps someone really should have thrown themselves in front of the President’s diet. The Secret Service come across less well than you’d expect, although that could have been intentional, I suppose.
Some shows need a few episodes to prove themselves. NCIS was loveable from the word go.
I’m still loving it, but they will need to pause and think about what they are doing. It doesn’t have to be Bellisario writing, but it does need to be someone else good. Changing backgrounds as happened with Gibbs and Fornell is also OK. But someone writing for season ten needs to know what happened in season five.
(Photos © CBS)