"Gibbs! Gibbs! Gibbs! Gibbs!" Ok, I admit, that sounded better when Abby Sciuto says it, but she's not able to do it herself, so I had to fill in on my own for her. As a longtime fan of CBS's forensics/crime-based tv show, "N.C.I.S.", I've watched a lot of changes take place in the show's history. A number of changes have been good, but some still irk me, a good example of which would be this passed season's episodes, which have basically done everything but put Gibbs out to the proverbial pasture as a central character. A question would be, "How did we get to this point where the great Leroy Jethro Gibbs is no longer the Gibbs we know and love?" Hopefully the answer can be given before the show loses its top-rated standing. But perhaps we should take a look at what happened during the last season, including that little brat who shot him at the season finale. (Grrrrr!!!!)
Last season, we ended with Gibbs getting shot down by a kid--I never saw that coming myself!--who was a member of the terrorist group The Calling, who specializes in recruiting kids through social media. This is, by itself, terrifying, because this is in no way science fiction or even "Mission: Impossible" material, this is today's world! This is the world we've created, and now we have to face the fears we ourselves created through technological and social ambitions. And because today's youth is so plugged into the instant "Gimme-Gotta Have It Right Now!" attitude/generation, that they have no real thoughts to the consequences of what they're doing or think they're doing. And sadly, this leads too often to devastating and deadly results. Ok, so fast forward to this season's first episode to where Gibbs survives the shooting, but he's changed....maybe forever. DiNozzo pursues the one who basically controls The Calling--but he's still just a lieutenant, not THE man himself--and shoots him down himself. It's pretty clear that dude won't be back for another round. DiNozzo's handling of the situation would make even Gibbs proud! But even so, this doesn't make things ok for Gibbs, who becomes a lot less than he used to be in the current season.
"Season 13" could be thought of as a bad-luck season, maybe, because for one thing the writers don't seem to be doing their jobs as seriously as they have in the past. 13 has never been thought of as a good number for much of anything, and it seems as though NCIS is no exception. For one thing, when it comes to putting down the bad guys, McGee has become faster than Gibbs! How in the hell did that happen?? Gibbs almost got shot once because McGee didn't draw his gun fast enough to save his boss, and Gibbs had to shoot the guy himself! But in THIS season, McGee has literally become Quick-Draw McGraw! I'm still puzzled as to how he got so good so fast! Did he train with a SWAT unit or a few Marines over the show's break over the summer, or what?! Just saying, McGeek.
There's also the always-annoying presence of Ellie Bishop, somebody's sorry idea for Ziva David's replacement, who can't get through an episode without bitching about something that has little to do with the case, or about something going on in her marriage, which is a constant source of "Give it a break and get back to the show!" I liked her better when she wasn't on the show, and my feelings haven't changed. Her marriage to Jake--who had been a long-hidden presence until this season--has become something that viewers have had to put up with, whether we like it or not. The Jake character seems slightly more entertaining, probably for the reason that he's not in the show much, which makes him almost agreeable as a side-line for regular faces like Jimmy Palmer or the equally annoying Agent Li, and let us not forget the now-deceased Agent Dorneget. Talk about annoying characters, my God! Back when they said that the team was going to lose a significant character, I was afraid they were talking about someone like Dr. "Ducky" Mallard, or worse, Abby! I thought they were talking about a SIGNIFICANT CHARACTER, not Dorney. But hey, whatever, right? Maybe he was drawn in a pool of characters most writers would like to kill off, and he was picked. I mean, you know, that's ok and everything, but was Dorney really worth having such a big thing poured over him?
DiNozzo seems to have grown up a lot this season, although he seems weird, too, in a big way. The idea of DiNozzo not chasing the girls the way he used to is just not DiNozzo, and something needs to be done about his falling into a meditative rut, in an odd way. Whether he's actually found someone that hasn't been written into the show or if it's something else, I don't know, but it's definitely affecting the DiNozzo charm that used to exist. Now he just seems confused and unfocused about almost everything, except how to do his job. There's no denying he's still one of Gibbs' best agents, but he's become more contemplative, more reflective on his life. Is this somehow a side-effect from his shooting The Calling's lieutenant, and he just hasn't snapped out of it yet? Or are we seeing another side of DiNozzo that we haven't been given access to until now? Whatever the reason, it's clear he's still a good character, but the writers need to beef him up a little, not in the old macho way, but bring him a little more back to his old self. Bring on the chicks, and let the guy have some fun again! :)
Of course, we can't leave Abby Sciuto out, the resident gothic fairy princess and resident mistress of the dark of the forensic world, how we love her as much as we loved Ziva!
Abby is one of the characters who is still---well, Abby! From the funky tats that she sports to the wild outfits she wears at a moments' notice, Abby never forgets who she is and what she can do to keep the show moving forward. But even so, lately, even she seems slightly grounded, which for her character can be the kiss of death. But maybe this is being confused with the idea of her getting older and not having anyone in her life, although rumors insist that she and an onscreen presence, a guy named Burt, will become more of an item in the coming episodes. Will we see the beloved Abby getting married someday? Will Burt be a good man for her? Inquiring minds wanna know, dagnabbit! And speaking of Burt, I can't help of thinking about Burt the Farting Hippo, which hasn't been seen in so long--or heard from!--for that matter. I blame the people who created Burt, and let him be in the show for so long, only to steal him away just because they got their panties in a wad over royalties, and their own total selfishness about it. Thanks for nothing, ya losers! I hope you don't see one damn cent for the stupid stunt you pulled to get your toy off the show! GRRR! But I digress....
Ducky is another character whose staying power is without any question, although one does wonder how long David MacCallum will be able to carry on, given his age. That's not a nice thing to say, I know, but the man is in his 80's, so there is a legitimate question present. The wisdom of the great Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard is one that can't be written out or replaced easily by side-line characters like Palmer, so we can only hope that his character won't be put through too much, like going back out in the field after so many years of being a medical examiner. He's also an interesting character in the sense that he is literally Gibbs' best friend, and they've worked together in the past as agents. I do wonder if an episode might surface where the two of them might work together again in a joint-buddy episode. Something that might resurface from their time in the field together would be of great interest to fans, I'm sure. :) Or maybe the idea of a possible grandchild that needs his--and Gibbs' help--would also be interesting to see.
Director Vance has finally returned, which is good to see, although he seems to be more in a supporting character mode than the boss of NCIS, which makes for an uncomfortable atmosphere. He seems to be taking orders from Gibbs rather than giving, which we saw in recent episodes, and I was looking at my dad like "WTF?" What's really going on here? He and Gibbs seemed to be more in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" mode than NCIS, so there's something going on there that needs to improved on with the writing. There seems to be a doubt as to what he's doing there, and that is clearly the fault of the writers, so it's time to get things right again. Vance needs to BE Vance again, just as Gibbs NEEDS to be GIBBS again, not just somebody who's acting like he's on an outpatient list on a cancer ward. (Ok, maybe that was a little cold-blooded!) Sorry, Gibbs. *Gibbs Slap!*
An interesting addition lately has become Delilah, McGee's girlfriend, who's enduring some commitment pangs with McGee as they navigate their relationship to a mutual compromise. Are these two ever going to agree on a house to move into, or will the recent debate of the extra stuff ever be resolved? (Gotta make compromises, McGee!) Besides, Delilah's in a wheelchair, so she immediately needs extra space and a ramp to get in and out. She's smart and a good source of extra hands when needed, as evidence was given in recent episodes. And I can handle her being on the show a lot easier than Bishop!
Even though it's already been said that NCIS has been renewed for another season, 2016-2017, the writers of the show need to do a lot to improve things if it's going to stay in my list of choices to watch. And even though it's still got the ratings it needs to stay on top, it's becoming clear that it's running out of steam, and there are few places left for it to go. How many more times are they going to investigate another dead Marine week after week? I don't look forward to the idea of NCIS ever leaving the air, but if it happens, I won't wonder why, it would actually be something that would be acceptable, even if it were something unhappy or unwelcome. Like my dad says, we'll just have to wait and see.