Case Number 26159: Small Claims Court

NCIS: THE TENTH SEASON

Paramount // 2012 // 1028 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jim Thomas // August 26th, 2013

The Charge

What do chickens and dark deeds have in common? Sooner or later, they all come home to roost.

The Case

For ten seasons Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon, Summer School) and his team of NCIS agents have investigated crimes involving Navy personnel, racking up ridiculously high ratings and a respectable body count along the way. NCIS: Season 10 pretty much has the same strengths and weaknesses as the previous nine -- a somewhat predictable formula nicely balanced by strong characters and stellar chemistry.

The predictable side of things is in display in the season opener, which resolves the cliffhanger which saw a bomb go off at NCIS while Ducky (David McCallum, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) had a heart attack on a beach. Not only were there no casualties in the main cast, but by the end of the episode, the villainous mastermind is dispatched in a ridiculously anti-climactic manner.

While the "crime of the week" episodes are generally forgettable, there are a few exceptions, particularly "Canary," in which the teams struggles to extract information from a captured cyber-terrorist -- said cyberterrorist is played by Vik Sahay (Chuck). While you may have to work a bit to set aside memories of Jeffster!, it's refreshing to see the team have to work to outwit someone. As usual, though, it's when things get personal that the show truly shines, and the season spends a fair amount of time dealing with the characters. "Namesake" brings back Ralph Waite (The Waltons) as Gibbs' father Jackson, along with Billy Dee Williams as Jackson's onetime best friend and business partner, Leroy Jethro Moore, Gibbs' titular namesake. In the funniest episode, "The Devil's Trifecta," FBI Agent Fornell (Joe Spano, Hill Street Blues) and Gibbs are investigating a case together when their mutual ex-wife Diane (Melinda McGraw, Mad Men) turns up -- she's investigating the case as well. Awkward. Hands down, the standout is "Detour," in which Ducky and Palmer (Brian Deitzen, promoted to full-time cast member in this season) are kidnapped by Cuban agents; the pair, well out of their element, have to outwit their captors. The only character-driven show that doesn't quite work is "Squall," featuring Jamey Sheridan (The Stand) as Admiral John McGee -- estranged father of Tim McGee (Sean Murray, Harts of the West); while the actors do their best, they cannot rise above a hopelessly clichéd script.

The season's main arc kicks in right about the halfway point, when a gunman shoots up the home of NCIS director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll, Chicago Hope). The arc itself -- and the cliffhanger that it sets up -- are entertaining and intriguing -- characters we've known for years get pushed to the wall, and not all of them react the way we expect. There are perhaps too many standalone episodes interspersed between the key episodes of the arc, resulting in a loss of narrative momentum. It does set up the finale well, a finale that sees Gibbs as the target of a major investigation. An added bonus of the finale is the appearance of Gibbs' attorney, retired Rear Admiral A. J. Chegwidden -- John M. Jackson reprising the role he played for nine seasons on JAG -- the show that spawned NCIS. The biggest issue with the finale is that Colin Hanks (son of Tom), who plays the investigator gunning Gibbs, lacks the screen presence to intimidate anybody.

Technically, the disc is solid. Image is a tad soft, colors are a tad over saturated, but they're the same way on broadcast. The 5.1 surround track is good, and shows off the incidental music and the occasional CGI explosion. Paramount kicked the extras up a notch to celebrate the syndication nirvana that is ten seasons. The array of featurettes include an in depth look at the tenth season as well as a look at the past ten years, with various cast and crew talking about their favorite moments/greatest challenges. There are also several commentary tracks with cast and crew; you might not always get a lot of in-depth discussion, but they are fun, and everyone seems genuinely fond of one another.

The show occasionally struggles to keep things fresh without changing the status quo -- but as it turns out, that boat will sail in Season 11, as Cote de Pablo will be leaving the series. The show remains a dependably enjoyable diversion.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2013 Jim Thomas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)

Subtitles:
* English (SDH)
* French
* Portuguese
* Spanish

Running Time: 1028 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentaries
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurettes

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0364845/combined

* Official Site
http://www.cbs.com/primetime/ncis/