Paramount // 2003 // 1057 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // May 2nd, 2007
A Season of Change
USAToday once called NCIS, "CBS's Invisible Success." For four years, the series has slowly climbed the ratings charts but generally stayed under the wire when it comes to news and fanfare. Coming in as high as sixth in the prime time rankings (this year being the best ever) and retaining more than 90% of its audience against American Idol, NCIS is an enigma wrapped inside a solid, ratings winner.
Let's pay a visit to the office of Naval Criminal Investigative Services, a.k.a. NCIS.
Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon, Summer School) is a former Marine gunnery sergeant with a real knack for unraveling complex crimes and catching the bad guys. Gibbs is the head of NCIS and has a dandy team working for him. First up, Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly, Dark Angel), an ex-homicide detective with an eye for the ladies and a quick (dim) wit. Special Agent Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) is the computer expert, a bit of a geek and still trying to find his place on the team. Handling forensics is quirky medical examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and lab tech Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette), the Goth girl with the heart of gold. This season adds two new members to the cast. The exotic and brusque, Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) is a former Moussad agent who comes on board during the search for prior season finale bad guy, Ari. And then there's Jenny Shepard (Lauren Holly, Picket Fences) Gibbs' former lover and new boss (awk-ward). Investigating crimes involving the Navy and Marines, these civil servants take on kidnappers, killers, and a stalker who comes after one of their own.
In NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service: The Complete Third Season you get:
* "Kill Ari (Parts One and Two)"
* "Mind Games"
* "Silver War"
* "The Voyeur's Web"
* "Honor Code"
* "Under Covers"
* "Model Behavior"
* "Boxed in"
* "Light Sleeper"
* "Head Case"
* "Family Secret"
* "Hiatus (Parts One and Two)"
For the uninformed, let me enlighten. NCIS is a forensic investigation series with a twist. Much more character oriented and less forensic focused than its competitors, these quirky men and woman are the biggest reason to watch. Gibbs, Tony, Abby, and McGee are the closest thing I've ever seen to real people on a cop show. They joke, they tease, they have normal problems like balancing their checkbooks and not the overly dramatic problems we often see on TV.
The other unusual thing is NCIS's directorial and artistic style. You'll notice it's different, but may not know why. Much of it has to do with the color pallet and use of jump cuts instead of smooth transitions; which keeps the show feeling modern, edgy, and extremely cool. They also begin each act with a still shot of the final scene, leaving you to wonder how they're going to get there from here -- and it's usually a pretty good ride.
And then there's the classic NCIS misdirection. They're masters at making you look left only to find out that the truth is on the right. It's never over when you think and that is great storytelling.
The third season is dubbed "The Season of Change" and they even include a featurette of the same name to prove it.
A huge part of the change was due to the departure of series regular Kate Todd (Sasha Alexander, Dawson's Creek). Always looking for that last minute surprise, the series killed off the popular character in the last few minutes of the Season Two finale. Kate's death, at the hands of terrorist Ari, sets up a great deal of conflict and angst for the team. The first two episodes of this season, "Kill Ari: Parts One and Two," are emotionally tense. The characters are trying to cope with Kate's passing, while hunting down her killer.
Once that plotline is out of the way, the show falls into what it does best -- a series of quirky crimes, including a modern corpse inside of a Civil War tomb, a Marine's wife murdered "live" on the Internet, and the death of a boot camp reality show model.
Each of the lead characters also gets their own story. Tony gets framed for murder in "Frame-Up," McGee kills a man who turns out to be an undercover cop in "Probie," and a stalker is after Abby in "Bloodbath." All three are terrific episodes because they play into the character relationships. The scene of Gibbs sitting with Abby in the elevator because she's too afraid to step out is heartwrenchingly beautiful. And Gibbs, oh Gibbs -- he gets his story in the season finale.
Expect a big finish, but you won't have to wait a whole summer to find out how it all turns out.
As you would expect from a current series, the sound quality is great and the video is delivered in a crisp widescreen format. I also love the black tie box art and graphics used on the three plastic cases that fit inside the slip sleeve.
In terms of bonus materials, while series creator Don Bellisario offers up two commentaries, you'll get a kick out of the two handled by Michael Weatherly and Pauley Perrette, who manage to be both informative and funny. I could listen to them talk all day.
The featurettes didn't really grab me except for "Hit the Head" which is exactly what it says -- a montage of the famous NCIS smack upside the head moments. There's a rather boring feature on the real NCIS, plus interesting but not thrilling looks at the series changes and females on the show.
The downside of Season Three is the character of Ziva. I know there are people who like her and think she's the best thing that's ever happened to the show, but I disagree. I'm sick and tired of the "I'm a foreigner who can't use English properly" joke. Several times an episode she uses a "funny" twist on an American idiom or just plain uses the wrong word such "impregnate" instead of "impugn." Ha ha. Yeah, I'm over it. I also can't deal with her chip-on-the-shoulder, I-could-kill-you-with-my-bare-hands-then-go-have lunch attitude. Enough of the butch nonsense. We get it, you're tough. And then there's this odd tendency to make her look stupid, which I don't get at all. She's supposed to be a trained spy for heaven's sake, but she can't seem to handle herself properly in public. Take her out of the equation and this is a great season.
If you enjoy a bit of fun in your forensics, NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service: The Complete Third Season is not to be missed.
This court declares NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service: The Complete Third Season to be an open and shut case. These guys may act a little goofy on the job, but they always get their man (or woman) in the end.
Review content copyright © 2007 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (72)
Running Time: 1057 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "The Real NCIS: Declassified" Featurette
* "Hit the Head Montage" Featurette
* "The Women of NCIS" Featurette
* "NCIS: Season of Change" Featurette
* "The Round Table" Featurette
* Audio Commentaries
* Official Site