News on the Iran/Russia front

It’s always our intent for this blog to comment on the news and to critique NCIS shows. Since tonight’s episode “Check” is a rerun that first ran on January 6th of this year and the critique is available in the archives of our blog, we want comment on some recent disturbing news.

The April 22, 2015 issue of the Jerusalem Post reported that, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the sale of S-300 missile systems to Iran would only strengthen its aggressive behavior and undermine the Middle East.
The two leaders spoke by telephone on Tuesday, just one day after Russia ended its voluntary five-year ban on the delivery of the system, which would help strengthen Iran against a military attack.
Russia said that in light of the framework agreement between Iran and the six world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program, the ban was no longer necessary. Iran could receive the S-300 by the end of the year.”

Many experts believe the S-300 defensive missile system will complicate Israel’s efforts to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapon development.

Those of you who have read our fifth novel “Redeeming Liberty”, which released in 2011, will remember that CIA Agent Bo Rider had turned Russian Colonel Yuri Egorov to provide Bo with information about Russia’s sale of missiles. In that thriller, Bo discovered Russia was about to arm Iran with the S-300 missile system.

So, if you want an exciting read about what’s happening in today’s current events, get a copy of “Redeeming Liberty” from Amazon by clicking here.

 

2015 April 14 NCIS Critique of “Lost in Translation”

It’s been a couple of weeks since news reports revealed that in 2009 NCIS investigated Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance while in Afghanistan and also how their investigation heavily influenced the military command to charge Bergdahl. According to news reports, the NCIS investigation included talking to Afghans outside Bergdahl’s base and an NCIS analysis of his computer. We mention this because many people ask if NCIS special agents really go into combat zones and whether analysts similar to McGee and Abby really do search computers. Because tonight’s episode results in Bishop and Gibbs going into Afghanistan, we wanted to give a shout out to the NCIS agents who worked on the Bergdahl case.

Once again, the “Lost in Translation” episode gave the writers opportunity to feature the skills of the agents and to use all the tricks and tools of the trade, both in Abby’s lab and in Ducky’s lab. It also featured two Afghan brothers in conflict with each other during a time when Muslims are so much in the news as terrorists, and where one brother is portrayed as a kind and caring man to U.S. military personnel.

We got a kick out of Tim McGee’s and Jimmy Palmer’s April Fool’s trick on Tony DiNozzo, when McGee claimed to have been selected as the recruiting ‘poster boy’ for NCIS. We loved McGee’s “Secret Agent” look.

Without giving away too much of the plot, the writers deepen Bishop’s character beyond anything that’s been revealed about her to date. Jethro is pure “Gibbs” when he forces Bishop into an undercover role in Afghanistan. Of course, none of us were surprised to see the Afghan who accompanied the “doctor” into the hostage hideout, wearing a traditional headdress, but peering out with piercing cobalt blue eyes. We all knew Gibbs wouldn’t be far away. After all, he told Bishop, “I have your back.”

He did and he always will. Thank you, Mark Harmon, for giving us, and millions like us, something edifying to watch on TV. We do so hope this wonderful NCIS team will return next season.

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2015 Apr 07 NCIS Critique of “No Good Deed”

This NCIS episode is filled with references to the idiom, “No good deed goes unpunished”. Our guess is that many viewers tuned in tonight because the previews indicated Robert Wagner would be back tonight as Tony’s Dad. He did return and added much to the show. We were not disappointed.

We liked that ‘No Good Deed’ involved an uncomplicated single-plot criminal case, peppered with multiple cases of personal relationships. It’s true the show featured the murder of a marine by an unknown person armed with a weapon. The weapon received more attention than the killer at first. That’s because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) intentionally released this gun into the criminal world by informants who were assisting that federal agency. The show seemed pretty realistic as it dealt with the infamous ATF case of ‘Fast and Furious’, but that wasn’t the most interesting part.

Tonight, we saw the all too common effects of parents, i.e., Tony Sr., trying to move closer to their adult children. We saw the prospective problems of Tony DiNozzo, aka “Junior” navigating his life with his well-meaning dad who always seems to mess up. Also, Tony makes a big mistake when he partners on the investigation with his love interest, ATF agent Zoe Keats.

Some might consider it inappropriate for Tony Sr. to show up at the office uninvited, or to show up at Gibbs’ house, but when a team works as closely as this group, (or any NCIS team), the co-workers are tolerant and understanding of a parent as eccentric as Tony Sr. Gibbs worked his magic in helping Senior and Junior to reconcile their differences. In fact, Gibbs’ scene in his house fixing a sandwich for Tony Sr. was very touching indeed. So was the scene with Jimmy Palmer and Ducky during the autopsy of the young woman. For those who have younger children, the cameras often flashed photos of the dead young woman. Diane cringed, and felt this was overdone. Dave commented that perhaps the writers were attempting to communicate to viewers the terrible dangers of drug abuse. If that was the case, these scenes were effective.

It was true to life when Gibbs and his team finally arranged an undercover meeting with the former ATF informant who killed the marine, and mounted U.S. Park Police stumble upon McGee’s attempt to buy a gun from him. In real life, occasionally and unexpectedly, uniformed police officers who are just doing their jobs, do interrupt an undercover operation. That is one reason undercover agents always carried undercover driver’s licenses that match their undercover identities, and match the registration of their official undercover vehicles.

We are curious to know what you thought of the show, especially the previews for next week’s show when Special Agent Bishop shouts at Gibbs not to put her into danger in the field in Afghanistan. She says she is not equipped for it, and he says, “I’ve told you, I have your back.”

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2015 Mar 31 NCIS Critique of “Patience”

We know that as we type this critique, most NCIS fans are glued to the TV watching Cote de Pablo in the ‘Dove Keepers.’ You will remember that last week we offered to send a copy of our most recent novel, “Embers of Courage,” to one of you who responded to our post. The drawing winner is Sandra L. If she will respond to us with her mailing address, we will mail her the copy. Meanwhile each of the others who responded, will receive an eBook copy of “Hero’s Ransom.” Watch your email for your coupon redeemable at iTunes.com.

Tonight’s NCIS episode of “Patience,” turned out to be better than some recent shows. The banter between Di Nozzo and McGee was good, as McGee discovers that Di Nozzo and Gibbs had been involved in a decades old case involving an airport bombing, to McGee’s exclusion. As the investigation of a new lead in that bombing continues, McGee and Abby are flown to an aircraft carrier off the coast of Colombia in search of a computer link to a Colombian drug lord. At the same time, Tony and Bishop attend what turns out to be a class to promote intimacy while posing as husband and wife to learn more about the Colombian doctor who offered the training. It provided interesting insights for the “couple”, and an opportunity for Bishop to have a deeper role. We enjoyed seeing Ducky with a key role in solving the case. Mark Harmon, playing Leroy Jethro Gibbs, interrogates a possible suspect, which leads to a second interrogation with surprising twists toward the end. All in all, the viewer feels satisfied with the outcome.

The preview for next week’s ‘heart to heart’ episode, “No Good Deed” includes the return of Robert Wagner as Di Nozzo Senior. The producers seem to know when they’ve discovered a good thing. At least we hope so!

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2015 Mar 24 NCIS Critique of “Status Update”

We’re Back!!! For several weeks or months (we’re not sure) we’d been writing critiques on our blog, but unbeknown to us, those critiques were not getting mailed to you. Those of you who went to the blog, found our messages there, but it took us quite some time to correct the problem. If you go to the blog you can find those you’ve missed in the archives. We are happy to be back with you.

As we stated a couple of weeks ago, sometimes we write a critique of the NCIS NOLA show if we don’t enjoy a particular episode of Gibbs’ original NCIS show. Tonight, we were going to watch the NOLA show for comparison, but that show started out with a girl in a strip joint. We didn’t even bother to watch it. Now back to “Status Update”. We have said the producers have Leon Carroll Jr., a retired NCIS Special Agent on their set to help them keep the show technically correct. In our opinion, they must have produced tonight’s show when he was on vacation, or they ignored what he advised in order to be more edgy. For the most part, the show was unrealistic. Also, the beginning “work flirt” banter between Tony and Bishop was worse than juvenile. This show airs at 8:00 pm with younger viewers tuning in and it’s inappropriate for a married woman to make light of monogamy.

It is clear the writers wanted to bring back Delilah from Dubai, so she and Tim McGee could renew their romantic involvement. Using Delilah in an undercover sting operated from a computer in a secure office was plausible, but to involve her (a computer specialist in the cyber division of DOD) to accompany armed DOD agents entering an apartment, which turned out to occupied by NCIS agent who arrived first, was just plain stupid. In the real world, it would be extremely dangerous to everyone involved because she is not trained agent. Even DOD having Delilah living in a ‘safe house’ apartment was a stretch of realism.

It was interesting to note the show highlighted the dangers resulting from military family members using social media. This week it was all over the news how terrorists are stalking military families in social media. These are great lessons to be learned from tonight’s show.

Tim McGee was correct when he advised Delilah to pull the trigger and shoot at Tim, when Omer Malik gave her a gun. Agent McGee assumed Malik wouldn’t have given her a weapon with a bullet in the chamber, for fear she would turn it on her captor. Because she was not a trained agent, she had no idea what McGee was talking about. This is proof she was in way over her head. Apparently her boss was in too deep as well, because at the end of the show he was suspended for “gross negligence.” (No doubt the technical adviser returned from vacation in time to catch the ending, and insisted the guy be disciplined).

Please leave us a comment in the comment section, so we’ll know this posting actually made it to our subscribers. We won’t post your comment, unless your comment is specific to the content of the show. But we will select the name of one of you who comments to us and we will mail you a copy of our most recent novel, “Embers of Courage,” which features Raj Pentu, an NCIS agent working undercover with the CIA on a terror group in Egypt.

What did you all think of tonight’s episode? From the previews, next week looks a bit lame, so here’s hoping it’s a great show to usher in “The Dovekeepers,” starring Cote de Pablo, who once played Ziva on NCIS. That miniseries airs next Tuesday on CBS at 9:00 pm and concludes the following night.

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2015 Mar 10 NCIS Critique of “Artful Dodger”

Mark Harmon and his associates have discovered a magic formula for creating popular episodes. The main ingredient is Robert Wagner. Wasn’t it fun watching Wagner acting again as Tony’s father? In the “Artful Dodger”, based on his vast experience, he tutors the squad of Special Agents about the underbelly of stolen and counterfeit art treasures. But it gets better when Robert Wagner goes undercover to meet with real art counterfeiters accompanied by Tim McGee, who is posing as Tony Dinozzo Jr. and a male model. What a hoot!

Pure slapstick comedy is on display when Tim strikes a powerful pose for the fake artist, and when Tony Jr. acts incredulous as his father leads the team from his position at the head of the conference table. Jimmy Palmer asks Ducky to play “GrandDucky” to his daughter, which provides some precious moments for a beloved character.

The squad is busy tracking down who killed a Navy Lieutenant when he interrupted a thief who stole a painting from an Admiral’s office. The Vice-Admiral blames herself as she asked the Lt. to find something in her office. In the end, Leroy Jethro Gibbs and the team discover the painting of “The Chesapeake”, a real Navy frigate launched in 1799, really contained a hidden recording device. It had previously been hanging in the Pentagon where national secrets were discussed.

The entire show is laced with references about how Tony Sr. (Wagner) has taught Junior the ways of life and hints to things he’s failed to teach him. Tony understands and loves his father no matter what. Gibbs plays a big role in reconciling father and son.

Tonight’s episode is a believable story of how terrorists used the device to learn about Defense operations. Our federal agents and soldiers must be extra vigilant during these perilous times.

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2015 Mar 5 – News for Ziva Fans

We realize that many NCIS fans are hopeful that Cote de Pablo who played Ziva will return to the show, and the sooner…the better. We have no clues about whether or not she will ever return, but we do know her fans will soon be able to see her in a new miniseries.

On Tuesday night, March 31st, Cote will appear in Part One (two hours) of the two-part miniseries, “The Dovekeepers, right after Gibbs’ NCIS show on CBS. The second two-hour episode of “The Dovekeepers” will air the following night, Wednesday, April 1st. The show is produced by Roma Downey and her husband, Mark Burnett. They were also the producers of the “Bible” miniseries, which drew more than a hundred million viewers. The “Dovekeepers” tells the historical story of Masada and was filmed in Malta. Mark your calendars, and set your DVRs. We are!

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2015 Feb 24 NCIS Critique of “Blast from the Past”

It must be sweeps week. That’s when each TV show dresses themselves up in their very best and tries to attract more viewers than other shows. Tonight, NCIS must have won. They take the viewers for a stroll down memory lane when a civilian is shot to death while using one of Gibbs’ former undercover identities. Before the episode is over, we are reminded of Mike Franks and Jenny Shepherd, both formerly of NCIS. Shepherd’s and Franks’ undercover IDs have also been hijacked by foreign spies. How did this happen?

That’s the fun part of the show, and you have to watch carefully to find out. We won’t say more for the sake of those who will watch their recordings later. Suffice it to say the writers serve up a pleasing and satisfying hour for all NCIS fans. The writers weave together humor and drama to produce a winner.

It is actually hilarious to see Bishop and McGee react when they learn that years earlier Gibbs posed as what they called IT (Information Technology) but what Gibbs called a Computer Technician. He may have posed as one then, but tonight he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) even learn to use a new smart phone, reverting back to his flip phone. We thought it was funny too when Gibbs resumes his past identity to gain entry into the victim’s high tech company. McGee whispers highly technical terms in his ear bud so Gibbs can convince the security guard he’s a real nerd. Gibbs pulls a fast one by reverting to his old folksy humor to con his way in.

Tonight’s episode reminded David of his many undercover cases during which he carried false ID’s. There was a constant danger that in the event an undercover agent or officer was injured or killed, there would be no way to know their true identity. One of David’s fellow agents was in a single car accident and was unconscious in an emergency room for four hours while every effort to find family members based on the undercover driver’s license failed. It wasn’t until a nurse found his gold badge in his boot that the police were able to learn his identity upon contacting DEA.

It’s good to laugh. However, we remember and pray for the brave men and women who at this moment are away from home and family to keep us safe in this country from those who mean us nothing but harm. Semper Fi

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

22015 Feb 17 Critique of NCIS episode “Cabin Fever”

Some readers of this blog may have noticed that recently we’ve been more critical of some episodes of the original NCIS episodes staring Mark Harmon. At the same time, the launch of NICS NOLA has brought us some excellent shows, and we mentioned them in the conclusion of our critiques of Harmon’s shows. In fact, for the last two weeks we’ve featured the New Orleans show because we enjoyed those the best. Having both shows on Tuesday nights gives us that option. We found it compelling that tonight Mark Harmon, as Leroy Jethro Gibbs, devoted much of “Cabin Fever” to intervening in the life of FBI agent Tobias Fornell. Fornell was sinking into drink and depression after the untimely death of his wife Diane, who had also been married to Gibbs. She was killed by Sergei Mishnev the Russian/Palestinian, who we discovered tonight was the half-brother to Ziva David’s half-brother Ari. So tonight’s show dealt with interventions and family feuds.

 

Likewise, NCIS NOLA dealt with family issues and an intervention of a type as Agent Duane Pride’s father Cassius urges his son to write a supportive letter to help the elder Pride receive favorable consideration before the parole board. In that show, the family issue becomes intertwined with the murder of a Navy Petty officer, involved with jewel thieves. Agent Pride discovers that his imprisoned father has manipulated Pride’s daughter to visit her grandfather in prison.

 

Both were good shows, but the winner is … “Cabin Fever.” Gibbs defies Director Vance and takes Fornell to a remote cabin to sober him up and encourage him. Was anyone else surprised when the Russian Counsel tipped Sergei Mishnev on where to find Gibbs and Fornell? Wow what an ending. Here’s the ethical question. If Gibbs removed the bullets from the unconscious Mishnev’s gun without telling Fornell, was Fornell justified in shooting Misnev in self-defense? Now Gibbs and Fornell have even more in common. Both agents have shot and killed the man that killed their respective wives. Gibbs couldn’t have done Fornell a greater favor, and the nation as well. At least one crazy terrorist won’t kill anyone else.

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2015 Feb 10 Critique of NCIS NOLA Episode “Careful What You Wish For”

Tonight’s episode of NCIS NOLA was about NCIS Special Agent Hackett who was temporarily in New Orleans as part of the protection detail for a Navy Admiral. Hackett was hoping to be transferred to New Orleans, where he’d grown up, but he was shot to death in what appeared to be an assassination attempt. During the episode, the investigation focused on discerning if the Admiral or Agent Hackett was the real target of assassination. Some viewers who are familiar with the mission of NCIS would question if (in real life) NCIS would be the proper agency to investigate, as the assassination didn’t occur on a military installation. It is customary that whenever an agent is killed, the agency he or she worked for would investigate the death, with support given by other Federal or local law enforcement agencies as might be requested.

The plot was a busy one to follow. It did reveal an interesting diversion when Special Agent Meredith “Merri” Brody, who was in close proximity to Agent Hackett, was questioned at length about an earlier incident aboard a Navy ship. Her delay in shooting a bomber resulted in five deaths. It was the writer’s way of developing her character for the viewers and we learned that just days before that incident, Agent Brody’s twin sister was killed in a car accident.

We don’t want to ruin the show for those who watch a delayed taping, but it was a cliffhanger involving DNA test results that would lead to an organ transplant. The real motive as well as the real assassin remained a mystery until the very end. Then we learn that something good would come from the tragic plot.

Next week, Stacy Keach will play Cassius Pride, Special Agent Dwayne Pride’s father, which should make for interesting TV. What did you think of this show tonight? Are you enjoying the new show as much as we are?

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson