Click Here for Veritas Contemporary Classic Christian Concert

We are featuring Veritas on our blog because we are so impressed with this group. Our choir had the privilege of singing with them at our church in Florida. Please listen to at least their first number (Forevermore). This concert from Spartanburg, SC is over an hour long. As authors published by a small house, we know that new groups whose publishers can’t give them sufficiant publicity are slow to become known. So if you enjoy them, “like” them on social media, and while you are at it, “like” Diane and David Munson, Christian Suspense authors, too!

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2014 May 13 NCIS Critique of “Honor Thy Father”

Tonight’s episode was the last installment of a year long journey for the family of Leroy Jethro Gibbs. We’ve said before that the popularity of the NCIS show is due much to the great script writing, the unique personality of Gibbs, and his means of communicating (most often without words). Also, the fact that Gibbs’ and many of the team members are single, brings them together as a tight knit family. Over the last few years, they’ve added Jimmy Palmer who has a wife and a baby on the way. Bishop is also married. We expect to meet her husband next season.

A horrific schism occurred in the family when Ziva left. The middle part of the season stumbled as the producers brought in Bishop, the new investigator to complete the family. Recently, Ralph Waite passed away, which meant another family member would be gone. Tonight they ended the season with a fitting tribute to a great actor. The entire family assembled at the graveside of Jackson Gibbs. Mark Harmon said good-bye to a close friend and his TV father. In doing so, he honored Ralph Waite, the man who played his father (and better known as John Walton Sr).

It is bittersweet to have the season end, but we enjoyed this well done episode. Having Leroy find the old boat that he and his dad made named “Chickadee” brought Gibbs’ character full circle. This reveals why he is a boat maker: “Water never forgets,” his mother said. “Anyone with a boat named after them lives forever.” So Leroy gets busy drawing plans for a new boat. This is his therapy outside of his dangerous job as an NCIS agent. And of course this boat, whatever it looks like, will be named after Jackson Gibbs.

Bravo!

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2014 May 06 NCIS Critique of “The Admiral’s Daughter”

Did y’all enjoy the twists in tonight’s episode? We love plots involving spies, especially when Tony busts the spy ring. When an admiral’s daughter goes off the rails and gets her photo splashed all over a gossip magazine, very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo is tasked with bringing her home from France. A French police detective flirts with Tony before showing her true colors. And what dark colors they are. Tony must flee for his life along with Amanda, a young party girl. The dynamic duo evades the police and searches for secret ways to communicate with Gibbs. They end up using a technique similar to one we used in one of our thrillers a few years back entitled, “Hero’s Ransom.” So that part was fun to watch, including Gibbs figuring out the first clues.

It was also fun to see Bishop acting more like part of the team in her banter with Tim about his trick coin, and which one of them was going to be submerged in the septic tank. We agree with Abby. Yuck!! Bishop also learned something that every new Special Agent learns early on when Tony was ordered to France. Keep a bag packed and in the car or in the office, for instant departure. David’s got used several times.

We had to get past the obvious technical problem of Tony entering France with his weapon. It would never happen with Tony traveling undercover. Normally, if he needed a gun once in France, he would get it at the local NCIS office. The rest of the show was well done. We suspect everyone was shocked with the exchange between the lady detective and Tony in the alley in Marseille. We weren’t expecting that.

There’s lots of misdirection in this episode, which makes it exceptionally good. Only one more show to go for the rest of Season 11. We will share some sweet news—the entire cast is signed for Season 12 and many are for Season 13.

Be Blessed, Diane and David

2014 Apr 29 NCIS Critique of “Shooter”

We both agree: This episode reveals great investigative work by the NCIS team, especially from Abby. It is certainly her night to shine. Gibbs et. al. are determined to discover who murdered Marine photographer Roe, known as the “Shooter”. Is the Army lieutenant who shot a militant overseas to blame because he wants to avoid being court-martialed? Or is something more sinister afoot?

During the years that we lived in Washington, DC, we saw many homeless sleeping on the sidewalk heat grates. It was very common, yet never shown on NCIS. Until tonight, that is. Mark Harmon exudes strength and compassion as his team of special agents uncovers the seamier side of homeless U.S. veterans. Abby’s concern for a young woman living on the streets provides a positive result to an otherwise difficult to watch subject. Here a few of the better moments from a former NCIS agent’s point of view:

  1. Probie Bishop being “creeped out” by going through Roe’s apartment, while Tony finds it the best part of the job. He likes learning “secrets”.
  2. The agents realizing the bent spoon and needle may be a set-up.
  3. Director Vance texting Gibbs during the interrogation to “lighten up”.
  4.  McGee getting into his undercover mode due to his stubble.
  5. Ducky finding the evidence of chloroform, which was used to sedate Roe before he was murdered.
  6. Ducky declaring that Blue’s kidneys are gone, leading the team to discover organs were being illegally harvested for the black market.
  7. Doctor Vance admitting his wrong-headed approach to providing organs to those who were on waiting lists.
  8. The ending dealing with Arlington National Cemetery is an excellent resolution.

We’d like your opinion. The writers tackled a searing subject, one in which there is room for Americans to help. Ducky made the statement that there are 50,000-60,000 homeless veterans around the country. Diane had to wipe tears from her eyes. The picture of the actor who played Blue shows the agony and turmoil of living without a home, facing the harsh elements. Yet Blue did not lose his human emotion as he helped the young missing girl, and took good care of his dog, Dave. Franklin Graham’s Samaritan Purse has started an outreach to service members and their spouses. There are other organizations helping veterans.

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2014 Apr 15 NCIS Critique of “Alleged”

Tonight’s episode deals with a difficult subject. The writers toss in some fun and intriguing aspects to lighten the mood. “Alleged” tackles an issue that is a problem in the Navy right now—sexual assault. David has said many times since we’ve started writing our critiques that many of his cases while with NIS (the original name of the agency when he and Gibbs were there) were sex cases. He also has said how the problem has only gotten worse with recent changes in the military.

The show’s producers and writers meet with the Navy and U.S. Marines each season to find out the important matters they are facing. They asked NCIS to do this episode to raise awareness of sexual assaults. When David was a Special Agent, he and his colleagues dreaded these cases because of the many difficulties. Diane also prosecuted these cases, and we feel the show presents the complexities in an accurate fashion. Mark Harmon brings the right balance of compassion and drive to catch the bad actors. Kelli Williams plays NCIS Special Agent Maureen Cabot from the special unit. Diane recognized her from movies on the Hallmark Channel. It’s interesting when Tim mentions they don’t have probable cause to obtain a warrant to search the ship. The captain then searches the ship under the “Health and Welfare” provision. “This has to be throughout the entire ship,” David says. “It can’t be done selectively.”

The lighter moments come with Tony and Tim’s “cleansing” to achieve better health. Bishop doesn’t share their determination. She continues eating bacon and egg sandwiches and chili cheese fries. Tony looks tormented just staring at her giant plate of gooey fries. This is hilarious. But even funnier is when he takes a swig of his water concoction in a jug the size of something a family might bring to a ball game. Thanks Michael Weatherly for making us laugh.

The last few days brought another terror attack in Overland Park, Kansas, and today marks the one-year since the bombing occurred in Boston. To leave troubles behind for sixty minutes when we watch NCIS is a good thing.

More to come!

Be Blessed, Diane and David

NCIS is Back

Teresa, Caroline, Deb, and Martha have all commented on our critique of last night’s episode of NCIS, “Page Not Found”. It seems everyone agrees that following the departure of Ziva (Cote de Pablo) the episodes have been lacking. Might the reason be the producers were caught by surprise, then rushed to put the square peg Bishop, a hyper-analyst who eats junk food and sits on the floor, into the round hole of an A-type Agent? In the last three weeks, ratings have been down in the seventeen million range, from the once twent-three million viewers. That might be due to spring breaks, or to the New Orleans spin off. Or, perhaps viewers aren’t warming to Bishop. It is interesting to note that in the last three episodes commenters to this blog have liked them. We’ve observed that in all three episodes, Bishop has been mostly a spectator. So now what is to be done with Bishop?

Blessings, Diane and David Munson

 

2014 Apr 08 NCIS Critique of “Page Not Found”

“Very” Special Agent Timothy McGee and Special Agent Tony DiNozzo pushed the action forward in this superb episode, with the rest of the team playing backup. Even Gibbs has a minor role as NCIS battles the CIA for jurisdiction in tracking down who murdered Navy Lieutenant Kit Jones in Budapest. McGee’s pretty and talented girlfriend, Delilah, uncovers an email within her encrypted files, which begins the chase to find Jones’ killer.

This show has as many twists and turns as our legal thrillers. We both enjoyed the interagency sparring, and the brilliant resolve. We like happy endings.

The web intricacies are based on real events in the news, such as the Silk Road being used to sell drugs around the world and Bitcoin, the internet currency. The show asks some penetrating questions. Did Kit Jones really leave his Melanie in the lurch and miss his own wedding? What kind of creep would stick her with the catering bill? CIA officer Briscoe would have Gibbs believe it is all for national security. Is Briscoe all he pretends to be or has he gone to the dark side?

Leon is right when he challenges the CIA director for conducting an undercover operation within the U.S. The “Agency” is not permitted to run operations within our borders. That is the job of the FBI. Director Vance also is right to tell Gibbs to keep investigating, albeit “quietly”.  Some of the funnier moments are:

Tony runs into the equipment closet to take Delilah’s call because she doesn’t want Tim to hear. She asks Tony if he is alone and he replies, “In my own way.” Only he isn’t alone because his cardboard cutout of himself (from many seasons ago) is in there with him. What a hoot.

  1. Tim posing as Charles and Tony, using the name Gary and claiming to be animal control officers. We didn’t know that bleach could dissolve Chinchilla hair.
  2. Ducky and Jimmy work undercover in the hospital to find out who is operating this deep, dark website. Dr. Mallard swoops in with “Nurse Jimmy.” Turns out the patient knows less than Gibbs about technical gadgets.
  3. The teacher at a federal prison who uses smiley faces and frowning faces when Tim and Tony interrogate her. We laughed thinking of the times we have wanted to use something as silly.

We award this show 5 out 5 stars for entertainment. NCIS is baaaack!!

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2014 Apr 01 NCIS Critique of “Crescent City II”

After last week’s episode of “Crescent City I”, reviews were positive and should have encouraged the NCIS’ producers as they seek to launch the New Orleans show on CBS. Those of you who responded to our last blog seem to agree. The bottom line for us is that this cast and setting are more like the original show with Gibbs, et al, than the Los Angeles show, and in our opinion better than LA. We enjoy the chemistry of the crew, although the new forensic specialist with a taste for jazz, is probably meant to replicate Abby, but that’s impossible to do.

To give y’all an idea of the back story to these episodes, we’ll share what Gary Glasberg had to say about the new team. He sees Agent Lasalle, played by Lucas Black as “Alabama’s Steve McQueen” who handles himself with “a fantastic degree of calm and ease.” We couldn’t agree more. We love Black’s persona and acting ability. Glasberg says of Merri Brodi, played by Zoe McLellan, that she’s “confident and cool and direct and strong.” We saw an old JAG show the other night and there was Zoe looking way younger and much less confident. Finally, the Executive Producer couldn’t have asked more than to have Scott Bakula play Pride, “with his appeal and warmth and fun.” Bakula is open and direct, while Gibbs says everything with his eyes and his dramatic silence. Both guys make realistic special agents, according to David. (He should know!)

In our suspense novels, we usually create multiple plots running parallel, with numerous characters. We try hard to use a deft hand, and most of our readers like the way we bring the subplots together. Once in a while, we receive an occasional complaint from a reader who can’t follow everything. After watching tonight’s episode, we sympathize with those readers. Wasn’t it a lot to absorb?

These two weeks have Gibbs’ team, along with the new team, investigating a case related to an old Fed 5 team, the original NIS team made up of Pride, Franks, Gibbs, McLane, and Felix Betts. In Episode II, it was more difficult to track all the possible suspects and their relationships. Yet it was a good show. We like the chemistry of the New Orleans team more than the various elements of the plot.

If you are interested in the real NCIS New Orleans office, we’re attaching a link to a four minute video by a Louisiana TV station. It is interesting to see in contrast what two Special Agent do in real life.

http://www.wwltv.com/news/local/10pm-NCIS-New-Orleans-122070949.html

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2014 Mar 25 NCIS Critique of “Crescent City”

While watching tonight’s episode of NCIS, the first of a two-part episode (in hopes of a spin-off New Orleans show), we recalled our experiences with the Food Network Star. Their first show, and maybe even the second were new and interesting and we watched them often. As time passed, the network discovered they had an advertising bonanza so they created even more quirky shows, like mall cook-offs. Soon, we found their offerings boring and over the top. We’re hoping the popularity of NCIS doesn’t generate so many new venues they all lose their edge.

David liked tonight’s show for two reasons. The New Orleans office of NCIS is subordinate to the Central Field Office of NCIS, located at Great Lakes Naval base north of Chicago, where he was assigned. He notes with a grin they had no female special agents like Merri Brody, who reported to New Orleans to assist. In fact, David had no fellow female agents. We both agree that SA Brody (played by Zoe McLellan) should have been hired to replace Ziva. Did any of you recognize her as Petty Officer Jennifer Coates from JAG? Diane did right away. Merri connected instantly with her teammate, Special Agent LaSalle played by Lucas Black (from the movie 7 Days in Utopia).

What do you think of the intrepid team being called upon to help Special Agent Dwayne Cassius Pride, aka “King” to solve a murder of a Congressman? Pride was once was a colleague of Gibbs with NIS? King is played by Scott Bakula. He once starred on Quantum Leap. His character is based upon the real former chief of New Orleans and technical adviser to the show. So that gives the episode great plausibility. All except for Bishop, but that’s another matter entirely. Her snack food cravings and floor sittings are beyond old.

That being said, the murder mystery is interesting. Was Dan McLane killed for political reasons or because of his previous serial-killer case that he supposedly solved? His enemy in D.C. reminds us of some aggressive folks we once encountered there. The FBI makes a hash of the investigation as usual. But is their “spiriting” the body to Jackson, MS related to McLane’s murder? Ducky finally receives the body, but it’s too late to determine much. Diane objects to the FBI agent being killed onscreen in such a brutal fashion. We would both rather delve into the evidence and solve the case.

On a final note, both Sean Murray as McGee, and Michael Weatherly as DiNozzo, were at the top of their game tonight. They are a joy to watch. Mark Harmon, who plays Leroy Jethro Gibbs, had a key role in producing this show about New Orleans. He wanted to film real sections of the city and did showcase some real musicians.

What are your thoughts? Next week will show more of Gibbs and King in New Orleans. At least they are not battling snow!

Be Blessed, Diane and David

2014 Mar 18 NCIS Critique of “Rock and a Hard Place”

2014 Mar 18 NCIS Critique of “Rock and a Hard Place”

If one likes subtlety, tonight’s show lobbed all sorts of trivia below the radar. This episode offered a veritable buffet for those who enjoy rock music. An aging rock star named Manheim, as in Steam Roller, becomes the center of attention when he is to perform at a Navy benefit concert. That is until an explosion occurs in his dressing room. Did anyone catch any song titles woven into the dialogue? When Bishop arrests Mr. Mustard, the man who was Manheim’s first manager, she blurts, “I got you babe.” Did we miss any others?

Perhaps the writers should have saved this episode for the week of Father’s day. Of course, we say that tongue in cheek as that special day happens in June. So much of the plot showcases fatherhood. Early in the episode, Tony’s dad calls, asking Tony Jr. to plan his Dad’s wedding (and as McGee suggests, maybe pay for it too.) What a hoot. Then, Manheim is stalked by a young man trying to meet his father. Isn’t that a surprise? Great writing! Throughout the show, the junior medical examiner Jimmy acts like a nervous wreck about the impending birth of the child he and his wife plan to adopt. Some of the lightheartedness came to a screeching halt when the adoption falls through. Gibbs really knows what it means to lose a child, and in a tender moment, he encourages Jimmy with a fatherly pep talk.

You may notice we’re more engaged in the human interest side of this show. That’s because in our opinion, the teams’ investigation into the bomb blast turns out to be secondary to the characters’ lives. Ellie fits in nicely with the others. Our favorite scene occurs after Tim announces all hotels are booked: Leroy Jethro Gibbs beams at Tony, his smile saying in effect, “Yes, Manheim will be bunking with you at your elegant apartment. Like it or lump it.” Tony goes on high alert because of the washed-up rocker, and the results are funny. On a final note, we really expected that Tony would be forced to substitute for Manheim when he got cold feet. In real life, Michael Weatherly does play guitar, has a great voice, and even writes music­­­. We think the producers missed a chance to showcase Weatherly.

On a final note for suspense fans, today Joel Rosenberg releases his WWII novel, “The Auschwitz Escape,” which combines true events from the war as we did in our WWII novel, “Stolen Legacy”. We had the awesome privilege of listening to and meeting Joel twice over this past weekend. He is a tremendous author and Christ follower. We also met a subscriber to this blog, who has read all 12 of Rosenberg’s books as well as all 8 of our books. It’s pretty amazing.

Be Blessed, Diane and David