2015 Jan 13 NCIS Critique of “The Enemy Within” 12/12

It seemed like a long summer without our NCIS team being led by Mark Harmon, who plays NCIS agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Indeed, it was a long summer of simmering tensions around the world. Last week’s show left us wondering about the future for the main NCIS. What a difference a week can make.

This week Gibbs and his team of special agents were back to normal. Well maybe not Tony. David joked they were all back on their meds. Tony acted super mellow and was much more relaxed than usual, causing McGee and Bishop to wonder if maybe he was in love. This episode tackled the difficult subject of Americans going over to the dark side. The plot and acting had everything we enjoy in an episode, beginning with Navy SEALS rescuing an American orphanage worker from terrorists. The writing was excellent and realistic.

FBI Agent Tobias Fornell returned with all the understated grief you would expect of him after his late ex-wife Diane was killed last week in the company of Gibbs, her other ex-husband. If you’re not very familiar with this series, you may be confused by that sentence. Gibbs and Fornell became friends after their mutual divorces from Diane. Tonight we learned Tobias and Diane planned to remarry. Too bad the writers ended their rekindled relationship. There are too many of the show’s cast without mates. It was a touching moment when Leon Vance invited Fornell to talk if he needed a listening ear as the two men had much in common. Radical terrorists murdered both of their loved ones, leaving children without a mother. We both noticed Tony and McGee interview of a young twenty-two-year-old dog groomer lacked appropriate follow-up. She said she’d broken up with their suspect because she didn’t approve of the suspect’s “radical” friends. Tony terminated the interview without identifying those friends. Even the rookie Bishop would have recognized them as possible suspects.

NCIS New Orleans aired a new episode entitled, “The Abyss.” It was excellent with CGIS agent Abigail Borin bringing her savvy and “old school” investigative techniques to the show. In “The Abyss” an Admiral’s daughter is suspected of killing her research team so the Coast Guard is brought in to help solve the case. It was interesting to learn more about Agent LaSalle’s missing brother. We are pleased to announce that this spin-off has been renewed for Season 2.

We’d like to know what you think.

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2015 Jan 6 Critique of NCIS episode “Check”

We’re beginning to wonder if Mark Harmon and his staff of writers and producers are schizophrenic. One week they produce a really great show and the next it’s terrible. We previously asked, “Did Harmon move all of his good talent to support the NCIS NOLA show, with interns running the original NCIS show?” Only the last ten minutes of tonight’s show sizzled. Everything else was a total disappointment.

The trash talk is getting bizarre. Even the acting was not precise. Gibbs claimed his doctor ordered him off coffee and caffeine for seventy-two hours. Then two of Gibbs’ ex-wives show up at a crime scene. It would be highly unlikely for them to find Special Agent Gibbs at the crime scene at the diner, and it was never explained. Duh … Why not show up at his office? The wives discuss Gibbs not wearing underwear while married. That inappropriate and gratuitous comment did nothing to advance the plot. Gibbs looked and acted like he was in a daze. We certainly were, having to put up with the juvenile antics. Thereafter, Gibbs’ entire team behaved like silly kids at a high school party. Even Harmon’s rendition of Gibbs was sloppy. He wasn’t the stern leader we are used to. If the writers were intending to make Gibbs appear inept due to a lack of caffeine or because he was stressed by the arrival of two ex-wives, it didn’t work. Bishop reminds us of a seventh grader with her gossipy ways. We cry, “Help!”

In the end, Sergei is an enemy to contend with. He is on the run again because Gibbs blasted after him without backup. Gibbs figured his team did not have his back so he went alone. Perhaps next week he will replace them all with some serious agents who know how to do their jobs, such as Coast Guard Agent Abigail Boren. No wait. She is going to be on NCIS New Orleans next week.

Harmon was redeemed by the New Orleans show, “Baitfish” that followed. It was better, with crisp dialogue. The scenes involving the use of confidential informants were excellent. The sting operation where NCIS and DEA tried arresting each other was too real for Dave. He’s been there and done that. One scene lacked a bit of realism—when the NCIS agents and the fire department are working the second bombing scene. Only the local police have jurisdiction and there was no visible local police presence. Once again, Lucas Black shone in the role of Agent LaSalle. The end leaves a dramatic twist.

On a side note, a new movie version of the “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” releases in August. Henry Cavill plays secret agent Napoleon Solo, and Armie Ammer will appear as the Russian-born Illya Kuryakin. Most of you know Ducky played Illya Kuryakin in the TV series. Let’s hope the movie is better than tonight’s episode.

Let us know what y’all think. Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

HarperCollins admits deleting Israel from its Atlas.

In this blog we comment on news items that we believe are significant. One such bit of news surfaced recently. It was reported that Collins Bartholomew, a subsidiary of HarperCollins has published an Atlas for distribution in schools in the Middle East. In this Atlas, the publisher has shown the borders of Jordan and Syria extending through the nation of Israel and the name of “Israel” has been omitted; however, the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank that are within the borders of Israel, are clearly delineated and labeled.

The omission was reported by the international Catholic news weekly, The Tablet. According to The Tablet, Collins Bartholomew claimed “that including Israel in the Middle East Atlas would have been ‘unacceptable’ to its customers in the Gulf and that their amendment incorporated ‘local preferences’.

In response to the revelation, HarperCollins stated on their UK FaceBook page: “HarperCollins regrets the omission of the name Israel from their Collins Middle East Atlas. This product has now been removed from sale in all territories and all remaining stock will be pulped. HarperCollins sincerely apologises for this omission and for any offence caused.”

The incident raises an interesting question. Can Christians trust secular publishers of Christian content? HarperCollins also publishes Bibles through another subsidiary. If HarperCollins can omit the name of Israel from an Atlas to appease a powerful group of their customers, can they also subtly change specific Bible verses to appease other large and/or powerful interest groups? Since HarperCollins didn’t notify the government of Israel that they had wiped them from the map, will secular publishers announce to Christians they are changing the meaning of the Bible or other Christian publications? Every Christian should be circumspect about what they read and who has written it.

Be Blessed in the New Year, Diane and David Munson

2014 Dec 16 Critique of NCIS episode, “House Rules”

Tonight’s episode was a holiday spoof that gave us a journey through nostalgia and previous shows. For those of us looking for a typical NCIS ‘who done it,’ it may have been disappointing. But as the episode continued, we got to see clips of shows throughout the years, even some of Ziva, who will probably never make another live appearance. Once we realized this was not a serious episode, it was enjoyable to watch Gibbs’ brood of single agents trying to crack the case of who disabled government computer networks. The unknown hacker(s) stole sensitive government emails that could imperil national security.

Special Agent Tim McGee is the conduit used by the writers. He types a letter to his estranged father. In it, McGee reminisces about his own relationship with his dad, referring to his dad’s “house rules.” In so doing, he draws a comparison to the rules of Gibbs’ work family unit, and the various rules (by number) that Gibbs uses. It was interesting to recall the rules by number. You may have a favorite from over the years. Via flashback to past scenes, we are reminded of the important codes by which Gibbs teaches his agents, his “kids” to navigate life. McGee tries out these same rules on three convicted hackers whom he is trying to convince to cooperate.

Some of the lines are hilarious and lighthearted. Because of the upbeat nature of this episode, we were unprepared for the sad ending. Many of you DVR the show, so we’ll not include any spoilers tonight. Suffice it to say, McGee grows into a man in this episode, and you will want to watch his transformation.

On a final note, we want to wish you all a very Blessed and wonderful Christmas. Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

Don’t Forget To Ask For Your Gift Novel From Us

Kritina, Debbie, and Sandra have each received their free digital version of our thriller of their choice. They and others are encouraged to request up to two iBook versions of our digital suspense thrillers. You can use them yourself or give the coupon number away as gifts. Just comment to this or yesterday’s post and ask for the title(s) of your choice. Feel free to share this opportunity with your family and friends. All they have to do is visit our blog, find this offer in the archives, and request the coupon in the comment section. The coupons can be redeemed for up to four weeks, and the offer is valid until December 31, 2014, or as long as the coupon supply lasts.

Blessings, Diane and David Munson

Our Free Book To You … It’s Christmas

Tonight NCIS will air a rerun of “Kill Chain.” Since we have already written a critique of this episode when it first ran on January 7, 2014, we are providing the following link for those who view the show again tonight.

http://www.dianeanddavidmunson.com/blog/?s=Kill+Chain&submit=Search

Most of you realize that because of our careers in the U.S. Justice system, we write family friendly suspense thrillers, in which we wrap a novel around some of the exciting and dangerous event and cases and real events. This week our ninth novel, “Embers of Courage” is being released in stores and at Internet sites. iTunes has available the iBook version of our nine novels, including “Embers of Courage.” In hopes of creating interest in our writing, we have been given free coupons for distribution and are offering our blog friends and readers a coupon for “Embers of Courage” or another of our thrillers for as long as the iTunes coupons last. So, you are invited to visit our website at the following link (or paste the link in your browser) and decide which of our nine titles you’d like to read in the iTunes version.

http://dianeanddavidmunson.com/books.shtml

Then return to this blog, and using the comment section, list which of our nine titles you would like to receive the coupon for. Your comment will not appear on the blog, but we will respond to you with a coupon number that you can use to download a title, or you can gift that number to another. The coupon expires after four weeks, so if you intend to give a coupon as a gift, tell us that in your comment to us and we will delay issuing the coupon until the middle of December. Our warmest wishes for a blessed Christmas,

Diane and David Munson

ps: For those wanting a print version of our books, they are all available at our website (autographed) and the offer for a free ‘Night Flight’ with the purchase of Embers of Courage is valid until Christmas. For those who might want to see us at a signing event, the upcoming locations are listed below:

DEC 06           11-3PM          FAMILY CHRISTIAN STORE, 5203 CORTEZ RD W, BRADENTON, FL

DEC 16           NOON-4         FAMILY CHRISTIAN STORE, 562 N US HWY 441, LADY LAKE, FL

DEC 19           NOON-4         FAMILY CHRISTIAN STORE, 2613 GULF TO BAY BLVD, CLEARWATER, FL

DEC 20           11-3PM          FAMILY CHRISTIAN STORE, 2454 W BRANDON BLVD, BRANDON, FL

2014 Nov 25 Ooops for Thanksgiving

Now begins the festive seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas. As usual during the hectic run up to the holidays, some things are lost or overlooked. For the Munsons’ this week it was the NCIS show and our usual critique. The Thanksgiving service at our church was moved to Tuesday night, followed by the lighting of a beautiful Christmas tree. Not to worry, we set the DVR to record the NCIS episode of “Grounded”. When we arrived home, half way through the episode we discovered our DVR left us grounded, as it hadn’t recorded.

So we’ll tell you that we saw a bit of Bishop’s husband watching with pride how professional his wife was in her new role. We would like to have seen Tony’s dad, as he always brings some fun and confusion, but his flight didn’t arrive. Those of you who saw the entire episode will have to share your informed opinion. We did observe Tony being back at the top of his game. He stopped the would-be assassin in the end. Abby offered the team a chance to make snow angels in the snow. How many of you recall doing so as youngsters? FYI, the next new episode for NCIS is 12/16/14.

In honor of Thanksgiving, we’d like to share a few lines from President George Washington when he signed the Thanksgiving Proclamation: “(M)ay we unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions … to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed … and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.”

Thank God from whom ALL blessings flow. May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2014 Nov 18 NCIS Critique of “Semper Fortis”

First things first. Are we the only ones who suspect Special Agent Timothy McGee phoned Park Police Officer Burt and warned him that he should bring Abby some black roses before the two months was up?

Compared to some of the recent episodes of NCIS, Semper Fortis (meaning ‘aways brave’) was more low keyed. How did it compare to other episodes? Did the writer’s do a better job, an average job, or did they drop the ball in this episode? Do you wonder where we are going with these questions? We discovered tonight’s script wasn’t written by the usual writers. It was written by two assistant writers, and this was their debut episode.

These two writers discovered an anomaly in the law that results in members of the Navy Medical Corp being uncertified outside of the Navy, while Corp men and women from Army and Air Force are certified. They got permission to write this episode featuring this problem. We think they did a pretty good job. We like to see heroes at work. Anna Dillon, the Medic, is saved from prosecution through Gibbs’ insistence, with the help of a somewhat mysterious lawyer, obviously from Gibbs’ past. This was another chance for Mark Harmon, who plays Leroy Jethro Gibbs to demonstrate his quiet but firm compassionate side.

The legal analysis was a bit thin from our viewpoint, and the sergeant for the Fairfax County Sheriff’s office seemed overeager to nail the hospital corpsman. Having lived in Fairfax County when we worked in D.C., we know the professionalism displayed by these officers. Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo seemed at the top of his game tonight and we do hope this Tony is back to stay. Bishop is growing on us as the actress tries so hard to be a credible addition to this stellar team. We are looking forward to seeing how her character develops when her husband appears in next week’s show.

We caught the NCIS New Orleans show too. We may have to start critiquing that show, as it is well written and strong. Lucas Black shines in the role Special Agent Christopher LaSalle, and tonight he showed amazing courage in saving a friend from a terrorist attack by drug cartels.

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2014 Nov 11 NCIS Critique of “The Searchers”

What did we hear tonight? In our years of watching NCIS, we never heard Gibbs admit to a mistake. But tonight he admitted that he has been too easy on Special Agent Eleanor Bishop. Were you as surprised as we were?

We’ve written three novels where we’ve taken a historical incident, then wrap a contemporary novel around it. Tonight the writers took the story of the murder of a Viet Nam veteran who was trying to write about his commander from Viet Nam and also to locate his body. Wrapped around this story was the NCIS writer’s effort to respond to the many complaints of those of us who’ve been turned off by the way they introduced Bishop as Ziva’s replacement. It was clever how they made Bishop uncomfortable with her performance evaluation score and her realization that Gibbs has been easier on her than her senior agent partners.

Again we had to watch Bishop sitting on the floor working on her laptop. From comments we’ve received on this blog, we are sure we’re not the only viewers who were turned off by such unorthodox work habits. Then, Bishop gets in Gibbs’ face and accuses him of treating her differently then most rookies. In response, Gibbs admits he eased off on Bishop because of the desk she occupies. He apparently blames himself for the two previous occupants of that desk (Kate and Ziva) leaving NCIS, inferring it was because he was too hard on them. After Bishop tells Gibbs that she doesn’t want to be pampered, but that she aspires to be like, Tony, Tim, and even Gibbs, he tells her to get up off the floor and sit at a desk. So, now we can expect Bishop to suddenly become more like Ziva or Kate. Sad though how Gibbs has to admit to being a poor manager and failing to properly train Bishop, to cover up the writer’s and producer’s decision to introduce Bishop, the antithesis of Ziva. Wrong!

Mark Harmon carried off the blame as strongly as he brought a sense of honor and pride to all veterans on Veterans Day. We liked how the team used the backdrop of the Vietnam War to restore those who fought in that war as heroes. Master Sergeant Hawkins and his buddy Sergeant Charles Kent showed grit and integrity in a difficult situation. Many of us know soldiers who have died or have been wounded fighting for the freedoms we enjoy in this great United States of America. Thank you NCIS for reminding us of the preciousness of this freedom.

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

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Between now and Christmas, we will be at several events where we will have the opportunity to see many friends who read our books and who watch and comment on the NCIS shows with us. Beginning with the book signings in Florida on Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) we will be signing our newest thriller, “Embers of Courage.”

Here is the list of our upcoming appearances this Fall:

NOV 08 11-3PM FAMILY CHRISTAIN STORE, 4220 W JEFFERSON BLVD
FT WAYNE, IN

NOV 20 11 AM 1ST BAPTIST CHURCH SENIORS MYSTERY LUNCHEON,
432 HWY 446, LADY LAKE, FL, RESERVATIONS 352-753-2018

NOV 28 8-NOON FAMILY CHRISTIAN STORE, 3700 US HIGHWAY 98 N, LAKELAND, FL

NOV 28 1:30-5PM, FAMILY CHRISTIAN STORE, 2613 GULF TO BAY BLVD, CLEARWATER, FL

NOV 29 11-3PM FAMILY CHRISTIAN STORE, 562 N US HWY 441, LADY LAKE, FL

DEC 06 11-3PM FAMILY CHRISTIAN STORE, 5203 CORTEZ RD W, BRADENTON, FL

DEC 20 11-3PM FAMILY CHRISTIAN STORE, 2454 W BRANDON BLVD, BRANDON, FL