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

2015 NCIS NOLA Critique of “The Walking Dead”

2015 NCIS NOLA Critique of “The Walking Dead”

Since the launch of NCIS New Orleans, we have continued critiquing the original show with Mark Harmon, and then making a departing comment about the new show. Tonight, we decided to critique the new show instead. As we attend booksigning events and talk with NCIS viewers, we hear many good comments from those who love the new show. Many former fans of JAG haven’t yet discovered that Agent “Merri” Brody, played by actress Zoe McLellan, was the female petty officer on JAG. When they realize her connection to JAG, they are even more interested in the spin-off. We enjoy the theme song and background music of the New Orleans show. We also find the scenes filmed in New Orleans quite authentic, whereas NCIS takes place in Washington D.C., but is filmed in California.

In tonight’s show, the writers ask the question: What would it be like to know you only had two weeks to live? A Navy Lt. Commander and psychologist discovers he’s been poisoned by Plutonium, reminiscent of the former Soviet KGB officer who died in 2006, approximately 23 days after drinking tea in a London hotel. The British government is currently holding an inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, who at the time had claimed his KGB boss was in cahoots with Russian organized crime.

The NCIS NOLA team led by Scott Bakula (Agent Pride) must find out who had motive and means to poison the Lt. Commander. Diane Neal reappeared as CGIS Agent Abigail Borin to help investigate a possible suspect who was discharged from the USCG based on the doctor’s evaluation. We enjoy her character/acting and so were happy to hear her say she is thinking about transferring to NCIS. She will be a great addition to any of the shows as a regular cast member.

There are many twists, but we won’t spoil the ending by writing too much for those of you who use your DVRs to record the show. David was critical when agents failed to investigate the source of toothpaste containing Plutoium. Once they were forced to get a search warrant for the brother’s home, they failed to secure the home to prevent the brother from destroying evidence. Suffice it to say that the rest of the investigation was credible, using a car chase with fast turns, search warrants, and scientific analysis, which for the purpose of TV developed quicker than in the real world.

Stay tuned to see which show we critique next week.

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

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