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

NCIS Agent Appears in Munsons’ Latest Novel

It’s possible some of the readers of this Blog don’t know that besides writing critiques and comments about the NCIS, we also write suspense thrillers. David likes to say that because he was an NCIS agent and a DEA agent and Diane was a Federal prosecutor, “We don’t know much about gardening, so we don’t write gardening books. But we have lived suspense.”

In our previous eight thrillers, we’ve woven Eva Montanna (ICE), Griff Topping (FBI) and Bo Rider (CIA) into the plots, often using their participation on Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF), which exist throughout the nation. A JTTF had been investigating the Boston Marathon bombers prior to their despicable act. On December 2, 2014 our newest novel “Embers of Courage” will be released in stores and through Internet sources in both printed and eBook versions (Kindle on Amazon, ePub at BN, CBD, & iTunes). For the first time, we introduce Raj Pentu, an Egyptian born NCIS agent who is assigned to the JTTF. Raj has an integral role in this latest thriller when he is taken hostage by the Egyptian Brotherhood, while working undercover for the CIA in Egypt. On a dangerous rescue mission, Eva and Bo visit Egypt without ever seeing the Sphinx or the Pyramids.

We are happy to announce that all of our novels are available (autographed) for purchase at our website. Our prices are competitive with other Internet sources, even when shipping is included. Between now and Christmas, we are offering autographed copies of Embers of Courage and a free copy of Night Flight both for $12.99 including postage. If you pre-order now, you will probably receive it prior to the December 2nd release date. Paste in this link to order Embers of Courage: http://www.dianeanddavidmunson.com/books/embers-of-courage.shtml

You can follow us and like us at FaceBook at this link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Diane-and-David-Munson/143446772367345

Listed below are the locations where we will be appearing between now and the New Year. We hope to see some on you, if we are in your neighborhood:

NOV 01 11-3PM FAMILY CHRISTIAN STORE, 3819 RIVERTOWN PKWY SW
GRANDVILLE, MI
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

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2014 Oct 28 NCIS Critique of “Parental Guidance Suggested”

Knowing tonight’s show was airing during Halloween week, we expected something gory and it turned out better than we expected. Really, if the producers wanted something demonic and evil for Halloween, what better venue than New Orleans? Based on the “ghoulish” preview, we’re skipping that one. In this episode of NCIA, the banter about costumes and Abby’s moving hand were funny. A new ATF agent surfaces in a sting operation gone bad. NCIS and ATF both stung each other, something which David has encountered many times (even one is too many). It is dangerous when this happens, as evidenced by Tim’s bruised ribs. In David’s opinion, they were all lucky no one was shot.

The plot over the murder of a SEAL’s wife proved penetrating and compelling. Tonight, the writer, Jennifer Corbett, really kept us guessing until the last few minutes as to who shot Val Barnes, who was also a mother of Rachel a ten-year-old girl, and a therapist. The key question was if one of her prior clients shot the Commander’s wife at point blank range. Gibbs and Tony’s interview of the sociopath was realistic. He turned out to be one scary dude. David surmised early on the husband did the terrible deed (Diane didn’t), but when the husband confessed with ten minutes left to the show, we both figured David had it wrong.

We were so impressed with the writing and acting, as Gibbs protected and assured the child who’d lost her mother and was separated from her father. The drama was heavy as Gibbs remembered his mother’s death at his young age and the loss of his own daughter to an act of terror. His idea to build the child a fortress was so impressive. The drama couldn’t get much greater, but then to see the disappointment in his face and eyes. Enough said, without spoiling the show for those who might watch it later. Mark Harmon says it all with a look and a few words. It is no wonder NCIS is the most watched TV show in the world.

“I love Ziva, but she left us,” Abby tells Tony in her lab, with the doors sealed shut. She exhorts him to move forward from his past. “I miss my friend,” Tony said, with glittering eyes. Abby smiles and says, “Never forget we are your friends too.” Based on some other lines from Abby, Ziva most likely will not return, even in a cameo role. It was touching to watch Tony confronting his memories of Ziva, and meeting another beauty, now ATF Special Agent Zoe Keates, from his past. Do you think she will return and find a place in Tony’s heart? We love his funny-bone, and yet are ready for him to act more grown-up.

Great writing! Great acting! Great surprises!

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2014 Oct 21 NCIS Critique of “The San Dominick”

Another good one. We were delighted to see CGIS Special Agent Abigail Borin return. Unfortunately, she didn’t have a big enough role, but she had a great closing line for Tony. Tonight’s show was refreshingly clean compared to last week’s. It was great to see McGee try on the role of boss and to see Bishop and Abby analyzing his leadership. We loved the line from Abby when she called Tim “McGibbs.” His glare competes with Gibbs’ intense look. To Diane, this was the best subplot of the show. She found it difficult to follow the dialogue on the San Dominick.

The episode was full of tension, which we like. The captain of the San Dominick had a sneaky idea for ripping off drug cartels and separating them from their shipping container full of drug money. Something just didn’t seem right when Tony interviewed him as they were about to medevac him on the USCG chopper. Dave instantly knew the numbers at the scene belonged to a shipping container. Must be his years with U.S. Customs and DEA are coming in handy.

Sometimes the crook’s schemes get too complicated as they attempt to cheat their accomplices. That’s what happened tonight. In those cases, even an inept investigator figures it out. As it’s said….sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut. Dave worked many of these kinds of cases through the years and he found the twists and turns reminding him of his undercover cases involving drug cartels.

In the end, Gibbs comes through in stunning fashion. He disarms the bomb and fakes out the pirates that were working with the Captain, who planned to cheat them all. Way to go Gibbs!! Wasn’t it clever having USCG Agent Borin deflated Tony’s ego by telling him he couldn’t be second in command. But, he could be “a solid number three.”

NCIS NOLA rocks again, with Senior FBI Agent Fornell traveling to the Big Easy to solve a kidnapping case. We really like how this team pulls together. NCIS Director Leon Vance has a cameo appearance as he pledges whatever help they need to solve the case. We spotted the bandage on the neighbor’s arm and determined she was involved somehow. The brother and sister are reconciled in the end, but it comes after a sad death of a hero.

What do y’all think?

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2014 Oct 14 NCIS Critique of “Choke Hold”

First thing we did while watching tonight’s show was to find who wrote the script. His name is Christopher Waild. Initially, we concluded that he wasn’t a good writer because the beginning was mostly meaningless college frat-type trash talk. Things did improve though, especially the ending.

As suspense authors, it was fun for us to see how they used an important Federal agency active in events of today—the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). Special Agent Leia Pendergast, the FBI agent is assigned to the JTTF, which is a group of agents from many federal agencies, maximizing intelligence to stop terrorism. We use the JTTF in many of our thrillers as the vehicle for ICE agent Eva Montanna and FBI agent Griff Topping to work together. We chuckled about her name too, because the judge nominated to the Supreme Court in our second novel, “Confirming Justice,” is Federal Judge Dwight Pendergast (no known relation). However, we found her banter with Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, lacking and silly.

Christopher Waild followed up on his risqué innuendo, with a series of Russian scientists being murdered using motorized garrotes. Sergei, the rogue Russian militant/terrorist from the first episode, tries to kill Nelly Benin, a Russian scientist who wants to defect to America. To us, the blood-soaked scenes evoked the pain of the recent beheadings of American and British journalists. It was difficult to watch. The show was somewhat of a disappointment as we (and probably most of you) felt our government was too willing to return Nelly Benin, the Russian laser technologist, to the Russians in spite of her plea to defect and seek asylum in the U.S. The excuse they gave—she is too low-level to start a war with Russia—is all too familiar as our country faces issues like Ebola and extreme terrorists. Gibbs saves the day once again, refusing to succumb political correctness. He makes the other agents, and the SEC/NAV, look like a “JV” team.

We end Episode 4 of Season 12 with “Wow!” Gibbs and Pendergast deliver a shocking twist, one of the best we’ve seen in a while. We won’t say more, in case some of you have recorded the show and will watch it later. Suffice it to say, Chris Waild redeemed himself. We like surprise endings, because that’s the way we write our thrillers.

NICS: New Orleans offered a tightly written episode with crisp dialogue. Lucas Black continues to shine. “The Recruits” also tackled a troubling subject matter, but we enjoyed being introduced to Agent Pride’s college-age daughter. The ending was a nice touch.

Next week, keep a sharp eye for Abigail Borin, who resurfaces with the U.S. Coast Guard on NCIS when a mystery envelops Leroy Jethro Gibbs. We are looking forward to it. Are you?

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2014 Oct 07 NCIS Critique of “So It Goes”

Another good show. In some ways, it was like every other good crime show. An Albanian mobster and assassin inserts his own people into various supply commands in the Navy and Marine Corps so that they can divert military supplies to the black market.

But the rest of the show appealed to the women viewers and all viewers who identify with Dr. Mallard. When we began writing our ‘factional fiction’, David focused on writing action, but Diane was dragging her feet, in hopes of including some romance. “The most loyal readers are women and they like a little romance,” she pointed out. For that reason, our novels contain a bit of light romance. In tonight’s episode, the producers send Bishop to London to find Dr. Mallard’s missing friend Angus Clark, from Ducky’s youth. Gibb’s hints Ducky should take some of his accumulating annual leave and accompany her. He jumps at the chance with a huge smile on his face, foreshadowing what is to come.

Many of us were surprised to learn in past seasons that Ducky’s nickname derives from his full name—Dr. Donald Mallard. Until tonight, we didn’t know why he always wore bow ties or why he never married. It was clever how the writers shifted back and forth to Ducky’s youth and his friendship with Maggie, the then young woman with whom both Ducky and Angus were in love. In the end, Angus got the woman and Ducky got the shaft. But, the bow tie Maggie gave Ducky as a going away gift stayed with him for his entire life, as did his love for her. In the end, when Angus is discovered the victim of the Albanian mobster who had infiltrated Angus’ business as an assistant, the long dormant spark between Ducky and Maggie is reignited.

Bishop kept finding reasons to leave Ducky and Maggie alone, so the spark could grow. We were both convinced by Bishop going to London with Ducky that she might shine and single handedly solve the crime. To our surprise, she had no role in the resolve. Ducky was the hero. He disarmed the villain and obtained the confession. Maybe the producers know Bishop’s character is a dud. The ending of this episode was like tied football game. The quarterback gets hurt, so the only hope is for the backup (Bishop) to go into the game and lead the team to the end zone. Instead, lacking confidence in the back-up quarterback, the coach sends in the kicker (Ducky) to kick a field goal.

One fun thing tonight was how Adam Campbell resembled David McCallum when as a young man when he played Illiayan Kuryakin on the “Man From U.N.C.L.E. Also, the actor who played Angus Clark resembled Robert Vaughn, Ducky’s avid McCallum sidekick on that show decades ago. We enjoyed seeing Alice Krige portrayal of Maggie. The South African actress also appeared in “Persuasion,” one of our favorite movies bringing a Jane Austen novel to the big screen. Do you think NCIS traveled to London for some Downton Abbey flavor? We expect Maggie will reappear in future episodes. The scene with Ducky and his forever love along the Thames Bridge in golden light was wonderful.

How many of you are watching NCIS: New Orleans? We stayed tuned and enjoyed the show, “Breaking Brig” immensely with Mark Harmon and Rocky Carroll appearing. This show really hit a home run with the espionage plot. The three lead actors work well together, and we especially like Lucas Black’s portrayal of an NCIS Special Agent.
Be Blessed, Diane and David

2014 Sept 30 NCIS Critique of “Kill The Messenger”

This episode was really a fun one. Great script writing. It’s creative when the victim’s cell phone starts ringing inside the evidence bag. Also hilarious is when Tony has a verbal exchange with an anonymous caller demanding, “You first ‘wise acre’,” and it turns out to be “The President.” What a hoot. We enjoyed seeing relationships develop among team members in this episode. Abby meets a good-looking U.S. Park Police Sergeant who is also into tattoos (more on that below). Gibbs is there for Director Vance when he is scheduled for health tests because he has suspicious spots on his lungs. Tony answers Tim’s phone when his girlfriend Delilah calls from the Middle East and sees her on FaceTime dressed to be seen only by Tim. Did y’all notice Michael Weatherly has slimmed down, losing thirty-five pounds during the off-season? He did it swimming long distances in the Pacific Ocean and doing triathlons. He says he wants to be healthier for his family.
How many football enthusiasts spotted the cameo appearance of Tony Gonzalez, former tight end for the Atlanta Falcons. For those who didn’t recognize him, he was the Special Agent Tony Francis who stopped at Bishop’s desk, asking if she liked working for Gibbs. Why the cameo appearance? CBS now has the Monday Night Football contract, so expect in coming weeks there will be other pro football players making cameo appearances on CBS shows to help create interest in Monday Night Football.
Did you notice that again tonight, Bishop mentioned her husband Jake? It’s part of an intentional plan to introduce him into the show. We’ll see if it gains Bishop any new fans as we believe the more viewers see of her backstory, the more they will approve of her. Speaking of relationships, tonight we learned Director Vance hasn’t made any provisions for his kids since his wife was killed. His health scare gives us a chance to see his daughter again, and the nice nanny. Hmmm. With the good news that Leon is not seriously ill, we wonder if he’s ready to move on in his life.
The reveal of the suspected murderer of Commander Wallace came a bit too quickly, when Gibbs (played superbly by Mark Harmon) suddenly announces, “You’re a lefty and under arrest.” Well, it looks like the widow will inherit gobs of money after all and Tony didn’t lose his touch. Oh, and the tattooed U.S. Park Officer—just for the record, many agencies do not allow tattoos that show on officers’ arms. In D.C., summer months are hot so officers wear short sleeves. FYI, last week NCIS snagged 18.2 million viewers, with NCIS New Orleans keeping most of them with 17.2 million. We caught the New Orleans show again tonight, finding it creepy the Bubonic Plague is featured the same day the first case of Ebola is diagnosed in the U.S.
Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

2014 Sept 23 NCIS Critique of “Twenty Klicks”

It seemed like a long summer without our team lead by Mark Harmon, who plays NCIS agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Indeed, it was a long summer of simmering tensions around the world. Anticipating tonight’s episode, we wondered what tough and tender issues the NCIS writers might tackle. We had heard rumors of a Russian bad guy. And the drama leapt out at us from the screen putting us at the edge of our seats. Who was after Gibbs and McGee twenty kilometers, “twenty klicks” from Finland?

This episode explodes with a traitor within the walls of NCIS. Abby is called on to evaluate what kind of SAM (Surface to Air Missile) shot down the helicopter carrying Gibbs and McGee out of Russia with Kevin Hussein, the IT guy with a head full of Navy secrets. The question is, who or what are the Russians after? And what does Hussein know that he is not telling Gibbs? Bishop reaches out to NSA, her former agency, and where her husband works, hinting that we’ll learn more about him in future shows.

We expect the drama involving Sergei, the Russian, will continue throughout the season. In real life, the NCIS IT Kevin Hussein would be looked at real hard when considered for the requisite Top Secret security clearance. With an uncle who was a professor at a Russian University, he’d get twice the scrutiny. Could it have been a technical flaw? We were relieved to see Gibbs and McGee making it home. Were you all surprised to discover Gibbs has another boat in the making in his basement? Supposedly it’s the life size boat that is a replicate of a model boat that Gibb’s mother had. David always wonders how Gibbs gets these boats out of his basement, once completed. Will we ever find out? Probably not.

We watched the New Orleans debut and enjoyed the investigative/search scenes. Ducky made a guest appearance via teleconference. Now we will really need to discipline ourselves if we are to get this blog written each week, and write our next suspense novel.

We do have a new thriller coming out, so watch for more details about Embers of Courage, to be released on December 3rd.

Let us know what you enjoyed about tonight’s show!

Be Blessed, Diane and David