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

U.S. Marines Still Worship

We send this inspiring video as evidence that some of our soldiers going into battle will be doing so with God at their side.

We also want to remind everyone the new season of NCIS begins this coming Tuesday night, September 23, 2014. As usual, we will post our critique on this blog, following the new show. Are you as excited as we are for the new season? Can you picture Gibbs singing along with these other Marines?

Free Book Opportunities

We’ve been remiss in sending out a blog posting for two reasons. The NCIS season had ended for the summer, and we’ve been busy editing our next suspense thriller. In two more weeks, NCIS will be back on the air with all kinds of teasers. One is that Ziva may be returning for at least a cameo appearance. It will also be interesting to see how the “legacy” NCIS intersects with the New Orleans NCIS, as there will be some crossovers.

The purpose of this posting is to alert our friends and readers to two opportunities to receive free copies of our books. On Thursday, August 28th and Friday, August 29th, the Barn Door Book Loft is featuring us in an interview about our first novel, “Facing Justice.” Carole Brown interviewed us and we so appreciate her love of fiction. In her interview, the Loft is offering a free copy of the print version of “Facing Justice” to two people who comment and ask to be including in a drawing.  To view the Barn Door Book Loft interview click here.

Also, we’d like to let you know of the progress on our December 04, 2014 release of “Embers of Courage,” our next thriller. We are excited about this upcoming release. For those of you who enjoyed “Stolen Legacy,” which highlighted Federal Agent Eva Montanna’s family during the Dutch Resistance in WWII, our next suspense novel reveals her family’s past and present persecution for their faith. Watch for another blog posting coming soon where we’ll be making available opportunities for those of you who read digital versions (eBooks) of our titles.  We will be announcing your chance for free advanced review copies of the new release and/or eBook versions of earlier titles. The purpose is for recipients to write a brief comment on Amazon.Com or iTunes that helps to promote the book. If you are interested in the opportunity, please send us an email to info@DianeAndDavidMunson.com. Let us know if you prefer an eBook version of one of the earlier titles or the new one, “Embers of Courage.”

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing,

Diane and David Munson

 

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