NCIS: The intricacies of the popular drama

Isadora Li, staff writer

380 episodes. 17 seasons. Two spin-offs. 16 years. These are just a few of the impressive numbers describing the television show Naval Criminal Investigative Service, or NCIS. NCIS first aired on Sept. 23, 2003 on CBS as a spin-off of another show, Judge Advocate General (JAG), which went through tumultuous ratings. JAG ran for over 10 seasons and 227 episodes before its demise in 2005. Throughout its run, NCIS has cycled through many actors, many of whom were fan favorites. If you’re looking for your next show to binge watch, NCIS is the perfect choice.
The show centers around Leroy Jethro Gibbs, portrayed by Mark Harmon, an experienced yet troubled special agent with a dark past who is notorious for his intuition, or “gut” as it is referred to on the show. Gibbs is responsible for overseeing a small group of agents, or the “Triad of Weakness” as I like to call them: Timothy McGee (Sean Murray), Eleanor Bishop (Emily Wickersham), and Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderama). It seems like many of the show’s recent conflicts can be contributed to the poor judgement of one of the three. 

One factor that contributes to its popularity is the show’s storyline, which focuses on the team’s dynamics. One arc in particular that fans loved was the romantic relationship between two characters who have since left the show, Special Agent Anthony Dinozzo (Michael Weatherly) and Mossad agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo). Throughout the character’s eight years on the show together, they became known by their ship name “Tiva” and endured many trials that questioned their bond. After the two left the show, the new romantic plot involves Eleanor Bishop and Nick Torres. Many fans are against this couple, as it feels like the writers are trying to force a relationship that doesn’t flow, while others think they are a good pairing. 

NCIS’s use of comedy throughout the show is refreshing, as it’s something that’s worked into the characters, not the story. While there are characters added for comedic purposes, the writers behind NCIS stray from using jokes where they’re not appropriate. Anthony Dinozzo was a major character who served as the team clown while simultaneously being a skilled agent. When he decided to leave the show after 13 seasons, Valderama’s character Torres joined and added a new layer of humor that had some similarities, yet also differed from Dinozzo’s. Regardless, there is never a scarcity of witty jokes and humor, a major reason why NCIS has remained popular for so long. 

Throughout its time on CBS, the show would have the occasional episode detailing Gibbs’s tragic backstory and path to finding happiness once again. Due to the nature of Gibbs’s past, these episodes provide insight into the actions Gibbs takes on the show and his motives in doing them. These episodes never failed to make the viewer contemplate the true meaning of family and the lengths one would go to in order to find closure.

Like many other shows, each season of NCIS follows a similar format. The season begins by establishing a point of focus. Throughout the middle episodes the focal point is explored, while filler stories are used for the majority of episodes. At the end of the season, the main storyline gets wrapped up. Despite having similarly structured shows within the season, NCIS writers never fail to provide an unpredictable episode.

As a longtime fan of NCIS, I feel what makes the show true to itself is the comforting stability of the character’s roles on Gibbs’s team. McGee is the stereotypical nerdy computer genius, Torres is the troubled flirt, and Bishop is the intelligent new girl. However, I do miss Dinozzo, Ziva, and Abby as the show’s best episodes had to do with them and their chemistry with other team members. 

NCIS is a thrilling action-packed drama that makes viewers experience many emotions each episode. With many to choose from, there is an episode for every emotion or occasion. Through character bonds, humor, and intricate story-lines, writers capture the audience’s attention every moment.