Called the “Season of Secrets” by the producers of the series, NCIS Season 4 actually turned out much more complicated than most of the actors, writers, directors, and fans wanted it to be. For the first time, the series sought to build ongoing storylines that would elevate NCIS to a soap opera level that wasn’t much appreciated.
The season was too busy. Too much plotting demanded watching every episode in sequence rather than casually dropping in for entertainment. Even with devoted attendance instead of a casual approach, these extended storylines took far too long to develop.
I got irritated and impatient with all the split plotlines and romances. When I watch the crimes shows I keep up with, I depend on them to be entertaining and intriguing, but not to the point that I have to keep notes. I didn’t watch Heroes in its first season run for this very reason, and it’s also why I abdicated 24. I picked those shows up in DVD and squander weekends of marathon viewing on them.
I watched episodes throughout season four of NCIS and enjoyed them on one hand, but I had some definite problems with them on the other. It is somewhat better being able to sit down and watch them in sequence and fairly close together. But the fact that the season ended on a cliffhanger is also disappointing. Thankfully, season five returns to how the episodes were initially done.
I don’t mind the two- or three-episode arcs, but I want to be casually entertained, and not driven to fanaticism or desperation.
Unfortunately, series creator and television guru Donald P. Bellisario is no longer attached to the series. Mark Harmon and many others stood against Bellisario and basically took the show over. Since NCIS is a hit and can’t survive without the actors and actresses (who were being forced into 16-hours days much of the time, according to reports), their wants were attended to first.
Mark Harmon stars as the abrasive and canny team leader, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Michael Weatherly plays fan-favorite Anthony DiNozzo, whose love of movies constantly shows in his references throughout the series. David McCallum portrays the team’s forensic examiner, Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard. Pauley Perrette stars as the wickedly wonderful and super-smart Abby Sciuto. Sean Murray (Bellisario’s real-life stepson) plays Timothy McGee. Cote de Pablo plays ex-Israeli Mossad agent Ziva David. Lauren Holly stars as the NCIS director, Jenny Shepard.
The thing that I most love about the series is the characters. They’re all real to me, and the actors deliver a constant presentation of them. I’ve never seen a false move. Mark Harmon continues to amaze me. I actually met him on the Fox Studios lot at one time, and he’s just as generous in person as he is on the screen, a truly great guy. But the other reasons to watch the show are the intriguing mysteries, consummate action, and a pace that is almost frenetic from beginning to end. Tune in to an episode and you’re going to get the same kind of investigative goodness fans of the show demand.