Eleven seasons in and “NCIS” is still going strong, being able to do the same old, same old and yet switch things up with multi-arc episodes as well as giving its characters, even if little by little, development. The only drawback is the production values seem to be limited but I can overlook it for solid storytelling and, of course, the chemistry between the core cast.
“NCIS”: The Eleventh Season
Genre(s): Crime, Drama, Thriller
Paramount | NR – 1034 min. – $64.99 | August 19, 2014
THE SEASON – 4.0/5
The eleventh season of “NCIS” begins with a two-part, globe-trotting spy thriller centric storyline where a terrorist group, known as the Brotherhood of Doubt, attack a black-tie event which killed the Secretary of the Navy (aka SECNAV) and also targeting (former) NCIS team members Tony DiNozzo (MICHAEL WEATHERLY), Timothy McGee (SEAN MURRAY) and Ziva David (COTE DE PABL), each of whom had resigned from the agency to protect their leader, Leroy Gibbs (MARK HARMON) at the end of the tenth season.
But throwing a wrench into a well-oiled machine, Cote de Pablo who had joined the cast in the third season, decided it was time to move on (the why is up in the air from salary to wanting to start a family). So with that, the second episode, ‘Past, Present and Future’, became her farewell with Ziva on the run in Israel and Tony tracking her down only to have her to decide to permanently quit NCIS realizing she needs to go on a different path thanks to the deaths that had occurred over the years, starting with her brother, Ari. For being what I assumed was quickly put together, it was a nice departure for a character fans either love or hate.
This season also finds McGee with a new love interest, Delilah (MARGO HARSHMA), which flourishes but is tested when, in the episode ‘Kill Zone’, she is severely injured during a drone attack on a gala event in which McGee escapes with scrapes. It is nice to see McGee, who tended to get overshadowed by storylines with Gibbs and/or DiNozzo/Ziva, get some character growth outside of his dynamic with tech goddess Abby (PAULEY PERRETTE).
We also get some nice return guest stars from Robert Wagner as Tony’s suave father, Colin Hanks reprising his role as an IG Investigator, as well as Susanna Thompson, the late Ralph Waite as Gibbs’ father and even Muse Watson comes back from the dead (in flashback form).
“NCIS” is more or less running on auto-pilot and being the #1 viewed drama, it’s more popular than ever thanks in large part to the core cast. Even without Cote de Pablo, I still enjoyed this year and even like Emily Wickersham as the quirky Bishop and thankfully, thus far, she’s not turned into a Wesley save the day kind of character…
1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
2. Past, Present, and Future
3. Under the Radar
4. Anonymous was a Woman
5. Once a Crook
6. Oil & Water
7. Better Angels
9. Gut Check
10. Devil’s Triad
12. Kill Chain
13. Double Back
14. Monsters and Men
16. Dressed to Kill
17. Rock and a Hard Place
18. Crescent City (Part 1)
19. Crescent City (Part 2)
20. Page Not Found
23. The Admiral’s Daughter
24. Honor Thy Father
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.75/5
One of the only CBS TV titles to be consistent with the packaging, season 11 continues the trend of placing the 6-discs in 3 separate thin cases (2 discs each) which slide into a matted slip case.
Episode Commentaries – These sets never really had an exorbitant amount of commentaries, and this go around there are only three: ‘Past, Present, and Future’ with Actor Michael Weatherly, Director James Whitmore Jr. and Writers Scott Williams and Gina Lucita Monreal; ‘Crescent City (Part 1)’ with Star Mark Harmon and Writer Gary Glasberg; and ‘Shooter’ with Actors Pauley Perrette and Sean Murray and Co-Writer Frank Cardea. It’s a nice range of participants so it’s not a bad selection, but would’ve liked more.
Celebrating 250 (3:49) chronicles the landmark 250th episode with comments by the cast and crew about its importance.
NCIS in New Orleans (15:27) looks at filming the show on location and how the two-part episode served as a back-door pilot and features on-set interviews including Scott Bakula and Mark Harmon.
Game Change (23:57) – This is a fairly extensive featurette on the changes that occurred in the eleventh season with the various storylines, an actor’s departure and a new character, etc.
Remembering Jackson Gibbs: A Tribute to Ralph White (5:20) is a poignant featurette on the late actor who played Gibbs’ father.
On the Record (5:55) is a behind-the-scenes look at Michael Weatherly’s singing skills.
Finding Ellie Bishop (7:45) is a closer examination of the casting process to replace Cote de Pablo.
In the Stills of the Night (3:22) – Here we get a look at the still photos of the set crime scenes.
Background Check (4:22) – In even more interesting BTS footage, we get to see the work of the background actors.
Joe Spano: Fornell for Real (6:11) is an interview with the actor on playing the disliked/liked FBI agent.
VIDEO – 3.75/5
“NCIS” never looked that good on television but I have to wonder if they either switched cameras or if the cinematography budget was cut because often times, exterior scenes especially, look incredibly cheap and have strange movements (kind of sped up). Colors aren’t especially bright but that’s the show’s tone sticking with more natural tones which is why “NCIS: LA” is far brighter.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is, as with previous seasons, pretty good with a spattering of depth in particular on the opening theme and dialogue levels are clear and sound effects are fairly decent though hardly expansive. It’s a fine track that is more or less in keeping with how the show aired.
OVERALL – 4.0/5
Overall, eleven seasons in and “NCIS” is still going strong, being able to do the same old, same old and yet switch things up with multi-arc episodes as well as giving its characters, even if little by little, development. The only drawback is the production values seem to be limited but I can overlook it for solid storytelling and, of course, the chemistry between the core cast.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman