NCIS Review: Are You Ready to Rock!?

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NCIS was a rocking good time tonight, and not just because of an eccentric '80s one-hit wonder or a faux lunar sample.

"Phoenix" featured an unorthodox case with an unexpected team member running point. None other than Dr. Mallard got to run the show this week after Gibbs evoked Rule #38 (see Gibbs rules): Your case, your lead

How did Ducky end up in such an unfamiliar position, and how did the recovering M.E. handle it?

Ducky Takes the Lead

Inspired by an obituary, he exhumed the body of Commander Roberts, who died 12 years ago after what Ducky no longer believed was an accident. Coincidentally, his cold case quickly tied into the team's latest victim.

Rather than relieve him because he wasn't cleared to work in a medical capacity on a current case, Gibbs let the team's elder statesman run the investigation. A class move, and the old man didn't let him down.

TV shows obviously take liberties (such as the slim chance this would be permitted), and the instant tie-in with the new bodies was a bit convenient, although Roberts' exhumation did indirectly influence Sgt. Hill's case.

In any event, it was a lighter installment with plenty of fun character moments, and a great opportunity for David McCallum to shine as Ducky, a terrific character so often regulated to his subterranean autopsy world.

Not that he wasn't thrilled to go back when he was cleared at the end - have you ever seen someone so relieved to pick up a bone saw and chat up a corpse again? - but he relished and made the most of his new role.

Ducky-centric episodes are few and far between, and perhaps because of that it's even more of a treat to watch McCallum at work. The 79-year-old still commands the screen as a vital cog in the NCIS machine.

The "Phoenix" formula wouldn't work every week, but it was hard not to smile tonight.

Gibbs' Basement

Obviously struggling with his own mortality in the aftermath of his heart attack and stuck in neutral professionally, Ducky was as revitalized being back in the game as he was unsettled being on the shelf last week.

Dealing with the living is a different ballgame, as he learned from his conversation with his original victim's daughter. The human component is different when one's invesitgative role involves ... breathing humans.

Minor obstacles aside, the bow-tied one acquitted himself well as acting special agent, be it examining evidence or conducting interrogations. Plus, he get to boss around DiNozzo in addition to Palmer. Who wouldn't enjoy that.

Abby helped uncover the link to a falsified lunar sample (fake moon dirt) that connected the two cases. More significantly, the forensic wiz was clearly back to her old self mentally. The big kaboom is a distant memory.

The trail briefly went cold, but then heated up again with a different focus after Tim and Tony tracked down another would-be buyer of Hill's. They weren't counting on who, and what, they found in Del Finney.

The aging rock star on the run from creditors, played by real-life '80s rocker Michael Des Barres, was a hoot. Since he wasn't guilty of buying black market WMDs in the end, maybe he'll pop up again down the road.

Ultimately, the previously-introduced, thoroughly-creepy one-time head of NASA's Protective Rock Services division (is that a real thing?) was revealed as the guilty party. Game, set, match, Ducky.

No sooner had cuffs been placed on the perp than Ducky was cleared to return to his actual job. Ziva remarked that the team was whole again. Is she right? Or will the effects of the bombing resurface down the line?

NCIS Ready to Rock!

Another enjoyable night of NCIS overall. The case wasn't the heaviest or most intense, but that's fine. Over the course of the season you need that nice balance, and hopefully we'll continue to experience that.

A few stray thoughts and observations before turning it over to your comments:

  • You gotta love Gibbs' "kids" Tony, Tim and Ziva ganging up on Palmer at the crime scene.
  • Of course the lei and Mai Tai are Abby's interpretation of what Gibbs is like on the inside.
  • For a nerd who goes to Star Trek conventions, Timothy McGee is quite the marksman!
  • What is Gibbs building down there? Is Ducky somehow involved in this new project?
  • The show is off next week due to the second presidential debate, then back October 23.

What did you think of tonight's NCIS episode? Discuss below!


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (201 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


I like Tiva but I also like the team as the team. If they were to kill anyone off I think the ratings would plumet.


LOL Tiva fan No one can be right but them and they wonder why no one respect them


@Mike & his other brother "Mike" Michael brings it on himself - and Wanda's comments hit "Michael" - and YOU, apparently - where it hurts. If you ACT childish, you will be TREATED as such. End of Story. "Michael" has the AUDACITY to come here and spew NON-FACTUAL nonsense about the cast, the characters (especially). If you don't UNDERSTAND the Canon of NCIS...don't SPEAK on it as if you do. I'm sure Wanda would be willing to act more like a..ummmm.."Man" as you presume, if YOU would be willing to be more LADYLIKE. Touche. Cheers.


@Wanda The only person I see here acting like a child is you with the personal attack not only on Michael but other people who don't share the same view as you Attacking someone for not having cohesive sentences which no one has a cohesive sentences by the way not only show how immature you are but show that you are nothing more than a bully you are a trouble maker I can anyone take you seriously? Answer that how can you take you seriously when you act like a five year old. Tell me there use to be old sayings if you have to use personal attacks to get your point across it make you the loser not the person you’re attacking. Now either start actling like a man and talk about the show and leave people alone


You know what we ALL feel, when it comes to you, Michael? SANE. You're clearly not. Pointing out accusatory "perfections" in others only further emphasizes the fact that YOU act like a world-class Idiot, and you can't even form cohesive sentences. Don't blame others for YOUR shortcomings; be a Man/a Troll/Whatever you are & take responsibilty for YOUR actions & stop acting so childish! Maybe THEN people will take you seriously for a change. I know what TVL said. I'm way ahead of you. However it's not kosher for you to be quoting other media site articles on THIS board. This board is for TV Fanatic-generated comments. Go discuss TV Line over on their site.


@Wanda Does that make you feel all big and bad attacking someone spelling and grammar just so you know you its does not it make you a coward and a bully. Now on to some great news Oh and Mr Wanda since you like to attack people spelling and grammar these might hurt your eyes since your perfect. TVLine reports that Melinda McGraw is returning as Diane Sterling for a December episode, and executive producer Gary Glasberg has previewed, "This time she not only has to work undercover with them, she has to spend the night with Special Agent Tim McGee as well. Amidst the chaos, Gibbs and Fornell find their ex asleep on the sofa with Tim. In the words of one of my favorite films, 'Ex Mrs. Boss, are you trying to seduce me?!' You'll have to wait and see what McGee has gotten himself into." Could this episode sound any more perfect? Not only will there be at least a few awkward moments, but there's also likely to be some teasing from Tony (at least until a possible head slap interruption) and questions from Abby waiting for McGee after he has to face Gibbs and Fornell. However, considering McGee's going to be facing his boss and Fornell, he may very well be looking forward to any teasing and questions instead of Diane's ex-husbands' reactions. Meanwhile, there is the matter of what gets them working with Diane Sterling in the first place and why she has to be the one to go undercover—and why McGee's the one with her for the night. How will Diane be involved in the case? Presumably McGee would be guarding her as part of her undercover gig, but what will the others be doing? Whatever does happen after McGee and Diane end up sleeping on a couch together, it should be very entertaining. What do you think of the latest NCIS season 10 spoilers?


And WE like reading posts from people who actually know how to spell and have a grasp on proper Grammar usage. Nat, I agree 100 percent with what you said, & I daresay most of the MASS viewing audience for NCIS agrees! Tony WAS most certainly somewhat of a Jerk, a Hothead, and certainly mistreated women, which REALLY has bothered me for quite sometime. He was a good "Navy cop", but he was NOT a good example for others to follow. Even Mr. Weatherly has admitted many times that people either like, love or hate Tony, becuase he's quite irritating, most times. I've been annoyed over the years with Gibbs, Ziva AND Abby (especially Abby; she bothers me). But they are human, which is why we love our team.


I love how these people who say they post intelligent comments and then say some of the most enological uneducated stuff I have ever read make you wonder doesn’t it who in their right mind would like to see a Human being like Tony go from a smart funny well balance character to becoming the Haley James Scott, of NCIS that what they have turn Tony into a 16 year old girl with no backbone and a complete ass because god forbid Ziva be seen as a imperfect human.
You know what truly sad is these people who are happy about these didn’t even watch NCIS in season 1 and 2 why because that when NCIS was about the team and not ziva, The Tony we love know what he want and it’s not family and it’s not Ziva. Tony does not want to die alone that why he need God not a woman who kill his best friend and betray NCIS NOT ONCES but THREE TIMES.
NCIS use to not be scare of Change now they are and its sad they need to start killing woman again and they should start with Ziva her character has run its course and it’s time to put the old girl down she has replace Tony as gibbs right hand man which is what the Tiva fan wanted so now give us the fans of the show what we want and KILL HER.


@Janet *Hugz* Hi there! Thanks. I think the point last week got sooo Out of Control that those of us who regularly post sane, intelligent comments here got sick of the "I-love-Tony-the-best-he's-better-than-everyone-else-on-the-team" nonsense. It was enough to make us GAG. Enough already!! Tony will NEVER be who he was back in S1-S2 (thank GOODNESS for that). He was a hot-headed, cocky Jerk & a Chauvinist back then, for the most part. He has CHANGED, for the BETTER. The TEAM has CHANGED. Tony is a Man who's FINALLY realizing what's VALUABLE to him. FAMILY is valuable to him. ZIVA is valuable to him. Rather than "complain" nonstop about this ONE character, we ought to be happy that the writers see him as the mere HUMAN being he is, and that he HAS to change, as ALL humans do with time. I LIKE what they're doing with Tony right now (I can actually tolerate him), and I hope it continues!!!


Could gibbs be building a house for Mike granddarther and drather in law

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