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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!

Review

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.

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RE What's Gibbs building now?
Just noticed the spindle leg on the background table in Gibb's basement.. It was shown, inverted. Its a classic victorian table leg, for writing desks, end tables or other smaller table types. It could be just an easily acquired prop, for ambience; many woodworking magazines have adds for them. They're made by being turned on wood lathes; they are not usually made from such large raw lumber as was seen resting on the saw horses. The leg could imply a smaller piece that Gibbs is building, but doesn't fit as a the project result of the large raw lumber.
Such large pieces are usually 're-sawn' into thinner, shorter boards. Gibb's shop has never shown the equipment needed to do re-sawing; but maybe I recall a lathe having been displayed once. Traditional sail boats sometimes have turned railing spindles and belaying pins. Solid metal cleats are more commonly used today.

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AKA I never lie

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Again, I was cut short.
Anyway, the post-premiere storyline for Ducky was like the post-premiere story line for NCIS itself. It was nearly lost, but it recovered. There will still be recovery issues that will run through stories this season.
I think it is nice to see an occasional Ducky-centric episode. To take him out of his milieu and give him a chance to do something different made for an unlikely situation but an interesting story.

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Sorry, I was cut short again.
About Tony, he was disrespectful towards Ducky. To his credit, he made up for it by singing Ducky's praises after the interrogation.
Mr. Palmer is called Mr. Palmer because he is not a doctor. He was in school at the time of Broken Bird; one can only guess that Palmer was attending college on a part-time basis. In Ducky's absence, though, Palmer was - if you listen to the episode again - acting coroner.
The business of Ducky's will was just a part of the pre-finale heart attack on the beach storyline. The story a

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After reading through the comments, it seems like some things need to be clarified,
Yes, Palmer and Breena are married now - Breena agreed to their getting married a little earlier in the day so that Palmer and Ducky could return to Washington because of the Dearing case.
Gibbs may not have the most pleasant manner, but he did have an appropriate reason for sending Palmer out of autopsy so that he could talk to Ducky. Gibbs was confronting both a friend and a co-worker. Gibbs needed to know why Dr. Mallard had Cmdr. Roberts' body exhumed; he didn't want to disagree or argue with Ducky in front of Palmer. Gibbs had two choices; he could either send Palmer out of autopsy or hecould take the conversation with Dr. Mallard to the elevator conference room. I'm not a Tony hater, so no one needs to get ruffled about what I'm going to say. Tony may be looking for acceptance, but a person looking for acceptance doesn't gain it by being condescending or disrespectful. If you w to Dr. Mallard was unprofessional. To his credit, Tony redeemed himself when he commented on how well Dr. Mallard did with the interrogation.

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Thanks for the support!

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@ carol your comments says everything we love tony so all you haters leave him alone go hate someone else.

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All I'm saying about Tony is that there are those of us who like him. WE LOVE DI NOZZO!

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Tony DiNozzo is a gifted, loyal and brave special agent. The unusual actions are results from his background. He wants to have acceptance. He has been very polite to Mike Franks (when he visited hdqtrs Tony was the only one besides Gibbs that rose and shook hands with him and called him Mr. Franks) and after saying goodbye to McGee's grandmother, he kissed her hand. This is gallant.
There are many times when he risked his life to help others (although it is understood that the other members of the team have done likewise). I hope I will get my information correct (please forgive me if I don't). These are a few of the episodes risking his life for others: MISSING rescued a marine from death, TWILIGHT saved Kate and McGee from car bomb, ANGEL OF DEATH rescued his friend and doctor JEANNE, TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES saved Ziva from Somalia,REQUIEM Gibbs and Jenny Shepherd from drowning, and REKINDLED rescued a young boy from a fire who later became a fire marshall. All I'm saying is there are those of us who like DiNozzo and would like to express our chance to say WE LOVE DI NOZZO!

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I would like to make a few comments about Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly). Michael Weatherly is a talented, courteous and amusing actor. I watched the video for 2010 Paley Fest yesterday and the only person they asked about traveling around the world for NCIS was Michael Weatherly. I'm sure the other actors do their share also in promoting the show.They mentioned, however, the places where he went such as Canada, Jamaica,Italy and many other locales.Recently he went to Cannes, France. As of this date, he has done most of the publicity for Season 10. There was a comment about hosts of television shows and how they looked when certain stars were on their show. Not only are they happy to ask MW, but he has co-hosted one segment of E.T. and two of The Talk. Let's give him a chance!

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