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.


@kevin oh by the way kevin michael weatherly never almost walked off the show some comments are lies.


@Kevin That not what we want that what we the NCIS fan hate that why were sick of Tiva because that what they want. What we want is for the show to stop making Tony a weak worthless sumbag and making sex a God. Look at Newborn King last year it was a Joke it was a slap in the fact to all men everywhere. What we the NCIS fan want is for the Tony we had in season 1&2 where he was funny and smart now he act like he in the 1st grade Its like I said they made Tony the new agent and made Ziva the Agent with more experience as being a NCIS agent. Hell it took Michael Weathlery almost walking off the show for them to do a backstory on him because Ziva hate to share the spotlight with anyone. Hell if you watch the interview with the View and with Kelly and Michael when someone from NCIS is on you can tell in their face how unhappy they are with the way the show is going. Let face the fact here people these show has lost it way it has lost why people love the show and if it keep then teenage drama it has going with Ziva then NCIS will surly die just look around its no longer the number 1 show.


@kevin its only a few tony fans think hes a clown.most tony fans love the way hes portrayed.


It's sad that Tony fans just think the Tony character is nothing but a clown and is disrespected. Most of these fans want a super Tony character who would do everything himself not need a team and have the show renamed Tony staring only the Tony character. These fans need to get over themselves and learn that the show can not be about their character. I like the Tim character the best but I know he won't ever be written as more then he is and will be likely always be treated as a secondary character with small parts and no real epiosdes to focus on Tim and his strengths. Tony at least gets several shows a season that focus on him and show his strengths in a good light.


I'm so excited!!!!! I can't wait to see what Ziva wears to the prom. Will Tony give her his class ring? Will she accept it? I hope they do a vampire episode too!!!!!


@nat hi nat as always your comments make sense,whats with the sadtony fan dont watch if it makes you unhappy,deep down no so called fans can stop tiva its coming and soon.


Yup . The show is being written for 14 year olds now. What obnoxious immature posts . If dani and wanda are what pass for clever and they love the ZCIS formula, that is proof enough for me that the show is dying.


I love how fans of the show are called haters and pathetic by people who don't watch the show


@Wanda ROFL I'm all out of caf-pow!! Don't think you were heard over the "incessant whining"!! LOL Heavily Medicated is MY guess, Wanda. Perhaps "Super" Ziva can swoop down with HER "Super" Man TONY and they BOTH can put these haters out of their pathetic Misery ;-) I. am. SOOOOOOO. gonna. LOVE. Season10!!! Squeeeeeeeee!!


Also, boonies - the second in command part of your list has been incredibly diminished in order to give us super Ziva all the time. She is now regularly portrayed as far more skilled and respected by Gibbs than Tony. In earlier seasons, the writing of Tony made it clear that he was an extremely gifted and brilliant agent. Now we're lucky if he makes one minor and generally fairly mundane connection. 95% of the time his only purposes are to be eye candy, and provide the humor of self humiliation, which seems to have the added benefit of elevating Ziva.

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