Fiendish Friday: NCIS – Season 13

I don’t have cable TV. Or satellite. Or whatever other cool stuff that has been invented. I have the internet and netflix. It serves me well. No commercials. I don’t have to wait a week between episodes. Of course I do have to wait until the entire season comes out. But once it does, I can binge watch it to my little heart’s content.

In late August, NCIS season 13 made it to netflix. I’ve watched NCIS forever. I adore Mark Harmon and he’s the reason I started watching it but over the years, of course, I got interested in other characters. Ducky, for example, is blooming amazing. And I would love to be friends with Abby. I always really liked Kate. And her death, so early on, was a shock.

So I should have known what was coming. I should have. But I thought maybe, just maybe, they’d give Tony a happy ending. I thought Ziva would show up with their child, I predicted a son though. And she and Tony would ride off into the sunset together. I mean come on. Like enough bad stuff hasn’t happened to Tony? He got the plague. He fell for a mark and then had to break her heart and his own.

Did they really have to kill her?  I don’t think we can be friends anymore NCIS. I think I might need to break up with you.

Fiendish Friday: Gibbs Rules

Did you miss this little gem on my blog during April? I kind of did. There’s something refreshing about going through your week looking for moments to make fun of yourself so you can amuse others with them. While I’m in Hawaii sunning myself, I give you Gibbs rules.

I’ve been a fan of NCIS a long time. I kind of had a crush on Mark Harmon back from the movie Presidio. “You can have her, she’s dangerous.” Said with a sexy sneer. Anyway I digress…

Frequently on NCIS they refer to Gibbs Rules. But it’s not like the spout them off routinely or often enough for you to catch it when they oops. And of course they aren’t written down on the show, that would be too easy. Clearly the writers for the show didn’t bother to write them down either because this is what I found when I did write them down. (Yes, I wrote down every Gibbs rule when it was mentioned for 12 seasons.)

1.Don’t screw over your  partner. (wise) 1b. Don’t let suspects stay together. (duh)

Yep there are two rule ones. They actually get around to making fun of that in season 12.

2. Always wear gloves at a crime scene. (reasonable)

3. Don’t believe what you are told, double check. 3b. Never be unreachable. (raises eyebrow)

Again in Season 12 they mention 3 is a double rule. Perhaps they got a continuity editor in Season 12? LOL

4. One can keep a secret. Two if absolutely necessary. (I’ve heard this only works if the second person is dead.)

5. Don’t waste good. (Fab advice.)

6. Never say you’re sorry, it’s a sign of weakness. ( a little weakness is a positive thing, keeps you human.)

7. Always be specific when you lie. (I write for a living, no problem there.)

8. Never assume. 8b. Never take anything for granted. (even Gibbs rules?)

9. Never go anywhere without your  knife. (er, airport anyone?)

10. Never get personally involved on a case. (bwahahahah.)

11. When the job is done walk away. (sound advice)

12. Never date a co worker. (but it makes work such fun)

13. Never involve a lawyer. (lol – no comment)

14. Bend the line, don’t break it. (god were the show writers giving themselves advice?)

15. We work as a team. (sure you do Gibbs)

16. If someone thinks they have the upper hand, break it. (you’d need a lawyer then)

18. Better to seek forgiveness, than ask permission. (I used to work with a guy who bought into this.)

20. Always look under. (under what?)

22. Never bother Gibbs in interrogation.

23. Never mess with a Marine’s coffee. (never mess with anyone’s coffee)

35. Always watch the watchers. (creepy but wise)

36. If you feel like you’re being played, you probably are. (spidey senses working over time)

38. Your case, your lead.

39. There’s no such thing as a coincidence. (I beg to differ)

40. If it seems like someone is after you, they are. (ditto spidey)

42. Never accept an apology from someone who just sucker punched you. (ROFL)

44. First things first, hide the women and children. (Ok so Gibbs is a bit of a chauvinist)

45. Second chances.

51. Sometimes you’re wrong.

61. Give people space when getting off the elevator. (perhaps a Gibbs headslap would help my kiddo learn this.)

69. Never trust a woman who doesn’t trust her man. (Amen.)


Weekend Workshop Sunday Edition

The exercises from Chapter Seven of Story Sense, Paul Lucey.

Written regarding NCIS, Season 5, Episode 1.

1. Analyze in terms of the dramatizing strategies discussed in this chapter. Note when each convention appears and briefly describe its nature and purpose.

coincidence: Jeanna’s father picks Tony and Jeane up at the hospital. Rene is also a catalyst (he’s the frog).

coincidence: Abby finds the search results the director tried to erase.

reveal: the director tells the team the woman tony has been seeing is the frog’s daughter.

obstacles: can’t get satellite coverage.

reversal: the bad news: no coverage, good news – traffic cameras catch him. back to bad: Catalyst- Tony’s car blows up.

misunderstanding: the whole team thinks Tony is dead. (We know he isn’t because he’s still in the show seven seasons from now.)

contrast: Abby refuses to believe it is Tony until Ducky says so.

reveal: Abby tells Gibbs the prints on the bottle and glass are the director’s father.

undeserved suffering: someone is going to great lengths to convince the director her father’s alive

reveal: the director thinks the frog killed her father

coincidence: Ziva identifies the limo on the camera feedback-was Tony following it.

misunderstanding: Palmer doesn’t get why Ducky is so taken my the minimal lung scarring. Leads to catalyst/reveal-the dead man is not Tony (plague)

catalyst: Cort shows up demanding Tony. (CIA)

false alarm/reversal: Cort tries to choke information out of Tony, only to find himself facing multiple guns

reveal: Tony explains what happened in the morning (surprise meet the parents). The frog had known for months that Tony was undercover. He forces Tony into the limo and takes both cell phones. The car blows up. The Frog thinks he was the target. Tony wonders if he was the target. Tony is angry because Jeanne knows the truth now. The Frog wants out, he’s going to call and arrange a meeting, because he trusts NCIS.

catalyst/coincidence: who bombed Tony. Jeanne is the target

coincidence and contrast: the frog is in the director’s study.

catalyst: Gibbs shows up in the house.

reveal: the frog paid the director’s father the bribe

reveal: Gibbs tells the director the gun is not loaded.

reveal: flashback. Tony tells Jeanne who he really is.

the false alarm: the team is searching the yacht, guns drawn. But the frog is not there.

superiority: as the team walks away the audience gets to see the frog floating in the water with a bullet in his head.

2. Time the speeches and scenes in the show analyzed. Note whether the speeches end abruptly or linger. Note whether they use transitional visuals that show characters traveling from one location to another or whether the action cuts directly from scene to scene.

Multiple jump cuts per shot.

most speech is clipped and short. back and forth, snappy dialogue.

3. Examine how the film uses conflict to dramatize the story. What causes and intensifies the conflict? How does the conflict relate to the problem? How are the problem and the conflict resolved?

Constant conflict between the characters, the other agencies, and the good vs bad guys. In this show, the possible death of one of their own causes conflict with the CIA and between the characters on an emotional level. Tony is not dead, but the frog is. the problem really doesn’t resolve in this episode. Nor does the emotional conflict. Tony is heartbroken over Jeanne. The director is distraught over her father. Gibbs is in a position not to trust the director. Everyone is pissy.

Weekend Workshop Sunday Edition

As usual here are the exercises that go with Chapter 6 from Story Sense by Paul Lucey.

1. Screen the first act of a film or TV show and study it for its dialogue. Note when and how the dialogue reveals backstory, theme, characters, and relationship. When does the dialogue contain subtext? What is the nature of the subtext; backstory, situation, relationships, theme, or plot? Look at the non verbal part of the dialogue. How are the actors conveying this?

Watching NCIS, Season Four Episode 23.

Dead guy found in the back of a taxi on it’s way to NCIS by the guard at the Navy Yard entrance. Shock on the guards face. Open mouthed expression.

Gibbs watching video on the war in Iraq, Cynthia reminds him the files have to be reviewed by Friday, and tomorrow is Friday. (Talks with irritation.) Gibbbs replies I had a wife like you once Cynthia. Reveals back story on Gibbs-been married before, got divorced. Further conversation, reveals where the director is. Gibbs approves files because he knows the agent, rejects when he doesn’t know them.

The director calls, Gibbs refers to the “frog” a bad guy the director has been chasing the whole season. (Backstory.)

Ducky says it’s not often we get to walk to a crime scene. (Theme of the show. Death and detection.)

Jeanne calls Tony, she wants to buy a house. He is completely freaked out. (Relationships)

Tony and McGee joke about Tony not being a a boy scout and Tony having been a frat house wet tee shirt contest scout. (Backstory and personality)

Gibbs comments on every bit of conversation that occurred ostensibly out of ear shot. (Character)

the cab drive make multiple disparaging remarks about marriage in front of Tony.

Gibbs is dodging calls from Cynthia, he does hate a nagging woman. (This is clearly a theme of the episode, fearful scary marriage with nagging women.)

Abby and Ziva compare first time sex stories. Abby’s in a cab. Ziva in a weapons carrier. (Backstory and characters)

The names on the list, most of which are dead, Tony and Ziva are to look for the living ones to find a connection.

Cynthia wants Gibbs to take a call from the Yemen embassy, the dead guy having been identified as an embassy employee.  They send an attache. Who reveals the young man was very connected.

2. I skipped this one. It wanted me to act out a scene. No thanks. I have no acting chops.

3. Write a dialogue based on the following prompt.

-A man or a woman becomes tired of waiting for his or her lover to propose marriage. An ultimatum must be delivered “Marry me or I’ll marry my friend in Texas.” The person receiving the ultimatum is shaken but refuses to be pushed.

Catching sight of Steven, Maya rode slowly over to the fence on Salem her twelve year old trail horse. “Glad to see you’re back.” She leaned down to provide a perfunctory kiss. “It felt like you were gone for months.”

Steven shook his head slightly.

“Yes months!” Maya insisted.

Clearing his throat Steven said nothing.

“Did you miss me?” Maya slid from the saddle and opened the fence.

Giving a small smile, Steven slipped his hand under Maya’s elbow.

“I knew you missed me as much as I missed you.” Maya pounced. “Did you bring me anything?”

Steven sighed.

“Perhaps something in a small blue and silver box?” Maya giggled.

Steven chortled.

Maya stopped giggling abruptly. She whirled to face Steven. “You’re never going to marry me, are you?”

Steven sighed heavily.

“If you don’t want to marry me, just say so. I can always marry my friend in Texas.”

“That might be for the best.” Steven’s voice remained even.

“How could you say that? Don’t you love me?” Maya demanded.

Steven sighed heavily again and very quietly under his breath replied, “Not so much.”

Maya pretended not to hear him. “I’m serious, if you don’t marry me soon, I’ll go to Texas.”

Steven opened the door and gently propelled Maya in from where she had been enjoying some yard time. It was like this every day with her. He scanned her bracelet and walked her over to the group therapy room. Steven wondered why they bothered with this one, it wouldn’t do her any good. It never had, all these years, not one bit.

Weekend Workshop Sunday Edition

Story Sense, by Paul Lucey, Chapter 5 Exercises. CBS-Loses-10-NCIS-Death-Lawsuit (2)

In keeping with the chapter this week, these exercises are all about characters and considering their psychological imperatives. The assignment was to select a male and a female character and figure what makes them tick. Based on my current binge watching of NCIS before bed at night, I have chosen, Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Ziva David. (I seriously considered Abby Shiuto, but I feel like her back story is severely limited and I would be pressed to invent answers to many of these questions. Although that might have been fun, it would have defeated the purpose.)

1. What created the psychological imperatives that drive the two characters? What is the nature of each character’s short term trauma or long term conditioning?

I feel like both of them are driven by a powerful need to do the right thing at all times to compensate for when they have done the “wrong thing” in the past. I quote wrong thing because it all depends on your point of view. Gibbs is still living with the trauma of losing his wife and daughter and the murder he committed in revenge. Ziva was conditioned to put Israel and family first and was forced to kill her brother, Ari to prevent greater disasters. There is an additional emotional imperative driving Ziva which is more complicated. She seems to be desperate to have Gibbs acknowledge her as more than just another member of his team. She needs to be special to him. A replacement father for the one she betrayed by killing Ari.

2. How is the imperative displayed by the characters?

Gibbs has a long list of very specific rules which govern his world. He does not make these rules easily accessible, but instead forces his team to learn by example, thereby justifying his continued necessity in the world. (he has only NCIS). When Gibbs is in the hospital with amnesia, Ziva is the only member of the team who breaks the directors orders to go see him and what she choses to try to get him to remember her is the death of Ari. She is desperate to have her sacrifice appreciated.

3. Assign sociological influences and life experiences that might have affected the characters.

Gibbs-small town upbringing, military service as a Marine, multiple combat theaters, military life, purple heart, death of wife and daughter, 15 years at NCIS, several in service overseas and undercover.

Ziva- Israeli, lost sister to Hamas bombing, raised by Mossad, member of Mossad, service undercover and in multiple countries, incredibly well honed killing machine.

4. What are the characters most afraid of? How does the psychological imperative create needs in the characters?

Gibbs is most afraid of losing someone he cares about, again. He therefore insulates himself to care only about those he works with, an interesting proposition because they are both more likely to be lost due to the nature of their work and more likely to survive if he trains them well enough. This creates his need to train them to perfection.

Ziva is afraid she will have to kill someone she knows/cares about again. She is essentially afraid she cannot trust others. As a result she needs the people she perceives as most trust worthy to trust her.

5. Are the characters pursuing what they need or what they want? Explain.

Ziva-doesn’t know what she wants. She operates on a very basic level for the most part. She has pulled in her head like a turtle in response to the traumas she has seen or done and simply lives on autopilot. She admits little in the way of feelings. But she is learning and adapting, which is what she needs to do if she does not want to be a cold assassin her whole life.

Gibbs-pursuing what he wants. He needs therapy to deal with the death of his wife and daughter, and the death sentence he carried out on the perpetrator without the benefit of judge and jury. But therapy would change Gibbs, which would change the show. So let’s be happy he continues to compulsively work and drink to drown his sorrows otherwise who would protect Ziva, Tony, McGee, Abby, Ducky, the navy, the marines, the world at large. 🙂