It's no wonder that NCIS
is such a wildly popular series. The show takes an irresistible and mysterious setting--the behind-the-scenes world of military criminal investigation--and sets engaging crime procedurals within it, with a dream cast. Mark Harmon, never better, is Special Agent Gibbs, a flinty ex-marine who brooks no nonsense but who also inspires deep devotion from his team. Assisting him are his sometime sidekick Agent DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), lab specialist Abby (the perky-goth Pauley Perrette), computer whiz Agent McGee (Sean Murray), cool-as-ice Ziva (Cote de Pablo), and criminal pathologist Dr. Mallard, a.k.a. Ducky (David McCallum). This season also sees much more of the nerdy, earnest Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen), who's coming into his own as a cast member. Season eight of NCIS
resolves the cliffhanger from the last season before diving into the deep end of some heavy-duty investigations, but always leavened by humor and camaraderie. This season the team tackles a seemingly random child kidnapping, a horrifying serial killer (the "Port-to-Port Killer") seeming to target the navy, terrorist threads real and potential, the infiltration of interns, and lots of intrigue, subterfuge, and double and even triple agents. Guest stars include Robert Wagner, William Devane, and Bob Newhart. The action is all heightened with the backdrop of a very real war, and very real battle-scarred sailors and marines returning home to a new, challenging home landscape.
Yet somehow the talented writers of NCIS can tell these taxing plots with plenty of humor and wisecracking. This set contains six discs and all 24 episodes (including the directorial debut episode of Weatherly, which happens to be very well done), and tons of extras. It's delightful to see that the chemistry of the cast is as real and affable off-screen as on-screen. Features include a look at the entire story arc of NCIS Director Vance (the steely Rocky Carroll); a conversation with NCIS writers; and a fascinating interview with Leon Carroll Jr., a technical adviser to the series. One engaging feature involves questions from the fans, in which each cast member answers a direct question. When one fan asks Weatherly how he would characterize DiNozzo's relationship with Gibbs, Weatherly cracks up, and says, "Well, it's a little bit father-son, a little bit Butch and Sundance--though I'm not sure who is who--and a little bit Turner and Hooch." Which is exactly why fans of NCIS keep coming back for more. --A.T. Hurley