NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. Currently my biggest guilty pleasures, among things like Bones, fried foods and human indecency.
They are escapist works. Formulaic plots, some archetypal characters and cheap laugh. They cheer me up every time I need it. No thinking needed.
Yeah, that’s not true. I believe that even the most lowbrow entertainment can have highbrow moments. The three NCISes aren’t even among the most lowbrow.
Each doesn’t have equal depth, though. Some have more of it than the others. NCIS is the deepest among the three. I can’t tell which one’s the most shallow: NCIS: LA or NCIS: NO.
I have love and hate relationship with NCIS: LA. It’s more fun and deeper than NO. It’s the most upbeat of all three…and also the most annoying.
There’s something off about the cheap laughs moments. I don’t know what. Maybe I feel they’re too frequent or too forced. I don’t always laugh at the jokes. The pretentiousness is even more unbearable.
Obviously, the three NCISes revolve mostly around the US navy. But, the NCIS: LA is the only one of the three that worships it.
US Navy is portrayed as the only moral institution and being its ‘haters’ instantly make you immoral or, at least, worthless to the society.
That’s not healthy devotion to an institution, that’s a harmful fetish. If you can’t see the flaws in your object of admiration, you’re proudly irrational or, worse, delusional. From that point, you need a shrink ASAP.
I said something about stereotypical characters. Well, they include Muslim ones. Most of them are portrayed as extremists. They define the overall image of Muslims in the show.
Yes, there are a handful of peaceful ones. But, their voices are always muffled. The extremists’ are more audible. Unsurprising with the megaphones they have. Just like their real-life counterparts….
Loudening their voices means you validate them. You are half-way to be their accomplishes and the enemy of peaceful Muslims for spitting on our faces.
Yes, I know I’m being too harsh on it. Sometimes, entertainment is just what it is: entertainment. But, at the same time, I also believe in media responsibility. So, I’m conflicted about this.
Despite everything, it still has moments of psychological depth, even among the goofy characters. They encourage contemplation.
Contemplation. It isn’t something you get from NCIS: NO. Don’t get me wrong. I love how the show is shot on-location.
It may not greatly portray New Orleans. At least, culturally, it’s more authentic than most scripted Hollywood shows. It’s way less plastic…
…and that’s it. I can’t think of anything else to praise about the show. Other than a source of entertainment, it’s as good as an empty coconut shell.
I find that odd. It brings up more real life problems than NCIS: LA does. It has many emotionally-intense moments. Yet, the show means nothing to me. I believe immersion’s the problem.
There’s no invitation for immersion in its social consciousness and emotions. Instead, we are encouraged to be normal spectators. Normal. For me, that’s the other dirty N word.
That’s a shame. With better immersion, this show would be a marvelous experience. Social grittiness with emotional realism. Being entertaining isn’t a good excuse for snubbing them.
The original NCIS show stands taller than those two. For me, it’s always the best in the franchise. But still, quality show it is not.
I cringe at the poor visual aesthetics with its eyesoring cinematography and excessive camera movements. Call me patronising. But, it feels like they barely tried. The other two shows do way better.
Despite being a great annoyance, the horrid visuals is underwhelmed by the social and emotional immersion. I almost wanted to say “depth” instead of “immersion”.
Social issues are frequently shown in the show. But, they’re not thought-provokingly conveyed. No social grittiness as well. But, they do exist.
Exist. They aren’t just the writers’ sick imagination. The show convinces me that they exist in real life as well. It wants me to acknowledge their existence and the problems they bring.
Deep emotions also exist. But, again, they’re not intelligently conveyed. No Bergmanesque drama with emotionally potent scenes. Yet, I still can feel the emotions myself. Maybe the writers are good with emotions.
Or maybe, the writers know how to make lovable characters. No matter how annoyed by them at times, I still love them to bits! Well, everyone except Kate. I’m glad she’s dead.
I don’t know the secret of their lovableness. Maybe the writers know how to pander to the audience. They know how to make me happy. But, I have my own theory.
Each character is like an infinite magical onion. When we think we know them, they manifest another seemingly-fresh layer of their individuality. Even long-time characters still surprise me to this day…
…Including Leroy Jethro Gibbs himself, one of the show’s stars. He is a proud ex-marine who doesn’t believe ex-marines exist, sees the US Navy as honourable and still maintains military discipline. But, he is not a blind fanatic.
He’s always the first person in the show who lambast his fellow marines for their lack of honour. He believes being a marine isn’t a free pass for embracing human indecency. Gibbs’ attitude towards them shapes the show’s perspective.
The US Navy is seen as neither virtuous nor shameful. It’s both. We are shown marines who possess strength and sense of humanity bigger than anyone who brag about having them…
…and we’re also shown marines who possess cowardice, deceitfulness and self-interest so big, it’s a wonder that they become marines in the first place. Some soldiers are never heroic.
Their portrayal is too dualistic. But, it genuinely changes the way I view the military. I used to think it was a place for overtly-rigid people who tolerate violence.
I still think such people exist in the institution. But now, I also believe that sensitive and peace-loving ones also exist there and I had been ignoring them all my life.
I know, I know. It’s a pathetic way to be enlightened. I should’ve known better that stereotypes, more of than not, feast on our delusional biases. I often let my darker side taking over.
I said something about media’s social responsibility. From how much I’ve changed, I can say that NCIS embraces it. Someone or some people off-screen believe in such responsibility. Why can’t the NCIS: LA be the same?
Oh and one last thing I love about NCIS: the characters’ interpersonal relationship. It is positively dynamic with a combination of honesty, healthy competition, banters, respect and warm camaraderie. It warms up my dark, cold heart.
I always crave such relationship. Mine are often volatile. I have better ones with my online friends. Even then, there are a few but noticeable bumps on the road. Again, it’s sad how dependent I am on a TV show.
Obviously, I’ve singled out who is the winner among the three. NCIS is the one that arms me up the most. But, it may be unfair of me.
It is the eldest of the siblings, at fourteen years of age. NCIS: LA and NCIS: NO are eight and three years old, respectively.
From eight seasons of the former, I’ve only watched one and a half of them. I barely give the show a chance. The latter is still a baby. I need to wait more.
This shows the possibility of me being wrong. If I watch more episodes, I would probably change my mind about them. Who knows? I may end up loving either one even more.
But then, I was immediately hooked by NCIS at my first episode. I watched the other two in the first place because they are parts of the franchise. Besides, 20 episodes should be more than enough for me to judge a show’s overall quality.
So, the chance of me changing my mind is minuscule.