Friday, April 13, 2007

TV Review: NCIS – Navy Criminal Investigative Services - "Cover Story"

“Cover Story” first aired April 10, 2007

Okay. The time has come for a little “come to Jesus” discussion regarding NCIS specifically and television dramas in general. What we typically see on television (including news reporting) is not real life. It was never intended to be. Television is a homogenized, sanitized, autoclaved, and hermetically-sealed product for mass consumption, the greater the mass, the better. As something being consumed, if television were regulated as food and drugs are, it would be scrutinized the point of banality. But that should offer no comfort because television programming itself ensures almost a bad a fate as it is based on a cultural lowest common denominator, where viewers are throttled by Jungian archetypes so basic that lower level primates can grasp their significance.

The majority of television programming envolks Coleridge’s plea for “That willing suspension of disbelief, which constitutes poetic faith,” in order to more fully enjoy the programs being watched (and again, this unfortunately applies also to news reporting). So, where do we the viewers draw the line for this will suspension? Regarding NCIS, no one in their right, above average IQ, mind is going to mistaken the law enforcement practiced on the drama for how it is really done. If the viewer require that level of fidelity, I recommend The First 48, which shows the grueling monotony that makes up the bulk of law enforcement. But, in a word, that is boring.

Why this prelude to a review of the NCIS episode “Cover Story?” Because “Cover Story” is the least satisfying episode aired in this, the program’s fourth season. The plot of this episode surrounds the plot of Special Agent Timothy "Tim" McGee’s (Sean Murray) follow-up to his successful novel, Deep Six, which he shamelessly based on his NCIS co-workers. When two murders occur involving two strangers McGee has based characters on in his new book, things get dicey for the team. A mysterious note reveals that one more murder is to occur and the victim is somehow defined in McGee’s unfinished text. The episode is propelled by the need to find out how McGee’s draft was released and who the next victim will be. The leak of the draft occurs from McGee’s discarded typewriter ribbon and the next victim was to be Forensics Specialist Abigail "Abby" Sciuto (Pauley Perrette).

The antagonist in the episode is an employee of the coffee shop, Landon Grey (Steve Braun), McGee frequents and where he saw the two people he based characters on everyday. In the mix is McGee’s morally ambivalent publisher, Lyndi Crawshaw (Jayne Brook) and her assistant, Todd Ryder (Wilson Cruz). “Cover Story” compares poorly with more complex episodes such as “Grace Period” or “Blow Back”

The next episode, “Brothers in Arms” will air April 24, 2007. According to, there remain five episodes, including the Season Finale. We should hope that the writers are busier creating a provocative ending to this season than they were the plot of “Cover Story.”


Forensics Specialist Abigail "Abby" Sciuto (Pauley Perrette)
Special Agent Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly)
Special Agent Timothy "Tim" McGee (Sean Murray)
Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon)
NCIS Director Jennifer "Jenny" Shepard (Lauren Holly)
NCIS Medical Examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum)
Mossad Agent-on-Loan-to-NCIS Ziva David (Cote de Pablo)

Guest Stars:

Landon Grey (Steve Braun)
Lyndi Crawshaw (Jayne Brook)
Todd Ryder (Wilson Cruz)
Rick Green (Nynno Ahli)
Johnny Smokerson (Chris Akers)

This review was first published in

© Copyright, C. Michael Bailey, 2007