|NCIS: The Complete Third Season (2005)
Starring: Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette, David McCallum, Sean Murray, Lauren Holly, Cote de Pablo, Brian Dietzen
Following my belated discovery of the brilliance of “NCIS” after watching the show’s second season on DVD (you may recall my subsequent rave review), it should come as no surprise that, as soon as the word went out that the third season of the show was on the release schedule, I was already chomping at the bit to write it up.
Season Two of “NCIS” closed by offering up one of the more shocking moments in recent television history: Agent Caitlin Todd (Sasha Alexander), having narrowly avoided her demise with the assistance of her bulletproof vest, receives a bullet smack dab in the middle of her forehead. As such, Season Three began with a two-part episode, entitled “Kill Ari,” which followed the NCIS team members as they attempted to find Caitlin’s killer (terrorist Ari Haswari) and take him down. The episodes are also used to introduce two new regulars into the series: the NCIS’s new director, Jenny Shepherd (Lauren Holly), and Ziva David (Cota de Pablo), a Mossad agent assigned to the NCIS.
Adding new blood to any series is always a risky move, because you never know how the fans will react. As it happens, that’s the same issue the members of the NCIS team are dealing with. Through no fault of her own, Ziva finds herself walking in Kate’s shadow, but it’s quickly determined that where Kate was a bit of a prude, Ziva is flirtatious and unafraid to flaunt her sexual side. (As you’d expect, this gives Michael Weatherly the opportunity make his character – DiNozzo – as unabashedly lascivious as possible.) The writers handle Ziva’s indoctrination into the team slowly, but they don’t drag it out. Still, as the season ends, it becomes clear that accepting her as a teammate may be a necessity, but they don’t necessarily like her ongoing tendency to emotionally distance herself from them. Agent Shepherd already has a connection to the team: she and Gibbs (Mark Harmon) once had a relationship, and, boy, the viewers are never allowed to forget it. Any time there’s a scene with Gibbs and Shepherd together, you’re at risk for being bombarded with a flashback to the lustful days they shared in Paris. It probably doesn’t happen nearly as often as it feels like it does, but by season’s end, it’s, like, “OK, enough, we get it, they used to have a thing! Stop with the flashbacks already!”
Every member of the ensemble gets a chance to shine during the course of the season. Abby (Pauley Perette) gets a new assistant who turns out to be as shady as he looks. Toward the end of the season, she also finds herself being stalked by a former boyfriend; DiNozzo gets framed for murder; and McGee (Sean Murray) accidentally kills a man in the line of duty and struggles to deal with the emotional repercussions that follow. “Boxed In” provides a nice and claustrophobic episode, when DiNozzo and David end up locked within a cargo container, and “Model Behavior” has fun with reality TV when a supermodel is murdered on the set of a new series where she and two of her peers are going through Marine Corps boot camp. (Frighteningly, I might well watch such a show.)
Season Three ends the way it begins -- with a two-parter. Gibbs is caught in an explosion, where he’s badly wounded and receives head trauma which seems to have wiped clean a decade’s worth of memory. Surprisingly, Gibbs regains his memories before the season ends, but the events of the final minutes of the episode result in his resigning from the NCIS.
Did he come back for Season Four? What, like I’m going to give that away? Wait ‘til it’s out on DVD and ask me then! All you need to know at this point is that Season Three provides 24 more episodes of drama, mystery, and -- although the moments are wisely spread out -- it has to be said that an average episode generally provides more laughs than your average sitcom.
Again, I say: “NCIS” is so much more than a “military show.” Three years in, it still remains one of the most consistently enjoyable hours on TV, period.Special Features: Breathe easy: it’s another solid “NCIS” set full of bonus features. Disc Three finds the real-life NCIS once again showing their appreciation of the series, with several higher-ups participating in a featurette entitled “The Real NCIS Declassified,” and it’s followed by the decidedly more lighthearted (and far shorter) “Hit the Head Montage,” the content of which can probably be guessed by fans of the show. Disc Four provides “The Round Table,” where executive producer/co-creator Don Bellisario sits down with some of his fellow producers to discuss the show, while Disc Five offers “The Women of ‘NCIS,’” covering the various female members of the cast, with an emphasis on the season’s new additions, Holly and de Pablo. The set’s featurettes wrap up with Disc Six’s “NCIS: Season of Change,” which tackles the considerable number of new developments during Season Three. Lastly, we score four commentaries throughout the six discs, and, as with the second season, the best of the bunch come courtesy of Perrette and Weatherly, who once again prove to be masters of back-and-forth banter.