A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this military investigative drama depicts graphic crime scenes that include blood, gunshot holes, and dead bodies (some of which have been mutilated). Autopsies can also be somewhat graphic, though certain body parts are blurred out. The main characters engage in adult humor, though the content is generally mild. The series reinforces some stereotypes, while others are made more complex.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
NCIS is an offshoot of JAG, and, like its predecessor, it takes a military angle on the standard legal/crime procedural drama: The unit's purpose is to investigate crimes involving Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Mark Harmon plays Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, the man in charge of on-the-ground operations. Gibbs is a serious guy whose impatience with bureaucracy makes you wonder why he chose a career in the military, but whose experience and intensity keep the rest of the team on track. His two main investigators, Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) and Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), riff with each other constantly, including some sexual banter. Several other characters round out the show, most notably Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette), whose gothic style and relentlessly chipper attitude make her an unusual forensic expert. Her geeky personality and propensity for Big Gulp sodas add to her cult appeal.
Is it any good?
For many years, CBS was regarded casually as a network aimed at the elderly. With series such as Murder, She Wrote and the investigative journalism warhorse 60 Minutes, it's easy to understand the generalization. NCIS feels like a leftover from that era of programming; lead investigator Gibbs spends so much time glaring at his younger coworkers that you expect him to explode at any moment with a "Get off my lawn, you hippies!"
Like an engine ground down by years of overuse and poor repairs, NCIS represents the low ebb of the crime procedural drama. Attempts at humor and character development feel forced; the seams begin to show between scenes barely stitched together to propel a murder-of-the-week plot. Despite its flaws, the show maintains an enormous viewership and an upbeat tone that distinguishes it from some of its darker brethren.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about any stereotypes they witness while watching. Does the male and female characters' behavior on the show reinforce or combat stereotypes? What's the difference between male and female sexuality on the show?
How realistic are the characters and scenarios on this show? How does the show differ from other crime procedurals?
For kids who love drama
Our editors recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.