NCIS

 
Upbeat but average crime show with blood, bodies.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There is some positive messaging in the portrayal of the officers who attempt to solve the show's crimes, and in their applying specialized knowledge to the investigative process.

Positive role models

The main characters exhibit the typical level of positive behavior associated with the "good guys" on a mainstream network police show, and no significant negative behavior, aside from a lead character who's depicted as a womanizer.

Violence

Crime scenes show blood, crimes themselves can be very violent (disemboweling, tongues cut out), and autopsies can be graphic. Some plots involve serial killers.

Sex

Plenty of sexually-tinged banter and innuendo. While there is discussion of romantic relationships, very little of it is sexual, and what does veer in that direction is tame by prime-time standards.

Language

Some swearing ("ass," "bitch," "damn") and some sexual language play: "pussy ... cat."

Consumerism

No real product placement, though fake Starbucks and Big Gulp cups are visible.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Main characters do not smoke, drink obviously, or use drugs. Use may appear in some subplots.

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

TV details

Cast:Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Sasha Alexander
Network:CBS
Genre:Drama
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of NCIS was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 4 year old Written byTrollalollin September 23, 2010
age 2+
 
loves it!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old December 19, 2010
age 6+
 

The awesomeness has reached full scale! Prepare the back-up Ziva-O-meter!

This is one of the best shows ever! What surprises me is the age everyone is giving this! I have a 7 year old friend who loves this show! People, NCIS was meant to be shared. The action is wonderful, with some humor and wonder splashed here and there. This is really a show for the whole family. WARNING!!! If you have a weak stomach, avoid! There are several autopsy scenes, as excpected from this kind of show.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 11 and 15 year old Written bygabajoran September 18, 2009
age 13+
 
I've let my kids watch most episodes of NCIS. I usually preview first if it's a PG14. I'll sometimes restrict it. To be honest, the violence doesn't bother me too much. What I like about this crime drama over so many others, is that the people have integrity and honor. They care. Too often today the bad guys win anyway. Not on NCIS. One character is a very smart goth with a heart of gold. One is an ex-marine who lost his wife and child to a murderer. One is an Israeli working with US navy employees. Other characters are also quirky which makes the show funny. The show has some stereotyping but it seems to promote story lines that actually break those down. Promoting hard work and science is always a good thing. Overall I see the show as positive.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex

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