#1 TV show, Tuesday, 8/9/16
5.81 million viewers
After my post on The Bachelorette, comedian and fellow blogger Alex Castle recommended I check out its sibling show Bachelor in Paradise. I replied that I assumed I’d have to for the purposes of this blog, but I didn’t realize that Bachelor in Paradise airs on Tuesdays, the same night as CBS’s NCIS, a ratings behemoth so dependable that I cited it in my About page as the reason I rotate nights for TV reviews. It’s such a powerhouse, in fact, that on Tuesday the 9th it beat Paradise with a rerun of “Reasonable Doubts,” an episode that originally aired back in March. (Of course, both shows were completely blown out of the water by the Olympics, which got a staggering 33.44 million viewers, but I’m not planning to cover special events like sports or awards shows because they’re too damn long, they can be relatively hard to track down after they originally air, etc.) So, sorry, Alex. We’ll see what happens when the season finale rolls around.
Anyway, if you’re unfamiliar, NCIS (which I had never watched before) is a JAG spinoff about the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, a federal agency that looks into crimes involving the Navy and Marine Corps. That maritime focus doesn’t actually factor into the stories much, though, at least judging from this episode, which is about the murder of a lottery winner whose wife and mistress each claim to have witnessed the other commit the crime. (“She said you did it,” a responding officer tells the wife, with the peevishness of a guy who’s been transferred to the wrong department on a tech support call.)
It’s not hard to see why this show does so well: It seems to be a very clean, by-the-book execution of the super-popular police procedural drama. The cast is charming, the central mystery wraps up in a way that’s at least slightly more clever than I was expecting, and a tearjerker B-plot resolves effectively as far as shameless tearjerkers go.
But the story is also littered with plot points that make no sense. The investigators reach their conclusion to a great extent based on the results of polygraph tests, even though those don’t actually really work. In the B-story, a restless retired cop notes that he felt sorry for a homeless woman he saw on the street, and instead of suggesting that he, say, volunteer at a shelter, NCIS leader Leroy Gibbs says he should occupy himself by finding and helping that woman individually, and this is presented as a good idea. Later, the cop finds the woman (who’s been diagnosed with brain cancer based on same pretty damn vague symptoms) in a park and she’s got a temperature, so he calls an ambulance, instead of, say, just taking her to an urgent care unit himself or doing something else that might not cost thousands of dollars the woman surely doesn’t have.
Not to draw too broad a conclusion, but this sort of thing is why we grow up and have no idea how the world actually works, because our conception of it is based on TV shows that were just cranked out by overworked Hollywood screenwriters who are just recycling stuff they saw on other TV shows, with no regard to whether or not any of their stories reflect reality. Now, am I saying that every TV drama needs to follow The Wire‘s lead and be scrupulously journalistic in regard to everything it depicts? Yes. Yes, I am.
One other thing: Every time this show comes back from a commercial break it shows a quick black and white flash of the very last shot that’ll be shown before the next commercial break. I don’t know why. It’s weird.