Midseason Report Card: Was ‘NCIS’ season 12 a major step forward?

More news -Last year, we found “NCIS” in a somewhat uncertain place. We were still recovering from the exit of Cote de Pablo, and the show was trying to figure out what their rhythm and personality was going to be moving forward.

Now that we’re in season 12, is this the great show again that it once was? The answer there is mixed. Aside from some great characters, we would say that the show really has sputtered on and off since season 8, and all of the creative turmoil last year just threw most of it into a blender. On the other side of it, this is a show who knows what casual viewers seem to enjoy, and therefore, it goes more towards appeasing them rather than necessarily satisfying diehard fans or doing anything to really push the envelope.

What worked – A few episodes this season were particularly great. While difficult to watch, “House Rules” was an emotional window into McGee’s world. Meanwhile, “Grounded” was a fun caper / introduction to Bishop’s husband Jake, and “So It Goes” was a worthwhile look into what makes Ducky the man that he is.

This was a big handful of episodes overall for Sean Murray, who really brought it and elevated McGee to a new level. While it would’ve been nice to see Margo Harshman at some point, we cannot fault him for that.

What didn’t – Our biggest complaint with season 12 is that for the most part, it feels like the show is resting on its laurels, and not taking very many chances. Where’s the episode to really get people talking? Why not take a big creative risk? It takes us a few minutes to ever remember many of this season’s episodes, since they really tend to blend together.

Also, the lack of a genuine “shocking moment” made some of the other annoyances more prominent, including the lack of many great Abby episodes or that certain story threads (Delilah, Tony’s dating life, anything for Jimmy) get brought up, become important, disappear for a few weeks, and then are casually mentioned again. Why can’t there be a shred more consistency?

Overall – If you like “NCIS” as escapism and a chance to return to familiar characters and stories, this season was probably very good for you. It delivered more of what you’ve been loving for so long. If you wanted it to challenge you, or even at times its characters, you were probably disappointed. Grade: B-.

What’s your take on season 12 so far? Share with a comment, and head over here to watch another preview for the January 6 episode. Also, sign up now to get some further TV updates on everything we cover at CarterMatt via our newsletter. (Photo: CBS.)

Love TV? Be sure to like Matt & Jess on Facebook for more updates!