Was “NCIS” season 12 the best of the series? We wouldn’t say that, since we feel like it was probably a good five or so years ago when the show was really around its peak? However, it’s hard for any show to sustain itself for more than a decade, especially when you are introducing new characters and tackling a story that is for the most part procedural. At a certain point, it is pretty hard to avoid repeating yourself.
With all of this being said, we do consider season 12 a step up for the most part from an uneven season 11, which had to adjust so much on the fly to Cote de Pablo’s departure and Emily Wickersham signing on. There was some more stability, and that in turn led to some more consistent stories that focused more on the characters.
What worked – The three-episode arc at the end of the season was one of the strongest creatively we’ve seen from the show in years. You lost a recurring character in Dorny in the process, and it all helped to set up a really great, Gibbs-centric cliffhanger. Of course, he is almost certainly going to live to see the other day, but there is still the nature of consequences and just what they could be in this case.
To us, some standout episodes this season included “Grounded” (a great departure from the typical episode), the heart-wrenching “Check,” “We Build, We Fight,” and all of the Gibbs / Fornell scenes in “Cabin Fever.”
What didn’t – The show has never been able to do relationships well when you one of the two characters involved is recurring. Therefore, it’s hard to really get a full sense of McGee, Tony, and even Bishop’s personal lives when you just get reminders here and there that there are other people in their lives. Sometimes the show wants to be all about the job, and then at times it wants to show you more of what these people have going on. It’s never been able to mix the two completely when you only see so much of the significant other.
Also, a good portion of the fall season to us really sagged when it came to significant developments. The second half of season 12 was very strong and one of the best batches in some time, but it got off to a rough start.
Overall – A solid year for a show that has been most one of the most-watched dramas for some time. You can always nitpick little things here and there, but when it comes to giving you emotional stories and also little moments of humor here and there, the team should feel pretty good about themselves right now. Grade: B+.
If you want to see some other entries right now in our Report Card series, head over to the link here! Also, sign up today to gather up some additional TV news on just about everything we cover, sent right in your direction via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: CBS.)