Episode 445: The NCIS: LA of My Mind

On the Overthinking It podcast, we eschew discussion of the Golden Globes to discuss the latest episode of NCIS: Los Angeles.

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11 Comments on “Episode 445: The NCIS: LA of My Mind”

  1. Charlie X Well Actually #

    Thanks for the episode, it was really good fun to dissect something perhaps not quite being on the OTI radar despite being popular culture which was undeserving of scrutiny.
    I remember there was an article some time ago about what was actually popular in the popular culture and how even OTI skews away from some of those shows. It’s something which stuck with me a bit so it’s interesting seeing the popular culture everyone ignores getting an examination. I’m curious to see if there will be any other examinations like this in the future.

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  2. Lavanya Six #

    Hi! I really enjoyed this episode, as NCIS:LA is often playing in the background of my house. It’s very much a show we have on in the background while doing other things, because you don’t really need to pay all that close attention to it.

    I also liked this format of you all dropping into a series you only had a tentative grounding in. I think as a “gimmick” it’s something worth doing again, especially doing the year’s slower period of pop culture production. I’d really like to see y’all doing an episode of “Law & Order: SVU” and “Empire”, because they’re both popular mainstream shows that, like NCIS:LA, fall outside the normal Overthinking umbrella yet have lots of fodder for overthought.

    To touch on the topic brought up early in the episode about network drama that might touch on drama and ideas that were originally seen as being a Prestige TV Thing, I’d recommend dipping into “Person of Interest”, which deals a lot with ideas of police corruption, the national security state, and in its later season the issue of artificial intelligence. Critic Abigail Nussbaum has a watch list for getting to the good/important bits of it:

    http://abigailnussbaum.tumblr.com/post/152346270515/person-of-interest-the-good-bits-version

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  3. Rich #

    For the question of the week, I was hoping that someone would pick Marvel Comics W.H.O, the Weird Happenings Organization. It was in their British comic Excalibur. This was before the Doctor got a reboot and popular again.

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  4. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    Can I ask a NCIS question? Why the Navy? Couldn’t you make the same show about Army or Air Force investigators? Is there something about the Navy that makes it a better choice a military investigation show?

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    • Peter Fenzel OTI Staff #

      I don’t know the in-universe explanation (other than that it’s a JAG spinoff), but a likely out-of-universe explanation is that in his youth, legendary TV producer Donald Bellisario served in the Marine Corps.

      Bellisario created three TV shows about the Navy: Black Sheep Squadron, JAG and NCIS.

      But on top of that, Bellisario is the likely reason Magnum P.I. and Al from Quantum Leap are also Navy veterans.

      Reply

    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      I had assumed that there weren’t any—that NCIS was Navy because I associate the office of Judge Advocate General with the Navy, but then I did some Wikipedia-ing and discovered that not only does each branch of the service have a judge advocate general, but that several branches have one or more investigative and/or law enforcement organizations. Spin-offs for decades

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_law_enforcement_in_the_United_States
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_Advocate_General%27s_Corps_(United_States)

      Reply

      • Evan Parker #

        And very tense jurisdictional battles on the special crossover episodes.

        Imagine if comic crossovers had the heroes engage in lengthy jurisdictional debates instead of punching each other. I wonder if that’s been done before.

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        • Lavanya Six #

          It’s pretty common with Batman crossovers for him to growl that other heroes should stay out of Gotham. Partly this is to justify why Superman or Green Lantern don’t just show up to beat up his mostly human-tier rogues. Partly this is the influence of the Dark Knight Returns, where Batman was a dick that didn’t play ball with others, and that Gotham was “gritty and realistic” compared to the rest of the DCU.

          This didn’t always make sense. Up until the early 2000s, for example, Batman was both a member of the Justice League and “still” an unconfirmed urban legend in Gotham. There was this big climax in the War Games crossover—it’s really only remembered for Stephanie Brown’s fridgeing—where Batman lets himself be caught on television camera for the first time rather than let someone die.

          All that has gradually changed in the last few years, however. Grant Morrison’s run brought back a lot of Silver Age weirdness and monkeyed with Batman’s dickishness, and Tom King has kept that crazy bananas sentiment without the meta self-aware weirdness of Morrison.

          Reply

        • clayschuldt #

          Batman V. Superman sounds like a court case.

          I suppose the upcoming Netflix series “The Defenders” probably has a lot of case law stuff, what with Daredevil being a lawyer and what better name for a team of lawyers than “The Defenders?”
          Unless of course they are the prosecuting side.

          Reply

    • Ben Adams OTI Staff #

      I have no idea if this matters to the producers of the show or not, but the NCIS is distinct from its Army/Air Force counterparts in at least one way organizationally: NCIS is almost exclusively staffed by civilian Special Agents. The only active-duty (i.e. military) are some temporarily assigned personnel that assist with certain kinds of investigations and provide technical assistance.

      The Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) and Army Criminal Investigative Command (usually referred to as Army CID) both draw to a more or lesser extent on the active duty military.

      Reply

  5. Ben Adams OTI Staff #

    So about that last scene where the community leader has the gun to a guy’s head. I think you might be right to call this scene out as being played differently b/c of the race of the participants. It sounds like the stakes of this decision are “Don’t kill this guy, because of the message it will send to your community.”

    Contrast that to the two ways I think this scene is generally presented:

    1) The Good Guy has the Bad Guy Who Killed His Family at gunpoint in a warehouse or whatever, and the police are closing in, but if he pulls the trigger now, he can claim it was self-defense. In this scene, the stakes are “Don’t kill this guy, because if you do you will lose your soul.” The choice to kill is presented as an individual decision of Right v. Wrong, and the decision not to shoot the guy is presented as a moral victory. (Never mind the 100 guards who are just drawing a paycheck that got mowed down just for looking at the hero wrong).

    2) The Good Guy has the Bad Guy at gunpoint, and both are surrounded by a ring of police, ready to arrest the bad guy. In this version, the Good Guy will suffer consequences (arrest) if he shoots the Bad Guy – and usually, this is tied to some family consequence (“Think about your kids man. He ain’t worth it.”) The stakes then are “Don’t kill him, because if you do you won’t get to be part of society any more.” The choice here isn’t so much about Right v. Wrong as it is about bringing our hero (who has definitely gone rogue at least once in the past week) back into the social contract.

    These scenes are all about our protagonist as an individual with agency. The scene as it sounds in NCIS is about a subject who exists primarily to serve the needs of the community.

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