NCIS season 14 was a difficult season to manage. With the loss of the beloved Tony DiNozzo and the introduction of three new series regulars, the show needed to balance the old and the new. While there was a balance in the characters, some viewers were disappointed in the lack of plot development.
Is it possible that NCIS season 14 focused too much on the characters and not the plots? And are there now too many characters competing for our attention?
Not Enough Screen Time for Everyone and Everything
I admit that I didn’t enjoy the first few episodes of the season. It was difficult to like the new characters, especially Nick Torres. Wilmer Valderrama is a great actor, but there was something initially unlikable about Torres; almost as if he was trying too hard to replace DiNozzo. It wasn’t until the middle of the season that I started to like him.
Overall, there just wasn’t enough time to get to know three new characters, enjoy the older characters and focus on the individual plots. NCIS season 14 was a case of too much in too little time. The season may have worked better with a few episodes getting to know one new character and then introducing another one later.
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Because of the character focus, there was a slip in the plotlines. They weren’t exciting in the way that past plots have been. Except for the season finale and the episode centered around DiNozzo’s old apartment, there wasn’t anything surprising about the storylines. They seemed more like fluff to create episodes to focus on individual characters.
I guessed the majority of the plots before they even happened. I knew who the killer was and it wasn’t long before Gibbs and co. had worked it out. That isn’t normal for NCIS.
In fact, looking back on the season, I couldn’t tell you some of the murders and storylines. Most of my memories are admittedly of the character developments. I vividly remember Torres opening up to Laura Ellison about his friend who died of cancer, and Jimmy’s scenes on the top of the building, as we got all the flashbacks of him that we never really knew we needed until they happened. I squealed with delight at the Abby-centric episode.
With all that in mind, it was certainly a case where NCIS focused more on the characters than the plotlines. I don’t remember another season like that. In the past, the character development has been the filler between the storylines.
Character Development in NCIS Isn’t Necessarily a Bad Thing
With all that said, I’m not complaining about the lack of plot this year. Considering the loss of DiNozzo and the need to introduce three new characters, NCIS needed character development storylines. They added a new depth that NCIS hasn’t really explored outside of Gibbs, DiNozzo, Ziva (I miss her) and McGee.
We learned Bishop was dating, and went through the loss and vengeance with her. Henry’s past and reasons for his actions were introduced in depth. Torres grew on me and Palmer finally got the open recognition he has always deserved. The only one I feel nothing for is Quinn, and I don’t think I’m the only NCIS fan to say that.
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The original characters weren’t forgotten either. In fact, the only character whose past we didn’t delve into more was Gibbs, but we got how his relationship with Fornell has developed over the last year. We got individual episodes that focused on Ducky, Abby and McGee. Okay, McGee isn’t technically an original character, but he’s close enough.
By spending a season getting to know the characters and watching the team build, we can now move into NCIS season 15 with a clean slate. There’s little fear in not knowing if we’ll like the characters and little chance of character developments taking away the focus from the actual plotlines. Hopefully, NCIS will now move forward with some excellent crime mysteries, especially with that major cliffhanger.
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(Image courtesy of CBS)