Okay, first of all, it's just bad. It's badly written, the characters are bad, the jokes are bad, it's just a bad show. But there are a lot of bad shows. What makes NCIS stand out in a crowd of bad teevee? Glad you asked.
First of all, the show supposedly takes place in modern-day America. A time and place with which we are all too familiar. But their version of modern-day America is one in which a: Everybody knows who/what N.C.I.S. is
and B: everyone respects them.
When they walk into a crime scene or knock on a witness's door and announce "N.C.I.S!" no one says "what the hell is NCIS?" And no one says "NCIS? hell, I'm not in the Navy, you guys can pound sand!" Everyone reacts to them the same way they would if they flashed their badges and said "FBI!"
Also, in their universe, not only does NCIS investigate crimes involving sailors and Marines, they are also involved in counter-terrorism and counter-espionage. And they out-rank everybody somehow. Special Agent Gibbs (Mark Harmon) can say to an admiral "you need to take this aircraft carrier back to port." and the admiral will say "Negative, sir, I have orders to rendezvous with the USS Gerald Ford in the Persian Gulf" and Gibbs will say "Not anymore, admiral. Your ship is my crime scene now!" And the admiral will just go "shit, he's got me. I guess I'll forget about my orders from the Pentagon. The guy from Summer School obviously has the final say."
Oh, and let's talk about Special Agent Gibbs.
First of all, his name is Leroy Jethro Gibbs. And the few people who are on a first name basis with him all call him "Jethro." He could go by Leroy. He could go by Roy. He could probably go by Lee. Why Jethro? Who would choose to go by Jethro?
Now Leroy Jethro Gibbs is not a pleasant man. He is what the French might call an "asshole."
This is how he interacts with his subordinates:
When he's not shouting at them, he's smacking them in the back of the head. He's never pleasant or friendly or anything but hostile to most of the people who work for him (more on that later), yet they all worship him. WORSHIP him! When they speak his name, it is in hushed, reverent tones "Leroy. Jethro. Gibbs." And it's not just employees kissing the boss's ass. They talk about him like this when he's not even around.
Here's an example. In one episode, Agent McGee's aunt or cousin or something played by Lily Tomlin, is a suspect in a case. McGee tries to get her to talk to him by warning her "if you don't talk to me, you're going to end up talking to Gibbs." Tomlin says something about how she's been arrested before and dealt with cops before and "I thionk I can handle your Agent Gibbs." To which McGee replies "Genghis Khan couldn't handle Gibbs!" And he's not joking.
So you'd think that Gibbs would be the worst character on the show, right?
Hahaha, not by a long shot! Let's look at some of the other characters.
First, they're's Ziva. Ziva is a former/sometimes current Mossad agent who, for some reason works for NCIS. Because that's not a waste of her talents!
Now, if you call up central casting and tell them you need an actress to play an Israeli woman, who would you expect them to send over? A Chilean woman named Cote de Pablo? No? Well, that's who plays Ziva David, a Chilean woman named Cote de Pablo.
Why? Who knows?
But that's not important. Nor is it important that for some reason, a woman who was/is an agent of the deadly elite Mossad considers being accepted as an NCIS agent to be her proudest moment. What is important is that her main purpose besides being hot is to be the butt of a running joke in which she gets mixed up with American colloquialisms. She will say something like "well, that was a wild duck chase!" and one of the other agents will say "Goose, Ziva. It's a wild GOOSE chase." And then she will say "That makes no sense, why would anyone chase a goose?" It's called comic relief, folks!
Then there's Abby Sciuto, the resident forensic science genius. What is her field of science? Everything. She's a computer whiz, she is an expert in chemistry, biology, physics, whatever she needs to be an expert in, she's an expert in. Like the Professor from Gilligan's Island.
Now Abby, or "Abbs" as she is generally addressed, is a woman in her thirties - thirty-four when Season one aired. And she is a scientist. And she works for the military in a military facility. Yet she dresses like a 13-year-old whose local mall just got a Hot Topic.
So this is annoying, but she also is just an annoying character in general. She babbles. She's clearly the most intelligent character on the show, but she babbles. It's really irritating. And her relationship with Gibbs is not just unprofessional, but downright creepy.
She definitely looks to Gibbs as a father figure, seeking his approval. And when she finds him a particularly useful clue, he ksses her. On the forehead or cheek, but he kisses her! His employee! And then she sighs dreamily because she not only looks at him as a father figure, she also has a huge Electra-complex crush on him.It's gross. And I don't think that the Navy would tolerate this kind of behavior.
Oh wait. I just remembered "Tail Hook." Never mind.
So, is Abbs the most annoying character on the show?
You'd think so, but no.
That distinction goes to Dr. Donald Mallard, or "Ducky" as he is almost always referred to. (Get it? 'Cuz his name is "Mallard?")
Donald Mallard, played by David McCallum, is an old school British colonialist. The kind who likes to drone on about his time in Afghanistan or Kenya or other far-flung outposts of the British Empire. All he's missing is a pith helmet and jodhpurs as he waxes nostalgic about his youthful adventures and dispense the wisdom of the lessons he learned from various locals and whatnot. He is just absolutely insufferable, yet every other character on the show just adores him for some unstated reason. Curiously, in the first few episodes, Gibbs seems to regard him as an irritating nuisance, but soon they're thick as thieves. Ducky is one of the few people that address Gibbs as Jethro.
So put these unbearable personalities together into one show and you've got the makings of a true Hindenburg of a show. But it gets even more problematic. Because everyone on this show Worships the Marines. I mean, they love and respect all branches of the military, but the revere the Marine Corps. The Marines can do no wrong. The hushed, solemn tones they use when they say "Semper Fi" or "Ooh. Rah." which they do more frequently than you would imagine, is nauseating.
It really is the worst show on television.