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NCIS: Season 13

Paramount // Unrated // August 23, 2016
List Price: $55.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted October 27, 2016 | E-mail the Author
NCIS Season 13 DVD Review

The Show:

NCIS (short for Naval Criminal Investigative Service) is one of the most successful television series ever made with a wide audience spanning different backgrounds and countries. It is no surprise the show is as popular as it is. The series features continuing story-arcs from time to time but the bulk of the series is episodic and the characters are some of the best written and acted on any network show. The plot follows a core cast of characters working to stop many horrible situations from happening and so forth. These characters care about the community, world, and those who inhabit it.

The number one reason to watch NCIS is the characters and the performances the actors bring to their characters. Each actor has one of the best roles on television and it is rare to find so much talent (both on screen and in scriptwriting) on one show.

The writing and directing on NCIS is strong and plays a huge role in why the show continues to be so excellent. James Whitmore Jr. does a particularly great job in the director's chair and has crafted some of the most excellent episodes.

One of the greatest strengths of NCIS is that it remains creative in how it tells its stories despite being a procedural series. The behind-the-scenes creative team is so good at what they do that even with eleven seasons the show feels full of great ideas and genuine energy. While it would make a lot more sense to begin at the beginning of the show there is little doubt that NCIS can continue to gain new fans through re-runs and new episodes.

It doesn't take long to realize the greatness of NCIS is not in the plots (although there are some great ones) but in the characters, the dynamics, and the unique writing and direction that keeps each episode in a special league known as the highest class in television entertainment. To put it simply: If you haven't already started watching NCIS you're missing out on one of the best shows out there.

The Characters:

Mark Harmon is Special Agent Jethro Gibbs. Gibbs is the leader of the entire group on the series and the character is one that brings in charisma, intelligence, and strength to the show (especially through guidance to the other characters). Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) probably looks up to Gibbs the most and he brings the comedic factor on the show up by several notches, and still manages to be a dramatic backbone to the entire show too. As per usual, he's a character known for his many and varied film references. Film buffs can and will enjoy.

Pauley Perrette excels as the lovable and high-energy Abby Sciuto; an interesting character that melds the world of gothic-style clothing design with the kind heartedness found in a genuinely loyal and intelligent woman. Abby is one of the smartest and kindest characters on the series. The eccentricities of the character would seem bizarre in one sense of understanding but make perfect sense when considering who the character is that viewers get to know and love over the course of the show. It's actually difficult to not smile when Abby is on screen.

Sean Murray plays the nerdy but somewhat reserved and solemn Special Agent Timothy McGee. This character is a bit of an underdog in the show (McGee started out in a fairly normal office position) yet there are many moments where the strength and dedication of this spirited man shine through and that is wonderful to witness.

Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham), who joined the series in place of former star Cote de Pablo seasons ago is now an even stronger addition to the show. Bishop's role on the show has been expanded even further in Season 13 and she has fully become a central part of the ensemble. Ellie was a smart and on-her-toes analyst for  NSA who leaves that agency to work with NCIS as a ground field agent while using smarts towards figuring out some of the more difficult technical stuff that the team can benefit from.

Season 13 introduces a new recurring character to the show: Dr. Cyril Taft (Jon Cryer), a doctor who helped to save the life of Gibbs during a surgical procedure in the premiere episode of the season. Gibbs, who nearly died after being shot, is aided by Taft during the season. Taft helps Gibbs by meeting with him regularly: he is determined to convince him that he needs therapy.

There's also the tough glue to the NCIS department: Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll), who is the one character that manages to keep things running as smooth as possible. Lastly, the show just wouldn't be the same without the eccentric Ducky (David McCallum) and his equally bizarre yet sweet apprentice Jimmy (Brian Dietzen) working on all of the medical examinations.

The Season:

NCIS: Season 13 continues to expand on the series with more stories, excitement, and character-driven episodes. This season has a stronger focus on character storylines than the  last season did. The show explores the difficult transition for NCIS leader Gibb's after a nearly fatal wound (after being shot). While Gibb's continues to lead the team, he must also learn to come to terms with his near-fatality.

Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham) has a lot on her plate this season as well: her character begins to have relationship problems with her husband. It becomes one of the major sub-plots of the entire season as Bishop must overcome the problems present in her marriage. It's one of the major elements of the season.

The season has some special stand-out episodes and side-stories revolving around family of the main character's. There's a storyline revolving around Ducky and his relationship with his half-brother when he was a young man. It's a particularly moving episode for fans of the character.

The season is also distinctive for having a two-part crossover episode which combines characters from NCIS and spinoff  NCIS: New Orleans. The first episode, Sister City: Part 1 was an NCIS episode with guest appearances from NCIS: New Orleans characters. For Sister City: Part 2, it was primarily a NCIS: New Orleans episode with NCIS guest appearances. The episode two-parter is also fascinating as the first time we see the older, grown-up version of Abby's little brother. It's an exciting two-part episode which will certainly entertain fans of either series.

Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) is given a storyline about a past romance that ended badly. This season explores his character's grief in dealing with this relationship. It's also, significantly, DiNozzo's last season on NCIS as Michael Weatherly won't be returning for Season 14 of the series. It's hard to imagine the show without him on it. In Season 13, DiNozzo remains one of the most engaging, entertaining, and fun characters on the series. DiNozzo will be missed.

Season 13 continues to find a good balance between the drama of the characters and storylines while still having a fun, humorous aspect to it. NCIS can be quite charming and hilarious at times especially because of the fun banter between the lead characters. DiNozzo, in the character's final season on the show, continues to add much to the humor.

NCIS continues to be one of the more entertaining series on television. The series has a great core cast of characters that keeps it an engaging, exciting, and worthwhile drama. The season wisely places a good emphasis on the character's storylines and it makes this a season fans will find especially engaging and worthwhile. The shift this season from long plot-driven story arcs to character-based storylines worked well. NCIS remains one of television's most entertaining programs.

The DVD:


NCIS: Season 13 arrives on DVD with an impressive presentation. The picture quality is clean, vibrant, and impressive with good colors. The series is presented in the original television broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. It is an anamorphic widescreen presentation enhanced for widescreen HDTV displays.

While it is not as pristine of a presentation as a Blu-ray release would have provided, this is still a solid standard definition presentation. Fans of the series will certainly find it a decent and satisfactory presentation overall.


NCIS arrives on DVD with a Dolby Digital sound presentation. Both 5.1 surround sound and 2.0 stereo audio presentations are provided. The audio is clean, clear, and crisp. Dialogue is easy to understand. The series music and sound effects are also well presented on this release.

Subtitles are presented in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing) and Spanish.


Audio Commentaries:  
NCIS: Sister City Part 1, NCIS New Orleans: Sister City Part 2, Viral, 16 Years, Reasonable Doubts

Deleted Scenes are provided from the following episodes:  
Reasonable Doubts
and Charade

Bonus Episode: NCIS: New Orleans: Sister City (Part 2) - The conclusion to Sister City: Part 1, a NCIS episode created as part of a special two-episode crossover event.


A Look At Sister City (16 min.) is a behind the scenes featurette exploring the making of both Sister City: Part 1 and Sister City: Part 2. It explores the unique way in which this two-part crossover episode was made between the teams behind both NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans.

BOOM (6 min.) is a behind the scenes look at some of the practical special effects work done to make the explosive sequences on the series. The featurette includes interviews with the effects team who help bring these "explosions" to life.

Celebrating 300 (9 min.) is a featurette about the celebration of the series hitting a 300 episode milestone. The creative team behind the series (producers, actors, and others involved with the series) celebrate the massive success of the series and get to eat cupcakes with episode titles on them.

Heroes' Song (9 min.) highlights the Wounded Warriors music program featured in the 300th episode and focuses on the behind-the-scenes making of the episode.

Inside Season 13 (25 min.) is a making-of featurette exploring the production of Season 13, featuring interviews with the production team (from cast to crew).  

The Definitive DiNozzo (14 min.) explores the lengthy history of the character Anthony DiNozzo on NCIS. Michael Weatherly discusses his work on the series over the past thirteen seasons.

All's Fair in Love and War (7 min.) focuses on the (many) troubled relationships between the characters on NCIS over the series many seasons and the new development this season of the marriage issues between Bishop and her husband.

The Agency Turns 50 (8 min.) is a featurette for a 50th Anniversary Celebration of NCIS featuring series actor Rocky Carroll.

Final Thoughts:

NCIS remains a fun and exciting television drama in its thirteenth season. The season places a strong focus on the character's and is another well-done season of the long-running program. Alas, Season 13 is the swan-song for beloved fan-favorite character Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. Fans of NCIS will certainly want to check out Season 13.

The DVD release of Season 13 contains an impressive presentation with a small assortment of extras for fans.


Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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