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NCIS “False Witness” 

Just in time for the holidays, NCIS gave us a gift: a very entertaining hour of TV. “False Witness” was the birth (and death?) of Serious Tony and it just became my favorite episode of Season 8 for five reasons.

1. Serious Tony

Very Special Agent Anthony Dinozzo is not a serious guy. He’s great at his job, but the guy’s still a child in so many ways. So how strange was it for Ziva and McGee to walk into the squad room and see Tony not only being efficient and focusing on his work, but doing it without his trademark humor? The entire episode, he either called everyone by their real name; he didn’t offer up a single movie reference; he had a lot to offer to the investigation — he was almost too good at his job; when he saw the opportunity he gave the floor or the control up to Ziva or Tim; and he ignored the admiration of a beautiful woman, a woman who was hitting on him. This isn’t the Dinozzo we’ve known and loved for the last eight seasons. Something had to be wrong. Gibbs had to ask him if he was okay. His hair was even styled differently.

Michael Weatherly did such a great job with Stepford Tony. I’m so happy he got the chance to do this. It’s like when Tony was off being an Agent Afloat. When he’s not around, there’s something missing. And everyone around him feels his absence. It’s a testament to the character. Other characters are annoyed by this guy; heck, many NCIS fans are annoyed by the guy. But take the Real Tony out of the equation and you immediately feel his absence.

I’m wondering if Tony is going to completely revert back to his old self in future episodes or if we’re going to get a sort of old Tony/new Tony blend. I don’t want the special agent to lose everything that makes him, him, but I wouldn’t mind if he grew up a tiny bit.

2. Flustered McGee

The comedy came with the way those around Tony dealt with his sudden serious side. The funniest reaction had to be McGee. He just didn’t know what to do with himself. I loved how flustered he got. It threw him off his game a little. I mean, Tony helped Tim out with his expense report and he had no problem giving Tim credit for a great suggestion. McGee tried to draw the Real Tony out more than once. He definitely sensed something was wrong and he just wanted his friend to go back to the way he used to be. Plus, he didn’t like how Super Tony was making him look! After all, he was the one that got Gibbs-slapped, not Tony. Sean Murray was excellent as he tried to deal with this grow’d up version of his colleague.

This vaguely reminded me of the Season 2 episode, “An Eye for an Eye,” where it didn’t seem like Tony’s mind was even in the game. In fact, he looked like he was busy meditating. Yet, suddenly he had all the answers Gibbs needed, making Kate and McGee look like slackers. That’s the episode where Tony uttered his classic line, “Work smarter, not harder, Katie.”

3. Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, Social Networker

Ducky decided to get with the times and join Facebook so Jimmy was helping him out. Loved his interests: Archaeology, Sociology, Fluvial Morphology — the study of the formation of river channels. But, apparently, his foray into Facebook was pretty successful because soon he was on the receiving end of some pretty provocative posts by a few of his lady friends. Not only was it great to hear Ducky talking about Facebook but we now know Gibbs has heard of it, but knows nothing about it. “That’s that thing that some people do things with?” Gibbs is so out of touch. Not so with Ducky. His Facebook advenure was all part of part of maintaining his psychological profiling skills. You know, “to keep up with the latest cultural developments.” And much like McGee, the racy messages threw Ducky off his game too. Ducky’s social networking adventures were hilarious.

4. The TMI Witness (Jerry)

Someone else hilarious was Jerry the Witness. He grew up with psychologists for parents and was an only child, so naturally, he’s a little bit off. This guy provided us with some instant insight to some of the characters we’ve known for the last eight years. Ziva has the eyes of a killer; Gibbs is a sad and sorry person, livlng alone and no family; Abby’s married to her work so she keeps things casual with McGee because she’s afraid he’s the one; and McGee definitely has the hots for Abby. Towards the end of the episode you just see this shot of Jerry following Gibbs. Nothing good for Gibbs could have been going on there.

5. Tony’s Serious Revelation

I actually really loved the reasoning behind the new-and-maybe-not-so-improved Tony Dinozzo. Ziva calls Tony on his new persona. “And yet, here we have, this new Tony who arrives early; stays late; turns down advances from beautiful women; and has not made a single joke in the past…what…two days!” Tony hasn’t even noticed, that’s how completely he flipped the switch. After all, he can’t be responsible for everyone’s feelings. Not Ziva’s or McGee’s or even Brenda Bittner’s. And that’s when we got to the heart of the matter.

If you recall, Brenda’s the girl Tony had a one-night stand with late last season. Only she thought they were in a committed relationship. Tony just found out she checked into a facility for depression after she wrapped her car around a tree. Ziva thinks it must be unsettling for him to realize that he didn’t recognize the trouble Brenda was in at the time. But he also has to feel like his making sure she got the message he was single contributed may have even exacerbated her condition. Tony doesn’t get why he has reacted like this: “Maybe instead of having a mid-life crisis, I’m having a mid-life crazy.” I’m curious as to why he would make the leap from crisis to crazy. I wonder if we’ll hear more about this in the future.

Ziva didn’t let Tony continue this train of thought. She urged him to just be Tony: “Who am I?” “You are Tony Dinozzo, the class clown and that is why we love you.” This was a really sweet conversation. And it needed to be said. The way Tony dealt with what he learned about Brenda was a very child-like way to deal with things. I think since he had such a weird childhood, he’s never really grown up and this was the only way he could react. If he would just be good and be the best person he can be and stop screwing around, then bad things will stop happening. He’s always blamed himself for failing women. He did it with Jen. And he did it with Jeanne. He probably even did it with Ziva and the whole Michael Rivkin/Somalia mess. I don’t know, this just makes me want to learn more about Dinozzo’s past with his mom. I wonder if any of this behavior stems from how he lost her or their relationship when she was alive.

It’s funny how in an episode that features Serious Tony, I laughed harder than ever. “False Witness” registered high on the humor barometer for sure.

Random Thoughts

-Tony mentioned a get well card for Director Vance. Nice continuity
-Good to see Annie Wersching from 24 and General Hospital. Although her DA character was kind of pathetic.
-Why was Ziva reluctant to call Tony a capable investigator? He may be many things but I don’t think his investigating skills are in doubt.
-Both the DA and Jerry asked or referred to Ziva’s relationship with Tony.
-This Miami friend Ziva keeps referring to is still in her orbit; she was going to spend Christmas skiing with him. Wonder if we’ll ever meet him…
-Pauley Perrette said she had to take a dance class to learn that Turkey Trot. Loved that. Too bad Abby couldn’t get Gibbs to join in.
-Ducky had to autopsy a dead turkey. So great.
-More turkey humor included Jimmy gobbling in front of Gibbs. I’m glad he feels he can do that in front of mighty Gibbs.
-Wow. There’s a wild turkey DNA database. Who knew?
-Abby’s totally put off by Jerry’s presence. He was totally on the money with what he told her wasn’t he? McGee could be the one and she’s not ready for it.
-Tony gave McGee half his french fries at lunch. Oh, Serious Tony, I heart you.
-I really like how McGee and Ziva are worried about Tony.
-Love it when Gibbs and Dinozzo tag-team an interrogation.
-The look Gibbs gives Jerry after he figures out why Hayes tried to off himself and said, “another sad guy,” was classic.
-The D.A. lost her job. She needed to lose her job.
-The poor brother was the one that wanted Hayes out of jail. He didn’t feel he could wait for the state to execute him, he wanted him dead sooner rather than later. Poor victim’s brother.
-I wish we got to hear what Jerry said to get Jimmy to start crying.
-Love Tony’s prank to end the episode. Ziva pulling her gun was hilarious.

Favorite Lines — courtesy of “False Witness” writer Steven D. Binder

“Really? There’s a giant, feathered turkey laying in the fridge and that’s all you’re going to say?” “What am I supposed to say?” “Well, I don’t know, maybe something like, ‘What do turkeys eat on Christmas? Nothing, because they’re already stuffed.’” “You feeling alright?” “Yeah, are you?” “Fine.”

“We may have to prune this list down doctor. I think that Facebook has a limit to the number of interests.”

“Ooh, add ornithology to the list.”

“When I saw you flashing my photo and…she’s got the eyes of a killer…and with that suit on? I thought I was dead.”

“I know what you’re doing.” “I know what you’re doing.” “What am I doing?” “I don’t know! But it’s bugging me to such a de…” (head slap)

“I’ve had problems with uh visitors. So he was just being overprotective.” “Of what? You’re butt? He couldn’t stop checking it out when your back was turned.” “Really?”

“Gibbs, can you make him go away, please?”

“Good job. Again.” “Thanks, Boss.” “You feeling okay, Dinozzo?” “Never felt better.” “Hmm.” “Umm…I would stay away from that Jerry, if I were you.”

“Do I have take my shoes off?” “Wish you wouldn’t.”

“You are not crazy. You are just growing up. And some lessons are more painful as we grow older when the stakes are higher. But, you need to find balance. And yes, yes, yes, yes, you need to treat people more respectfully, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. But, you need to be who you are.”

“Too much?

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