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Moment of Goodness

NCIS’ Moment of Goodness: Dr. Walter Magnus Remembers Why He Was Needed 

Photo Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

When it was announced Bob Newhart was going to guest star on NCIS, I was very excited. It felt like a perfect fit, even though the actor has been known for comedy. But Newhart’s low-key approach to humor really served him well as Ducky’s predecessor at NCIS, Dr. Walter Magnus. All episode long, we saw a man who longed to visit his glory days as Chief Medical Examiner. He was excited to be at the crime scene and by Ducky’s side in Autopsy. In his joy at being in familiar surroundings, we also saw some sadness there. At first, he told his successor how he lost his wife and was estranged from his daughter. Eventually, we saw Dr. Magnus become disoriented, or zoned out, and we knew something was wrong. After Ducky did some digging, he found out Magnus was actually living with his daughter and her family and they had no idea where he was. Predictably, he was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, but unpredictably, we were treated to a Moment of Goodness when Ducky went out of his way to help this man regain some of the memories of the days when he felt he had a purpose. That scene in MTAC was so wonderfully emotional, and yes, tears-inducing. It was a joy to have Bob Newhart become part of the NCIS universe. He did a great job and I loved his interactions with the entire cast, particularly David McCallum.

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