Why NCIS is so Popular

Why NCIS is so popular explained, or at least an attempt at an explanation. To say the original series of NCIS is popular is something of a grand understatement. It started with strong viewing figures in the millions and has since risen to be a regular on the top 5 viewed shows on Television as judged by average per episode. Clearly, the show is extremely popular, but something of an explanation is in order to explain its popularity.

Drama and Comedy

The biggest reason for the success of the series is without a doubt the mixture of drama and comedy. Just when the show is getting a little heavy, it begins to lighten itself by using comedy. Furthermore, this helps the show attract a wider audience as it is one of the few crime shows that appeals that people uninterested in crime fiction might watch simply for the comedy and characters. This means that if the show is in the same time slot as another crime show, all other things equal it will get those extra viewers who want to watch TV but not crime.

Archetypal Characters

NCIS Cast Photo

The characters are fairly easy to understand. You have DiNozzo the frat boy, McGee the geek, Abby the Goth, Ziva the femme fatale and of course Gibbs the hardened marine. While the series does not go too over the top in reducing these characters purely to archetypes, they are archetypal enough that they are easily accessible. Furthermore, the show definitely has a larger cast than most other shows and so can appeal to the personalities of more viewers.

Camera Work

There is something strange about the way the camera team behind NCIS works. They employ techniques that are very rarely found, such as odd examples of jump-cutting as well as horizontally panning cameras. While they do not employ this style with the artistic intentions that such techniques were employed with in Godard films, simply by having interesting camera work it gives the show a sense of originality.


Cast photo courtesy of CBS: http://www.cbs.com/primetime/ncis/photos/Cast_Photo/

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