CBS Week Viewing Diary, Day 1: There Is Nothing Better on TV Than ‘NCIS’ and ‘CSI’


For the past six years (and 11 of the past 12), CBS has been the most watched network in the United States of America. It’s been a few months since Grantland’s Rembert Browne has hazed himself, so he will be investigating this network by watching as much of CBS’s offerings as he can for a full week. He’s never seen most of these shows, watches none of them regularly, and has not even heard of a few of them. Each day, he will report back with his findings.

Sunday, February 1

8-9 p.m.: NCIS, Season 12, Episode 1: “Twenty Klicks” (original air date: September 23, 2014)

I’m not ashamed to admit this Google search:

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What’s only slightly embarrassing is that I got two of the words wrong: I could have sworn it was “Naval Commander International Service.” And yes, that makes absolutely no sense, but does Naval Criminal Investigative Service make much more sense? Yes, it absolutely does, after about two minutes of watching the show.

Even more embarrassing than my lack of knowledge, however, is this theme music. This can’t be for real.

I mean this with no malice in my heart: This is the worst thing I’ve ever heard. A show that’s been on for 12 seasons has Atlantic City poolside daytime cabana music as its theme. Just disgusting.

Anyway, there’s an actual episode, and it begins in Russia. They’re talking about NCIS and not in a good way. More in a “let’s kill someone at NCIS” type of way. Soon after, members of NCIS head to Russia to go rescue one of their colleagues, one who thinks he’s being watched. They go to Russia, get him, and on their way back home, their helicopter is attacked.

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The main NCIS guy, a guy I only know because he looks like Harrison Ford, is in the helicopter when it gets hit. His facial expression while the helicopter is on fire, spiraling to the ground:Screenshot 2015-02-02 11.39.30

Who is this guy? I need to know more, because his Harrison looks and his Jack Bauer calm are intriguing. His appeal is that he’s filled the void of Harrison Ford.

Lily Allen is on this show, which is cool.

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She’s really smart. She’s at NCIS headquarters and they’re trying to find out what happened to the helicopter, by listening to the audio of it careening to the ground. So Lily Allen texts her friend in Kuwait, who identifies what type of missile it was by its sound alone and that it was stolen from a Libyan stockpile funded by Russian oligarchs.

Lily’s a legend.

Back at the crash site, a group of Russians are on foot, looking for the NCIS man (Kevin) who thought he was being watched. Apparently, he has information that they want. Luckily for the NCIS man, Bizarro Harrison is there to protect him. But before they go too far, Bizarro Harrison wants some answers. He needs to know why they’re after him. The story Kevin originally told is that he went to Russia to see his uncle, who was dying of cancer.

Back at the NCIS headquarters, we meet dead Uncle Edgar:

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Oh word, Kevin?

Another NCIS man, after seeing the two gunshots: “Kevin, I can’t see him doing this.”

Oh word, another NCIS man?

But it gets so much better. Two bullets aren’t the only thing inside Kevin’s dead uncle:

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Because every agency always has weak links, Dumb Kevin got into some shady deals with the Russians. This chip is very powerful, able to take down databases and servers and all those other related words. What’s important about this chip, however, is that you don’t enter it into your own system.

About two minutes later, that card takes down NCIS.

Dumb Kevin is the worst and Harrison knows it. But Harrison has got to keep Dumb Kevin alive. Then Kevin gets sniped (yay) but is still alive (meh). They keep going through the Russian woods on a search for higher ground so they can make contact with the outside world.

It’s at this moment that I completely understand why NCIS has been on television for so long. This Harrison guy is incredible. Just in this episode, he forced information out of a geek snitch (Dumb Kevin), he figured out his cardinal direction by putting a paper clip on a leaf in a pond, he sniped a Russian, he set a trap in a fake campsite, and he rolled a grenade under a Mercedes G-Class. He’s Super Bauer, but with a team around him that he trusts, which maybe makes him more powerful?



Back to the NCIS headquarters. They figured out a way to track their NCIS boys, as well as the Russians. But then they see one person split off. And they all know it’s HarrisonBauer.

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So what does HarrisonBauer do? Exactly what you think. He kills a guy. And then kills another guy. And then it’s one-on-one, random Russian mercenary versus HarrisonBauer. Guess how that ends?

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Told you.

After this, with very little context of how much time has gone by, we see HarrisonBauer in a basement, building a boat, looking more dad than a father in a Super Bowl commercial. What comes next is a conversation between two great men.

HarrisonBauer: I hit him. He went down.

Bizarro Reginald VelJohnson: HE GOT UP.

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The guy at the end survived. That’s not good for NCIS. Luckily for NCIS, they have HarrisonBauer. Bizarro RegVel tells HarryBauer that the man will probably be coming for NCIS. But that doesn’t phase HarBae. Which is why he puts a picture of the Russian on a nail on his wall and says, “Not if we find him first.”

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And then he freezes and the screen goes gray, which is apparently a thing that happens on NCIS before each commercial.

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This show is amazing. Can’t wait to watch it 17 more times this week.

9-10 p.m.: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Season 15, Episode 4: “The Book of Shadows” (original air date: October 19, 2014)

So, yeah. This happened.

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And then it ended:

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And then the principal asked the janitor if he was dead.

Oh word, principal? Thanks for being SUSPECT NUMBER ONE.

This all took place in a high school hallway. And the man is a chemistry teacher. Once the CSI squad comes in, they have the perfect conversation, one that must happen for one of these shows to get moving:

“So we’re looking at an accident?”

“Maybe not, actually.”


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Who sends a text that mean at 8:38 a.m.? Also, is that phone HTC? Anyway, the dialogue gets even better. Because they go there.

“So much for an accident.”

And then keep going there.

“Looks like Messner did the wrong thing.”


“And got burned.”

I’m hooked on this show, pre-intro credits. And then this happens.

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After this beautiful revelation, Elisabeth Shue follows, which now unlocks many of the secrets of the CBS cosmos — simply hiring the megastars of the ’80s.

Unlike NCIS, the CSI theme song is phenomenal. It’s “Who Are You” by the Who. Well done, CSI.

I’ve never solved a mystery on shows like this, but there’s no way a student is responsible for this. Actually, I’ll go so far as to guarantee it’s a teacher.

Now that I’ve put my cards on the table, one note about this show (and CBS): These shows are super nerdy. This episode is about potassium chlorate.

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They should push that more. CBS: Where smart people go to get smarter, instead of the current slogan, CBS: I heard you don’t live in the city.

The CSI people are collecting clues in the chemistry lab and they’ve come to the conclusion that he was prepping an experiment and a bad guy came from behind him and knocked him onto his experiment, causing him to burst into flames.

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Interesting theory, but it got me thinking about something completely different: Why on EARTH are chemistry labs allowed in schools? It’s way too dangerous. Ban chemistry.

Elsewhere, other CSI people have traced the text back to a kid named Mason. And he looks like a killer.

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Danson is interrogating him, with his mom by his side. And then his mom brings up something

“Mason’s on the honor roll.”


How do you feel about that, Danson?

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I know, right? Looks just like Kristen Wiig. Also, this kid’s definitely a killer. Maybe not in this case, but he’s killed. And will kill again. Let’s just blame it on him.

Danson asks him about the text, and how it said “suffer the consequences.” Mason’s response: “I heard those lines from a movie. It was just a bluff.”

Literally put this kid under the jail. Actually, put an underground jail under the above-ground jail and then put Mason under the underground one. And then five years later dig him up and make him go to Cornell.


Mason looks at mom (who’s a teacher at the school) and says, “I didn’t want to let you down” (the inferno’d teacher gave him a B+). And just like that, I cracked the case.

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Bizarro Kristen Wiig Mom definitely did it.

She knew about her son’s low grade. And how that grade would jeopardize him getting into Williams, even with his legacy status (Bizarro Kristen Wiig Mom, class of ’81, go Ephs go).

Open-and-shut case.

Even though I’ve already solved it, they haven’t. And one thing that they learn is that the teacher got poisoned by cyanide.

At the autopsy, the CSI autopsy man finds a gang medallion on the dead teacher. I wonder how many of my teachers were in gangs. Or how many weren’t? Makes you wonder.

Also, a few minutes later, we find out that Messner was probably making meth. This is incredible. I wonder how many of my teachers made meth. Or how many didn’t? Makes you wonder.

Some of the field CSI people find his teacher gang meth shed and find more things, including a book. The Book of Shadows.

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One of the CSI field people: “Our chemistry teacher is a witch.”

I wonder how many of my witch teachers made meth for gangs. Or how many didn’t? Makes you wonder.

Also, I just found out that this show takes place in Vegas. Which explains everything and absolutely nothing.

Back to the facts of the case and, due to the magic of forensics, they now know that in Messner’s gang witch meth chemistry trap house, a spell was taking place — a banishment spell — and that Messner was the one being banished.

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And they were able to ID four of the other witches.



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Guess who the other one is.


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Open-and-shut case.

We learn it was her second gathering and Messner (now referred to as “Chet”) had asked her to join. Wait, were Wiig and Chet having an affair and DAD FOUND OUT THAT THE CHEMISTRY PROFESSOR WAS TRYING TO STEAL HIS GIRL WITH THE BOOK OF SHADOWS AND ENDED UP KILLING HIM?

That’s definitely what happened.

Open-and-shut case.

And here’s why it was definitely the husband and neither Ed nor Bizarro Meth Wiig. From the mouth of Ed:

“A Wiccan doesn’t kill.”

I agree. Had to be from the outside.

But then a wrinkle, from MethWiig

 “I have been lost since my husband passed.”

Interesting. She goes on to say she can’t give names, because Snitch Wiccans get Snitch Wiccan Stitches. And then, perhaps the oddest twist of the episode:

Messner wasn’t making meth. He was making steroids and giving them to the high school athletes. AND HE WAS SELLING THE DRUGS TO THE HIGH SCHOOL QUARTERBACK BECAUSE OF A LOW TEACHER’S SALARY.

What a world we live in.

Messner needed this to stay quiet, per his uncovered email to the quarterback, Rob Turkla:

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But that’s not what’s important. What kind of school is this? Look at these names: Rob Turkla, Evan Bethers, Theodore Ebson, Thursa Keyston, Benston Wells, Jason Winston. Send all these kids to jail, just because.

So they go try to find the QB. And then they find the QB.

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And of course, he’s been drowned.

Back at the lab, Ted Danson just said “solvent,” so I win my bet, “Ted Danson will say the word ‘solvent’ in this episode.”

Also, I win again, this time with “CSI will incorporate Snapchat but will call it something different than Snapchat.” Of course they do — “Vidtry.” The key to these murders comes down to a deleted video. The forensic scientist goes on to explain this social media device at length, explaining to the CBS-watching crowd what’s really going on with the millennials these days, and yes, you should be afraid about what goes on when they close the door to their room, and yes, parties lead to alcohol, which leads to marijuana, which leads to meth, which leads to Wiccan meth, which leads to interracial Wiccan meth dating, which leads to dying in a fire in the middle of a high school hallway.

CBS, the ultimate public service.

Anyway, the new suspicion is that Messner wasn’t even the target. Because there was an answer key to a Messner test that was coated with cyanide. And that answer key was supposed to be left for another kid, but Messner found it first.

And the location of the answer key was sent via VIDTRY.

And, like all things, even VIDTRY is traceable.

Before we find out who sent it, let me just say I bet it was sent by Wiig. Thousand dollars. All roads lead to Wiig.

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But also, duh. Of course the most popular girl in school is behind all of this. When isn’t she?

When we get to the interrogation, Popular Girl is told the message came from her account. Her alibi: “Someone must have hacked me.”

And suddenly, I believe her. If someone says they were hacked, they were always hacked.

Bizarro Wiig Meth Mom definitely hacked her.

Open-and-shut case.

But just to make this more confusing, Popular Girl says that the QB attacked her. And yes, she wanted him dead. But she didn’t do it. Also, she’s at a women’s shelter. For counseling. Just in case there weren’t enough things to consider in this story.

Is every episode like this? I have to assume so, because right after this, we learn the now-dead QB was sleeping with the principal. When Danson questions her:

“Turk was 18. He was perfectly legal. What we had was real.”

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And then her follow-up:

“I pretend to not know that my husband is having a weekly tryst with a stripper named Tangerine.”

The principal says she didn’t kill the QB. But would kill to bring him back. And with that, I’m sold. This is the best television show that exists. I’m starting from Season 1, Episode 1 tomorrow.

Apparently, the “high priest” in their Wiccan crew thought that the principal’s relationship with the high-schooler wasn’t a great look. But who is this high priest?


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Sorry, Ed. Jig’s up. Also, way to hide your stash in the school utility closet.

I’m not going to even try and explain what’s happening right here, but just know that CSI is on another level.

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Basically, someone else’s blood is still in play. I don’t understand how or why (I thought Ed was the killer). But all that matters is—

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She killed the QB because she needed his blood for a spell to try to save her son.

She killed Messner and I don’t really understand why but she did because they said so.


A detective just said, out loud, “You logged on to Vidtry,” which is the funniest thing I’ve heard on television this year.


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But before it’s over, they add a little teen romance drama to the mix, simply because they can. The popular girl tells BizarroMethWiig’s son that he can come live with her, since he’s an orphan.

What’s Danson think about this?

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“Just make out with her, boy. Give her the old Belichick.” —Inner monologue of Ted Danson

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“Atta boy.” —Inner Monologue of Ted Danson

Filed Under: TV, CBS, CSI, NCIS, Ted Danson, CBS Week Viewing Diary

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert