Ok, so I have a vendor I deal with on a fairly regular basis, and he’s a really awesome guy.* We talk and laugh a lot when he comes in. He’s really funny. I don’t remember what got us started talking about SF/F yesterday, but after a few minutes of discussing that, he says, “Do you like crime shows?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Which one do you like best?”
“Well, I really like NCIS, and it’s the only one my husband will watch.”
“I knew it! People who dig Sci Fi love NCIS! I don’t know why, but they just seem to.”
“Well,” I said. “Well, it’s the most realistic of the crime shows. The original CSI isn’t bad, although getting DNA results in an hour always makes me laugh. CSI: Miami is pure fucking science fiction with the “technology” they have. Plus NCIS just has a better blend of character and plot.”
Let’s face it, nerds are sticklers for realism. Even if we do spend an awful lot of our time pretending to be “Gygax, 27th Level Warrior Mage” (thank you, Gendy Tartakovsky and Dexter’s Lab).
Don’t believe me? Watch Highlander, the movie, with a nerd who knows how to swordfight. I remember watching that movie, which I love, with a bunch of my SCA buddies, and just ripping apart the sword fighting sequences, particularly the highland battle sequence where Connor MacLeod first meets the Kurgan, and is grievously wounded.
One of the few books I’ve started in my life, and not finished was called “Portrait of the Psychopath as a Young Woman.” Interesting premise. Until I got to the part where the cop gave away a crucial bit of information to a suspect. Not, fed her something to hang herself with, but full on fucking gave away a piece of info they had been holding back in order to trap/trick/verify the killer. Maybe it’s just because I’ve spent the last 20 years living in the serial killer capital of the world (Pacific Northwest), but I’ve not taken a single Law and Justice course, and I know you don’t just go bandying that sort of information around all willy-nilly. That was enough to kill the book for me. My willing suspension of disbelief crashed and burned, and I gave the damn thing away without reading any further.**
Now, I do watch CSI: Miami. Mostly to snicker at the awful dialogue and tee hee over the improbable technology. But I love NCIS. The interplay between characters is better. They’re all believable. They’re not ALL conventionally hot, although even the schlub, McGee, is just freaking adorable. Pauley Perrette as Abby just kills me with the cute gothiness. And no episode of Law and Order or CSI has made me cry as hard as the episode of NCIS where Gibbs has lost his memory, and Ziva goes to try to jog it, and talks to him about killing Ari to save him.
Plus, focusing as it does on sailors and marines, it isn’t the “rape show” the Law & Order and CSI franchises have turned into. Sure, rape shows up occasionally, but not nearly so often.
And the female NCIS characters are more believable. They didn’t all become “cops” to avenge a past rape or sexual abuse. Like Kate in season 1, it was a viable career option for her after she left the Secret Service and she was good at it. Abby’s brilliant, and comes from fairly humble roots. Ziva was groomed by her father, the head of Mossad, to become what she is today. None of those women do what they do because they were raped. THAT is outstanding, and another reason to love this show. That, and I’m pretty sure that it passes the Bechdel test fairly frequently.***
So, while I do not speak for all nerds every where, I’m feeling pretty confident that my reasons do hold water. Now, maybe some folks who are former Navy/Marines, possibly even NCIS, disagree with my assessment of the show as realistic. But when you compare it with the competition, I think you’ll agree, it’s far closer to reality than most.
*Oh, it turns out the vendor in question has a family member who works on the show, so he showed me a bunch of pictures of the sets and stuff. That was really cool.
**Would most people who hadn’t grown up on a diet of Ann Rule have had the same reaction? Probably not. So, if you can get past that, read it. It definitely sounded interesting, it just lost me with that one really egregious error.
***For those of you not in the know. To pass the Bechdel Test, a movie must have two female characters, who carry on a conversation, that is not about a man.