After twenty seasons, three spin off series, over 500 episodes and having been seen in more than 200 countries, NCIS is heading down under. Not to worry, I asked the same question you all just did, why?
What began with, why would a US based Navy criminal investigation department be working on a case in Sydney where they have no jurisdiction? Was thankfully answered very early on, and put quite simply AUKUS. Australia’s multibillion dollar deal for nuclear submarines with the UK and US. It is referenced way too often in the Pilot episode and you’d be forgiven to think we are witnessing a crude attempt to garner support for the deal both hear and abroad.
The AUKUS deal aside, during the announcement ceremony being held in Woolloomooloo a US sailor falls from the deck of a US Submarine (US territory) and dies in Sydney Harbour (Australian Territory) resulting in the Australian Federal Police and NCIS being forced to team up for the investigation. The team built in usual NCIS fashion the eager US agent out to run the team and prove herself, the local lead being the wise cracking bloke there to back you up, the more sombre but hard-nosed secondary investigators, the socially awkward hacker and of course the seasoned, intelligent and witty medical examiner. Putting aside their differences early on the team soon finds its groove through some questionable bending of the rules even under the watchful eye of officials from both governments.
The pilot episode spends a lot of time showcasing just how different the two nations are with a heavy influence on our slang terms (the classic septic rears its head) our pub loving lifestyle and you’ll be happy to know even Wagga Wagga gets made fun of. We are presented with a few of Sydney’s more famous spots from Bondi to Bob Hawkes old watering hole and more shots of the Opera House than I care for.
NCIS Sydney follows in the footsteps of Hawaii and New Orleans by leaning into the local scene while maintaining the standard formula of the show. While it works, as an Aussie local there are some questions to be had. Whenever we are shown internationally there is this air of “croc Dundee” about how we are portrayed. Maybe I don’t see or hear the intricacies of some of our colloquial language but hearing “drongo” on screen was a new one, have not heard that muttered since high school.
NCIS Sydney has something there to catch me early on, but just how much it holds me will be seen in the coming weeks. I don’t want to see a show referencing AUKUS at every turn but I cannot see how they intent to justify NCIS being stationed in Sydney Harbour any other way. The characters follow the path laid out by Gibbs and the gang but do so in their own way and I look forward to seeing them build on what has begun.
NCIS Sydney is showing now on Paramount Plus in Australia with new episodes each week.
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