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"NCIS": Did they "House" it up (that is louse it up)?

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In a word, no. It was just another of last season's silly "cliffhangers" that have come to land on solid ground this week.

"NCIS" watchers at last season's end were suddenly confronted with their much-loved surly boss whose staff had been broken up and exiled a la the staff of Gregory House, M.D. On "House" last season, it amounted to "fixing" a show that was never broken -- and therefore sending viewers into a surliness of their own that almost matched that of its Vicodin-popping hero.

They were too smart for that on "NCIS" on Tuesday night. Yes, the staff of Gibbs (Mark Harmon) had all been sent away on assignment at the end of last season, but they were all together for the beginning of the new one. Even Michael Weatherly, as Tony supposedly now on board a Navy ship, will get a big episode next Tuesday and, you can bet the farm, safe conduct back to the warm bosom of a show that (you have to remember) has always held its own against reality juggernauts like "Dancing With the Stars" and "American Idol."

Messing with success like that would be sheerest insanity. So they didn't. And unlike Monday's first new episode of "CSI: Miami," the return of "NCIS" was pretty good, too. There was a bit too much sloshing around in techspeak, but it was a nice way to introduce us to a familiar character on the show who, it seems, was always a traitor.

No, it's not one of Gibbs' usual team of cute-talkers but rather the lawyer who's always telling everyone what they can't do and then going off for nooners with the morgue attendant. Gibbs never really liked her. Me neither, if you must know.

Meanwhile, on CBS' new "The Mentalist," they've combined "Psych," "Shark" and "Dexter" -- that trio of one-word titles -- into a pretty good show that's utterly ridiculous but, hey. The "Psych" part is a high-flyer for the California Bureau of Investigation who used to pretend to be a psychic but was merely attentive to all the little revealing details most of us miss. Attentive, then to all the things that Sherlock Holmes and Gregory House take in routinely. The "Shark" part is a fellow who used to be financially successful in his former profession but is now devoted to law and order. What that means TV-wise is that he gets to go home to a big house (cf. Rossi on "Criminal Minds") and not the kind of house other people in his profession make do with.

The "Dexter" part is that everything he does is in response to a trauma inflicted by a serial killer. In this case, it's the murder of wife and daughter by a killer who's still out there.

It's a clever show, so much so that it completely threw away Gail O'Grady in its opening five minutes. One minute she was there, a grieving mother of a murdered teen daughter. One gun shot later, she was gone, a vigilante who knocked off her child-abusing husband.

A new development here to pay close attention to as the season proceeds: usual series guest stars are now showing up in the cameo business.

--Jeff Simon   

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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV | apergament@buffnews.com

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