NCIS Critiques by suspense Authors


NCIS  Critiques by suspense Authors

ExFed authors of High Velocity Suspense bring their expertise as a former Special Agent with NCIS and as a former Federal prosecutor, to write critiques of weekly NCIS episodes and to encourage discussion from NCIS fans. Diane and David Munson are authors of seven Christian thrillers, which like NCIS  episodes are "stand alone" and in which the cast of characters reappear.

Members: 35
Latest Activity: Jan 8

2012 Jul 10 – New comments of NCIS episode, Enemy on the Hill


About Authors Diane/David Munson

It's been said of Diane and David Munson, that "he nailed 'em...and she jailed 'em." David was an NCIS Special Agent and an undercover DEA Special Agent and Diane was a Federal prosecutor. Now these ExFeds write high velocity suspense novels that combine their exciting cases into factional fiction by changing the names and places. When a millionaire drug-dealer wrote a memoir that became a movie staring Johnny Depp, Diane decided the good guys wearing white hats should be the ones to write memoirs. As a former Federal prosecutor, she knew the back story. She asked David, a former undercover DEA Special Agent, to join her in writing about David's arrest of Johnny Depp's character in Chicago and other criminals. Now, this husband and wife weave the thrills of back alley deals and major courtroom drama into international suspense novels that are enjoyed by men and women alike.

Diane Munson is an attorney of more than thirty years who transitioned from writing briefs for judges to writing inspiring fiction for readers.

David Munson was a Special Agent with NCIS and later the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As an undercover agent, he infiltrated international drug smuggling organizations.

Diane and David have co-authored together ten suspense thrillers: Facing Justice (2005/2009), Confirming Justice (2006/2009), The Camelot Conspiracy (2008/2009), Hero's Ransom (2010), Redeeming Liberty (2011), Joshua Covenant (2012), Night Flight (2013), Stolen Legacy (2014), Embers of Courage (2015), and The Looming Storm (2016)

Discussion Forum


Started by Nora St.Laurent. Last reply by Vickie Jameson Jan 3. 26 Replies


Tags: NCIS, Attorney, Special, Agent, GIVEAWAY

2016 Jan 05 NCIS Critique of “Sister City”

Started by Diane and David Munson. Last reply by Diane and David Munson Dec 23, 2018. 2 Replies

We’ve written in the past how we don’t enjoy NCIS episodes that are so long they have to be continued on another night. The writers accommodated us last night as the main NCIS show continued over…Continue

2012 Jul 17 Critique of rerun of NCIS episode, “Safe Harbor”

Started by Diane and David Munson. Last reply by Diane and David Munson Jul 18, 2012. 2 Replies

We have some great news for NCIS fans. Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette, and Sean Murray have each signed contracts to reappear on NCIS this fall! The whole team will be together once again for…Continue

Tags: Diane, and, David, Munson, authors

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Comment by Diane and David Munson on February 21, 2017 at 11:22pm

2017 Feb 21 Critique of NCIS episode ‘A Many Splendored Thing’

We suffered through tonight’s episode of NCIS. It seemed schizophrenic. As we’ve written in the past, we keep hoping the writers and producers would move past the departure of some of NCIS’ best actors/characters and again produce real quality shows with the newly assembled cast. There have been a couple of episodes recently that encouraged us, but tonight’s was bad enough to make us wonder why we continue to watch and even critique them.

Have you ever heard it said, “If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all.” With this critique, we’d like to stop at this point, yet some might wonder why we’ve written no more. So let us say this much.

Anyone who’s served in the military or government service understands the separation of power between the three branches of the U.S. government, i.e. Executive Branch, Judiciary (courts), and the Congress. The Executive Branch, which includes the military and the NCIS, is responsible for investigation and even collection of intelligence through the CIA. While the Congress authorizes the budgets and funding for the Executive agencies and even holds some oversight that permits the Congress to be briefed on what the agencies are doing, the Congress is NEVER involved in the investigations conducted by the agencies of the Executive Branch. To have a congresswoman from the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives giving orders to Director Vance and the CIA, and also having her show up in Gibbs’ basement is beyond absurd.

Tonight’s episode was just too painful to watch. There were some moments intended to show the emotional bond forming between the NCIS team members, but the ridiculous plot used to get to those scenes made no sense. If you never see another NCIS critique written by us, you can blame this episode.

We will keep commenting on news worthy events, and we have one coming up on a Russian spy ship lurking along the east coast so please stay tuned to our blog!

Be Blessed,

Diane and David Munson

Comment by Diane and David Munson on February 7, 2017 at 10:05pm

2017 Feb 7 NCIS Critique of “Nonstop”

If you’ve recorded tonight’s episode of NCIS and you are wondering if it’s worth watching, the answer is yes. Unlike some episodes where it is gory and too complex for the one hour allotted, “Nonstop” is a light hearted suspense that includes Robert Wagner as Tony Di Nozzo Sr. He’s always a hit. As the story develops, Di Nozzo Sr. tells Gibbs that he came back to the U.S. after visiting Tony Jr. and his child Tallie in Paris and Sr. was in a funk. At Junior’s suggestion, Di Nozzo Sr. joined a Virginia Sheriff’s volunteer group of Sherlocks. Imagine that Junior was thinking his Dad would be driving around with another silver haired volunteer in a ‘volunteer posse’ checking for violators illegally parking in handicap spaces. That is not was his Dad was doing. He and two other volunteers (one an attractive female senior played by Jessica Walter) were actually sworn as special deputy sheriffs and the Sheriff was insisting on shared jurisdiction on an NCIS murder investigation in his county. Actually, NCIS would really have no jurisdiction in that case.


After a female Seaman returns home for deployment on a Navy ship, she is found dead in her home. As Gibbs and his team proceed with their investigation, they find the local Sheriff and DiNozzo Sr and the other volunteers insist on helping. It is nothing like what would happen in real life, but it does make for an hour of light-hearted fare. Gibbs solves the case using his wits. We understand there have been other “Sherlock” episodes in past years, which we haven’t seen. Let us hear from you how this one stacks up and also if you believe Tony Jr. will appear on NCIS again this season.


Whatever your plans might be for next week, here is a head’s up. NCIS fans will see part 1 of Pandora’s Box at the regular time, and part 2 will air on NCIS New Orleans at 10 pm. 


Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

Comment by Diane and David Munson on January 17, 2017 at 11:22pm

2017 Jan 17 NCIS Critique of “Off The Grid”
Wow! They’re back. After the trauma of having Ziva and DiNozzo depart from the show, Gibbs’ reconstituted group has finally congealed. Tonight’s episode is well written and well acted. We really expected a continuation of the January 3rd episode (Willoughby) and the pursuit of a terrorist named Chen. Instead, while Ellie is distracted and examines files to locate the killer of her boyfriend, Gibbs has a chance meeting with the target of one of Gibbs’ undercover cases from years earlier. He instantly sheds himself of his badge and ID and approaches the guy. In a flash, he renews the acquaintance and engages the guy, all the while resuming his undercover investigation.
Everything the squad does to learn why Gibbs had disappeared is quite realistic. The efforts to locate Gibbs are believable and Torres’ jostling of Gibbs as an apparent pickpocket on the street is a clever method to give him a transmitter or ‘bug’. Once an undercover agent is wearing a transmitter, it’s much easier for the backup or surveillance agents to ensure his safety. This scenario brings back a flood of memories for David. Once while wearing a transmitter, and meeting with a suspect in a restaurant, the suspect insisted on searching him for a bug. Before he could, David hid the bug in a trashcan in the restaurant bathroom. Surveillance agents listened to endless toilet flushes before realizing he’d ditched the team and left the restaurant.
In our most recent novel, The Looming Storm, we describe some of those exciting undercover experiences of David through events in the life of our fictional character Griff Topping.
While tonight’s episode ended with Gibbs solving his old case, the search for Chen, the killer of Ellie’s boyfriend continues. Our guess is that it will be a thread that winds through several of the next episodes. Ellie will not have any closure until he is captured. What is your reaction? Did you enjoy tonight’s episode as much as we did?
Be Blessed and Be a Blessing, Diane and David Munson

Comment by Diane and David Munson on January 3, 2017 at 11:49pm

2017 Jan 3 NCIS Critique of “Willoughby”
Our last blog was long because we shared a Washington Post article about a real live NCIS case. We wanted our readers to get an idea of how much work goes into a real case. So we thought that tonight’s episode of “Willoughby” would be a simple one-hour episode of a simpler case. Wrong! Instead we saw a pretty good spy thriller, which will most likely continue for one or two or more episodes. That is just what we’ve complained about in the past.

Without giving away too much of the plot for those who have recorded the program to watch later, we found the thread about Ellie’s concern that British MI6 agent Clayton Reeves has no friends was a metaphor for Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who is also a loner. Interesting too, that Gibbs encourages Agent Reeves and even coaches him how to close his eyes and remember good thoughts when he becomes sad. Reeves then shares this pearl of wisdom with Ellie when she really needs it. Agent Reeves also confided in Gibbs why he signed up for such a dangerous case.

Other reasons this episode seemed realistic to us were the scenes with Agents Alex Quinn and Nick Torres. In the first amusing scene, they’re trying to maintain a surveillance location without becoming too obvious. Their solution, to watch from a scummy bathroom in a nearby bakery, brought back many memories and some smiles for David. He was once on surveillance in a residential neighborhood when an elderly lady reported them to the police as being very suspicious. Having heard the call go out on their police scanner, David and the agents moved. Upon returning to the neighborhood after police left, they were spotted by the lady again. The surveillance had to be terminated because she called the police three times, and resorted to driving her car around the area searching for the agents. Far too much coffee has been drunk and burgers, fries, and even sugar donuts, as in tonight’s show, have been consumed on surveillance.

Overall, we felt the story line was excellent. The writers revealed how difficult it is to maintain an operative undercover as well as the inherent risks of an agent assuming another identity to track down the guilty. The relationship between characters is improving, but we thought Abby’s repeated marching on bubble wrap was a bit much. We offer that criticism with some trepidation, as we know she has a huge and vocal fan club.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Did you enjoy having the intrepid NCIS team back? The next episode airs on January 17th.

Blessings in the New Year, Diane and David Munson

Comment by Diane and David Munson on November 22, 2016 at 12:07am

The Art of the Squeeze

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite complained on October 18, 2016 that Russian President Putin’s placing of nuclear-capable offensive Iskander  (S-400) missiles in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, was intended to threaten European capitals as well as the Baltic region. While Vladimir Putin has moved defensive missile systems around the region, this is the first time he’s put offensive nuclear missiles in the enclave between Poland and Lithuania so close to European nations to the west.

Putin’s timing can’t be ignored. While President-elect Donald Trump is claiming he intends to have a cordial relationship with Putin and that he will be able to reason and negotiate with the Russian president, Putin has ensconced his missiles threatening Europe during the period following Trump’s election when he knows President Obama will do nothing and President-elect Trump lacks the authority to do anything. Will Trump be as successful with Putin as President Reagan was with Putin’s predecessors?

In the thrillers we write, we try to keep pace with current events and season our novels with tensions in the world around us. Those who have read our September 2016 release The Looming Storm will realize the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad sounds familiar. In our latest suspense novel, Federal Agent Eva Montanna is concerned for her seventeen-year-old daughter Kaley who is traveling on a Polish ferry in the Baltic Sea. Eva is shocked when Kaley comes face-to-face with Russian soldiers near Kaliningrad.

Here is a snippet of what we wrote several months ago as we realized Russia’s aggression would keep building: The male TV reporter’s voice wormed its way into Eva’s mind when he said, “Russia’s presence in Kaliningrad increases tensions in the region. Experts suggest today’s ferry seizure is an attempt by Russia’s president, who some say acts like a tsar, to control the Baltic shipping lanes.

We might as well begin writing our next novel about a fictional billionaire U.S. President’s relationship with a Russian leader. What will be the next move on the international chessboard?

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

ExFed Authors of High Velocity Suspense


Comment by Diane and David Munson on November 15, 2016 at 10:11pm

2016 Nov 15 NCIS Critique of “Home of the Brave”

By now you might have discovered that when there is a rerun on NCIS, we don’t write a critique. That’s because we’ve already written one when the episode appeared for the first time. Those critiques can be found in the archives of earlier episode on our website. For the last two weeks there has not been an NCIS episode that wasn’t a rerun. Last week there were election returns on Tuesday night, so this episode remained ‘in the can’. The week before that (when this episode would have been run) there was a World Series game on TV.  Television executives know better than to waste a never-before-seen episode on a night when their ratings will be down.


It was hard to escape all the political advertisements the preceded the November 8, 2016 election. Then there were the claims that many in ‘liberal media’ were trying to influence viewers in favor of their favorite candidate, or to denigrate the candidate they opposed. One of the positions taken by the Republican Presidential candidate was that he would deport persons who were illegally in the U.S. unlawfully. 


That being said, let’s look at tonight’s show, “Home of the Brave.” Though it aired tonight, keep in mind it was originally scheduled to air one week before the election. This show features a former Hispanic Marine Victor Medina who was brought to the U.S. as a child and served in the Marine Corps.  Now, because he was discovered to have committed a felony while in the Marine Corps, Immigration agents are going to deport him back to Mexico. Medina’s complaint to Agent’s Bishop and Torres is that he will be sent back to Mexico where he can’t even speak the language. As the drama unfolded, it seemed to us the writers decided to feature a political angle. Before we comment further about tonight’s episode, we ask the many perceptive viewers: does the original timing of this episode dealing with the hot-button issue of immigration just before the election, pass your smell test?


The imminent deportation of a Marine with a felony record was juxtaposed against an extremely weird sub-plot involving Agent Quinn’s dream about Gibbs knocking on wood. We won’t toy with your minds to even discuss that further. The appearance of Robert Wagner, who plays Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo’s father, provided the only redeeming aspect of an otherwise less than stellar program. He wants to lease Tony’s apartment to one of the “family.” It was really a hoot to see Abby, Tim, Ellie lobby to be selected. In a fun twist, Jimmy selects the Torres, which throws the others for a loop. Torres does something classy at the end, which will endear him to many fans.


We briefly looked up the issue of non-citizen military personnel being deported for crimes committed. While the Armed Forces claim they won’t admit unauthorized immigrants, several articles we read seemed to suggest several service branches were going to be initiating a fast-track citizenship program for those who serve.  


On a final note, the U.S. Marines just celebrated their 241st anniversary. Semper fi.


Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

Comment by Diane and David Munson on October 18, 2016 at 10:46pm

2016 Oct 18 NCIS Critique of “Philly”
When a U.S. Navy sailor is killed, Leroy Jethro Gibbs assigns Special Agents Eleanor Bishop and Alex Quinn to investigate. It is in the city of “Brotherly Love” that these two agents connect with MI6 agent Clayton Reeves who is played by British actor Duane Henry. He will be joining the show as a series regular. Here is a major issue we have with the way the plot unravels: Foreign agents are not supposed to just show up in this country and launch investigations without permission from the appropriate agency that may be involved. One thing the U.S. State Department never permits is for U.S. Special Agents to go into foreign countries to conduct investigations without first getting permission and assistance from the host country. It’s a major problem in this episode.

So was the whole case involving the death of Petty Officer Gary Falco in Philadelphia. It was simply a mechanism for bringing Agent Alex Quinn back to the scene of an earlier shooting incident that had caused her to retreat into the training division to hide from her fear of a recurrence. It wasn’t really a very good plot, but it did give us a chance to find out about Quinn’s troubled past. In our most recent suspense thriller, The Looming Storm we have an agent-involved shooting, which results in the agents and the agency questioning their actions. No federal agent ever wants to be involved in a shooting or witness one. And they go to great lengths and much training to avoid it. The anguish Agent Quinn experiences is realistic and well acted.

What did you think of McGee’s performance tonight? With Tony now gone, must Tim act much tougher so Agent Torres will know McGee is the office’s Alpha Special Agent? He was like a wild man tonight. We wonder if that’s the same reason Gibbs is keeping Torres from going to Philadelphia. One, to put him on the back burner, so to speak, and also so Torres realizes the two female agents can do anything Torres can do. We thought the tussle over McGee’s private printer was cute, especially when it was given as a surprise gift to Abby. He does lie to her and he needs to clean up his language in our view. We do not use four letter words in our writing for many reasons including the fact that it demonstrates a lack of vocabulary.

What do y’all think of the show?

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

Comment by Diane and David Munson on October 11, 2016 at 10:44pm

2016 Oct 11 Critique of NCIS episode, ‘Love Boat’
Tonight’s show was a cross between TV’s “Love Boat”, with many civilian passengers on a ‘Tiger Cruise’ (the Navy’s version of job shadowing) and Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express or Death on the Nile. It was a real Whodunit, with a large cast from the passengers. Diane and David differ on the high points of the show. It seemed that there were many more suspect and extraneous characters than necessary. Diane found the plot twisting and turning without a real focus until the suspect is finally revealed. We thought the many references to McGee’s indecisiveness about where to hide the engagement ring and when to pop the question were a bit too much; however, after the victim’s boyfriend expressed his regret for not proposing to her, this really set up a terrific final scene with Special Agent McGee proposing to Delilah in the elevator.

The episode brought back many memories of David’s time in NCIS. This case was like those where David and the other special agents/investigators develop a theory, which ultimately begins to unravel. Ever changing circumstances lead to an unexpected conclusion. The scene of Gibbs and team arresting the suspect in the presence of the suspect’s son was well done. David arrested many defendants by separating them from the presence of their children before handcuffing them. Sounds smart doesn’t it? Experience is a good teacher. The first time David arrested and cuffed a man in the presence of his seven-year–old was a sad learning experience that he has never forgotten.

Did you notice that Jimmy, the assistant medical examiner was featured in a more prominent role tonight? Rumor has it this may be Ducky’s last season as David McCallum is 82 years old. Isn’t he amazing?! Could they be getting us used to his replacement?

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

Comment by Diane and David Munson on October 5, 2016 at 11:54am

2016 Oct 4 Critique of NCIS episode “Privileged Information”

In tonight’s episode, we were treated to the NCIS team investigating the suspicious death of a Marine Sergeant who allegedly fell from a roof. When Dr. Grace, the female ‘Shrink’ who is a friend (and pseudo-practitioner) for Gibbs and FBI Agent Tobias Fornell, tells Gibbs they should investigate the death as a possible homicide, we watch the team as they eventually focus on a thief who lived in the same building as the victim. It wasn’t a memorable episode. The writers may have set a record for the number of irrelevant characters, including an animal, which added nothing to resolving the plot.


We wonder if the actors each are guaranteed in their contracts they will appear in a given number of episodes whether or not they are needed. The more we write our “factional fiction” thrillers, (The tenth, “The Looming Storm” was just released) the more we realize it is essential to weave in fewer characters besides our two main federal agents so readers can keep track of them. At least we have a book with 320 pages to develop these characters and their roles. In this NCIS episode, the introduction of a talking parrot with no connection to the investigation or resolution made no sense to us. Unless possibly focus groups have proven our society has a greater interest in animals, than people. Might we expect more episodes about military and police service animals, or victims and NCIS team members’ pets?


Are you all enjoying Joe Spano, the actor playing Agent Fornell, having cameo performances in the last few episodes? He added spark and humor to tonight’s show.


Did everyone wonder why the car window washer was hassling McGee? It was he who yelled ‘POLICE’ and frightened off the gold thief who was about to meet with Gibbs acting as an undercover gold trader. It is always fun for us to see Gibbs in an undercover role. That things went askew so quickly reminded David of how in his many years as a Special Agent he has had his share of botched arrests due to overeager agents or others involved. It is something every agent seeks to avoid. Also, we must point out that when Agent Nick Torres, (while wearing a hoody) chased down and tackled the thief, he stuck his semi-automatic pistol against the thief’s head. He was not trained to do that. In fact if Agent Alex Quinn were still a training agent of Torres, she would have reduced his evaluation for that stunt. It’s a very dangerous move for an agent. Getting his gun within the reach of the thief’s hands could have resulted in a struggle for the gun, which could have resulted in Agent Torres being shot with his own gun. It sure looks like Torres needs a trip to Quantico for extensive field training.


See y’all next week.

Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson

Comment by Diane and David Munson on September 27, 2016 at 10:32pm

2016 Sept 27 NCIS Critique of “Being Bad”

Tonight’s episode of NCIS could have been titled “Orientation” instead of “Being Bad”, as the episode featured diverse groups of individuals getting acquainted—both the group being investigated and the group of investigators. When Bruno is murdered at a reunion of “military brats” educated at a high school on the Marine Corp base at Quantico, Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ newly reorganized team of five Special Agents join in their maiden investigation as a group. It was interesting to watch the immediate maneuvering on the part of Alex Quinn and Nick Torres. Tim McGee had adjusted to Ellie Bishop, a rookie joining the team, but now McGee has to deal with more experienced agents Quinn and Torres joining the team and the immediate jostling over desks, and location of the desks.


Since David was an NCIS and DEA agent, he is often asked if the NCIS show is realistic. One thing that is typical of a NCIS, DEA, or even an FBI squad bays, is the close proximity of desks with either no partitions, or low partitions. While it impacts privacy, it also contributes to cohesiveness as the team members can easily discuss cases, and even overhear phone conversations that effect cases on which they jointly work.


Was tonight’s show about high school students who organized a burglary ring that went undetected for years also a metaphor for Nick Torres’ eight years of working alone undercover? In several conversations between Torres and Gibbs we picked up that each man was questioning if Torres could work on the NCIS team or if he has some unresolved issues with his former “undercover self”.  We saw McGee’s surprise when Torres failed to defer to Gibbs in the interrogation room. Neither he nor Bishop would ever have done so when new probies on the team. As it turned out, Torres was the one who got the suspected “fence” to begin talking after Gibbs failed.


Ducky, Jimmy, and Abbey have their share of screen time and involvement in solving the case. The way the plot unwound was a bit convoluted to our way of thinking. In the end, Gibbs flashes his signature smile. He is happy with the way the team is working together with all the changes. Are you?


Be Blessed, Diane and David Munson


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