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A year for a noir tribute and what ifs

February 9, 2012 - Pam Rodgers
Three of my top TV shows have done an “special” kind of episode. Castle decided to do a “film noir” episode and both Grey’s Anatomy and NCIS answered the “what if” question in life, but in very different ways. These alternate reality episodes are usually a treat but mostly confirm what you like about the show in “normal mode”

Castle’s noir episode was really well done. It got to play on the cast’s strengths and solve a murder case in the process. I could tell that the cast had a blast filming this episode. It’s probably nice to step out of their usual character and show off their acting chops.

Stana Katic remains, in my opinion, one of the best actresses on TV. She sells Beckett every week and she did the same to her noir alter-ego Vera. What really made the episode work was the charm of Nathan Fillion. You could tell he was like a kid in a candy store narrating the episode in noir style. It’s great to see an actor who really appreciates the craft and history of his business.

Now for the “what if” episodes. The comparison stops there between Grey’s and NCIS. Both had the same general premise but the execution varied greatly. I’ll start with Grey’s because it aired first.

The episode started in regular Grey’s fashion with shots of Seattle or the cast doing various things edited together to go with Meredith’s narration that sets the scene for the coming episode. In this it’s all about what could have been yadda-yadda but anyone paying attention to the promotion would have known what’s coming. I have to say my overall impression of the episode was kinda “ho-hum.” There was nothing that I hated about the episode but it wasn’t my favorite either.

The episode did its job in changing just enough detail to make the alternate reality different but working in the same way the show always does. The strangest thing for me was hearing Meredith referred to as Webber and not Grey. I never quite got over that. But the episode unfolded as expected and showed why the “true reality of the show” is the best course for its characters.

NCIS’s episode didn’t happen at all like I pictured it. Overall, I think it was OK but it was an odd choice (using my brother’s words) for the show’s 200th episode. The story centered around Gibbs and the choices he’s made and lives he’s affected on his journey through life.

At the beginning Gibbs is in a dinner when a man pulls a gun on him and his “life flashes before his eyes” in an odd twist on Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” kind of way. Gibbs is lead by key members of his life to show him the impact he’s had on others and different outcomes if things had happened a bit differently. The episode did what it was supposed to by answering all of the “what if...” questions Gibbs had in life. He gets a glimpse at all the ways his life could have gone and discovered that his life is how it should be, no surprise there right?

But that’s just my brief take on the episodes. Check them out and see for yourself.


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Joe and Vera or Castle and Beckett? Whose to noir? (bad pun sorry)