Could we take a minute to talk about what a good actor Mark Harmon is?
If you want to see a terrific example of economic acting -- few words, underplayed expression -- look at the one on in the "NCIS" season finale where Gibbs calls Ducky with the news that Shepard is dead. I have this image stuck in my head of Harmon going through scripts and trimming lines, constantly thinking, "Too many words. Don't need 'em." It's not a tic in the show's writing overall; other characters get to yak. But Gibbs doesn't, and with Harmon playing him, he doesn't need to.
It was no great surprise that Shepard, played by Lauren Holly, was the dead character; what was, was how she died. It had already been established that the director was gravely ill, so it was a nice touch to let her go out in a hail of bullets -- and take down four bad guys before she bought it herself. And the way the other characters handled her passing was very nicely done; I really liked the scene with Pauley Perrette talking about the way Shepard dressed -- and expanded that into touching, funny thoughts about the other characters' wardrobes.
As for the big cliffhanger, with a new director and the team split up, I'm not getting overly worried. I am sure we'll see more of the new director (well played by Rocky Carroll), although I don't know if he'll become a series regular. Could that shredded document indicate trouble? As for the team being split, well, this is a show that ended a season with Gibbs quitting -- and he came back. And "House" found a way to break up its core group and still keep them in the show's mix.
"Reaper" certainly set the stage for a lot of stuff when it comes back midseason. The closing shot of Sam's parents certainly suggested that Sam's powers may not come from being the devil's son; other forces are on the loose. But there has been a shift in Sam's relationship with the Devil. And we got another taste of what it will mean to have Andi in on Sam's secret -- can't wait to see her keep pushing for more method in the madness. (Sort of reminds me of when Cordelia went to work for Angel.) The show really feels as if it has a roadmap for next season and beyond, and a good map at that.
Before I leave Tuesday's shows, I have a long post below about "American Idol" and why I think David Archuleta sealed the deal. Which makes the analysis over at Dialidol.com very intriguing, since it has David Cook winning easily. Not sure if I trust the numbers, but I wouldn't mind being wrong on this one.
Sliding back to Monday night, "House" finished its two-part finale and I thought it did very well something I absolutely hated them for doing. Amber had become a strong character, especially because she was so much like House; her ending up with Wilson was precisely on point -- giving Wilson a romantic partner with the qualities of his best friend. And there was no question that Amber and House had some chemistry (and boy, was the chemistry flying in House's fantasy). But if the show felt the need to add to the characters' suffering, it did so with considerable skill. I just wish the need hadn't been there.
Disappointing finales from "How I Met Your Mother" and "Two and a Half Men." The best thing in either episode was Marshall's battle with lice -- silly, but inspired silliness. Beyond that, not much to offer, and the Stella melodrama was implausibly stretched. As I said after last week's "Men," we've already seen plenty about Charlie's women and Charlie's mother issues; the finale just played out a bit that probably shouldn't have been bothered with.
By the way, Susan Blakely -- who played Angie -- is 55 or 59, depending on the reference. Seeing her did provide some measure of nostalgia -- "Rich Man, Poor Man," anyone? -- although judging from IMDB she's been working fairly regularly, just in shows I don't pay much attention to.