“NCIS” goes to Australia and expects everyone to know who they are.
Everywhere they go in the new “NCIS: Sydney” premiering Tuesday on CBS, the American NCISers swagger into situations where they announce their names, hold up a badge and declare “NCIS!”
Meanwhile, while watching the premiere episode last week, I remembered that every time I write about one of the “NCIS” shows, I invariably have to look up what the acronym means.
For the record, it is Naval Criminal Investigative Service, something Aussies cannot be expected to know.
And yet, no one they encounter in Sydney ever questions this credential. One reason might be that another officer is usually on hand to declare his Australian affiliation, the AFP or Australian Federal Police.
This one is probably as easily recognized in Australia as "FBI" is known here in America.
The reason the NCIS and AFP are going around identifying themselves is because in “NCIS: Sydney,” they have joined forces as part of a new, enhanced military and intelligence alliance between Australia and the U.S.
The division of responsibilities goes something like this: The American NCIS team has jurisdiction over investigations involving U.S. personnel serving on U.S. ships and submarines docked Down Under.
The AFP has jurisdiction on Australian terra firma, and the water surrounding it. The whole thing is a catalyst for spats and arguments over whose authority takes precedence when and where.
In the premiere episode, we meet the agents of both conflicting camps, centered mainly on two NCIS officers -- male and female -- and two AFPers, also one male, one female.
The four are paired off as teams of two throughout the investigation in Episode One, during which they all get to know each other, and so do we.
At first, there is tension, especially between NCIS Special Agent Michelle Mackey and AFP Sgt. Jim "J.D." Dempsey (Olivia Swann and Todd Lasance, both pictured above).
The two compete in a contest of swagger and sarcasm until by the episode’s end, they seem to reach a begrudging respect for each other.
The swaggering and wisecracks followed by respect for each other’s unorthodox practices are TV clichés, but in shows like this, these clichés never seem to bother anybody.
The swaggering on the part of everyone in this show, however, is a bit much, even by the standards of the other "NCIS" shows.
The contest to be top dog even gets described in a pungent and off-putting conversation by Agent Mackey as a "pissing contest," which she declares she would win over Sgt. Dempsey.
Luckily for all of us, this contest was not shown.
"NCIS: Sydney" premieres on Tuesday, November 14, at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS.