#14: NCIS season 16
An exciting start to the season had Gibbs taking up as acting director while Vance and Sloane were both missing. That led to a great showdown with the kidnappers, which revealed the trio were ahead of the terrorists all along and Gibbs pulled off a rescue. There were more personal storylines, the biggest being that Gibbs finally admitted he murdered the man who killed his family years before. This tied into the long-running (some might argue too long) plot line of Vance romancing a woman who’s secretly worked for a conspiracy that is also tied to a tech company tempting McGee to leave NCIS.
This convoluted storyline takes up too much of the season, although a couple of fun episodes included Torres waking up on a boat with no memory of a crime; Palmer’s father-in-law wanting him to manipulate evidence for a crime scene; and Bishop bonding with a kid on an investigation. It all led to Gibbs and Fornell taking on drug dealers, then the return of Ziva helped the season end on a bold note. However, that extended subplot ended up being too distracting from the procedural that makes NCIS so good.
#13: NCIS season 14
The first season post-Tony tried to push things with new agents Torres, Quinn, and Reeves but despite Jennifer Esposito’s best efforts (and an episode exploring her troubled past), Quinn never quite worked out. Thankfully, Torres did and we got bright episodes like the one where Jimmy talks a man off the ledge and Gibbs goes undercover to find a fugitive. There was also Abby’s work at a think tank leading to murder and a conspiracy yet there was still lighthearted material like Torres showing his pick-pocketing skills, and Ducky’s late mother tied to a case.
There was strong character work from Bishop handling her marriage ending to some great holiday episodes and McGee’s marriage unfolding well. Plus, while Tony was gone, having his dad pop in for a couple of episodes brought some great fun, combined with the batch of would-be sleuths who stole the show. All this and some unique cases like a bomb plot at Quantico and a wild cliffhanger of Gibbs and McGee under attack in Paraguay made for an enjoyable season of NCIS. So it may be short on action but the character work makes this season a good start for a new era for the show.