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  NCIS (CBS series): "Phoenix" (Season 10, Ep. 3)

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Author Topic:   NCIS (CBS series): "Phoenix" (Season 10, Ep. 3)
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-10-2012 09:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Warning: Spoilers

Last night's (Oct. 9) episode of the CBS TV series NCIS, "Phoenix", included an investigation into a trace material that turned out to be JSC-1 lunar simulant. That led to a discussion (and plot point) about missing and fake moon rocks.

As some may recall, back in 2006 a writer with an "investigative cop-type show" posted on collectSPACE that he was researching an episode on the heist of moon rocks. Though it wasn't disclosed at the time, that was indeed, Steven D. Binder, whose credits include being a writer and co-executive producer for NCIS.

The plot Binder described in 2006 didn't match what aired last night, but did include talk about the use of JSC-1 to fake a rock.

Binder also spoke directly with former NASA OIG Special Agent and cS contributor Joseph Gutheinz during his research back then. Gutheinz now leads his students at the University of Phoenix to track down missing moon rocks and report their finds through collectSPACE.

So while it may not have been intended as such, the episode's title was a nice nod to Joe and his students as well.

As an aside, there was a scene where McGee was looking up the details of a missing moon rock on his computer and for a split second I hoped the next screen we'd see was this site.

Jay Chladek

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 10-10-2012 06:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That was a pretty interesting episode, although trying to use a lunar soil simulant as a "dirty bomb" did seem like a bit of a stretch.

I concur having the collectSPACE site popping up on McGee's computer would have been great (perhaps the article about the Big Bang Theory patch as a sideways tie in to another CBS show). I admit McGee saying he heard about recovery of the moon rock at a 2002 Trek convention seemed okay, but a little flat. Now if he had said "I heard about recovery of the real rock after reading about it on collectSPACE" would have been a real zinger!

Script writing is an interesting collaborative process with a bunch of re-writes and changes as things go on. So while what eventually showed up on the screen might not have been the original story, you can bet the original script was part of it, even if it was just a concept that somebody liked and ran with.

I was wondering if JSC-1 was indeed a real item or not (since I wasn't really a frequent lurker back in 2006, I had no knowledge of that earlier topic). I will say that while NCIS is fiction, they do seem to do a bit better research on certain tech matters than some of the other dramas and aren't as prone to obvious blunders. I specifically recall an episode from two seasons ago where a crime involved a jet pack. McGee was a big fan of the old Bell rocket pack and similar designs, so he cited a pretty correct history of similar packs including Bruce McCandless's MMU. While the pack in the story was fiction, at least the basic research sounded correct.

Now if only they could return the Mark Waki's "T-plus 30" painting to the NCIS office set, I'll be even happier. But alas, it looks like it was a casualty of last season's cliffhanger. Pity. At least my print of that painting is safe and sound (no car bomb is going to kill it).


Posts: 1030
From: New Jersey, USA
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 10-10-2012 07:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was seriously expecting to see this site pop up when they were talking about the missing moon rock.

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