Update: VLog On NCIS "Fallen" Episode Falling Down

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by NW7US, Nov 14, 2017.

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  1. NW7US

    NW7US Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Tomas, NW7US (radio propagation columnist in CQ, The Spectrum Monitor, and RadioUserUK), editorializes on the positive attributes of the amateur radio community and history, in commentary about how many amateur radio operators are disappointed in how badly the NCIS TV series episode, "Trapped," 'fell down' as the plot unfolds. NW7US discusses the differences between the Citizen's Band radio service in the United States of America, and the amateur radio service.


    Many know already about how many amateur radio operators are pointing out how badly the scriptwriters of the hit TV show, NCIS, portrayed the amateur radio community in the "Trapped" episode -- information: http://ncis.wikia.com/wiki/Trapped_(episode) -- Trapped is the 6th episode of NCIS Season 15 and also the 336th episode of the entire NCIS series. The synopsis starts out, "After a petty officer is found murdered on a golf course, McGee spends hours on the victim's ham radio trying to locate a key witness..."

    A variety of resulting blog and vlog responses are geared to the amateur radio community. For example, a recent episode from Ham Radio Now, about the NCIS episode in question, is listed at the end of this news article. The general consensus is that this particular portrayal may do more damage than one might first realize, because, in part, the episode will be rerun perhaps many times in the future, continuing to portray an inaccurate perspective on the amateur radio community.

    Amateur radio vlogger, Tomas - NW7US, weighs in but mostly highlights some of the positive attributes of the amateur radio service and history. In a conversational style, NW7US expresses a non-judgmental observation that a non-ham hobbyist could appreciate. NW7US does not malign the CB radio service but highlights the difference in a positive way. NW7US reports that there are hams that feel that the writers of the episode of NCIS sorely misunderstand the current and historic nature of amateur radio. The writers get ham radio mixed in with CB, but they do not even get CB correct!

    Some hams criticize NW7US by concluding that he is making a big deal about nothing. They state the obvious: "All TV shows are inaccurate in most everything." NW7US responds that "it is relevant that we use these opportunities to promote a positive view of our service and hobby. This video isn't primarily aimed at those of us in the know. There are many who are not knowledgeable about the modernity and service of amateur radio, let alone anything specific. Hopefully, this vlog entry encourages some interested soul in looking further into the hobby... Perhaps, too, some ham, here, will find the video useful in sharing with a non-ham community. Who can know?"

    The start of discussion regarding the difference between CB and ham radio is at 1m33s on the timeline (1:33). You might want to skip the initial chatter about the headset mic and other comments not specific to the NCIS topic.

    Comments that extend the positive aspects of the amateur radio hobby--comments made by those who take the time to watch and listen to the entire video vlog--are appreciated.

    Ham Radio Now "Trapped" Episode:

  2. K6MTS

    K6MTS XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    OK, usually I'm all for whatever folks want to post here on QRZ, more power to you for taking the time to share ideas and info and for those who wish to observe.
    But...a couple, make that a few issues with this piece, from MY personal perspective that deserve some robust criticism:
    1. Full disclosure: I watch some TV, but have never watched more than 30 seconds of any NCIS, based on the commercials I have suffered through, promoting the series and all the spin-offs, not my thing.
    2. In an effort to better educate myself on the horror, that is, slighting the ham community..., and before commenting on, and after watching the entire vid posted here, I tried to watch this particular NCIS episode on youtube, but had to quit after the 5th consecutive commercial. After joining the masses way back, a man can only take so much deprivement of DVR fast forward/skip capabilities...
    3. The terms "much ado about nothing" or "panties in a bunch" seem quite appropriate here.
    4. From what I can tell, NCIS is not true/real, and like many shows of this type, in order to get the attention of those who are not familiar with the subject matter, embellish/exaggerate/emotionalize/BS, in order to gain and hold interest.
    5. It took the viewer until 11:48 to hear mention of how we possibly might be getting, "bored to death" watching this... I died well before then sir...
    6. Ham editorialists/elites/elder statesmen/"I'm superior, because you're a Chicken-Bander"/Holier-than-thou guys, need to get over yourselves. The fact that we have a piece of paper from FCC and CBers don't, does not carry a lot of weight, especially when considering that there are those on both Ham and 11m that exhibit poor, crass, rude, inflammatory, troll-like tactics (Yes, admittedly, abuse is more prevalent on 11m), and bring down both sides. Yes, overall a much more sophisticated and dignified pursuit, but most certainly, ham radio has some bad dudes on the air every day/night.
    7. It's a fictional TV show, move on.
    8. On a side note, I have caught at least 5 episodes of Last Man Standing. None of the episodes I viewed, made any mention of Ham radio...but amazingly I was still entertained, and felt fine afterwards...
    9. QRZ, Thanks for allowing me to express myself, LOL.
    10. Obviously, all above is IMHO
    11. 73 everyone
    N2ADV, NU4R, KK4ME and 5 others like this.
  3. NW7US

    NW7US Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's sad. Why would you stress yourself over something that is "much ado about nothing?" But, I'm all for folks expressing themselves, even if it reveals their biases.

    There are ways to watch it without so many commercials.

    Did you happen to watch the second video that is listed in the news article? All of the juicy parts of the NCIS episode are fully on display. You don't have to make yourself suffer so much. Life is too short for so much stress, my friend.

    Apparently, not.

    We finally agree. I don't think anyone should judge anyone less of a hobbyist simply because they choose one part of the spectrum over the other.

    Of course, there yet remains the technical differences between the CB radio service and the amateur radio service. Those technical differences are clearly spelled out by the FCC. Those technical differences are not opinions, and clearly not open to much interpretation. Propagation of radiowaves on 80 meters is quite a bit different than propagation on 11 meters, or up in the UHF spectrum (in simplistic terms, at least). The commentary between 1:33 and 11:48 delineate some of the technical and historical differences between the two services. I certainly was not the one calling a user of the CB radio service a "chicken bander."

    Except, certainly, from a legal perspective. Which, again, leads to the technical differences.

    Yes, indeed. QRZ.com's forums are a fine example in which such trolling behavior is on full display (and often by the same proud members).


    I watch every episode of Last Man Standing. I also watch every episode of NCIS. Two of my favorite entertainment TV shows.

  4. K7JEM

    K7JEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    This looks like the same episode that was posted a few days ago, so I already think there is a thread going on this already.

    A few comments:

    NCIS is a TV show that is there for our entertainment. It is not meant to be real, or depict things in an especially "real" format. For example, DNA tests don't come back in a couple of hours, local cops are not always inept whackers, golfers are not always so stupid, veterinarians are not always criminals, Hispanics don't always work for a landscaper, and hams aren't always reclusive loners. But sometimes all these things are true.

    In other words, the script is written to portray characters the way the writers and directors want it to be. If the script calls for a doctor to be a murderer, or a banker to be an embezzler, then that is what happens. Not all doctors are murderers, nor are all bankers thieves. But some are. Likewise, some hams are reclusive and/or paranoid.

    The script takes liberties with technical issues, as is the case with all TV fiction. There is probably not a minute of this episode that doesn't have one or more technical problems. This episode was no different. We tend to see the technical problems when it comes to ham radio, but ignore the other problems with other vocations or hobbies.

    I downloaded the whole episode to watch it, and it was somewhat entertaining. I have never watched an entire episode of NCIS before this. The most glaring thing in the episode regarding ham radio was the prolific use of "handles". Other than that, and the obvious use of fake callsigns, the rest of it could have been ham radio. Even the fake FCC license that flashes on the screen for about a second was actually a real ham radio license with all of the pertinent data changed, like FRN and callsign. The license that they used as a template was a "club" license, so it showed no operator privileges. But someone at the show had to dig up a "real" HR license in order to get that part right. So they knew that hams are licensed. In fact, the actual license search played a part in the detective work. The "handle" angle played a part in the detective work as well, and so that plot element was necessary to the development of the story line, even though it was not technically accurate.

    Were hams portrayed as losers? No, not really. But one ham in the episode was, so there's that. Kind of like the doctor that is killing patients. It happens, but (most) people realize that this is only TV entertainment. A mix of drama, comedy, satire and reality.

    KN6Q and NW6V like this.
  5. NW7US

    NW7US Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Great response, K7JEM.
  6. K1KOB

    K1KOB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Nine adds in a row are the norm today with eleven being the max. It gives me time to go the
    bathroom and get another Pepsi.. HI.. Get a good DVR and skip all nine / eleven of them.
    That way it gives me more time to DX on the HAM BANDS.
    73 Ralph K1KOB
  7. NW7US

    NW7US Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use Netflix, Hulu, and some network "apps" on my AppleTV and on my Andriod. I don't get commercials, except in rare cases. Having all of that in a portable environment frees me up so I can work digital mode QSOs while listening to the news, or some program. What a wonderful era, this in which we live.
  8. K3LT

    K3LT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If the principle concern is technical inaccuracy, then there should be, and likely are, countless videos and blog posts complaining about what is seen in a typical movie or TV episode depicting aviation as a plot tool. Or trains. Or medicine. Or practically anything else one can think of where there is little or no general knowledge of the technical aspects held by the audience. This is something that producers have had to deal with for a very long time. So why should Amateur Radio be so different? Yes, I did not care for the way Amateur Radio was depicted in this episode of NCIS. What do I think I can do about it? Nothing, really. As another comment stated, a lot of their "technical" depictions are incorrect -- particularly regarding the speed and seemingly magical way their forensics lab produces exactly the needed result right in the nick of time. But that is also a plot device. This is FICTION! It is not real life. It is an escape for those who wish to waste their time watching it -- I don't. I don't think I've seen a total of an entire season of NCIS, in spite of having been a big fan of the series from which it was spun-off -- J.A.G.

    I do "get" that a lot of hams are concerned about the way our hobby was presented (not "represented") here. But I don't see how it will do any serious damage.

    73 de Larry, K3LT
    K7JEM likes this.
  9. NW6V

    NW6V Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Your analysis is entirely correct. I would only add that I find the hurt feelings of the few somewhat ironic, considering that the show explicitly introduced ham radio as a vital and important part of emergency services, before digging up the oddball "ham" to use as a plot device. "Handles" were indeed a huge stretch back to Smokey and the Bandit, but that hook used creative license to connect the larger audience to an otherwise unfamiliar setting. Reality would not have worked: our calls are too explicit, and would have made tracking instant, allowing zero plot-time. Ergo, the writer/director would have found another plot device and written ham radio out of the script...

    Let's just be glad they spelled our name right :)
    K7JEM likes this.
  10. NW7US

    NW7US Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    In the end, this all leads me to one singular and simple response to such exposure of the amateur radio service and the technology used: these are opportunities for relevant and attractive promotion of the truth regarding amateur radio. We can utilize the opportunity by riding the wave of awareness triggered by an episode such as this. Strike while the iron is hot, they say. Let's do it!

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