Season 9 Episode 3

The Penelope Papers

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Oct 04, 2011 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (13)

Write A Review
out of 10
293 votes
  • Utterly atrocious!

    Seriously bad and totally unbelievable. McGee was awful and Lily Tomlin needs to be given acting lessons! Storyline? Writers on LSD maybe? Not even worth an E for effort
  • The Penelope Papers

    Not a bad episode. I just dont understand all of these awful ratings. 7.1? Really? NCIS did much better than that. I think it was nice to finally meet a family member of McGee's. We really dont know all that much about his family, other than his sister. I gave this episode an 8.0. Not too bad. It was very cheesy and the acting couldve been better. I thought this whole storyline was kind of confusing. This episode was something different. But I felt that NCIS was a little out of its element. I hope NCIS will keep going and that this episode's rating goes up.
  • Not that bad.

    There are a ton of bad reviews on this episode, and rightfully so. My average NCIS grade is a 8.5 because I love the show so much. This one was below average so I gave it an 8. The grandma just didn't fit right and the comedy wasn't great. One below average episode does not mean the end of the world though people.
  • A nice change of pace.

    After years of family drama from Gibbs, Tony, Ziva, and even Abby, I finally got to see a little more of Tim MGee's background. All I previously knew is that he had a sister! Now, we know that his maternal grandmother is the one he takes after, in the scientific smarts department. And, that he hasn't spoken to his father in seven years.

    The sci-fi angle might have been a little anachronistic, re: the microchip-controlled catepillars. But, it wasn't totally un-realistic. After all, it's a little-known historical fact that Uncle Sam almost fire-bombed World War II Tokyo using trained bats! The only thing that prevented it was the deployment of something called "the A-bomb."

    All in all? A nicely Mc-centric episode (as Tony might say).
  • One of the worst NCIS episodes ever, in every aspect.


    This is one of the worst NCIS episodes, and I'm heartened to see that the voters at gave it a 7.3 score (as of now), the lowest score of all 189 NCIS episodes. In fact, no other had an average score in the 7's!

    I enjoyed the beginning of the ep. The murder mystery (like all NCIS eps) was intriguing at the start. And I liked the end where his grandma had McGee reach out to his estranged father -- very touching. It was also the only time in the ep that McGee was not expressionless!

    Everything else in the episode was a disaster:
    (1) McGee's expressionless face.
    (2) Tony acting like a silly jerk -- he loudly (for all to hear) bemoans his father insisting Tony arrange a birthday party for the dad, complete with balloons and strippers (out of character for his father, whom I admired, and who was rather sophisticated). I am also getting tired of Tony's movie references and voice imitations, especially here to gonads/brass balls of the Great Santini and Gibbs! Shudder!
    (3) the sassy eccentric grandmother was too much a cliche: strong family bulwark, health food nut, wife and mother of admirals ... .... and hippie protester of/at: wars, political convention, sit-ins, prisons, Gloria Steinem feminist demonstrations, Selma race riots, and military think tanks.
    (4) outlandish military plot of creating genetically engineered caterpillars to cause a plague over an enemy country.
    (5) just because an army Viet Nam era gun was used on a crime today, doesn't mean that an ex-Viet Nam US soldier was the shooter.
    (6) way over the top that the founder of the military think tank and the caterpillar project would be so disgruntled by the Army's dropping of the caterpillar project that he would fake his death and go into hiding for some 30 years, and then reappear now to kill a would be whistleblower when the project was being re-instituted! Wow! Jump the shark territory!
    (7) why didn't the grandmother run to the police with all she knew after the whistleblower was murdered?

  • An episode far below NCIS standards.


    This episode was sub-par in every possible way.

    The script was confusing and at some points absurd. It think one major flaw was the way McGee's grandmother was written into the story. Her personality ranges from every from loving to cold to passionate to apathetic to rebellious to docile, for no apparent reason. You could tell Lily Tomlin wasn't able to figure the part out at all, because she just seemed bland throughout the episode.

    It all just seemed to snowball from there. McGee's parts, especially in dialogues with his grandmother, seemed lackluster. Even Gibbs, whose character isn't exactly excitable, seemed even more subdued than usual.

    I think part of the reason this show was so lackluster was that, as has been mentioned, we've gone through this before. I seem to remember another case in which a male agent has had a female matriarch mixed up in a murder, been afraid to push her, but was forced to by his superior (If this doesn't ring a bell, check the Mothers Day synopsis).

    And speaking of repetition, McGee is going to get in touch and work things out with his estranged father. Almost like the Gibbs made up with his father after a decade, or Tony with his dad, or Ziva with hers. Great, the team is 4/4 with estranged dads. And whats even weirder is that all of their mothers are gone.

    It's just getting old, there seems to be no creative spark. I know it sounds a bit harsh, but maybe they could use a shake-up in their writing staff.

  • 903


    I was not a fan of Lily Tomlin's work on Damages a few years back, but she did a good job here tonight in "The Penelope Papers" as McGee's relative, and a key part in an investigation. She was thrust into an intriguing case where information was key and NCIS, while predictably saving the day, had to respond to the call in an unusual way, using her as bait.

    Definitely suggest that you watch this episode if you have been on the fence about doing so.

  • Was the entire cast and staff hungover?


    This is absolutely THE worst episode of NCIS ever!

    NCIS has had an amazing run and truly deserves its position as America's favorite show.

    Let's just hope that for this episode, no one in America was watching.

    Storyline: FAIL, Acting: FAIL, Entertainment Value: FAIL

    I feel bad for the regular cast for being forced to put out this episode.

    I can only assume the usual writers/directors lost a bet and were forced to hand over the reigns to... well, I can't think of any person or group that wouldn't be insulted by having this episode laid at their feet.

    I can't remember in the previous eight seasons of NCIS an episode through which the only think I longed for was a Fast Forward button.

    I also have to saw this was Sean Murray's worst performance as McGee. It was obvious he wasn't feeling the script. The rest of the main cast mailed in their performance from a bar in between margaritas.

    One bad episode in over 8 years does not taint the show's rock solid position and in truth it's amazing they have produced more crap over the years but I certainly hope this is a one-time phenomenon.

  • a bit boring


    It's not our usual NCIS. Tonight's episode was boring. Story line seems interesting but somehow the directing and acting were not at par to the usual exciting and interesting episodes of NCIS. It's interesting because it's top secret-destroy the world thing but at the end, story turns out to be corny!

    I still like the chemistry of the main casts, it's their interaction with their guests in this episode. McGee's relationship with the grandmother was supposed to be close, but the episode failed to show this fact.

  • Almost as bad as the season premiere, and that is saying something.


    After a great episode last week, which sorta made up for the travesty of a season premiere, I had high hopes with this episode, but it did not live up to them. The storyline was quite stupid in actuality; and this started bordering more along the lines of a science-fiction than a crime show, which wa s kina d isappointing.

    I was really interested at the idea of McGee's grandmother appearing, but she was exceptionally boring to watch; other guest characters like DiNozzo's, Gibbs's or Ziva's fathers have been a lot more interesting to see, and Penelope Langston was anything but.

    Also, McGee's little storyline was rather dull and not particularly interesting. The writers can surely do much better than this.

    I am honestly being exceptionally generous with a score of 'eight' but I hope that next week, I will be impressed.

  • NCIS knows how to bring family into the show, but is it becoming redundant?


    NCIS is famous for making the teams family members related to the cases. In this episode we got to meet up with McGee's Grandmother Penelope Langston, a hippie with a purpose. when the episode keeps going we learn the Penelope was part of a bigsecret program that in the wrong hands could potentially kill alot of people. I really did like this episode, the best part was when we see McGee go defense mode when Gibbs was talking to her. The only thing that ididn'tlike about this episode (and thisdidn'taffect my score) was that its becoming common on NCIS that family gets involved somehow. I just dont want the writers to get tocomfortablewithincluding family. I dont want to see an episode when we find out Tony has a long lost twin brother who killed a navylieutenant.

  • April Fool's Episode in October. Should be titled "Nightmare @ NCIS"


    Worst episode ever. No continuity. Bringing in a previously unknown character, Timmy's Grandma, who was frightfully miscast (Lily Tomlin). The plot is outrageously inept, insipid, and incomprehensible (Come on, robo caterpillers!?) The cast was lost in this terrible script and it showed. Kudos to the cast for not losing their lunch filming this dog! We expect much better. if this is what the storyline is "evolving" into.... Take the show off the air now, before it loses its reputation as one of tv's finest written shows.

  • Rushed, over-the-top acting, unrealistic storyline, questionable casting.


    I really wanted to like this episode but it left me quite less than fulfilled. I grew up with Lily Tomlin, have always admired and liked her, have seen her pull off much more complicated roles with finesse and her characteristic quirkiness. However, I think for this role she was miscast.

    The problem isn't in her characterization, rather that the character was just dropped into our laps. Apparently, Sean McMurray, felt the same as the chemistry between them just felt extremely rushed, no depth and so much of their exchange felt insincere. It's not that I don't think they couldn't have pulled it off, it just seemed like they'd not had enough time to really develop the backstory. Nor did the script help them transition smoothly into the portrayal of their relationship, again, it was all just dropped into the plot in a very inelegant way.

    If anything, I feel sorry for the cast and guest cast. They're all very talented individually, they typically work well as a team and are able to create interesting external relationships for their characters as well. It feels as if the script, and the directing, completely failed somehow to help the cast pull this one together.

    I did enjoy McGee's defense of his grandmother, that is a quality we've seen in him before with his sister - there was a relationship that didn't seem forced at all. I also enjoyed Gibbs' quip to Jimmy about "welcome to the rest of your life" - at least some wit was there to help carry this rather weighty yet unfulfilling episode.