COMMENTARY: Macs dissed by NCIS

So, I’m watching one of my very enjoyable TV shows, NCIS, (“very enjoyable” is far above “well, there’s nothing else on,” and a bit below “gotta watch it”), and resident geek Agent McGee unpacks a box from home, stuff from his childhood, and pulls out… a Mac/SE. Sort of.

First of all, unless McGee has been working out, concentrating on some very specific arm/shoulder muscles, that machine was totally gutted because it looked to weigh practically nothing. The weightlessness was so obvious that my first reactions was “prop/styrofoam” and then realized “duh, gutted.” THEN I realized my “styrofoam reaction” was also due to the weird smoothness of the front of the machine -something looked wrong.

The power of Tivo let me go back, look again, and freeze the frame. It’s not a Mac/SE at all. It’s a Mac Classic, which lacked the striped grooves between the screen and the indented base–which is what caught my eye. Hey, it even says “Mac Classic” on its front – did nobody notice that – actors, props handlers, hangers-about? Don’t they (not sure who “they” refers to here) realize that some kinds of mistakes can take a viewer right out of the story, which is a Bad Thing?

But the mistake is not the point of this post – it’s just a side trip.

The point is, a show I really enjoy, and for which I overlook other silly tech mistakes or stretches of the imagination, went on to diss the love of my life, my Mac in its various evolutions. (Okay, it comes behind my sons and my husband in the “loves of my life” lineup… though on some days it has jumped to the front of that particular line.)

The dissing came twice: McGee next pulls out a Mac laptop, and then a PC laptop, commenting that the transition to PC was an “evolution.” I know that evolution means “change” and not necessarily “improvement,” but the connotation is obviously that of “getting better.” 

Later in the show, lab geek-goth Abby, with whom McGee shares not only uber-geekness but also an amusing on-and-off chemistry says she was shocked at Tim’s childhood history – “What, that I was a geek?” he asks. She says no, she likes the geek part, and continues “No, that you were a Mac guy!”  Ahh! Stabbed in the heart! Insulted beyond forgiveness!! (The Mac, not McGee,)

Okay, so by the time I played those two scenes back for my husband later in the evening – and his reaction was first, that if the SE was McGee’s first computer at age 11, omigod, we are getting so old!,  and, after seeing the second reference he just gave a derogatory snort – but by that time I realized that  – of course! a real geek wouldn’t want a computer that he can’t take apart and add things too.

Macs were famous for first, not being able to open (remember case crackers?) and later, although openable, using parts and slots that were non-standard so you couldn’t put third-party hardware in. For a character who presumably wanted to get his hands dirty (metaphorically speaking) in the guts of a computer, a Mac just wasn’t the right platform.

Besides, it’s not as if they’re using Windows machines elsewhere – everything looks to be pretend-beyond state-of-the-art proprietary software.

So, it’s okay. They insulted my Mac twice, but it fit the story. Tho I wanted to hear a “Yeah, loved that advanced interface and hardware integration, the Microsoft copy of that approach still is esthetically and practically playing catchup after twenty years, but I wanted to get inside the machine and the Mac just wasn’t built for it.”

– – – –

Before posting this, I looked around for a clip of the show for you, and found one on another blog – The Unofficial Apple Weblog – where you can check out not only the clips but some reactions. (But, hey, post reactions here!!)


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