When all fans of the CBS drama “NCIS” tune in on May 17 to watch what is already known as the season 13 finale as well as the exit of Michael Weatherly from the show, one actress will not be appearing: Cote de Pablo. Matt Webb Mitovich of TV Line broke the news after midnight on April 25. Then again, it might be a red herring. For now, look at what social media is buzzing about currently.
If you don’t believe that fact, then check out the accompanying video where Cote de Pablo says she loves the character she created and portrayed for eight years. The Twitter account Cote de Pablo ES has a full running dialogue with many fans of “NCIS” regarding how they won’t be tuning in to see “DiNozzo’s exit” if Ziva is not in the show. It was just two years ago that Michael Weatherly had to answer all kinds of fan questions about “Ziva’s” exit from television’s highest viewed prime-time scripted series, and now it’s de Pablo’s turn to field the question.
All the rumor mill buzz and speculation and leaks from showrunner Gary Glasberg coming in dribs and drabs ever since Michael Weatherly’s exit was announced has been, for the most part, anticlimactic.
Realistically, fans who are loyal to the show should give some real props to Mark Harmon, Pauley Perrette, David McCallum, Sean Murray, Rocky Carroll, and Brian Dietzen for continuing to bring solid, consistent excellence to their roles. And they should give Emily Wickersham some kind of medal for taking all the flak from fans of “Ziva” who would be hating on anyone who was not Cote de Pablo or the “Ziva” character.
Interestingly, when show co-creator (together with Don McGill) Donald Bellisario killed off NCIS Special Agent Caitlyn Todd (Sasha Alexander), it was before Twitter was such a mainstay of communication per se and yet you barely heard one protest. And, here was Alexander, an incredibly talented actress delivering brilliantly written lines and acting alongside some of the best actors in the business. And yet, no one seemingly protested. Alexander, of course, just went on to co-star in the very popular and highly likeable “Rizzoli & Isles,” which flourished as long as showrunner Janet Tamaro was driving the show. Yes, that show is ending, too; Tamaro brought the magic.
Therein is a hint of what’s wrong with “NCIS” right now. Oh, everyone loves the show and will tune in no matter what to see Mark Harmon portray Leroy Jethro Gibbs. And the show would never dare kill off Abby Sciuto and Les Moonves might as well pull the plug on the show if Perrette ever wants to move on. David McCallum just published a novel (“Once a Crooked Man”) recently, so Ducky is fine and dandy thank you. There’s always Jimmy Palmer as backup should McCallum want to retire to play golf, and yet, why would he leave one of the best show teams in all of television? There you go.
But the bottom line is that Shane Brennan has taken his time showrunning “NCIS” and gone on to create “NCIS:LA” and that’s flourished over the years and has its own loyal following. Sadly, the promise of money and more power in the creation of “NCIS” into the third alter ego, “NCIS: New Orleans” is causing the quality of storyline and plot on “NCIS” to suffer in the interim. There’s no question that Scott Bakula, CCH Pounder, and Zoe McClellan should be in a “Bellisario” creation just as two of them have been before, Bakula with “Quantum Leap” and McClellan with “JAG,” winking at those “NCIS” trivia experts who already knew that. Yet, NCIS:NOLA has cut into the prime space of “NCIS” and the shows have been less than stellar. Probably part of the reason Weatherly wants to leave while the getting is good. Look at where “NCIS” is now, plotwise.
Here’s Gibbs with one friend, Jon Cryer, the leftover ham in the sandwich of “Two and One-Half Men,” now with nothing to do, so he’s on set now and again, and it’s simply ridiculous to watch Gibbs floundering around being “human” when for the better part of 11.5 seasons, he was just, plain Gibbs. If it’s not broken don’t fix it. But they fixed it. That’s on Glasberg. There’s little to no dimension developing for any other character in the show. Honest reflection time; the show is one stale plot line after another. But it could change, and bringing in two new characters should jazz things up, hopefully for at least two more years that the show has been renewed to sustain and flourish. But right now, it needs fixing.
So, no one should blame Weatherly for leaving the show and CBS is going to give him his own pilot and it won’t go anywhere at all for him, sadly, because one could project that 7 of 10 fans on the street would walk up to him and say, “Hey DiNozzo! How you doin’?” Rather than, “Michael, thanks for 13 years of playing a character with a lot of zip to him.” That’s show business.
Had Weatherly wanted to establish a new career, he should have left many years ago. Whatever the reason, the entire cast has been tremendous in their acting and even when the shows are not up to the quality of their predecessor’s wildly creative imagine, the show has always had heart, particularly in how they handled the passing of Ralph Waite and the send-off to the character of Jackson Gibbs. That, along with the Ziva rescue episode, the show where Caitlyn Todd dances with Charles Durning (for which Durning won an Emmy, the only one for acting on the show all these years–go figure), and the Jenny Shepherd shootout sequence with Mike Franks are episodes so magical you can watch them ad infinitum rather than ad nauseum.
The bottom line this early morning hour is that Cote de Pablo will not be on the farewell to season 13 and bye-bye Tony episode. Forget watching TIVA ride off into the sunset together. Who knows? Maybe they’ll bring back Sasha Alexander for a dream sequence. Stranger things have happened. Tune in May 17th to learn firsthand what and how Gary Glasberg has designed to be the off ramp for Michael Weatherly’s exit. Maybe they’re leaking false information too, just to see what fans might say?
Was this a red herring? Fact or fiction? Will Cote de Pablo really be coming back and it was all a hoax to mislead anxious fans? Just 22 more days and all will be revealed. For now, only the shadow knows.