Thank goodness CBS has ended the wait to learn the fate of “NCIS” for the future. On Feb. 29, USA Today reported that the “network announced Monday that it has renewed “NCIS” for two seasons and that Mark Harmon “has signed a two-year deal with CBS.” Although it’s a no-brainer to expect that the series still known as the No. 1 prime time drama on network television should continue, networks have made stranger past decisions. The big reveal is that Mark Harmon has agreed to extend his stay as the ubiquitous hero, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Every day of the week, “NCIS” is running on some station in some country and domestically is still popular in rerun marathons on USA Network.
Although this show has more fans worldwide than virtually any other, Harmon has singularly remained focused on the fact that continuing the show means he can keep over 200 people employed for the year ahead. He has said in numerous past interviews how much it means to him to work in such a pleasant family-like environment.
Harmon has said, for more than seven years, that he views the employment of the crew and team as “a responsibility no one takes lightly…And we’re fortunate, because we all really like each other, and that’s behind and in front of the camera.”
Michael Weatherly recently announced that his thirteenth season would be his last, without much of a net to forecast his future project possibilities. Weatherly is a few years behind the departure of extremely popular actress Cote de Pablo, who portrayed Ziva David on the procedural, and her leaving did not end the show, despite intense pleas and urgings from fans to boycott the show.
Emily Wickersham bravely accepted the role of Ellie Bishop, otherwise known as the character actress who came to the squad room after Ziva. Wickersham has forged her own mark into the show and the team with confidence and skill.
At the end of season 12, there was a hint that Jethro Gibbs’ character might not return, although no serious fan bought that red herring. Unlike the character of Tony DiNozzo or Ziva David, the characters of Pauley Perrette’s Abby Sciuto and Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs irreversibly define the show, as does David McCallum’s Dr. Donald (Ducky) Mallard. Sean Murray’s Timothy McGee is permanent and integral to the “hacker with a heart and do-right spirit” that Donald Bellisario designed him to be early into the show’s run. You have to have McGee.
Pauley Perrette in numerous interviews has spoken fondly of the program’s “Core Four” of Harmon, Weatherly, McCallum and Perrette as having been there from the very beginning. And it’s true. Yet, with Weatherly’s departure, although many people will miss him and his character, as well as that of the occasional pop-in appearance by Robert Wagner as Anthony DiNozzo, Sr., Weatherly is not the lynchpin that Harmon is and will always be.
To deal with the upcoming absence Gary Glasberg, “NCIS” showrunner and one of the show’s producers, announced last September that a new, strong character, currently known as “Tess,” will join the team. No casting news has been announced, but Glasberg describes the new agent as “two parts bulldog, one part sweet kitten.” Future story lines will assuredly be fresh, new and that’s a win for longtime fans of the show. Season 12 was iffy at best with its writing and predictable outcome. Concurrently, the beloved goofy, nature of carefree DiNozzo was not evidencing any progress as a mature adult with future goals or plans.
Most of the “NCIS” characters have at least matured and blossomed with some focus and direction, despite the fact that none of the major characters, save for Brian Dietzen’s Jimmy Palmer, are (still, successfully) married. That Glasberg keeps nuking spouses, current and former, causes many fans to wish he would stop doing that. The point being that people who are successful in the squad room tend to be a failure in sustaining viable long-term relationships, for whatever reason.
The minute someone gets comfortable in a relationship (look for McGee and Delilah to split inevitably and for Abby and Bert to go separate directions), they become predictable and dull. Character weaknesses and flaws in life are what make them charming while they excel in their work lives, which tend to consume 20 hours a day on some cases. Although Glasberg brought back Jeanne Benoit (Scottie Thompson), just to tease viewers, bottom line is that Tony’s departure and its predicate will prove to be an interesting story arc.
Most longtime watchers expect Glasberg to keep Tony alive and potentially headed to Israel to team up with Ziva off-camera, where they remain available to return for the finale episode of the series. One could even dare to guess that if and when that happens, it would likely be for a reunion in which everyone will be attending Gibbs’ funeral. Perhaps not. Most would prefer to think of Gibbs as immortal, at least in television.
But for now, everyone is alive and well. Overall, for Leap Day 2016, the news is good for all “NCIS” fans, thanks to today’s latest news blurb from CBS. Watch on.