Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Ocean criminals beware: NCIS, the planet's most-watched drama, lives

There’s this whole subset of Getty Images we’re obsessed with where celebrities stand awkwardly around braggy cakes.
There’s this whole subset of Getty Images we’re obsessed with where celebrities stand awkwardly around braggy cakes.
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

Just when you thought it was safe to do crime on water, THR reports today that CBS has renewed its stupidly, transcendently successful procedural series NCIS for a 19th season on TV. Not only that, but the network has also roped star Mark Harmon—who has now spent 18 full years of his life playing a man answering to “Leroy Jethro” for nothing more than quiet recognition and the pleasures of a job well done, and also many millions of American dollars—to stay on with the series. Per THR, that wasn’t at all a done deal a few months back: Harmon had made it clear that 18 seasons of NCIS was probably good, for him, but was apparently convinced to resume negotiations after being told the network would likely kill the series if he left. And really, there was no way that Jeroy Lethro Gibbs was going to do that to his teammates, or to his audience, or to the fine folks at the USA Network. And so the negotiations began.

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Of course, it wasn’t entirely clear whether CBS would bite at this particular wet apple, either: While NCIS remains literally the most successful scripted show on TV—football beats it, and American Idol used to, but that’s it—it’s also very expensive, thanks to the usual slate of long-term contracts that escalate salaries all over the place as a series ages. There’s also the fact that it’s not entirely clear whether CBS actually needs any more of the dang thing. There are currently 414 episodes (or 17-plus straight days, with commercials) of the series already extent, all of which do just fine, thanks, in syndication. People hate crime that happens in or near the ocean, is the lesson here. They hate it so, so much.

Anyway: NCIS is coming back. Which is as good a time as any for us to renew our plea to Donald P. Bellisario, the TV mega-producer who spun the series off from his also-ludicrously successful JAG: Please, for the love of god, Donald. Write an episode of NCIS where Dr. Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap (also a Bellisario production) leaps into Leroy Gibbs. You still probably have Scott Bakula on contract over at NCIS: New Orleans for a few more months! Please. It’s been a hard year. We need this.